How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 36

How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 36

          “You think she’s a wife or daughter who managed to get out?”

          “Possibly. Or even a mistress.” Maidyn shrugged again. “The amount of cash and all those deep investments she had tucked away here in Siddar were certainly big enough to represent someone important’s escape fund. It could have been one of the vicars who saw the ax coming, I suppose, although whoever it was must have been clairvoyant to see this coming.” He grimaced distastefully. “If someone did see a major shipwreck ahead, though, whoever it was might have put it under a woman’s name in an effort to keep Clyntahn from sniffing it out.”

          “But you don’t think that’s what it is,” Stohnar observed.

          “No, I don’t.” Maidyn passed the brandy glass under his nose, inhaling its bouquet, then looked back at the lord protector. “She’s too decisive. She’s moving too swiftly now that she’s here.” He shook his head. “No, she’s got a well defined agenda in mind, and whoever she is, and wherever she came from originally, she’s acting on her own now — for herself, not as anyone’s public front.”

          “But what in God’s name is she doing?” Stohnar shook his head. “I agree her sudden arrival’s directly related to Clyntahn’s purge, but if that’s the case, I’d expect her to keep a low profile like the others.”

          The two men looked at one another. They’d been very careful to insure that neither of them learned — officially — about the refugees from the Temple Lands who’d arrived so quietly in the Republic. Most of them had continued onward, taking passage on Siddarmarkian-registry merchant vessels which somehow had Charisian crews . . . and homeports. By now they must have reached or nearly reached the Charisian Empire and safety, and personally, Stohnar wished them well. He wished anyone that unmitigated bastard Clyntahn wanted dead well.

          A handful of the refugees, however, had remained in Siddarmark, seeking asylum with relatives or friends. At least two of them had found shelter with priests Stohnar was reasonably certain nourished Reformist tendencies of their own. All of them, though, had done their very best to disappear as tracelessly as possible, doing absolutely nothing which might have attracted attention to them.

          And then there was Aivah Pahrsahn.

          “I doubt she spend so much time gadding about to the opera and the theatre if it wasn’t part of her cover,” Maidyn said after a moment “And it makes a sort of risky sense, if she is up to something certain people wouldn’t care for. High visibility is often the best way to avoid the attention of people looking for surreptitious spies lurking in the shadows.

          “As to what she might be up to that the Group of Four wouldn’t like, there are all sorts of possibilities. For one thing, she’s investing heavily in the Charisian trade, and according to Tymahn, her analysis of why Clyntahn’s letting us get away with it pretty much matches my own. Of course, we could both be wrong about that. What I find more interesting, though, are her decision to buy into Hahraimahn’s new coking ovens and her investments in foundries. Specifically in the foundries Daryus’ been so interested in.”

          Lord Daryus Parkair was Seneschal of Siddarmark, which made him both the government minister directly responsible for the Army and also that Army’s commanding general. If there was anyone in the entire Republic who Zhaspahr Clyntahn trusted even less (and hated even more) than Greyghor Stohnar, it had to be Daryus Parkair.

Parkair was well aware of that and fully reciprocated Clyntahn’s hatred. He was also as well aware as Stohnar or Maidyn of all the reasons the Republic had been excluded from any of the Church’s military buildup. Which was why he had very quietly and discreetly encouraged certain foundry owners to experiment — purely speculatively, of course — with how one might go about casting the new style artillery or the new rifled muskets. And as Parkair had pointed out to Maidyn just the other day, charcoal was becoming increasingly difficult to come by, which meant foundries could never have too much coke if they suddenly found themselves having to increase their output.

“I don’t think even that would bother me,” Stohnar replied. “Not if she wasn’t sending so much money back into the Temple Lands. I’d be willing to put all of it down to shrewd speculation on her part, if not for that.”

