Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 06

Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 06

“That is not the story you’re going to hear from Shan-wei’s slaves and servants.” Lainyr told them. “Already Shan-wei’s claim that the prince and princess were ‘rescued’ rather than kidnapped has set its poisonous roots in the credulous soil of parts of Delferahk. In due time, no doubt, it will become the official lie spread by the so-called Charisian Empire and its eternally damned and accursed emperor and empress. Yet the truth is far different. The Earl of Coris, charged to protect the Prince and to guard his sister, instead sold them to the same Charisians who murdered their father in Corisande. Indeed, some evidence has emerged to suggest it was Coris who provided the blasphemer, excommunicate Cayleb’s assassins with the means to enter Manchyr without detection in the first place. The Inquisition and King Zhames’ investigators have yet to determine how he communicated with Cayleb and Sharleyan of Charis from Delferahk, yet the proof that he did is self-evident, for the ‘guardsmen’ King Zhames allowed him to recruit to protect the legitimate ruler of conquered, bleeding Corisande instead aided in his kidnapping.

“And lest anyone believe for even one instant that it was not a kidnapping, let him reflect upon this. The Charisian agent who led in this crime was Merlin Athrawes himself — the supposed seijin who serves as Cayleb Ahrmahk’s personal armsman. The Charisian agent who, through the use of Shan-wei’s foul arts, massacred an entire company of the Delferahkan Royal Guard who sought only to protect Daivyn and Irys. Guardsmen who were sent to protect those defenseless, orphaned children on the direct instructions of Bishop Mytchail, Delferahk’s intendant, after he was forewarned of the threat by no less than the Grand Inquisitor himself. Father Gaisbyrt, one of Bishop Mytchail’s most trusted aides, and another member of his order, sent to be certain of the Prince’s safety, were murdered at the same time.

“At least two survivors of the Guardsmen heard Princess Irys herself crying out for rescue, begging them to save her brother from the same murderers who butchered her father, but Shan-wei has stepped more fully into our own world than ever since the Fall itself. We don’t know what deviltry she armed her servant Athrawes with, but we know mortal men found it impossible to stand before it. Before he was done, Athrawes had burned half Talkyra Castle to the ground and blown up the other half. He stole the finest horses from King Zhames’ royal stable, he and the traitor Coris bound Princess Irys — bound a helpless, desperately struggling young maiden — to the saddle, and he himself — Athrawes, ‘Emperor Cayleb’s’ personal servant — took Prince Daivyn up before him despite the boy’s cries for help, and they rode from the burning fortress where Prince Hektor’s children had been protected into the night.”

Lainyr turned his head slowly, sweeping the pews with bleak, cold eyes, and Thirsk wondered how much — if any — of the bishop executor’s tale was true. And whether or not Lainyr himself believed a word of it. If he didn’t, he’d missed a stellar career upon the stage.

“They rode east,” the prelate continued in a cold, flat voice. “They rode east into the Duchy of Yarth until they reached the Sar River. And at that point, they met a party of several hundred Charisian Marines who had ascended the Sar in a flotilla of small craft while the Earl of Charlz’ forces were distracted by the wanton rape and pillage — the total, vicious destruction — of the defenseless town of Sarmouth. A single platoon of Delferahkan dragoons intercepted the kidnappers, but they were in turn ambushed by the hundreds of Charisians hidden in the woods and massacred almost to the man. A handful of them escaped . . . and bore witness to the casual, callous murder of yet another consecrated priest of God who’d sought nothing but to rescue a captive girl and her helpless brother from their father’s murderers.

“And then they escaped back down the Sar to Sarmouth, where they were taken aboard a Charisian warship which will undoubtedly deliver them to Cayleb and Sharleyan themselves in Tellesberg.”

The bishop executor shook his head, his eyes like stone, and touched his pectoral scepter.

“It chills the heart to think — to imagine, even for a moment — what may befall those innocent victims in Charisian hands,” he said quietly. “A boy of barely ten years? A girl not yet twenty? Alone, without protectors in the same bloody hands that butchered their father and older brother. The legitimate Prince of Corisande, in the grip of the godless empire which has conquered and pillaged that princedom and given Langhorne alone knows how many innocent children of God over into the grips of its own heretical, blasphemous ‘church.’ Who knows what pressure will be brought to bear upon them? What threats, what privations — what torture — would such as Cayleb and Sharleyan shrink from inflicting upon their victims to bend them to their will?” He shook his head again. “I tell you now, my sons — it’s only a matter of time before those helpless children are compelled to repeat whatever lies their captors put into their mouths.

