Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 42

Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 42

“Yes,” Irys replied softly. But then she gave herself a mental shake and tilted her head, hazel eyes taking on an edge of challenge. “Yes,” she repeated, “and it doesn’t hurt Charis’ position with him one bit for him to play baseball and basketball with the boy who’s still second in line to the Charisian Crown, does it, Your Eminence?”

“Of course it doesn’t. And I won’t pretend that consideration isn’t a part of Their Majesties’ . . . calculations where you and your brother are concerned. But do you truly believe they wouldn’t have done the same thing anyway?”

Irys locked gazes with him for a moment. Then she shook her head.

“No,” she admitted. “I think they would’ve done exactly the same thing And” — she confessed — “they’ve given him a degree of freedom here in Tellesberg he never would’ve had in Manchyr.”

“But not without seeing to his security very carefully, Your Highness.”

“No, not without that,” she agreed, and her lips quirked almost against her will. “Seeing three boys, the oldest barely fourteen, playing baseball with two complete teams of Marines and Imperial Guardsmen in full uniform — including the Guardsmen’s armor — is . . . not something I would’ve seen back in Manchyr. And it’s amazing how good Colonel Falkhan is at losing after absolutely playing as hard as he possibly could.”

“Ah, well, Your Highness, he was Emperor Cayleb’s chief bodyguard when Cayleb was crown prince himself, you know. And the truth is that I suspect Zhan would be having rather a harder time of it if it weren’t for the younger boys. Colonel Falkhan had quite a lot of practice doing the same thing with Cayleb, but it began to change somehow when Cayleb turned fourteen or fifteen.” The archbishop smiled in memory. “At that point, Cayleb suddenly discovered it was far more difficult to beat his armsmen than it used to be. He’s one of the brighter fellows I know, and it didn’t take him long to realize they’d been — I believe the term is ‘throwing‘ — the games when he’d been younger. Which only made him even more determined to beat them fairly now that he was older. Not a bad lesson for a future monarch to learn early, I think.”

“Probably not,” Irys said thoughtfully. “Especially the bit about people letting him win because he was a prince. People get — or some of them get, at any rate — more subtle about it as they get older, but there are always plenty of flatterers and toadies around. Learning to watch for that sort of thing would be a useful lesson for any ruler.”

“Actually, Your Highness, you’re missing the point,” Staynair corrected gently. She looked a question at him, and the archbishop shrugged. “Every child is ‘allowed’ to win, at least sometimes, by adults who truly love him. It gives him the confidence to try again, to become steadily better, to master challenges. It’s important that he not realize the adults in his life are deliberately losing to him, because he needs that sense of accomplishment. And it’s important for them to challenge him even when they ‘let’ him win, so that he truly does gain in proficiency and capability. But for someone destined to wear a crown, it’s even more important for him to realize those who truly care for him are willing to beat him, to force him to stretch to the very limit of his capabilities, and to show him the difference between glib-tongued sycophants and those he can trust to be honest with him. That’s a valuable lesson for anyone, Your Highness, but especially for someone destined to rule. And one reason it’s especially valuable for a ruler is because it also teaches him to cherish those who are honest with him, to encourage them to tell him when they disagree with him, or when he’s making a mistake. And to listen to them when they tell him that.” He shook his head. “That’s the lesson young Crown Prince Cayleb learned from Lieutenant Falkhan all those years ago, and it’s stood him — and the Kingdom and Empire of Charis — in very good stead since King Haarahld’s death.”

Irys’ eyes had narrowed while the archbishop was speaking. When he finished, she stood for a moment, still gazing up at him, and then, slowly, she nodded.

“I hadn’t thought of it exactly that way, Your Eminence,” she confessed, and a shadow touched her expressive eyes. “And I wish my father had had the opportunity to have this conversation with you years ago,” she went on very softly. “I think . . . I think it might have served him in good stead where my brother Hektor was concerned.”


