How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 28

How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 28

          And large and sinewy hands they were, too, Coris thought approvingly.

          “Pardon me for asking, My Lord, and if it’s none of my affair, you’ve only to say so, but is it my imagination or are you feeling just a mite more nervous of late?”

          “Odd, Tobys. I never realized you had an imagination.”

          “Oh, aye, I’ve an imagination, My Lord.” Raimair smiled thinly. “And it’s been whispering to me here lately.” His smile disappeared. “I’m not so very happy about what I’m hearing out of . . . places to the north, let’s say.”

          Their eyes met. Then, after a moment, Coris nodded.

          “Point taken,” he said quietly. The Earl of Coris had learned long ago how risky it was to judge books by their covers. And he’d also learned long ago that a noncommissioned officer didn’t serve as long as Raimair had without a brain that worked. Other people, including quite a few who should know better, forgot that all too often. They came to regard soldiers as little more than unthinking pawns, enforcers in uniform who were good for killing enemies and making certain one’s own subjects were kept firmly in their places, but not for any tasks more mentally challenging than that. That blindness was a weakness Prince Hektor’s spymaster had used to his advantage more than once, and he had no intention of forgetting that now.

          “She’s not discussed it with me, you understand, My Lord,” Raimair said in an equally quiet voice, “but she’s not so good as she thinks she is at hiding the way the wind’s setting behind those eyes of hers. She’s worried, and so are you, I think. So the thing that’s working its way through my mind is whether or not the lads and I should be worried as well?”

          “I wish I could answer that.” Coris paused, gazing into the lamp flame and pursing his lips in thought for several seconds. Then he looked back at Raimair.

          “She and the Prince are valuable game pieces, Tobys,” he said. “You know that. But I’ve been receiving reports lately from home.”

          He paused again, and Raimair nodded.

          “Aye, My Lord. I saw the dispatch from Earl Anvil Rock and this Regency Council when it arrived.”

          “I’m not talking about the Earl’s official reports,” Coris said softly. “He’ll know as well as I do that any report he sends to Talkyra’s going to be opened and read by at least one set of spies before it ever reaches me or the Princess. And don’t forget — he’s in the position of someone cooperating with the Charisians. Whether he’s doing that willingly or only under duress, it’s likely he’ll bear that in mind whenever he drafts those reports he knows other people are going to read. The last thing he’d want would be for . . . certain parties to decide he’s cooperating with Charis because he wants to. I’m not saying he’d lie to me or to Princess Irys, but there are ways to tell the truth, and then there are ways to tell the truth. For that matter, simply leaving things out is often the best way of all to mislead someone.”

          “But the Earl’s her cousin, My Lord.” Raimair sounded troubled. “Are you thinking he’d be looking to feather his own nest at her expense? Hers and the boy’s? I mean, the Prince’s?”

          “I think it’s . . . unlikely.” Coris shrugged. “Anvil Rock was always sincerely attached to Prince Hektor and his children. I’m inclined to think he’s doing the very best he can under the circumstances to look after Prince Daivyn’s interests, and that’s certainly the way his correspondence reads. Unfortunately, we’re fourteen thousand miles as the wyvern flies from Manchyr, and a lot can change when a man finds himself sitting in a prince’s chair, however he got there. That’s why I left eyes and ears of my own behind to give me independent reports.”

          “And those would be the ones you’re talking about now?” Raimair’s eyes narrowed intently, and Coris nodded.

          “They are. And they accord quite well with Earl Anvil Rock’s, as a matter of fact. That’s one of the things that worries me.”

          “Now you’ve gone and lost me, My Lord.”

          “I didn’t mean to.” Coris showed his teeth in a tight smile. “It’s just that I’d rather hoped the Earl was putting a better face on things than circumstances really warranted. That there was more unrest — more resistance to the Charisians and, especially, to the ‘Church of Charis’ — than he’s reported and that he was trying to cover his backside a bit in his dispatches to us here by understating it.”

          Raimair’s eyebrows rose, and Coris shrugged.

          “I don’t want to hear about blood running in the streets any more than anyone else, Tobys. I’ll admit a part of me would like to think Corisandians would be slow to accept foreign rulers they think had Prince Hektor assassinated, but I’d sooner not get anyone killed or any towns burned to the ground, either. You’ll know better than I would how ugly suppressing rebellions can be.”