“It is an interesting puzzle, My Lord,” Maidyn acknowledged. “She’s obviously up to something, and my guess is that whatever it is, Clyntahn wouldn’t like it. The question is whether or not he knows about it? I’m inclined to think not, or else the Inquisition would already have insisted we bring her in for a little chat. So then the question becomes whether or not the Inquisition is going to become aware of her? And, of course, whether or not we — as dutiful sons of Mother Church, desirous of proving our reliability to the Grand Inquisitor — should bring her to the Inquisition’s notice ourselves?”

“I doubt very much that anything could convince Zhaspahr Clyntahn you and I are ‘dutiful sons of Mother Church,’ at least as he understands the term,” Stohnar said frostily.

“True, only too true, I’m afraid.” Maidyn’s tone seemed remarkably free of regret. Then his expression sobered. “Still, it’s a move we need to consider, My Lord. If the Inquisition becomes aware of her and learns we didn’t bring her to its attention, it’s only going to be one more log on the fire where Clyntahn’s attitude is concerned.”

“Granted.” Stohnar nodded, waving one hand in a brushing-away gesture. “Granted. But if I’d needed anything to convince me the Group of Four is about as far removed from God’s will as it’s possible to get, Clyntahn’s damned atrocities would’ve done it.” He bared his teeth. “I’ve never pretended to be a saintly sort, Henrai, but if Zhaspahr Clyntahn’s going to Heaven, I want to know where to buy my ticket to Hell now.”

Maidyn’s features smoothed into non-expression. Stohnar’s statement wasn’t a surprise, but the Lord Protector was a cautious man who seldom expressed himself that openly even among the handful of people he fully trusted.

“If Pahrsahn is conspiring against Clyntahn and his hangers-on, Henrai,” Stohnar went on, “then more power to her. Keep an eye on her. Do your best to make sure she’s not doing something we’d disapprove of, but I want it all very tightly held. Use only men you fully trust, and be sure there’s no trail of breadcrumbs from her to us. If the Inquisition does find out about her, I don’t want them finding any indication we knew about her all along and simply failed to mention her to them. Is that clear?”

“Perfectly, My Lord.” Maidyn gave him a brief, seated bow, then leaned back against the wall once more. “Although that does raise one other rather delicate point.”

“Which is?”

“If we should happen to realize the Inquisition is beginning to look in her direction, do we warn her?”

Stohnar pursed his lips, unfocused eyes gazing at something only he could see while he considered the question. Then he shrugged.

“I suppose that will depend on the circumstances,” he said then. “Not detecting her or mentioning her to the Inquisition is one thing. Warning her — and being caught warning her — is something else. And you and I both know that if we do warn her and she’s caught anyway, in the end, she will tell the Inquisitors everything she knows.” He shook his head slowly. “I wish her well. I wish anyone trying to make Clyntahn’s life miserable well. But we’re running too many risks of our own as it is. If there’s a way to warn her anonymously, perhaps yes. But if there isn’t, then I’m afraid she’ll just have to take her chances on her own.”

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30 Responses to How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 36

  1. Joseph says:

    We’ve barely met Stohner, but I already like him.

    “I’ve never pretended to be a saintly sort, Henrai, but if Zhaspahr Clyntahn’s going to Heaven, I want to know where to buy my ticket to Hell now.”

  2. tootall says:

    So the inquisition can just make one disappear or, at least, grab whomever it wants and not have to let them go. (Sounds like a number of places on this earth.) Scary when one considers it.
    We already had evidence of that in Zion. The above coversation brings home that no one is safe anywhere -except maybe in Charis.
    If you recall the HH books on genetic slavery, there are bits in there about the extreme violence when the “slaves” rebel. (Same thing going on in the Middle East these days.) So perhaps the resentment on Safehold is even deeper and more widespread than we’ve been led to believe.