Staynair captured her right hand in his, tucking it into the bend of his left elbow as he stood beside her and they both turned to look out over the city once more.

“Perhaps,” he repeated. “But perhaps not, too.”

He turned his head, gazing at her profile as the breeze cracked the banners flying from the cathedral’s façade like whips.

“I can’t speak to your father’s relationship with your brother, of course,” he continued. “But I can say that looking at you and Daivyn, who you are and who you’ve become despite everything that’s happened, gives me a far better opinion of Prince Hektor than I ever had before.” She twitched in surprise at the admission, and he smiled. “I still have . . . significant reservations about him as a ruler, you understand, Your Highness. But he — or he and your mother, perhaps — obviously did something right as parents where you and your younger brother are concerned.”

“Flattery won’t win you anything with me, you know, Your Eminence,” she said lightly, trying to mask how deeply his last sentence had touched her. “Father may not’ve allowed my armsmen to beat me at baseball, but he did make sure I understood how dangerous honeyed words can be!”

“I’m sure he did, and if he hadn’t, Earl Coris would’ve repaired the deficiency long since,” the archbishop said so dryly she chuckled. Then he turned to face her more fully, and his expression turned more serious.

“I must confess, Your Highness, that I didn’t follow you out onto the balcony this morning simply to enjoy the sunlight and the breeze with you. I’ve just received word from the Palace, and it concerns you and Daivyn.”

“It does?” Irys felt a quick stab of anxiety, but it didn’t touch her tone, and her eyes were level as she gazed up at him.

“It does,” he replied. “I’m sure you’re aware that the marriage treaty between Cayleb and Sharleyan not only established a joint Imperial Parliament but requires that the government spend half of each year, minus travel time, in Tellesberg and the other half in Chisholm?”

He crooked an eyebrow, and she nodded.

“Well, I’m afraid they’re off schedule.” He grimaced. “What with that affair in the Gulf of Tarot, and the need to get you and Daivyn — and Earl Coris, of course — safely out of Delferahk, and now this business in Siddarmark, Cayleb’s been here in Tellesberg for almost an entire year, and Sharleyan’s been here for the better part of eight months. They should’ve departed for Chisholm four months ago, and even though everyone in Cherayth understands why they haven’t, they really can’t justify putting it off any longer. Or, rather, Sharleyan can’t. She’s going to be returning to Chisholm in the next few five-days, whereas Cayleb is going to be sailing for — Well, to coordinate with Duke Eastshare and, possibly, for a personal meeting with Lord Protector Greyghor. In any case, neither of them is going to be here in Tellesberg very much longer, and you and young Daivyn will be accompanying Empress Sharleyan when she leaves.”

Irys’ eyes widened.

“But — But, forgive me, Your Eminence, but I thought Daivyn and I had been placed in your custody.”

“As you have been.” He patted the hand tucked into his elbow. “I’ll also be accompanying the Empress. One of the ways in which the Church of Charis differs from the Group of Four’s Church is that the archbishop travels to the constituent states of the Empire rather than reigning imperially here in Tellesberg and requiring all those other prelates to come pay homage to him. We haven’t yet established a firm schedule for my pastoral visits, however, and I’m rather behind. So I’m taking this opportunity to sail with you and Daivyn at least as far as Cherayth. From there, I’ll continue to Zebediah and Corisande, before I return home, possibly by way of Tarot. I imagine I’ll be gone for the better part of a year myself, but you and your brother will still be under my protection.”


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30 Responses to Midst Toil And Tribulation – Snippet 42

  1. SCC says:

    So Daivyn and Irys will be going with Staynair on his whole tour? Or parts of it? Or only to Chisholm? Or something like that?

    Also Drak, any idea if we will be seeing any more Hells Gate soon?

    • JimHacker says:

      I’m pretty sure that Staynair is saying that he will leave them in Cherayth whilst he tours the empire, but that they will still (symbolically) be under his protection despite not physically being with him. Plans might change though.