“And lest anyone believe this was anything other than the outcome of a long, carefully laid strategy, consider the timing. Daivyn and Irys were stolen away from their protectors at the very instant Greyghor Stohnar was plotting to sell Siddarmark to Shan-wei! Can you conceive of the consequences if he’d succeeded? Of how the credulous, the weak, among Mother Church’s children might have reacted to the simultaneous rebellion and apostasy of one of Safehold’s true great kingdoms and the ‘spontaneous and voluntary’ acceptance of the Charisians’ savage conquest of Corisande by its rightful Prince? And what boy of such tender years would withhold that acceptance with not simply himself but his innocent sister — his only living relative — in the hands of heretics and torturers?

“No, my sons, this was a meticulously thought out, organized, and executed strategy, as monstrous as it was ambitious, and while it may have failed in Siddarmark, it succeeded in Delferahk. The future ramifications of Coris’ treason and Charis’ ruthlessness are yet for us to discover, but I tell you now that we must be wary. We must be on our guard. The Charisians have Daivyn and Irys, and they will force them to tell whatever lies best suit Charisian purposes. We have only the truth — only eyewitnesses to murder and kidnapping and arson, to rape and pillage — and Shan-wei, the Mother of Lies, knows how to defile the truth. That’s a game she’s played before, one which led to the destruction of Armageddon Reef and mankind’s fall from grace into the captivity of a sinful nature, and we dare not permit it to succeed this time any more than Langhorne permitted it to succeed the first time. It’s essential that the truth be known, far and wide, and that no one be permitted to spread Shan-wei’s filth unchallenged. That’s the message Archbishop Trumahn sends us in the Grand Inquisitor’s name. As I stand here, the same message is being transmitted to every kingdom, every princedom, every cathedral, every intendant in all the world, and I call upon you as Mother Church’s faithful sons, to do your part in protecting the truth against the foul fabrications of priest-killers, regicides, blasphemers, and heretics.”

Silence hovered, and Thirsk stared back at Lainyr, refusing to look away lest those sitting closest see the disbelief burning in his eyes. Unlike any of the rest of them, he’d met Cayleb of Charis. He’d been only a crown prince then, not a king or an emperor, yet some qualities went to the bone, unchanging as stone and less yielding than steel. Ruthless with his enemies when he felt it necessary Cayleb might be — Thirsk knew that from personal experience, as well — but someone who could dishonor himself the way Lainyr was describing? Someone who would abuse or torture children helpless in his hands? No, not that king. Not that man, whatever the potential prize. That was what Zhasphar Clyntahn did, and Cayleb Ahrmahk would never stoop to Clyntahn’s level. Eternally damned heretic, apostate, and blasphemer he might indeed be, but always a man of honor . . . and never a torturer.

Lainyr gazed out across the cathedral’s pews for at least another full minute, then his nostrils flared as he inhaled deeply.

“And now, my sons,” he said softly, “I ask and charge you to join with me in a mass of intercession. Let us beseech Langhorne and Chihiro to protect their servants Irys and Daivyn even in the very hand of the ungodly. And let us also beseech the Holy Bédard and all of the other Archangels and angels to be with them and comfort them in this time of peril and trial. It is for us, their servants in this world, to free that brother and that sister — and all of God’s children — from the power of heresy and evil, so let us rededicate ourselves to that holy purpose even as we commend Irys and Daivyn to their protection and comfort.”


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75 Responses to Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 06

  1. arrrgh says:

    Just some quick points on the issues of using tech to sway the war. First, Merlin is not the only one with access to tech. We now have a bunch of people who can remotely operate devices. People who are fighting for their lives. People did feel bad about using nukes in WWII, but there was at least an argument that they had a choice. Thats not really the case here. This is a war for survival of humanity, and they could loose. Would the queen hesitate to sink a few enemy ships that were closing on Caleb’s fleet?

    Second, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. If he knows 5 enemy warships are closing on 3 friendly warships. A storm rises. Sure, if he sinks 3 enemy ships in the storm in plausible acts of nature, he will feel bad. How bad will he feel if he doesn’t, and those 3 extra ships result in the sinking/torture of 3 friendly crews? The ability to stop someone dying imparts some responsibility for that death. At the very least, he could add some extra storm damage, a lost rudder here, major leak there, could at least make them miss the battle.

