Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 26

Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 26

“Welcome to Tellesberg, Prince Daivyn,” Cayleb said after a moment, meeting the boy’s gaze. “Sharleyan and I are well aware that you and your sister have to be deeply anxious.” He smiled slightly. “That’s one reason we arranged to greet you here, rather than under more . . . formal circumstances.” He looked up briefly, his eyes meeting Irys’ and Coris’, then looked back down at Daivyn. “The situation’s very . . . complicated, Daivyn, and I know your life’s been turned upside down, that frightening things have happened to you — and to your sister. You’re very young to’ve all of this happening to you. But my cousin Rayjhis was very young for some of the things that happened to him, too. It’s one of the tragedies of the world that things like this can happen to people far too young to deserve any of it.

“My father and I were your father’s enemies,” Cayleb continued unflinchingly, and the boy found the courage to look back at him unwaveringly. “I don’t know what would have happened if he and I had met across the peace table the way we were supposed to. It might’ve turned out almost as badly as it actually did. But I tell you now, on my own honor, and on the honor of the House of Ahrmahk, and under the eyes of God, I did not order, or authorize, or buy your father’s and your older brother’s murders. I think you know by now who actually did.” He looked up again, meeting Irys’ and Coris’ eyes once more before he turned back to the boy. “I can’t prove what actually happened in the past, but Sharleyan and I can and intend to prove our fidelity in the future. And that’s why, now, before your sister and Earl Coris, your guardian and your protector, we formally acknowledge you as the rightful Prince of Corisande.”

Irys inhaled sharply, astonished despite herself that Cayleb would say such a thing before he’d even begun laying out the conditions under which Daivyn might be permitted to claim his father’s crown. For a moment, her mind insisted it had to be no more than a ploy, something to set the two of them at ease until the actual demands could be deployed. But then she looked away from Cayleb, her eyes met Sharleyan’s, and she knew. Knew Cayleb truly meant what he’d just said.

“I don’t know how this will all work out in the end, Daivyn,” Cayleb went on. “The world’s a messy place, and bad things can happen. You’ve already had too much proof of that, and I can’t guarantee what will happen in Corisande, or how soon you’ll be able to go home, or what will happen when you get there. But Sharleyan and I can promise you this: you’re safe here in Tellesberg or anywhere else in our realm. No one will harm you, no one will threaten you, and no one will try to force you to do anything you don’t choose to do. Except,” he added with a sudden grin, “for the sorts of things grown-ups are constantly insisting that kids do. I’m afraid you don’t get a free pass on brushing your teeth and washing behind your ears, Your Highness.”

Irys felt her lips twitch, and Daivyn actually laughed. Then Cayleb turned directly to Irys and Coris.

“I’m sure we’ll all have a great deal to discuss over the next few days and five-days. In the meantime, all of you are welcome guests in the Palace, but Sharleyan and I feel it would be better from a great many perspectives for you to be Archbishop Maikel’s houseguests rather than quartered here. In your place, we’d feel more secure there, and we have complete faith in Maikel’s ability to keep you safe. We will ask you to follow his armsmen’s instructions fully in light of the terrorist attacks and assassination attempts Clyntahn and his butchers have launched here in Tellesberg but you are most emphatically not prisoners. You’re free to come and go as you please, assuming you take adequate security with you. For obvious reasons, it won’t be possible for any of you to leave Old Charis without our having made careful arrangements, but we understand Lady Hanth has invited Daivyn and you to visit her at Breygart House. We have no objection at all to that, nor to any other travel here in the kingdom. Indeed, we’d be delighted for you to see more of our Empire and our people than you possibly could locked up in a palace somewhere.

