How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 40

How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 40


Archbishop’s Palace,

City of Tellesberg,

Kingdom of Old Charis


          Winter in Tellesberg was very different from winter in the Temple Lands, Paityr Wylsynn reflected as he stepped gratefully into the shaded portico of Archbishop Maikel’s palace. Freezing to death wasn’t much of an issue here. Indeed, the hardest thing for him to get used to when he’d first arrived had been the fierce, unremitting sunlight, although the climate did get at least marginally cooler this time of year than it was in summer. The locals took the heat in stride, however, and he loved the exotic sights and sounds, the tropical fruits, the brilliant flowers, and the almost equally brilliantly colored wyverns and birds. For that matter, he’d acclimated well enough even to the heat that the thought of returning to Temple Lands snow and sleet held little allure.

Especially these days, he thought grimly. Especially these days.

“Good morning, Father,” the senior of the guardsmen in the white and orange of the Archbishop’s service said.

“Good morning, Sergeant,” Paityr replied, and the other members of the guard detachment nodded to him without further challenge. Not because they weren’t fully alert — the attempt to assassinate Maikel Staynair in his own cathedral had put a conclusive end to any complacency they might once have felt — but because they’d seen him here so often.

          And I’m not precisely the easiest person to mistake for someone else, either, I suppose, he reflected wryly, looking down at the purple sleeve of his cassock with its sword and flame badge. I doubt there are half a dozen Schuelerites left in the entire Old Kingdom by now, and most of them are Temple Loyalists hiding in the deepest holes they can find. Besides, I’d stand out even if I were a Bédardist or a Pasqualate.

          “Welcome, Father Paityr. Welcome!”

The solemn, senior, and oh-so-superior servants who’d cluttered up the Archbishop’s Palace under its previous owners had become a thing of the past. The palace was vast enough to require a fairly substantial staff, but Archbishop Maikel preferred a less supercilious environment. Alys Vraidahn had been his housekeeper for over thirty years, and he’d taken her with him to his new residence, where she’d proceeded to overhaul the staff from top to bottom in remarkably short order. A brisk, no nonsense sort of person, Mistress Vraidahn, but as warmhearted as she was shrewd, and she’d adopted Paityr Wylsynn as yet another of the archbishop’s unofficial sons and daughters. Now she swept him a courtesy, then laughed as he leaned forward and planted a kiss on her cheek.

          “Now then!” she scolded, smacking him on the shoulder. “Don’t you be giving an old woman the kind of notions she shouldn’t be having over a young, unattached fellow such as yourself!”

          “Ah, if only I could!” he sighed. He shook his head mournfully. “I’m not very good at darning my own socks,” he confided.

          “And are you saying that idle layabout Master Ahlwail can’t do that just fine?” she challenged skeptically.

          “Well, yes, I suppose he can. Poorly,” Peter said, shamelessly maligning his valet’s sewing skills as he hung his head and looked as pitiable as possible. “But he’s not a very good cook, you know,” he added, actually getting his lower lip to quiver.

          “Comes of being a foreigner,” she told him, eyes twinkling. “Not but what you don’t look like he’s managed to keep a little meat on your bones.” Paityr sniffed, looking as much like his starving seminarian days as he could manage, and she shook her head. “Oh, all right. All right! You come around to my kitchen before you leave. I’ll have a little something for you to take back to your pantry.”

          “Bless you, Mistress Ahlys,” Paityr said fervently, and she laughed again. Then she turned her head and spotted one of the footmen.

“Hi, Zhaksyn! Run and tell Father Bryahn Father Paityr’s here to see His Eminence!”

          Anything less like the protocol in a typical archbishop’s residence would have been all but impossible to imagine, Paityr thought. Of course, so would the footman in question. The lad couldn’t be much older than sixteen or seventeen years old, his fuzzy beard (which needed shaving) just into the wispy silk stage, and his head came up like a startled prong buck’s as the housekeeper called his name.

          “Yes, Mistress Vraidahn!” he blurted and disappeared at a half-run.