    You say, thats only 3 ships…..actually, as a percentage, thats a lot given the fleets we are talking about. Even a small number of ships could be the straw that makes a big difference in the overall strategic situation.

    Or, when a battle is engaged with long range artillery fire, Merlin adding some ‘lucky’ shots would not be unreasonable. Okay, so Charis just happened to have a shot hit a magazine on the enemy flagship/fortress. Thats entirely possible, but could swing the entire battle. Hell, just have a couple of early lucky hits take out 2 of the 10 heavy cannon on a fortress wall. That alone could be enough to swing a battle.

    Or, what about hearts and minds. The countryside has the semphore towers all over the place. What if a perfect duplicate of actual orders ‘blew away on the wind’…..and blew into the path of a caravan driver in time to warn of an attack on the village etc.

  2. arrrgh says:

    Having said all of that, people are complicated. Yes, its entirely possible he has laid down ground rules for how to act, and is sticking too it. Even if its not ‘cost effective’, people do stuff like that all the time. Hell, lots of people in battle shoot in the air rather than shoot at someone.

    He is so busy he does not have time for much navel gazing etc. Don’t forget he effectively has an infinite amount of work to do, work thats also critical to the war effort (ie processing intel, security etc). So, yes, it is plausible he is not doing these things…….but it seems to me like he is making a mistake by not doing them.

  3. Kyladar1 says:

    Having come to these snippets only partway through HFaF, I’ve enjoyed both the snippets and some of the commentary. However, now I feel inclined to also toss my two coppers into the pot.

    Another limiting factor for Merlin’s use of anything more than he has is the way that his own side would see it. Remember that only the inner circle has any idea of what high technology really is. To this point, Merlin’s been gradually introducing new ideas to certain individuals and letting them run with them. If he starts to let others know about what he really can do, even his own side might start to distrust him and that would have severe negative repercussions on his goal of bringing out the ‘truth’ to the entirety of Safehold.

    Even the inner circle would be a bit taken back by Merlin taking off the kid gloves. Remember when Cayleb first got to see the skimmer?? He was totally floored and thought it was magic, even though he KNEW what Merlin really was. Merlin’s comment at that time sums it up rather well, the one about how to someone unfamiliar with such technology that it’d appear to some as if magic.

  4. PeterZ says:

    @50 Scotian, very well said.

    To anyone interested,

    I would like to ask one question regarding this issue in contention. What is the difference between Clyntahn and Merlin?

    Let’s review the similarities. They both have more and legal justification for using anything in their power to achieve the goals they seek. Clyntahn has been given authority in this Jihad to suspend the regular moral code in the prosecution of the war. His office has the power to fight exactly what Charis respresents. Taken together he can truly do anything at all to win this war and it would be “just” within Safehold society and legal code.

    Nimue has the authority given to her by the Terran Federation to execute the plan for Safehold. That plan has been corrupted by Langhorne and Merlin because of Nimue’s oaths to the Federation has a responsibility to set that goal right. All the tech available to him/her is his/hers to use to ensure that plan is executed. Furthermore, the Gbaba are waiting. If humanity is not prepared to fight them again, the next time they meet, humanity is dead for good.

    Both individuals have the moral and legal argument to do anything at all to achieve their end. Yet, the one that has the ruthlessness to actually push the envelope on his actions is the one that is the villan. Why? Is it because we the reader know the absolute truth of this conflict? Is it because the characters are approaching their problems differently? If so, then how does that matter? If the actions were reversed, would that matter? If Merlin truly acted as the demon and showed the ruthlessness of Clyntahn to save humanity and Clyntahn showed Merlin’s restraint and compassion to doom humanity, would we the reader feel differently? Would our angst be directed differently?

    I ask these questions because DW wrote the story in such a way to highlight these very differences. To me these factors scream for attention. So, all this discussion about what Merlin should do avoids this central question and comparison of the antagonist and protagonist. The reason there is strong disagreement is that one side seems to be saying its OK for Merlin to become like Clyntahn because his cause is just. The other side is saying, no there are limits to what Merlin should do for a host of reasons.

    I would argue that to become like Clyntahn is to doom humanity. Following the Grand Inquisitor’s path of the ruthless destruction of enemies is to make humanity someone’s slave. Down the road the most ruthless SOB will rise to the top and win leadership until someone else takes it away. That situation is hardly optimal to the creation of a society that can defeat the Gbaba, yet even if it can defeat the Gbaba that society would have more suffering than existed in the Terran Federation.