“It’s our hope that you — that all of you — will recognize in time where your true enemies lie, and that those enemies are our enemies, as well. Neither of us will try to pretend we don’t have all the pragmatic, calculating reasons in the world to want you to come to that conclusion. You and the Earl have both been too close to a throne for too long not to realize that has to be the case, and I’m sure both of you already see how advantageous that would be for us. But that doesn’t change the truth, and it doesn’t mean we or anyone else have the right to dictate to your conscience. We’ll do all we may to convince you; we will not compel you. What you decide may determine what choices and decisions we have to make in regards to you and to Corisande. We can’t change that, and we won’t pretend we can. Yet we also believe it would be far more foolish of us, and far more dangerous, in the fullness of time, to attempt to force you to do our bidding. Not only would you inevitably become a weapon that would turn in our hand at the first opportunity, but you’d have every right to do just that, and the truth is that we have too many foes already to add such potentially formidable ones to them. We’d prefer to have you as friends; we definitely don’t want you as enemies. I believe King Zhames and certain members of the Inquisition have already learned what having you as foes can cost.”

He smiled very faintly, then stepped back beside Sharleyan and waved at the rattan chairs scattered comfortably about the terrace.

“And now, having said all of that depressing, formal stuff, would the lot of you please join us? We thought we’d have lunch out here on the terrace — assuming we can keep Zhanayt’s damned parrot from swooping down and stealing everything! — and Zhan and Zhanayt will be joining us shortly. Before they descend upon us, however, we have quite a lot we’d like to discuss with you. For example, we’ve had Merlin’s report on your escape from Talkyra, but the seijin has a tendency to . . . underplay his own role in that sort of daring do. We’d like to have your version of it, and we’d like the opportunity to answer as many of your questions as we can in a suitably informal atmosphere, as well. I’m afraid we are going to have to have a formal reception, and eventually we’re going to have to have ministers and members of Parliament in to talk to both of you — and to you, My Lord,” he added, glancing at Coris again. “But there’s no need to dive into that immediately. We thought we’d give you at least a five-day or so to get settled with the Archbishop before anyone starts dragging you around like some sort of trophies. Would that be satisfactory to you?”

Recognized as rightful ruling Prince of Corisande or not, Daivyn looked up quickly at Irys, who smiled just a bit crookedly.

“I think that’s not just satisfactory but quite a bit more graceful than we’d — than I’d — expected, Your Majesty. Or Your Majesties, I suppose I should say.”

“It does get complicated sometimes,” Sharleyan told her, speaking for the first time, and smiled back at her. “Actually, here in Old Charis, Cayleb is ‘Your Majesty’ and I’m ‘Your Grace.’ In Chisholm, we flip.” The empress shrugged with an infectious chuckle. “It helps us keep track of who’s talking to whom, at least!”

“I see . . . Your Grace.” Irys dropped her another curtsy. “I’ll try to keep the distinction in mind.”

“I’m sure you will,” Sharleyan said. Then her smile faded and she cocked her head. “And before we get to all of that informal conversation, let me say formally that everything Cayleb just said he truly did say in both our names. I know — I know, Irys — what you felt when your father was murdered. And I know all the hatred which lay between me and him had to play a part in your thinking. But that hatred was between me and him, not between me and you or me and Daivyn. You aren’t him, and imperfect as I am in many ways, I do try to remember the Writ‘s injunctions. I have no intention of holding a father’s actions against his children, and you truly are as safe here in Tellesberg as you could ever be in Manchyr. I’ve lost my father; Cayleb’s lost his; you and Daivyn have lost yours, and a brother as well. I think it would be well for all of us to learn from those losses, to try and find a way to create a world in which children don’t have to worry about losing the ones they love so early. I can’t speak for God, but I think it would make Him smile if we managed to accomplish a little good out of so much pain and loss.”

Irys looked into those huge brown eyes and something — some last, cold residue of fear and distrust — melted as she saw nothing but truth looking back at her. That recognition didn’t magically fill her with confidence for the future, nor did she think all the goodwill in the world, however sincere, could guarantee what the future might bring. Any ruler’s daughter learned those realities early, for the world was a hard instructor, and her lessons had been harsher than most. Only time could tell what political demands she and Daivyn would face, what decisions might yet force them into fresh conflict with the House of Ahrmahk, and she knew it. But unlike Zhaspahr Clyntahn, Cayleb and Sharleyan Ahrmahk were neither monsters nor liars. Enemies they might yet be, or become once more, but honorable ones. They meant what they’d just said, and they would stand by it in the teeth of hell itself.