          Raimair nodded grimly, thinking about his previous prince’s punitive campaigns to Zebediah, and Coris nodded back.

          “Unfortunately, there are some people — the ones in the north you were just speaking of, for example — who aren’t going to be happy to hear there’s not widespread rebellion against Cayleb and Sharleyan. And they’re going to be even less happy to hear the Reformists are making solid progress in the Church.”

          He paused again, unwilling even here, even with Raimair, to name specific names, but the ex-sergeant nodded once more.

          “It’s in my mind that those unhappy people will see any reports of cooperation and acceptance in Corisande as dangerous. They’ll want as much as possible of the Charisians’ manpower tied down back home, and any erosion of the Temple Loyalists’ strength is going to be completely unacceptable to them. And there’s not anyone they can reach in Corisande to change the way our people are beginning to think back home.”

          Raimair’s eyes widened, then narrowed with sudden, grim understanding. He’d quietly assembled a tiny guard force — no more than fifteen men, plus himself — who were loyal not to King Zhames of Delferahk but to Princess Irys Daykyn and the Earl of Coris. He’d chosen them carefully, and the fact that Prince Hektor had established lavish accounts on the continents of Haven and Howard to support his espionage networks and that the Earl of Coris had access to them meant Raimair’s men were quite comfortably paid. And not by King Zhames.

          Or by Mother Church.

          From the outset, Raimair’s primary attention had been focused on the Delferahkans and any threat from the Charisians who’d assassinated Prince Hektor and his older son. Over the last couple of months, he’d begun to entertain a few doubts of his own about exactly who had assassinated whom, yet he’d never put together what Coris seemed to be suggesting now. But for all her youth, Princess Irys had a sometimes dismayingly sharp brain. The ex-sergeant never doubted for a moment that she’d already considered what he was considering now, whether she wanted to admit it even to herself or not.

          And that would explain a lot about the brooding darkness he’d sensed within her, especially since the Grand Inquisitor had begun his purge of the vicarate and the episcopate.

          “It would be an awful shame if something were to happen to Prince Daivyn that led to all that rebellion back in Corisande after all, wouldn’t it, My Lord?” he asked softly, and Coris nodded.

          “It would indeed,” he agreed. “So perhaps you had better have a word with the lads, Tobys. Tell them it’s especially important to be on the watch for any Charisian assassins just now. Or, for that matter” — he looked into Raimair’s eyes once more — “anyone else’s assassins.”


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34 Responses to How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 28

  1. Bret Hooper says:

    @ several in previous snippets: So now it’s official: Coris and Irys and now Tobys have their suspicions. Maybe they will be heading back to Corisande. Perhaps via Siddarmark and Tarot?

  2. tootall says:

    The leaders in Corisande know, the whole of the GoF knows; is there anyone of consequence who doesn’t? (Except our blessed Grand Inquisitor who believes no one knows.)

  3. Bewildered says:

    Are there any neutral countries i.e. not officially allied with Charis\the Go4? A Switzerland they can flee too? I’m thinking the Republic is more akin to Spain or America early WW2 so not really all that neutral.

  4. Peter says:

    @3 – Silkiah?

  5. All that gold (no matter how well funded the spy networks were) is bound to run out sooner than later – I concur that a speedy (and quiet) departure is bound to be attempted here.

    Considering who we have here to plan such a thing, I’m sure it’ll be successful. Although, possibly with a slight hitch as there are bound to be equally cunning eyes kept on them at all times.

  6. Aenea says:

    I have a feeling that if they move it will be towards Siddarmark and then to whisper in their ears about the Go4s actions. Look at that an ally on the mainland…

  7. One might propose that the line about Princess Irys being fond of sailing and riding, with this huge lake so conveniently placed, is yet another nuclear plot demolition device being placed on the well.

    NPDD — It goes off, and there is no effect on anything.

  8. PeterZ says:

    @7 Really, George? I thought it more a foreshadowing of Coris’ SHTF escape plan. Keep everyone in Talkyra thinking Irys is some sort of hothouse flower. When they have to book, no one thinks they can move as fast as they actually can.

  9. PeterZ says:

    Somehow I hear CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising” during Tobys Raimair’s internal musings.

  10. RandomThoughts says:

    There are a lot of spies in this game and secrets on movement are hard to hide. Almost certainly, someone in the inner circle is monitoring the situation in Delfarahk and may realize the potential for disaster as well as the opportunity that it presents.