    Is that legacy of suffering and mistreatment of others what you would have Merlin succumb to? If he becomes like Clyntahn that’s exactly what might happen. Certainly that outcome is more likely to happen if Merlin does become like Clyntahn than if he keeps to the limits he has set for himself.

  5. BobG says:

    @54 I think it really is a good thing that Nimue/Merlin has friends to whom he can talk, confide. Heck, Michael is a Bedardist, in effect a shrink he can talk to.

    Clynthan doesn’t have friends.

    I think the war over Siddarmark, unlike the war to date, will really stress Merlin and make him feel he had a part in each death. Illogical, but (s)he is a moral person. And each piece of technical innovation that saves Siddarmarkian lives by killing the invaders makes the load on him greater, even necessary though it is.

    If Nimue/Merlin was a “normal” human being, I’d suggest (s)he acquire a romantic partner (girlfriend, boyfriend) to help. But in this context, no idea…

    — Bob G

  6. PeterZ says:

    @55 Just one suggestion, Bob. Superman. Merlin made his appearance in the first few stories alone. It wasn’t until that scene in Superman’s tent that merlin made his debut with another person. A bit of foreshadowing perhaps?

  7. Scotian says:


    First off, thank you very much for your kind words.

    Secondly…right back at you re @54!!! You strike to the heart of the issue in that comment I would argue, and also why there can and will be strong opinions on the issue being argued in this thread as a result of that deliberate choice by the author Weber. I would note that Clyntahn is even being shown to be a more nuanced character in the last book than he had previously, which until then he did seem a bit of a 2d villain/antagonist (unusual for Weber, even if an understandable one to have evolved in such a system as set up by Langhorne/Bedard), and that he just as Merlin truly believes in his mission/quest, the real difference comes down to whether either believes that there should ever be limits in gaining those goals/missions. I remember a famous American quote about how extremism in the pursuit of liberty is no vice, well from the first time I heard it as a schoolboy onwards to the older wiser decades away man that I have become I have the same reaction to it, that being extremism is one of the most profound threats to liberty even/especially in its pursuit. Certain goals become unattainable because the methods embraced make it impossible to get there, I remember when the first attempts to make speech politically correct started to gain strength a few decades back, I got into a lot of arguments with its proponents because I kept pointing out that while the aim/goal was one I could agree with the means they were advocating would by their very nature preclude it from ever being attained. Needless to say this did not make me the most popular person in these circles, but time has certainly shown that I had the right of it.

    The problem with embracing extreme methods is that they have inevitable costs to them, and while they can seem the easier route to go they almost always turn out to be means with higher costs than first believed, and that is discounting the “slippery slope” aspect that is inevitable in such situations. When one looks through human history one finds it difficult to see where embracing extremism has ended up being a gain/positive for the advancement of human civilization except perhaps in true wars of survival. That is the one exception I grant, and even there it needs to be carefully watched out for moving away from once the survival threat has been defeated otherwise you end up in the situation of having won the battle to lose the war.

    I’d love to continue this but I have to go visit a seriously sick in-law with my wife soon so I will leave it here for now.

  8. robert says:

    I miss Maggie.

  9. PeterZ says:

    Me too! robert. I tried fishing with my Beethover comment. No nibbles.

  10. KenJ says:

    One more thing to consider.

    Nimue/Merlin like Shan-Wei PASSIONATELY believes in personal freedom and liberty. (S)He also has the whole of human history to show what happens when “end justifies means” mentality takes over. Also the personal code held bye them is one of respecting others rights and lives and an unwillingness to to believe theirs is the “one true way.”

    Because of the personal code lived bye Merlin, that restricts him. Or, to paraphrase from one of David’s other books (Oath of Swords) Having morals restricts. Who has more freedom to act? An amoral Clynthan with a bomb or an honorable Merlin/Nimue with the same bomb? Clynthan of course.

    Merlin’s restrictions are self-imposed but necessary or he will destroy himself and those he cares about in the end.

  11. Shade says:

    The thing with Merlin sitting back and refusing to act is that it won’t help. In some ways it just increases the “blood debt” and mental anguish as he gets to sit back and watch attocities being committed across the planet. Taking a page from Nahrmahn’s book and going for surgical removal of key players would end things much faster, and with far less suffering from people who truly don’t deserve it–on both sides of the conflict; in Sidmark for instance.