“I’d like that, Your Grace,” she heard herself say, and her own lips trembled just a bit. “We’ve made Him weep more than enough,” she went on, and saw recognition of her deliberate choice of words flicker in Sharleyan’s eyes. “Surely it’s time we made Him smile a bit, instead.”


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26 Responses to Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 26

  1. Robert H. Woodman says:

    Very touching scene. I like it.

  2. Bryan says:

    Lot of talking. Not much interesting conversation.

  3. Ed T. says:

    Is Father Paytyr Wyslynn going to jump out with his Terran verifier to make sure everyone is telling the truth?

  4. Nimitz13 says:

    This will certainly put an end any conjecture that our dynamic duo would do a “sins of the father” act on Irys and Daivyn, but I never expected any such approach. In fact, everything so far has been pretty much as I imagined.

    One surprise was that Daivyn and Irys will be permitted free run of Tellesberg, Old Charis, and eventually the whole EoC. I’d expected them to mostly remain with the Archbishop or in the royal palace. Letting them travel around town and to other locales is going to be a security nightmare. I’m sure Clyntahn is already plotting to assassinate Daivyn (and Irys if available) while their tender souls are in the hands of the Shan-wei worshiping heretics!

    I can imagine Clynathn talking to Rayno: “I’ve got a war to plan, Daivyn and Irys to murder, and Charis to blame for it. I’m swamped.”

    Rayno: “Well try to get some rest. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything…” ;)

    Since the EoC ALREADY declared their public position that Daivyn is the legitimate crown prince of Corisande, I don’t understand Irys’ surprise. Of course we don’t know how much power comes with the title or what duties to the empire it entails. In reality it’s been reduced to a glorified governorship, as Corisande will eventually become an official province of the EoC and will have representatives in parliament, etc.

    Daivyn will LOVE the parrot. Cayleb will too – either broiled or barbecued! Bleek!

    • Karsten says:

      Since the EoC ALREADY declared their public position that Daivyn is the legitimate crown prince of Corisande, I don’t understand Irys’ surprise.

      I do. After all, political declarations are one thing – personal ones, on the other hand, are a total different kettle of fish, especially if they are made face to face. And Irys is to much her fathers child to accept political declarations of her longterm family’s adersaries without a grain of salt …

    • Grant C says:

      A public declaration that Daivyn is Prince made when everyone knows Daivyn is off in the customdy of people that will never let him get within 1000 miles of Coridance while Charis controls it… and which serves obvious public relations/propaganda purposes for mollifying the Corisandian population you just conquered… is a very different thing than saying he’s Prince when he’s standing right there in your own custody.

      Saying he’s rightful Prince *now* means they’re actually sending him back to Corisande to rule. Not this afternoon, and not without some understandings being worked out, but that’s what it means.

      Big deal, and definitely not something Irys or Daivyn would have been expecting to just get dropped in their lap 5 minutes after arrival.

      • Drak Bibliophile says:

        Yes and No Grant.

        They’re saying that he’s the rightful Prince.

        They’ve been open about him not returning to Corisande until he’s sworn alligence to the Empire.

        But they have made it clear that they won’t be forcing him to swear alligence.

  5. Alan says:

    I wish they’d abandon the Your Majesty/Your Grace thing. It doesn’t work outside Chisholm and Old Charis and must be horribly confusing to chiefs of protocol in Emeralde, Corisande, Zebediah and Tarot. And, if people like the kings and queens in Spain or Belgium or the emperor and empress in Japan are secret royal fans they must laugh themselves silly every time they read it.