          Not, Paityr noticed, without darting an even more startled look at him. And not just because of his Schuelerite cassock, he felt sure.

Paityr had always been more than a little amused by the typical mainlanders’ perspective on the provincialism of the “out islands” as they dismissively labeled Charis, Chisholm, and Corisande. Tarot (which was the least cosmopolitan of the lot, in Paityr’s opinion) got a pass from mainland prejudices because it was so close to the mainland. Still, the Tarot Channel was over three hundred miles wide, and more than one mainland wit had been heard to observe that good cooking and culture had both drowned trying to make the swim.

And what made that so amusing to him was that Charisians were actually far more cosmopolitan than the vast majority of Safeholdians . . . including just about every mainlander Paityr had ever met. The ubiquitous Charisian merchant marine guaranteed that there were very few sights Charisians hadn’t seen, and not just their sailors, either. Every nationality and physical type in the entire world — including the Harchongese, despite the Harchong Empire’s insularity — passed through Tellesberg eventually. Despite which, Paityr Wylsynn still got more than his share of double takes from those he met.

His fair skin had grown tanned enough over the years of his service here in Old Charis to almost pass for a native Charisian, but his gray eyes and bright red hair — touched to even more fiery brilliance by all that sunlight —  marked his northern birth forever. There’d been times he’d resented that, and there were other times it had simply made him feel very far from home, homesick for the Temple Lands and the place of his birth. These days he didn’t feel homesick at all, however, which had more than a little to do with the reason for this visit.

          “Paityr!” Father Bryahn Ushyr, Archbishop Maikel’s personal secretary, walked briskly into the entry hall holding out his hand. The two of them were much of an age, and Paityr smiled as he clasped forearms with his friend.

          “Thank you for fitting me into his schedule on such short notice, Bryahn.”

          “You’re welcome, not that it was all that much of a feat.” Ushyr shrugged. “You’re higher on his list than a lot of people, and not just because you’re his Intendant. It brightened his day when I told him you wanted to see him.”

          “Sure it did.” Paityr rolled his eyes, and Ushyr chuckled. But the secretary also shook his head.

          “I’m serious, Paityr. His eyes lit up when I told him you’d asked for an appointment.”

          Paityr waved one hand in a brushing away gesture, but he couldn’t pretend Ushyr’s words didn’t touch him with a glow of pleasure. In a lot of ways, whether Archbishop Maikel realized it or not, Paityr had come to regard him even more as a second father since his own father’s death.

          Which is also part of the reason for this visit, he reflected.

          “Well, come on,” Ushyr invited, and beckoned for Paityr to accompany him to the archbishop’s office.

* * * * * * * * * *

          “Paityr, it’s good to see you.”

          Maikel Staynair rose behind his desk, smiling broadly, and extended his hand. Paityr bent to kiss the archbishop’s ring of office, then straightened, tucking both his own hands into the sleeves of his cassock.

          “Thank you, Your Eminence. I appreciate your agreeing to see me on so little notice.”

          “Nonsense!” Staynair waved like a man swatting away an insect. “First, you’re my Intendant, which means I’m always supposed to have time to see you.” He grinned and pointed at the armchair facing his desk. “And, second, you’re a lively young fellow who usually has something worth listening to, unlike all too many of the people who parade through this office on a regular basis.”

          “I do try not to bore you, Your Eminence,” Paityr admitted, sitting in the indicated chair with a smile.

          “I know, and I really shouldn’t complain about the others.” Staynair sat back down behind his desk and shrugged. “Most of them can’t help it, and at least some of them have a legitimate reason for being here. Fortunately, I’ve become increasingly adroit at steering the ones who don’t off for Bryahn to deal with, poor fellow.”

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58 Responses to How Firm A Foundation – Snippet 40

  1. Peter says:

    Any bets as to whether this conversation will involve Paityr’s unease over the additive effects of Charisian inventiveness? He feels like a man wrestling with a tough question, and methinks I can guess what it may be.