    Any move that the Corisande contingent may want to make will involve a voyage … and Charis rules the waves. As an expression of goodwill, Cayleb and Sharlayan could arrange for safe passage (an armed escort) for wherever Irys and company wish to go.

    If his ship’s ills can be fixed, will there be time enough for Sir Dunkyn Yairley and crew to be re-tasked for this purpose?

  11. WP says:

    Remember, Raimair is spying on Choris for the CoGA. Where his true loyalties lie is anybody’s guess.

  12. tootall says:

    #11 WP wrote “Raimair is spying on Coris for the CoGa”

    I missed that- Where is that from?

  13. Drak Bibliophile says:

    There’s no text evidence for Tobys Raimair spying for the Church.

    There is plenty of evidence for Rhobair Seablanket spying for the Church.

    Perhaps, WP is confusing the two.

  14. @8


    Mind you, I think the escape gets Irys out, but it is unlikely to work well for her younger brother.

  15. justdave says:

    since the likely escape to Corisande would be back west, Coris will make the break by sailing east, probably trying for the Protector’s help BUT guess who’s sailing the Sea of Justice in a ‘semi-ruddered’ galleon?

    the MWW at work again, lol

  16. PeterZ says:

    Now, I will admit to overtinking. Why have we not met Daivyn beyond that sleepy “are we there yet”? How can we agonize with Irys unless we get to know the boy better? The MWW is too good at characterization to miss out on that kind of set up.

    So, what gives?

  17. Drak Bibliophile says:

    PeterZ, young Daivyn is only ten (Earth years) old. Even David Weber would find it more easier to make Irys an interesting character than he would to make Daivyn an interesting character.

  18. PeterZ says:

    No doubt, Drak. However, unless we get to know him, Irys’ pain will be a more distant thing. Something a bit more distant than the deaths of that family at Feyrahd (sp?). A subject of shcadenfreude, not something that inspires personal anguish.

    If Daivyn dies, it will be more life changing than the death of Irys’ father and other brother. Yet we do not even know more about this character than that he is a young boy much like any other young boy.

    I sense a disconnect and that means the MWW is being Honor Harrington at her most obvious and straight forward.

  19. robert says:

    @17 & 18 I agree with Peter.
    Some authors can make children interesting. See, for example, Lee & Miller. And Steve Stirling made the young Rudi & Mattie interesting people. Even the glimpses we get of Mike’s and Rebecca’s kids show them as real.

    DW has kids, so I think he can write a kid character that is not a cardboard cutout, nor a superkid.

  20. Bob G says:

    In a sense, I suspect that Prince Daivyn is spending a lot of time being “tutored” by the CoGA, which roughly translated means The Church is Good and Charis is Evil. I don’t think they will be able to override his sister’s hold over him, but it may well be that he is mentally in a place we don’t need to see.

    I think this is more Phonda’s area of expertese than Merlin’s – getting them out and away undetected. My guess for where they will go is also Silkia, since it is a direction they would not expect.

    My biggest concern at this point is that Seablanket is certainly capable of killing a Guard outside Daivyn’s room at night, probably quietly, and then killing the boy. He won’t do it unless he can escape or have no one suspect him.

    — Bob G

  21. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Bob G, nobody’s going to be telling Daivyn that Charis is “good”. [Wink]

    I suspect the Church isn’t making a major effort to “brain-wash” him.

    For that matter, such an effort would depend on the Church seperating him from people he knows and trusts like his sister and Coris.

    As it is, there’s no text evidence that Coris is concerned about what Daivyn is being taught and Coris would be smart enough to spot such a “brain-washing” attempt.

    The text evidence is that Coris is more concerned that Daivyn is more useful to the Church dead than alive.

  22. PeterZ says:

    Seablanket. I doubt that they can manage the escape without his help or his absence, if Seablanket is not on Coris’ side. I assume that there are other inquisition agents crawling all over Talkyra. I don’t know Seablanket’s place in the heirarchy of the CoGA spy org charts. I do know that preparing an escape will be tough to do without someone inside the CoGA organization.