    • Doug Lampert says:

      I’d guess it’s largely for domestic consumption in Chisholm. In our world Queen can be a consort’s title, but King is always a sovereign. Thus Queen Elizabeth’s consort is Prince Philip.

      Calling Cayleb something other than King in Chisholm emphasises that he hasn’t just taken over. This explanation would still leave the question of why they’re going with a Duke’s “Your Grace” rather than a Prince’s “Your Highness” for the out of town guest. Nor is it really all that neccessary. AFAIK they didn’t bother to give King Ferdinand of Aragorn any title but King when he was visiting his wife’s holdings in Castille and Leon, even if he wasn’t technically THEIR king, he was still a king.

      • Alan says:

        Yep, and Ferdinand’s grandson Philip II got ‘Your Majesty’ in England while he was married to Mary I although no-one, including Mary, ever imagined him as king in, of, or anywhere remotely near England. Mary II + William III are a closer analogy, although the UK and the United Provinces did not become one country and William was declared king in his own right. They both got majestied on both sides of the North Sea.

        Because of William’s relative power in the two countries there was a joke that he was stadtholder of England and king of the United Provinces.

        • Doug Lampert says:

          I agree in general, but I’m going to make a couple of minor disagreements/corrections.

          1) Philip II was the great-grandchild of Ferdinand and Isabella, Mary I was the grandchild.

          2) William & Mary does provide an example of legal Co-regents which is in a way a better parallel. But IIRC when William had his army outside of London he wanted to be crowed king in his own right, and Parliment insisted on the fig leaf of crowning his wife as co-regent. William III wouldn’t have been king of ANYWHERE if he hadn’t tried a blatant takeover and been convinced to use a slightly less blatant form by claiming he and his wife were co-regents. This isn’t exactly a good example of how to make it firmly clear that you AREN’T engaged in a blatant takeover. Thus I’d argue that any of the other examples listed is actually better.

          The unusual aspect of the Charis/Chrisholm situation is that they merged the two countries PRIOR to the death of either incumbant. This strikes me as being more of a Ferdinand/Isabella situation (I don’t actually know if Ferdinand and Isabella formally merged their realms prior to Isabella’s death, but they certainly ruled as co-regents of a single realm in practice). But again, they didn’t need any fancy title shifting to indicate this.

          • Alan says:

            Ouch about the grandchild/great-grandchild thing.

            Ferdinand and Isabella did not merge their respective kingdoms and there would have been more than mild consitutional hysterics in the Crown of Aragón if Ferdinand had tried to do so. Spain remained a collection of separate kingdoms until 1716.

            William III was the heir-male in right of his mother, Princess Mary, the eldest daughter of Charles I, and a little surprised to learn that under English law he was not the heir presumptive.

  6. tootall says:

    So, is it just me, or does anyone else think that sending these two into the “evil clutches” of the MOST evil heritic of all (Maikel) is a boon for church propgandists?

    Seems like the TLs would all consider that the same way the allies felt about Circle member children being sent to the inquisition and put to the Question.

    • BobG says:

      I don’t see it making any difference in the CoGA/TL’s eyes whether Daivyn is in Maikel’s hands or in Cayleb and Sharleyan’s. However, it might make Corisandians feel better about it. I would suspect that Earl Coris also still holds his Earldom, at least after he swears fealty to the Empire (if he ever does). In other words, it hasn’t been taken away from him.

      Agreed that there are no real surprises here, save that I would want a lot more security, and letting them “tour” the Empire exposes them to more risk than I would want. OTOH, perhaps what Cayleb and Sharleyan are attempting to do is to show that EoC is really a nice place after all, and that by agreeing to not fight Corisand’s inclusion in the Empire isn’t all that bad.

      • Drak Bibliophile says:


        Plus, remember that they weren’t allowed to leave King Zhames’ palace, for their “own protection”.

        Cayleb and Sharleyan are allowing them more freedom of movement than they had before.