      And we get confirmation of where Cayleb is heading.

      • Nico de Lange says:

        I suspect that Cayleb & Sharleyan are also using Staynair guardianship of Daivyn & Irys to determine their (her) true loyalties, & that as soon as Cayleb has had his meeting with Greyghor, he’ll be collecting Sharleyan, Irys & Daivyn to travel to Corisande for Daivyn’s formal investiture as Prince of Corisande.

        • JimHacker says:

          I don’t disagree, but the investiture doesn’t necessarily have to take place in Corisande. Remember that the young Prince Nahrmahn’s investiture took place in the throne room in Charis. While real politik may make an investiture in Corisande preferable, practicalities of prosecuting a war may make it impossible.

    • dave o says:

      Just as happy, maybe even happier if I never see any more Hell’s Gate again. Honor. Honor. Honor.

      • Honor, nothing! NIMITZ! NIMITZ! NIMITZ! And while we’re at it, MORE DICEY!!

        I’m just sayin’….

      • robert says:

        Me too, me, too. Looong and boring and so predictable. Path of the Fury needs a sequel and just one may be enough.
        And those Prince Roger books were nothing but battle after battle after battle and more than enough.
        More Honorverse is all I need from Weber and more Eric is what I need from 163x.

    • BobG says:

      It is almost too bad they aren’t going to see what’s going on in Siddar City. Perhaps the starvation and after-effects of the attempted coup would be educational to Irys. I’m not suggesting it, as security for either Irys and Daivyn or the Archbishop would be almost impossible to ensure. For that matter, it sounds like Merlin will be with Cayleb while he is in Siddarmark, which will make him unavailable to guarding Staynair.

      Something else I’ve been thinking about: how does one go to services with a priest one of whose leaders has ordered your and your brother’s execution? What happens when Irys explains that Clyntahn ordered their deaths? Does the priest say that would never happen, or does he accept the possibility? And if he doesn’t accept it, then how does Irys react? If he does accept it, then how does he react? She is clearly devout, but we already know she isn’t ready to die for Clyntahn – for G-d, perhaps. This is a real disconnect – and the same thing many other people have gone through. The people of old Charis when through this when its destruction was attempted – and I suspect a number of Temple Loyalists can chalk that up to disbelief that it would really have happened. But Irys knows first-hand.

      • Drak Bibliophile says:

        Bob, IMO it is easy for people to seperate actions by one individual in an organization (no matter how powerful) from others in the organization.

        We see this in politics as well as in religion.

        As long as a person can see the organization as greater than the individual that they have reason to hate/dislike, they will continue to follow that organization.

        It is a “disconnect” but it’s one that happens in the Real World.

        • Et1swaw aka Rob says:

          IMO that “disconnect” is the separation point between Clyntahn’s SoS, CoGA diehards, TLs in CoC territories, Reformists, and the CoC!!

  2. Frank says:

    Ah, so it begins. The questions of Caleb and the ground war in siddermark. The question of where the prince and princess will be. The question of the next step in this religious conflict. And finally, the question of Corisande and where it will stand in the conflict. Will they join the fight or be regulated to the sidelines as an unknown quantity? Fun!

    • KenJ says:

      Which means it is about time for the snips to end. I’ve noticed that they seem to end just as the meat of the story starts to roll.

    • Frank, I believe you mean “relegated” rather than “regulated.” I say this to be helpful, not to be snarky or nit-pick. And I suspect you’re thinking the same thing I am–that the war in Siddarmark will be the decisive campaign of this conflict. Perhaps your memory got jogged the way mine did when I realized that TMW had foreshadowed this back in OAR by emphasizing the strength of the Siddarmarkan army, its proximity to the Temple Lands, and the tension between the Knights of the Temple Lands, particularly the G4, and the Republic. Gotta admire how TMW has brought the story arc around to this.

  3. Terranovan says:

    @ SCC and dave o: I’m rooting (voting?) for Hell’s Gate! Might even buy a copy if I’m going to have the time to read it.