    Sitting in Zion with a sniper rifle waiting to take out Clyntahn as he walks across the square would be high on my list. ‘Course that -would- simplify things too much from a plot standpoint, but still… XD

  12. KenJ says:

    Nah, Clynthan will be taken out by one of Anzhalique’s former ‘ladies’ (turned operative) when he takes her as his latest concubine…. [Very Big EVIL Grin!!!]

  13. Jeff Ehlers says:

    Something to keep in mind regarding Merlin’s unwillingness to start expanding the use of his superior capabilities.

    Remember in Off Armageddon Reef, where Merlin made it crystal clear that he could not afford to get caught in a lie? His unwillingness to start down the path of expediency is an extension of that. He cannot afford to start letting his goal drive the means he uses to accomplish it, because the means shape the end and give it form.

    Example: Langhorne. His goal was to protect humanity from being exterminated by the Ghaba. He did so by brainwashing each and every one of the colonists into a false religious belief, and by establishing a worldwide church that would stymie any and all technological developments to keep humanity from accidentally attracting the Ghaba’s attention. But the consequence of that is that if the Ghaba ever did stumble across Safehold, there would not even be the slightest chance of preventing them from finishing the job.

    That is why Merlin has to be very careful what he does, even now. Because the unintended consequences could easily result in something that would be disastrous to Merlin’s long-term goal. What if, for example, he acted to shorten the war by essentially doing everything he could to sabotage the CoGA? Well, for starters, there would be millions of people, easily, who would have every reason to hold a grudge against Merlin and Charis. He’s going to need humanity to pull together and unify to build up the military strength to defeat the Ghaba, but those people would only have his word for the fact that the Ghaba even existed, so they’d have every reason to resist his efforts.

    Merlin needs to show that he’s worthy of trust. The only way to do that is to show that you’re the kind of person who can be trusted not to abuse your power.

  14. Doubting Thomas says:

    My problem with this discussion is that random acts of sabatoge, while possibly satisfying whould not be the best use of the resorce that is Merlin. If you are fighting for your survival, you need to use all resorces as effectively as possible. Merlin’s most effective use is the gathering and distribution of information. In snippet #2 Merlin had just watched the ambush from snippet #1, why was that? Could it be because he gave the ambusher’s the information for route and timing? This book is going to have a heavy component of logistics in it and the information of disrupt the temples logistics will be key. Just remember that it is hard for an army to fight is they are starving.

    Gathering and distributing information about the logistics will be much more important in the long run than random acts of sabotage.

  15. Bob G says:

    @64 I generally agree, but, as DW snerked, this is a war of logistics. Imagine what would happen if a barge full of gunpowder detonated while in a lock on a critical canal, for example. It would probably take days or even weeks to repair the damage and get the supplies moving. And with the number of men and animals being used, cutting off the logistics train would have even more effect than killing men on the battlefield. Now repeat that in 30 or 40 places after troops have moved past, and you get troops who are without food and not enough close enough to reach supplies.

    I think one of OWL’s “poison pills” would be enough to set off a powder barge tracelessly. It would cause relatively few casualties – the barge crew and the crew and dragons pulling it – although arguably they are relatively innocent people as well.

    — Bob G

  16. ET1swaw says:

    I am beginning to like @38 BobG’s new subtitle for this book (‘the Fight for Merlin’s Soul) better and better.
    What can Merlin/Nimue risk/recover-from?
    What means WILL NOT misshape the ends (s)he is going for?
    How can a HUMAN (and yes I consider Merlin/Nimue a human being (not just a sentient THING) with a soul; even Clyntahn HAS a soul) with the powers of a minor God and a self-imposed mission (mission from hell IMO) retain their humanity/soul in the face of this metaphorical ‘death of a thousand cuts’?

    IMO in the Safehold series MWW has given us both multi-faceted heroes and villians and allowed/revealed the sometimes human costs attendent to actions in real life (good guys die, villians prosper, good men do evil things, etc.)!! That an argument/debate over the prices to a character’s soul could erupt to me is proof positive.


  17. JeffM says:

    I should have caught this earlier but (without reading the last twenty comments)–Merlin hasn’t been accused of BEING a demon–he’s been accused of using Shan-Wei’s influence. Which is exactly what the common folk thought about exploding shells, before finding out what it actually was. So, when Clyntahn eventually okays “revolvers”, Merlin will yet again be “un-Shan-Wei’d”.