        That’s something that they’ll enjoy and thus they will be thinking more favorable of their hosts.

  7. BobG says:

    For example, we’ve had Merlin’s report on your escape from Talkyra, but the seijin has a tendency to . . . underplay his own role in that sort of daring do.

    Is is daring do, or derring do?

  8. Frank says:

    There will be an attempt on the young princes life. Probably in Hanth. 50/50 on if he lives or not.

    • Robert H. Woodman says:

      You can bet that Merlin, Cayleb, and Sharelyn will be monitoring Daivyn and Irys remotely. If an attempt is made on Daivyn’s life, it’s a sure bet that the assassins will die with no mercy and no warning.

    • Bobsuncorp says:

      If there is, then I predict Merlin will perform some incredible feat to save him at the last moment. Those are always hands down my favourite parts of these books.

    • Nimitz13 says:

      There undoubtedly WILL be attempts on Daivyn’s life, and possibly Irys’ as well. The propaganda value of the two innocent, kidnapped children being murdered in the hands of the heretics is too valuable for the CoGA to pass up. Plus if Daivyn and Irys both declare that Clyntahn had their father murdered and ordered THEM murdered in Delferahk, it’s going to make the church look bad on the continent, especially after the CoGA’s blatant lies about the “kidnapping.” The CoGA will claim the children were brainwashed of course. The joint declaration will rally Corisande closer to accepting a role as part of the EoC, especially if Daivyn swears fealty.

      Keep in mind, the world knows Cayleb and Sharley could have Daivyn and Irys executed any time they wanted, so if the church wants them killed, they need to die while in custody of Maikel or Cayleb and Sharley. Assassins shooting from windows or explosive devices won’t sell back in Haven and Howard. Keep a close eye on anyone who has access to the Archbishop’s and royal palaces. Perhaps we’ll more of Merlin’s derring do.

      Neither Daivyn or Irys will be going home without agreeing to swear fealty. That was a stipulation of their rescue, whether the EoC recognizes Daivyn as the crown prince of Corisande of not. Cayleb and Sharley will try to make the process as easy as possible as they attempt to convince both Daivyn and especially Irys that swearing fealty is not only palatable, but preferable. Were only Daivyn involved, given his hero worship of Merlin, his choice would be easy.

      Since Daivyn looked immediately to Irys for confirmation when Cayleb proposed giving them a five-day to settle in, it’s clear he considers her to be his political adviser – and the EoC can offer Irys something no one else can: revenge for her father and brother’s murders.

      Swearing fealty will ultimately come down to what Irys decides, for both herself and Daivyn. I don’t expect that process to happen quickly, and I’d guess they’ll be spending quite a bit of time with the Imperials and Maikel, getting to know how the EoC looks at the duties of ruling, the differences between the CoC and the CoGA, and hopefully they’ll realize that the EoC offers a much better way than the CoGA does or their father did.

      Boys being boys, I expect Daivyn will have quite a bit of fun and get into a bit of mischief along the way. Bleek!

      • JeffM says:

        I expect Daivyn (then Irys and Coris) to swear fealty in about ten seconds. Not going to be a long drawn out process.

        Daivyn looked at Irys not because she is “his political adviser”, but because she is his big sis–and Coris was standing BEHIND them.

    • JeffM says:

      Disagree. This story thread is largely completed it’s course. Soon Daivyn and Corisande will be nestled in the bosom of the Empire, and RFW will look elsewhere for drama. The mainland awaits, with current relevance aplenty.

      • BobG says:

        Tisk, tisk, you know about DW’s love for simultaneous subplots. The only thing is that he also will lay the foundation for a subplot in one book, then trigger it in the next book. So it may or may not be anytime soon.

        However, I do think something will happen during the trip to Hanth. My concern, however, is that Irys and Daivyn may be exposed to inner circle secrets during the rescue.

  9. TimC says:

    RFW? is that ‘runs for wyverns?’, always thought RFC had his slashdragon side!

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