  23. ET1swaw says:

    Thinking of escape, don’t forget that they are pretty far inland ( ).
    Seablanket may just have been in CYA mode during his interview with Clyntahn’s XO (a Harchong from a princely/noble family who is also Archbishop of a major area of the Harchong Empire).
    Coris is at the far end of a loooooooooooong communication lag. By this snippet, they’re just hearing about Clyntahn’s purge of the Circle, and they think the cabal in northern Corisande is still a going concern. Clyntahn is going to be acting on his Navy being decimated and Temple Loyalists in Corisande going over to the reformed church long before Coris even hears about it. Hopefully he has got someone inserted that can give warning if Clyntahn needs another ‘red flag/bloody shirt’.
    Continual Temple Loyalist assassination attempts may start to give Irys a clue, and the broker for her father’s and brother’s killing is still around and in business; his next attempt in Corisande may get him caught and telling tales (Clyntahn’s pawn took his silence to the noose so confirmation is not possible).

  24. Maggie says:

    Call me overly imaginative, but I see a real potential for a “Princes in the Tower” (“Prince in the Temple”?) mystery on the horizon if Irys and Daivyn are separated… (play Walton’s score from the Olivier “Richard III”).

  25. hank says:

    @23 “they’re just hearing of Clyntahn’s purge”
    Not quite so. See AMF pg 459 (April 894) for discussion between Irys & Coris on the arrest of the Circle & charges made against them.
    Also AMF pg 387 for Coris leaving Zion and musing about the arrests & the death of the Wylsynn brothers.
    Not so sure about what they know yet about other events (Thirsk’s victory, raid on Inquisition holdouts in Manchyr, fall of the Northern alliance, or NOG being wiped out) but on the purge I suspect they are quite up to date.

  26. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Overly imaginative, Maggie?

    Not really, especially compared to some people’s “guesses” about where DW was going in the Honorverse. [Wink]

  27. robert says:

    @24 OK, Maggie. You are nominated to select the music for the movie/cable TV series of (based on, if I know The Industry) the book.

  28. PeterZ says:

    @27 robert, that ecclectic sound track may be worth listening to regardless of the film/TV movie.

    Maggie and any opera officinados. I just found out that the MET is ruinning the complete Ring Cycle next summer in movie theatres. It will run on 2 consecutive weekends, one opera each day.

  29. Maggie says:

    @27 “I just found out that the MET is ruinning the complete Ring Cycle next summer in movie theatres.”

    If they do, I will consider it the end of civilization as we know it…

  30. PeterZ says:

    Ballocks! I misspelled again! A pox upon me for a hamfingered lout! ;-)

  31. Maggie says:

    I know, but I couldn’t resist the temptation…
    Bad Maggie! Bad Girl!

  32. Bret Hooper says:

    Announcing a contest (cash value of prize not to exceed one nanocent) for whoever makes the closest guess at which snippet reveals that Irys has correctly solved the mystery of who was responsible for the assassination of her father and brother OR that Irys, with or without Coris and/or Daivyn, is making an attempt to escape (which will count as evidence of a correct solution).

  33. Bret Hooper says:

    Note that no entry has exclusive right to the snippet chosen, and equal prizes will be awarded to all who guess the right snippet; or if there is no exactly correct guess, then equal prizes to all who are equally closest, e.g. off by x in either direction.

  34. Stephen says:

    32.Announcing a contest (cash value of prize not to exceed one nanocent) for whoever makes the closest guess at which snippet reveals that Irys has correctly solved the mystery of who was responsible for the assassination of her father and brother OR that Irys, with or without Coris and/or Daivyn, is making an attempt to escape (which will count as evidence of a correct solution).

    I suppose that Irys’s attempting to escape would be “evidence” of her solving the mystery of her father’s assassination, in that I’ll accept that such a signal should increase the prior probability of such an event. But it is hardly sufficient _proof_ of such a conclusion on her part. It would be entirely plausible for her to conclude that her current hosts do not have her and Daivyn’s best interests at heart, without changing her beliefs about the assassination.

    However, if she were to attempt to escape TO CHARIS, that would be pretty strong evidence that she’d changed her mind about the likely assassin. While there are very few places where she could seek sanctuary from the Church, I find it unlikely she’d choose to flee to Charis if she still believed they were responsible. Hiding out incognito in Siddermark would be a much more plausible choice under those circumstances.

    At any rate, Weber has never been shy about listing his characters’ thought processes and motives, so if she did decide to actually act, we would almost certainly know ALL of her reasons, down to her dislike of how the local chocolate shoppes prepare their malteds.

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