  2. robert says:

    Or, Peter, he is trying to decide whether to switch sides, as it were, and join the schismatics.

  3. Brog says:

    Or maybe he might finally reveal the existence of the key in his possession to someone in Charis.

  4. tootall says:

    My wager is that he’s come to tell the Archbishop about the “Key”, but with the understanding that he can’t tell… And then we get to deal with the problem that Maikel can’t tell Merlin. (Foreshadowed by Merlin’s knowing about Angelique and promising not to “listen in” thereafter.)

  5. TimC says:

    ‘Second father ..own father’s death’. Yes he is going to share a confidence with the Archbishop. I vote for the key and not ‘unease about development’
    Then ‘For reasons I cannot share with you Merlin it would be a very good idea to launch a raid on the Temple and you might consider taking Father Paityr along with you …’

  6. WP says:

    My bet is on the Key as well. Notice how the snip begins with him musing on how much he likes Charis.

  7. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Robert, by being Archbishop Maikel’s Intendant he has joined the schismatics and has been a schismatic for some time.

    As for his reason for wanting to talk with Maikel, everybody will have to wait and see. [Wink]

  8. Jain says:

    What does it mean that he’s Maikels Intendant? Is that like confessor?

  9. Drak Bibliophile says:

    By my understanding, an Intendant is the head of the Inquisition in the area controlled by an Archbishop.

    The Intendant is responsible for enforcing the Proscriptions and *reporting* heresies to the Archbishop,

    So Paityr became a schismatic by accepting Maikel as an Archbishop and serving him as Intendant.

  10. John Samford says:

    I’m thinking that we are about to get some more clues to just how powerful and exactly what his ‘lie detector’ is. A control unit for the Orbital Bombardment platform? That would solve a lot of problems.

  11. RandomThoughts says:

    The initial comments with Mistress Vraidahn emphasizes that Paityr is unmarried. His family line before him is gone and the one to follow doesn’t yet, and may never, exist. Clyntawn hates all of the Wylsynns and it would not be surprising if an assassination attempt wasn’t made on his life. Paitry clearly feels an obligation to safeguard the knowledge Schueler entrusted to his family and will do so by sharing it with someone that he very much likes and admires.

    I think that this conversation will lead not only to the disclosure of the key (and possibly other information) but will also lead to a hard question for the inner circle: should Father Paityr be told the truth? He has very deep religious beliefs. However, he is both intelligent and mentally flexible as we have seen. He also has the advantage of having the Stone of Schlueler to validate anything said to him.

  12. tootall says:

    Interesting snip, AND it’s Friday, Chinese water torture indeed. Drat, drat, drat!!

  13. PeterZ says:

    @12 No, Drak! Drak! Drak!!

  14. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Peter Z, perhaps I should post shorter snippets so chapters always end on Friday. [Evil Grin]

  15. justdave says:

    or was that ‘Drak, Drak, Drak’, lol

  16. justdave says:

    @11 Paityr isn’t the end of the Wylsynns, his siblings escaped the Temple

  17. PeterZ says:

    Have pitty, great dragon! This snippet junky abases himself before you and begs your indulgence.
    Spare that heinous fate!

  18. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well PeterZ, after posting that “threat” I remember that for some chapters, I’d have to increase the snippet size to make the chapter fit into a single week.

    David Weber might come after me if I did that. [Wink]

  19. RandomThoughts says:


    That’s true but none of them, at least at the moment, are part of the church hierarchy. I think that Paityr would want to entrust his knowledge with someone who is and waiting for siblings to be in a position may not be … prudent.

  20. robert says:

    Eleven days for the book’s release and five more snippets. Be still my heart.

    So Drak, what book will be snippeted next and how soon can we expect that? Not that I want to act piggish or anything….

  21. Talion says:

    Dying for more snippets… ever since moving to the cold white north (northern BC Canada) I have to survive on your snippets untill I can make the 200mile journy to a decent book store.