  4. Nimitz13 says:

    Ha! As I’ve been saying for months now, Cayleb IS going to Siddar City, and Eastshare is probably going to meet him there with the 2nd half of the ICA’s expeditionary force.

    As for Irys & Daivyn’s heading to Chisholm, Drak let the cat out of the bag several months ago on a spoiler thread in the Weber forums where the MWW gave us a preview scene from the upcoming voyage, and after I got a bit TOO speculative on why Daivyn and Irys happened to be on a ship with Sharleyan. Drak replied that they might be accompanying Sharleyan to Chisholm as per the constitutional requirements. Since Drak isn’t usually that forthcoming, I had to take his suggestion with half a grain of salt, but the absence of Cayleb and Merlin from the scene – while not definitive suggested they were somewhere else, which to my fertile mind meant Siddarmark.

    We’ve known the ICA would be headed for Siddarmark ever since the SoS at the end of HFaF. While we still don’t know exactly WHERE the two expeditionary forces are headed, I’ve believe that Superman will lead the first force to northern Siddarmark, either to seize Traymos in Tarikah Province and cut off the AoG’s supply train from the Border Lands into northern Siddarmark, or to New Northland to free it from the TLs, then free Mountaincross (and possibly come at the Sylmahn Gap from the north, trapping the TL forces between themselves and the ICM and RSA forces holding the south end. Then he’d free Hildermoss and take Traymos, time permitting before winter sets in.

    Eastshare isn’t a member of the inner-circle, so the second force needs to be led by someone who is, and who OUTRANKS him. The only person who meets those criteria is Cayleb, who just happens to be headed to Siddar City which is where I expect the second force to go – as an intermediate destination to turn their flintlocks over to the RSA and receive their Mahndrayn breech loaders. Now we have confirmation that Cayleb will be there and will have “consultations” with Eastshare. This doesn’t mean those consultations may not happen somewhere else, but I can’t see how both forces could go to northern Siddarmark, since the second would arrive too late in the summer to do much good. I expect Cayleb will order them to sail to Siddar City if he meets them in the Lands of the Raven Lords somewhere.

    From Siddar City I expect them to head south to cut off supplies to the Dohlaran and Desnairan forces already in the South March Lands by taking Thesmar and Fort Darymahn, then Alykberg and Dairnyth.

    While it’s true that the days of risking the Emperor in battle should have ended in Corisande, until the top military commanders are admitted to the inner circle, the necessity of having access to SNARCs for real-time military info outweighs the risk to Cayleb’s imperial posterior.

    Other than Cayleb heading to Siddar City and having consultations with Eastshare, I’m probably wrong about everything else. Bleek!

    • Robert H. Woodman says:

      I hope you weren’t injured patting yourself on the back so vigorously. :-)

      Cayleb meeting with Lord Protector Greyghor is a good idea. Meeting him in Siddar City is fraught with peril as the city is not completely secured. Cayleb leading troops into battle is just plain stupid, whether or not he has Merlin to protect him. This is not a desperate, do-or-die situation for the ICA, so there is no need for Cayleb to risk his life like that. Just my opinion, of course.

      • Robert, I think Nimitz13 just gave himself a minor sprain, nothing serious. (Insert wicked, evil grin here.)