  3. Peter says:

    Reigns of terror are fundamentally unstable. The build up resentment in the population, which is held in check only so long as the populace believes the tyrant is too strong to assail, much as they may want to do so. Eventually the tyrant or his successor makes a mistake or has a run of simple bad luck, and the perception of his unassailability shatters. Then the resentful population takes otherwise-unwise risks simply in hope of getting a chance to stick the knife in. Clyntahn has been pushing the whole Go4 and the Church with it in that direction. I wonder how the long-delayed reaction will take shape? In the end Charis may get to just pick up the pieces after the Continental powers such as Desnair and Harchong and the Church itself rip themselves and each other to pieces.

  4. WP says:

    I agree with Peter.

    There’s also the “nothing to loose” factor.

  5. justdave says:

    interesting reflection of current events

  6. TimC says:

    So what is she funding with her payments into the Temple Lands? We know it is not her old businesses, she handed them over. I doubt if it is her soup kitchens. So that leaves some sort of network.Since she is not in direct contact with Charis yet as far as we know (despite being known to Aybraham etc) she does not need information to assist in action, but maybe she is setting up some sabotage? The Iceboats and the semaphore look good candidates.

  7. PeterZ says:

    She is allowing Capt. Phandys (sp?) some funds to organize his people; to grease the wheels of gaurd assignments. By sacrificing himself the way he did, I think Hauwyrd Wylsyn has elevated one of his key supporters deep into Magwair’s inner circle. Ninian must know this and is supporting the good captain. Likely through some business venture that suggests Capt. Phandys is as corrupt and venal as everyone else close to the GoF.

  8. Bret Hooper says:

    I greatly doubt Ninian Aivah will need any warning from Maidyn or Greyghor Stohnar; by the time either of them are contact by the inquisition, she will be either in Tellesburg or at sea enroute thereto.

  9. Bret Hooper says:

    Oops, typo: should be contacted.

    @7 I agree, PeterZ.

  10. Robert H. Woodman says:

    I was wondering if about the funding of the foundries. My suspicion (probably wrong) is that she will get them well developed and producing cannon, et cetera, then let Clyntahn know what’s happening. This will cause Clyntahn to go ballistic and declare war on Siddarmark. In one stroke, she will have crippled the Temple economically by cutting off one of the only two nations that can pay their tithes fully and she will have driven Siddarmark from the side of the Temple and the CoGA to the side of Charis and the CoC.

    Any thoughts on that?

  11. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @10 – Oops typo. That should be “I was wondering about” not I “if about”.

    Obviously, my mind was wandering while I was wondering. :-)

  12. PeterZ says:

    @10 Well Wanda…er I mean Robert, ;-) do you think that Ninian will manipulate innocents into harms way? I sort of doubt it. I can see her trying to create conditions where if war becomes unavoidable the good guys have the resources to win. I don’t see her manipulating a situation where war begins through her direct actions.

  13. Nimitz13 says:

    1. Iva Parson? The pun is WORSE than we thought! Bleek!

    2. Did anyone else notice that our oh so discrete banker Owain Qwentyn is leaking information on his high value clients to his grandfather Tymahn, who it appears in addition to his day job as a banker also works for Siddarmark intelligence? (Or has direct access to Stohnar at least)

    3. With Daryus Parkair, the army’s commanding general having STARTED the foundries attempts at creating modern artillery, (And he’s the Siddarmarkian Clyntahn most hates next to Stohnar) it’s quite clear that our dear Ninian is getting Siddarmark ready to make both flintlock rifles and field artillery by investing heavily to expand those foundries. She’ll make money on the deal – it won’t come from the church, as her banker’s thoughts made clear to US, but the government of Siddarmark is going to find itself buying a lot of modern military hardware. My, isn’t it convenient that Ninian (and all the investors who pile in behind her) made sure that capability is there when needed? The little fact that her investments are likely to have CAUSED that need is another story:

    Remember, Qwentyn thought to himself during his last conversation with her, “If there was one thing in the entire world of which he was totally certain it was that the Church of God Awaiting would never permit the Republic of Siddarmark to begin casting the new model artillery. Not when the Council of Vicars in its role as the Knights of the Temple Lands had been so anxious for so long over the potential threat the Republic posed to the Temple Lands’ eastern border.”