    As for my 2 cents on the current snippet. I am hoping the discussion leads to the inner circle bringing Father Paityr into the know. He could be one of their most usefull allies even if he didn’t have that mysterious “Key”.

  22. akira.taylor says:

    @7 Drak – Except a certain dragon, who probably already knows. (I doubt this is the end of the chapter, so you’ve read the rest of the chapter.) So, don’t use blatantly false generalizations.

  23. Maggie says:

    @21, Lucky Talion! Here I quaver in the sweltering south (eastern North Carolina) waiting to see if Katia wants to follow Irene…..

  24. Matthew says:

    The description of him looking “Northern” by birth kind of threw me for a loop.

    I’m surprised the original planners of Safehold distributed people to different regions with shared phenotypes like skin and hair color though 890 years might have caused them to arise spontaneously.

    I’ve always visualized Safehold as being super diverse everywhere. The original planners knew they were creating a pre industrial conservative society and religion and nationalism are enough of a reason to fight without adding racism to the mix.

  25. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Akira, are you trying to “pick a fight”?

    Of course, I know the end of this chapter.

    Of course, I know the rest of this book.

    I’m also trying to comment on the snippets *without* giving spoilers.

  26. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Matthew, you do know that certain body types/colorings are more suited for different climates than for other climates?

    A paler skin colored person would be more comfortable in areas with less harsher sunlight (for example).

    So the different enclaves may have had people better suited for the climates of the enclaves settling there.

    Of course, people (over the time involved) could have moved to regions of Safehold where they would be more comfortable.

  27. Matthew says:

    I get why they would do it. But the adaptations are of skin color are kind of made obsolete by the invention of clothes. One or two things in the health proscriptions about black people getting enough sunlight for vitamin D and super white people covering up would be fine.

    One of the things that’s kept the fighting civil so far, (at least in my head) was that everyone speaks the same language and their appearance does not reflect their country of origin. So anyone fighting could be from across the ocean or your neighbor.

  28. Drak Bibliophile says:

    “Made obsolete by the invention of clothing” Matthew?

    Tell that to people who get extremely sunburned faces. [Wink]

    In any case, we’ve seen plenty of regional differences on Safehold. People speaking with different accents, Regional/national dress, etc.

    While “race” doesn’t seem to matter that much to Safeholdans, “national” differences does seem to matter.

  29. Doug Lampert says:

    I was also somewhat surprised by the reference to appearance as indicating a northern origin. I don’t think there has been enough time for this to arise naturally via selection or individual choice based migration (migration in our world doesn’t seem to have been particularly influenced by worry about sunburn or vitamin D).

    Thus I assume the differences are deliberate differences in placement. I have no problem with this, it’s quite possible that the initial plan involved placing people in compatible climates, there’s no reason to deliberately create rickets or vitamin deficiency problems when you can avoid it based on placement and no one seems to have expected to found a conflict free utopia after all. Worry about giving people reasons to fight probably wasn’t too high on their list.

  30. robert says:

    @23 Go west, young lady, go west (where the sharks are these days, but no hurricanes).

  31. JeffM says:

    Red hair is such a recessive gene that it denotes a narrow phenotype even in present day–for example, Irish. It’s not surprising to me that a redhead would seem “Northern” to someone in the tropics.

  32. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @22 – akira.taylor

    Be careful how you twit the dragon. He’s not tame, you know. There’s a reason he wears a snerk collar.


  33. Maggie says:

    @30 Been there, done that, robert. Native Californian. Hey, what is a mere hurricane compared to earthquakes (trudging up 12 flights of stairs IN HIGH HEELS when the power went out during the Upland Quake of ’87), wildfires (and who can forget Malibu during the combined Mandeville Canyon and Santa Monica fires of ’78?), landslides (and the disappearance of a quarter mile of the Laguna Beach in ’95), freeway shooters (always the perfect end to a working day), and the occasional riot (making LA Civic Center such a warm and friendly place)?