        I have to disagree with you, respectfully, of course, on the point of the necessity of Cayleb risking his life by being on the field during critical battles. Militarily–as distinct from technologically–Safehold is basically at the equivalent point of the Napoleonic Wars, and any serious student of those wars can tell you how pivotal could be the presence of a charismatic (as opposed to “Charisian”–and knowing TMW’s weakness for puns I’m not prepared to believe that name is mere coincidence!) commander on the field, e.g. Bonaparte, Arthur Wellesley (whatever his title was that particular week), the Archduke Karl, even Prince Eugene. A rather cheeky Tommy once called out to Wellesley “God bless your hooked nose, sir! I’d rather see it than a reinforcement of 10,000 men any day!” The battles are still small enough that the entire field can be seen from one well-sited vantage point, so the effect of the commander’s presence is multiplied by not only his moral effect but by the reduction of his response time. Cayleb’s presence would not be only an inspiration to the troops of the ICA, it would have a galvanizing effect on the Siddarmarkans who were in revolt against the CGA. And above all, remember the example that Cayleb was given by his father–and recall the reaction by Gwyllm Manthyr’s little task force to his signal “Remember King Hahrald.” It may not be the most rational thing for Cayleb to do, but leading an army in person might be the most effective thing to do. And don’t forget Hancock’s words at Gettyburg: “There are times, son, when a commander’s life is of no matter!” The lad will always lead from the front, figuratively if he has to, literally when he can. It’s just who he is and what he is.

        I’m just sayin’….

        • Robert H. Woodman says:


          Hopefully, Nimitz13 has ice packs on that shoulder now. :-)

          Your points about Cayleb in battle in Siddarmark are well-taken; however, I disagree a little bit with your analogy between Cayleb and Wellesley. Cayleb is a darn sight better, braver, wiser, and saner king than George III, but Cayleb has no more business leading troops into battle now than George III did during the Napoleonic Wars. Cayleb’s value to the Empire NOW is more important than any series of battles which may or may not be fought in Siddarmark. Yes, Cayleb will inspire the troops. Yes, you are absolutely right that at the present levels of technology and war-fighting ability in Safehold the value of a charismatic field commander can be absolutely crucial to whether a battle is one or lost, but the reverse is also true, and true in the worst sort of way. What if a stray cannon ball or musket shot or rifle round hits Cayleb and injures or kills him? What if one of his own troops shoots him accidentally (as happened to Stonewall Jackson in the American Civil War)? The consequences to the EoC are far, far worse if Cayleb is injured or killed in a battle in Siddarmark than if Cayleb refrains from battle and sends another commander in with explicit orders on what to do (which orders should include “Listen to Seijin Merlin’s visions”).

          Cayleb is a very brave man. He is becoming a great emperor. But battlefields are extraordinarily dangerous places, and no battlefield in Siddarmark is worth risking Cayleb’s life and the future of the Empire of Charis. Cayleb needs to stay out of battle and find the smartest, most competent field commander available to lead the second force.

          Just my 2 cents. I’m sure DW will confound all of our expectations and look rather brilliant in the process. :-)

          • nov_284 says:

            Well, I’d say that beyond his undeniably valuable insight, experience, and talent, Caleb isn’t irreplaceable or absolutely necessary. Now that there are more people in the know, not even Merlin (Nimue?) rises to the level of Absolutely Necessary anymore. Certainly we don’t want to see the inner circle start getting killed off in job lots, but the movement as a whole can survive the death of any one member, no matter their stature.
            Just my 2 cents. Can’t wait for Monday and the next snippet.

            PS Drak, if you read this, how hard would it be to add a “like” feature to the columns? It positively kills me when I can’t express my agreement with a post shy of adding a largely meaningless post.

          • (Insert best Samuel L. Jackson voice here) Well, then, Robert, allow me to retort!

            I would submit that the very name “the Napoleonic Wars” is supportive of my contention. Bonaparte (or, as he is otherwise known, “Fatso”) was exposed to the same degree of risk on a battlefield that Cayleb would reasonably be expected to face, and far less than Wellesley. And there was an even greater risk in Fatso doing this, in that if he fell, there was no secured succession and the entire Empire would have collapsed like a house of cards. Yet, Fatso, understanding the morale value of his presence on the field, even if not particularly close to any of the fighting, chose to be in the field with the French army. As long as, that is, it looked like the French were going to win. In a potential strategic debacle like the pursuit of the British to Corunna or the retreat from Moscow, all bets were off. However, this thread is not about Fatso’s *ahem* exercise of discretion, but his willingness to put his plump Corsican arse on the field when there was a definite political or military (or both) advantage for him to do so, Emperor or not.