    Clearly in his mind if the CoGA finds out Siddarmark IS creating modern artillery, they’ll tell them to quit doing it. The church doesn’t have that sort of authority since every other mainland realm and Charis are doing it, so Siddarmark will diplomatically inform them into which bodily orifice they should insert that order.

    So the GoF, which is already paranoid about Siddarmark and had to talk Clyntahn out of going to war with them once already will be faced with a Siddarmark that appears to be arming itself with modern artillery and rifles. They’ll jump to the conclusion that Siddarmark has joined the heretics in Charis. They might wait for some confirmation of that, or they might immediately attempt to tighten the embargo (How?) which will further damage CoGA/Siddarmark relations AND cut the church’s revenue stream further. (Bad Ninian! No cookie!)

    Eventually the GoF will go ahead and declare war – even though Siddarmark is no more a threat to them than Charis was, and we’ll find out all about mainland armies. (Doesn’t the Go4 EVER learn?)

    Won’t this be fun? Bleek!

  14. Maggie says:

    “I don’t think even that would bother me,” Stohnar replied. “Not if she wasn’t sending so much money back into the Temple Lands. I’d be willing to put all of it down to shrewd speculation on her part, if not for that.”

    Two words: “Fluff” and “Fold”.

    The possibilities are endless…

  15. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @12 – PeterZ

    From Snippet 33:
    “Of course it is,” he said sadly, “and you know it as well as I do. It’s inevitable that Clyntahn, at least, will find more enemies among the vicarate. Whether they’re really there or not is immaterial as far as that’s concerned! And” — his eyes narrowed as they gazed into hers — “you and I both know that what you and your agents are up to in the Temple Lands will only make that worse.”

    “Do you think I’m wrong to do it, then?” she asked levelly, meeting his eyes without flinching.

    “No,” he said after a moment, his voice even sadder. “I hate what it’s going to cost, and I have more than a few concerns for your immortal soul, my dear, but I don’t think you’re wrong. There’s a difference between not being wrong and being right, but I don’t think there is any ‘right’ choice for you, and the Writ tells us no true son or daughter of God can stand idle when His work needs to be done. And dreadful as I think some of the consequences of your efforts are likely to prove, I’m afraid what you’re set upon truly is God’s work.”
    –end snippet excerpt–

    Will Ninian manipulate innocents into harm’s way? The innocents are already in harm’s way! Zhaspar Clyntahn is a walking, talking, murderous monster. There is no stopping him short of total war. I think what Ninian will do is force the war against Clyntahn at a time of her choosing under circumstances that disfavor the Church as strongly as possible. If that requires leaking information about Siddarmark’s improved war capacity, so be it, so long as Siddarmark is prepared for war against the Temple Lands. And remember, once war breaks between the Temple Lands and Siddarmark, the Temple Lands lose both Siddarmark’s tithe and Siddarmark’s soldiers. Siddarmark stands to gain the support of Charis’ navy.

    I think she will do that (admitting that I may be wrong), and I will applaud her for doing that. The war between Siddarmark and the Temple is inevitable. It would be better to get it out of the way under circumstances favoring Siddarmark, and Ninian is in a position to help that happen.

    Feel free, of course, to disagree.

  16. PeterZ says:

    RHW, I think you are projecting a tad. I read that passage as meaning Ninian has plots in the Temple Lands, i suspect Zion specifically. A coup attempt may endanger innocents without throwing entire nations into war. If the attempt fails war may come anyway, but if it succeeds the death toll will be substantially smaller and war is avoided. That sounds much more like her M.O.