    Thank you,robert! I will remember the past and stop my whimpering…

  34. Valinor says:

    I believe we must remember that the original population that came to Safehold was certainly small and so any small variation like redheads or something like this would have been very prominent in certain zones, especially if they respected family groups when they put them on the planet.

    It’s not clear what happened the first days of the colonization, I find not practical to dump all colonist while they sleep at the same time as suggested in the scriptures. Then, most likely, the colonists would be transported in groups and if there was not a preplanned and studied pattern to disseminate them they would be certainly grouped by ship and location and if we assume that there were entire families they would most likely travel in the same ship, and then they would remain together.

    Assuming that people of certain races still preferred to form families with those of the same race, be it because religious or cultural preference, and then we would have groups of genotypes that by location could be a significant part of the original population. Add some environmental pressures and you have differentiated groups by location.

  35. robert says:

    Many relatives on my mother’s side are redheads. And the originals came from Romania. And if you want to see redheads go to the Baltic countries. I reckon the Vikings got to more places than just Ireland.

    @33 Maggie. What was that thing that broke the roof of the Washington Monument last week? Chicken soup? Learn to embrace your odd disasters, but be sure to carry insurance.

  36. akira.taylor says:

    @25 Drak – No, and if it came across that way, I apologize. I was going more for pedantically amusing (which seems to have failed). [Actually, I made another comment about that, but it doesn’t seem to have come through. Oh, well.]
    Really, the only thing I was objecting to in your earlier comment was the ‘everybody’ – it should have been ‘everybody else’.

  37. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Ok, no problem then. [Smile]

    Of course, I’ve been under some tension recently so I may have reacted stronger than I should. [Sad Smile]

  38. Cobbler says:

    @ 12, 13, 15, 17, 22, 32, 36

    Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons,
    For you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.

    @ 35

    So many Vikings took a short cut to Miklagard/Constantinople that their settlements on the Volga grew into Russia.

  39. Maggie says:

    @38 I never challenge the dragon (although I’m feeling somewhat soggy right now)!

    @37 May the dragon of life only roast your hot-dogs and never burn your buns!

  40. Cobbler says:

    @ 39


    It’s off topic. I hope the dragon is sleeping.

    When I first visited Randal Garrett’s house, I found a sign in the bathroom:

    Don’t throw butts in here; for they are subtle and quick to anger.

    In the kitchen I read:

    Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards; it makes the soggy and hard to light.

    You don’t happen to be a wizard, do you?

  41. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Well Cobbler, it is off-topic but is amusing. I only “crack-down” on unamusing off-topic things. [Wink]

    Oh, a wise person never assumes a dragon is really sleeping. [Grin]

  42. Maggie says:

    @39 Alas,Cobbler, I am not so high in the food chain.

  43. Greg D says:

    From Off Armageddon Reef
    “Like many intendants, he was also a priest of the Order of Schueler, which made him the local representative of the Inquisition, as well.”

  44. Cobbler says:

    @ 41, Drak;

    “Oh, a wise person never assumes a dragon is really sleeping. [Grin]”

    That lets me off the hook.

  45. tootall says:

    DRAK? Anyone? the pronunciation of Nimue — Nim U E ? Nim U? NI Mew ? NI moo? Ni MOO?

  46. Peter says:

    Heck if I know. I’ve been doing ‘Ni MOO’, but unless Weber gives us a pronunciation guide or a clear rhyme, I see no way to tell yet.
    How have you others been pronouncing her name?

  47. Drak Bibliophile says:

    According to this: it’s pronounced “NIM-oo-ay”.

    Don’t know if that’s how DW pronounces it.

  48. laclongquan says:


  49. tootall says:

    N I M U E ?? OK, thanks guys. (Why do I think that if I got 14 answers, two might agree?)

    So, Drak, in your incarnation as Master Bibliophile could you ask MMW how Merlin pnonounces his(her) name?
    I’ve been getting Victor Cachat’s name wrong too. Although, to be fair -Victor is one of Eric’s –
    Most annoying.

  50. tootall says:

    # 45, #46, #47, #48, #49

    LOL by the way

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