            I’m just sayin’….

        • RichardK says:

          I would put it more at the Seven Years war level, and equate Caleb with Frederick. He’ll be on the battlefield with at least a battalion in front of him.

          • JeffM says:

            Drak has already said in these snippets that Cayleb won’t be anywhere near a battlefield. Even Nimitz13 had to be reminded of that one–that’s the only way he can pat himself on the back. [EvilGrin]

            I’ll point out thzt it’s no longer a situation of him “Needing” either to be there or not. Charis has a well equipped, well trained, well led force. If he didn’
            t need to be at the front in the taking of Coridande, he certainly doesn’t need to be there now.

            • Nimitz13 says:

              We treecats can pat ourselves on the back using all six limbs, so my shoulder is fine. Bleek!

              I don’t recall Drak telling us Cayleb wouldn’t be near a battlefield, or I could have saved an hour composing my post on the likely strategy in the upcoming war.

              The second force STILL needs a member of the inner circle to give it access to SNARCs. So unless Eastshare is brought into the circle, or Merlin is sent along and Eastshare is given instructions to pay close attention to Merlin’s “visions” (which he’s trying to downplay) the 2nd force will be at a severe disadvantage. Since it’s likely to face Dohlar, Desnair, and Harchong, it needs all the help it can get!

  5. George Phillies says:

    Cayleb has ceased to be central to the success of the Charisian Empire, though if he were to perish the safety of his wife would become far more critical. If he drops dead, the Empress is still the smarter half of the family.

    • Anette says:

      Smarter, yes. But, as far as I know, Sharleyan has never been a battlefield commander. Cayleb has proved that he can win battles and his navy/army trusts him. Yes, a lot of his success is because of Merlin’s help, but the common soldiers don’t know that.

  6. Sedgewick's Ghost says:

    DA Butler said,

    “It may not be the most rational thing for Cayleb to do, but leading an army in person might be the most effective thing to do. And don’t forget Hancock’s words at Gettyburg: “There are times, son, when a commander’s life is of no matter!” The lad will always lead from the front, figuratively if he has to, literally when he can. It’s just who he is and what he is.

    I’m just sayin’….”

    As long as Cayleb stays at headquarters and sends orders to the front lines, he will probably be about as safe as he would be in Siddar City. Although, in addition to Hancock’s words at Gettysburg he should also keep in mind the immortal last words of General Sedgwick at Spottsylvania, “Take cover?, don’t be ridiculous man, why they couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance…” I’m jus saying.

    • Nimitz13 says:

      I’ve suggested Cayleb will lead the southern attack for several reasons.

      1) He has access to SNARCs and thus has real-time info on enemy troop numbers, locations, conversations, and movements etc, which gives the good guys a HUGE advantage.

      2) He’s the only member of the inner-circle who can do the job, since he outranks Eastshare. Bring Eastshare into the inner-circle and Cayleb can go home.

      3) The ICM have a near idolatrous confidence in his ability to find and defeat the enemy, on land or sea. That confidence goes a long way toward stiffening the backbones of the troops.

      4) The political impact of having the head of state of the EoC leading the battle to protect Siddarmark cannot be overstated.

      For those who seem to think I’m espousing more of the final battle scene from OAR here, with Cayleb wearing his armor made of battle steel, charging at the foe with Excalibur in hand, forget it. He’s going to stay safely in the rear, sending couriers to tell the troops where to be and when. (With just enough mistakes that don’t matter so they’ll think he’s a tactical genius and not consorting with demons.)

      Leave the derring-do to Merlin. He’s the he’s best at it, and he enjoys it. Bleek!

      • Shade says:

        “Leave the derring-do to Merlin. He’s the he’s best at it, and he enjoys it. Bleek!”

        And I enjoy reading those scenes SOOO much! :D

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