    The investments are fall backs just in case her coup attenmpts fail. If Clyntahn remains in power, I agree that war between Siddermark and the Temple Lands is unavoidable. Then the ability to forge the most modern artillery and rifles is essential.

  17. Robert H. Woodman says:

    PeterZ, I freely admit that I may be wrong, and I may be projecting what I would do onto Ninian. OTOH, I responded to your post on DW’s website on this same subject, and I made the point that she has changed. She has not just changed her name; she has changed her public persona sharply. She has not just modified her investment strategy; she has gone somewhere totally different with her investment strategy.

    A coup in the Temple Lands??? Ain’t happening soon. Not after the Inquisition butchered so many Vicars, priests, and innocent relatives of Vicars and priests. The Temple Lands are cowed right now, and it will, IMO, take YEARS of effort to get them to rise up against the CoGA, unless something happens that makes the Go4 generally, and Zhaspar Clyntahn specifically, look highly vulnerable to attack.

    Again, I may be wrong, but isn’t this debate fun? :-)

  18. PeterZ says:

    YES! Why yes it is fun.
    I hadn’t considered that Ninian had changed. You may well be right. I did consider that Ninian may not have incuded any of the cowed vicars in her calculations. She may acknowledge that they are useless, but if she could deploy enough Temple Gaurdsmen to secure The Temple and eliminate Clyntahn and Rayno, someone like Ducharin may take control.

    I will cheerfully admit that I may be wrong, but I suspect that someone who plans so well as Ninian would cringe at thrusting a nation into war unless it was not only ready but over prepared for war.

  19. robert says:

    @16 & @17
    Peter Z. I think you are wrong, just this once mind you, and that Robert H. has it right, coup-wise I mean. I do not see how a coup can occur nor do I see who it is that can attempt one. Not now, anyway. As Maggie obliquely suggested (so obliquely that I don’t even know if I got it right), she is laundering the money through legit investments in the Temple Lands, so that it can be passed on, source unknown, to her agents. Make mischief little agents, sow dissent.

  20. PeterZ says:

    You may be right, robert. I just have this strong suspicion that she is supporting Captain Phandys through her Maytagesque activities. Whether the coup launches is not under her control. She is preparing the way.

    I just don’t see her only causing mischief. She tends to save her powder until she has a kill shot.

  21. summertime says:

    The military would be a good place to sow dissent so that if and when land conflict, say, with Siddermark, does come about, the army will be as disorganized as possible. Something to talk up among the generals and other officers is all the money being spent to rebuild the navy after it has been decimated by Charis. There is bound to be some jealousy and ill-feeling there. Also some of the clergy wiped out in the pogrom are sure to have had friends and family in all of the civilian and military leadership. Fertile ground to sow seeds of disloyalty.

  22. RandomThoughts says:

    Although I think that war between the Temple and Siddarmark is inevitable, another conflict is likely to play out before we get there. Clyntawn has agitated against Siddarmark from the beginning but has been held back by the more moderate Duchairn and Trynair.

    A quote from AMF: According to Duchairn’s latest estimates, the cash flow from the mainland kingdoms’ annual tithes had dropped by somewhere around ten percent…and total tithes, including those which should have been coming in from the lands now in rebellion against Mother Church, had fallen by over a third.

    If Siddarmark and Silkiah are relatively unaffected, as was indicated in an earlier snippet, then the rest of the mainland kingdoms have to be hurting badly! It is financial suicide to open up a second front against Siddarmark and Duchairn knows it.

    Any perceived provocation on Siddarmark’s part would be all that was required to impel Clyntawn to action. As some here have implied, Clyntawn would want to launch a preemptive strike if word leaked out that the Republic was building newer weapons. I can see him trying to sell the idea of a blitzkrieg type war. Siddarmark’s pikes should be no match for the church’s rifles and artillery. However, Duchairn knows that Murphy has a hand in this game and I can see the two of them going head to head over the issue. I do not expect Duchairn to win.