    It also occurs to me that the reason that they are telling all of this to the realm’s highest nobles and military ranks isn’t general information, it’s “Here’s the party line, and this is what you are going to rebut, er, CORRECT your subordinates with!”

  18. ET1swaw says:

    @67 JeffM: Good to get back to the actual snippet (and I personally am as bad or worse than others with my thread-drift this time)!!


  19. Peter S says:

    I think there is a tendency on this list to forget that common people have memories and are perfectly capable of using them. The increasing corruption of the Church has a real-life price for ordinary Safeholdians – they pay more and get less, and they see the ostentation with which their clergy live and the hypocrisy spreading down the hierarchy from the top. I think the COGA has been rotting internally for quite a while, the slow rot of self-betrayal, and I suspect that it has already seriously undercut the faith of no few of its adherents. Now the increasing propaganda (such as we saw in this snippet) may misfire, in that popular distrust is getting fostered more than obedience. If I may inject a bit of real-world history, CoGA is approaching the Soviet Union’s problem; the citizens are starting to think in terms of ‘we pretend to work (obey) and they pretend to pay us (provide a spiritual life)’. Only I don’t see Safeholdins retreating en mass into drunkenness! This situation is ripening, and I suspect it will in time provide the popular basis for a Reformation rebellion – or probably a lot of little ones. How will an overstrained Army of God and a very overstrained Inquisition cope with a large outbreak of small-scale rebellion (sabotage of warm material, assasination of particularly disliked clerics & inquisitors, and so forth)? I think the answer is ‘Badly!’

  20. ET1swaw says:

    @69 PeterS: I think we are already seeing the start of that outbreak. What else can you call those reformers within Corisande who not only willingly joined the Church of Charis (CoC) but championed their cause (in one instance past the brink of martyrdom)? Or the Reformer’s movement in Siddarmark (AFAIK they have no connection to the CoC)? Or even the remnants of ‘the Circle’ (the Wyllsynn’s cause)?
    People may be keeping their heads down to avoid prosecution/death as a heretic, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have thoughts/options/opinions/plans!!
    And AFAIK Clyntahn has declared supporters of Stohnar in Siddarmark as apostate/heretic along with any supporters of the ‘illegal’ CoC and any holding the heretical notion that CoGA (and most especially Clyntahn and the Inquisition) could use any improvement over the present incarnation.


  21. Bob G says:

    @69 It occurs to me that if much of the Desnarian Empire’s forces are tied up in Siddarmark, then it might be time to foment rebellion among the serfs.

    — Bob G

  22. ET1swaw says:

    @71 Bob G: You might have better luck among the Harchong Empire slaves and serfs as they are worse treated.
    OTOH the serfs in the Desnarian Empire might still have some backbone left!


  23. PeterZ says:

    @71 and 72 Guys, why not begin colonization? Start with going to the Gulf of Dohlar and setting up bases on Dragon Island. Use the Harchong slaves for the grunt work. Promise them pay and repatriation or pay and a plot of land within the Empire if they work well. Charis needs bases in the Gulf if they are ever going to control all the seas. If that works out well repeat around the Barren Lands, Samson’s Land and Trove Island.

    I doubt those few that return will survive long. What would a Harchong noble think of the stories of slaves being paid for work being spread around his estates? If Charis allows for corespondance with the POWs, then this little fact will soon get out. Once the POWs know they can never go home again, colaborating with Charis become palatable.

    So set up the bases and colonies first. Then use the colonies to foment rebellion with the serfs and slaves of Howard and Haven. By the time they finally get steam ships deployed they will have coaling stations spread where they will need them.

  24. JeffM says:

    @73 Personally, I was wondering what had become of the serf classes of the fleet that surrendered to the Charisians. Were they offered freedom–or are they too cowed and terrified of “heresy”?

    After all, Charis has plenty of room for hard workers. ;)

  25. Cobbler says:

    @ 28 Nimitz13

    Once I was watching some belly dancers. I gave a polite ululation. Somebody asked me what that meant? I said, “I don’t really know. I’ve never figured it out. Applause? Encouragement? Praise? Lust? Color me clueless. I’ve just observed that those in the in-crowd at these performances do it.”

    I’ve been reading about treecats saying “Bleek!” for years now. Never had a clue what it meant. Not exactly. Context only takes you so far. I don’t remember reading any definition in Cannon.

    Thanks, Nimitz.

    I think.

    Knowing “Bleek!” means laughter may change my view of treecats.

    Post Scriptum: Bookwyrm, I hope this is a permissible divagation.

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