  23. Daryl says:

    Just a red herring, but has anyone considered how someone who looks so young has managed to do so much? Could there be two PICAs?

  24. tootall says:

    #20 Peter Z– come on -you can’t use a term like “Maytagesque activities”. Nobody would understand it except a bunch of people who read David Weber. Oh right, opps.

  25. ET1swaw says:

    @23 Daryl: She grew up (living with their family from early childhood) wih the Late Archbishop of Charis’ wife (who was also one of her agents even before she got involved with the Circle) and contact was maintained even after she changed names and professions (the wife’s parents may have stopped supporting her when her pope-equivalent father disavowed her, but SHE never did). She was also a extremely high level courtesan (maintaining youth and beauty is her stock in trade).

  26. @23 There really is a lot of variation.

  27. PeterZ says:

    @23 Daryl, reread the description of her persona while en route away from Zion during her “Great Escape”. She was described as a plesant looking but plain, middle aged, no nonsense professional manager of people. I read that to mean without the skillful application of makeup she is middle aged. Father Paityr was described as young even though he was several years older than Nimue’s 28 TY. That suggests that Nynian needs to be in her mid to late forties to qualify as middle aged.

    I suspect that she has lived long enough to create her network. She has spent 2 decades or so building her network of contacts and businesses simultaneously. She hasn’t spent her funds for much else other than to reinvest capital. Her clandestine activities are all part of what her businesses do normally. Now she wants to USE her wealth, to liquidate if necessary to fund her activities.

    So, no, she isn’t too young to have done all these things. She hasn’t done anything different than Master Hausmyn in Charis (who is about the same age), but starting with a smaller amount of seed money and diversified much earlier.

  28. Maggie says:

    @19 : Yes, robert, you got it right. I positively lick my lips over ways and means by which our girl will diabolically deal with the dosh: Let’s see- Casinos! Sporting Houses! Even (smile) maritime insurance with payouts on non-existant shipping losses.
    The neat thing is, that the Empire of Charis can use some of these same avenues to circumvent the COGA’s embargos. Siddarmark would most joyfully join in….
    What does everyone think?

  29. Aenea says:

    That’s a really bad false name for her though…Aivah Pahrsahn…..A Person…..add groan for incredibly bad pun here.

  30. DKCWong says:

    @23 I suppose the skimmer (if that’s what it is) could be in stealth-mode and not visible to the Safeholdians on the battlefield, but only visible to Merlin. Then again @26, Nimitz13 makes the excellent point that most of the covers don’t exactly depict a particular scene/event in their respective book.

    As for all the threads regarding keeping Irys and Daivyn close where Cayleb can best protect them, Drak is right in that both need to be back home in Corisande moving about and speaking freely. Their physical presence is required to reassure the average Corisandian that even though they’ve been ‘conquered’ Charis has no real desire to rule them directly. At the very least Charis needs to be free of the burden of ‘garrisoning’ Corisande. Unless, something goes terribly wrong, I can see Corisande even actively joining Charis militarily in the war against the Go4 at some point. Especially, if Irys and Daivyn can convince their people that Clyntahn had their father and older brother assassinated and was planning the same for them. But, without ‘solid’ proof, at this stage of the war I think quite a few Corisandians, even if they dislike the Go4 might not be willing to believe the Church is capable of such a horrific deed. Maybe some evidence from Aivah (I think that’s her name – curse stupid Safeholding name spellings!) will help speed things along.

    @27 The helmets do look like the German WWI Pickelhaube (spiked helmets) worn in the early years of that war before they were replaced with the Stahlhelm version around 1916. Likewise can’t tell if they are made of metal, but given Charis’ vast advantage in foundries I won’t be surprised and they will help reduce battlefield casualties a little. Can’t recall if any Safeholdian army equipped troops with metal head-wear on a mass scale, but I can see them being worn by ceremonial guards like those of the Temple.

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