BY HERESIES DISTRESSED â€“ snippet 14:
“Your Grace, I told you Sharleyan would never lie to you about something like that,” Green Mountain said softly, and she gave him a watery smiled.
“Dear Mahrak!” She pulled her hand out of his to touch him lightly on one cheek. “Of course you did. I know that. Just as I fully realize that you would lie Shan-wei out of Hell if that was what it took to protect Sharleyan or me.”
“Your Grace, I never –” he began, only to have her interrupt him with a soft gurgle of laughter.
“Of course you would have! And don’t make it worse by trying to convince me otherwise.”
He looked at her with an oddly hopeless expression, and she laughed again, then turned her attention back to Cayleb.
“Get up, Your Majesty! It’s not fitting that you should be on your knees to me.”
Her voice, Cayleb noticed, was much stronger than it had been, with a scolding note he had not previously heard from her. It was one he recognized, though. The last time he’d heard it — from someone besides Sharleyan herself, at least — it had been from his own mother, and he felt something warm within his heart.
“Yes, Your Grace. Immediately, Your Grace. To hear is to obey, Your Grace,” he said meekly, brown eyes twinkling with devilish delight, and she laughed again.
“That’s quite enough of that, too, Your Majesty,” she told him. You aren’t going to turn me up sweet with a few words and an easy smile! That may have worked with my young and impressionable daughter, Sir, but it won’t work with me!”
“Your Grace, I am shocked — shocked, I say — that you could possibly impute such base motives to me!”
“Of course you are,” she said dryly, then pointed firmly with her free hand at the chair he had abandoned. He held her left hand a moment longer, still smiling at her, then rose and walked obediently around to seat himself once more in the indicated chair.
“With all due respect, Your Majesty,” she continued, “I hope you’ll forgive me if I inform you that you are a charming, utterly unprincipled young rascal. No doubt you’ve found that smile of yours has always gotten you out of trouble before. I suspect you’ll find it rather less effective in my own case, however!”
“Well, there went all my hopes and plans to use my irresistible charm to . . . steer you into doing things my way.”
“Somehow,” Green Mountain said, his tone even drier than the Queen Mother’s, “I rather doubt that you’ve resorted to anything as uncertain as ‘irresistible charm’ in quite some time, Your Majesty.”
“Indeed not,” Alahnah agreed, her eyes narrowing as she considered the exotically dressed young man sitting at the far end of the table. “Mind you, it’s already obvious to me that you can be quite charming, when it suits you, Your Majesty. And to be frank, if I were twenty years or so younger, I would undoubtedly find that charm almost as ‘irresistible’ as Sharleyan obviously has. In my own case, however, you have something much more valuable and convincing.”
“I do?” Cayleb arched one eyebrow, his head cocked politely, and she snorted.
“Of course you do,” she said in a much more serious tone. “You have the truth. And you have the partnership you and Sharleyan have obviously forged. I already knew that much from her letters.”
“And does the rest of Chisholm share that belief with you, Your Grace?” Cayleb asked softly.
“Not all of it, Your Majesty,” Green Mountain answered for the queen mother. “Not all of it. But for most of your people, most of Queen Sharleyan’s subjects, there’s more than enough trust — in her and her judgment — to offset the fears of those who don’t agree. For now, at least.”
“That was the impression we’d both drawn from your letters to her, My Lord,” Cayleb said, carefully never mentioning the reports he’d had from one Merlin Athrawes, as well. “I hope this visit will help to convince at least some of those stubborn holdouts that their fears are groundless.”
“If you mean our own Temple Loyalists are going to find it a bit difficult to continue describing you as Shan-wei come back to Safehold, complete with horns, cloven hooves, and hairy tail, you’re probably right,” Green Mountain replied dryly. “On the other hand, I’m sure you don’t need me to point out that where power and politics are concerned, most men really don’t need Mother Church to inspire them with ‘distrust.’ Especially if they scent the possibility of siphoning some of that power into their own hands.”
“The fact that you left Sharley at home in Tellesberg, trusted her at your back, with all of the levers of power in your own kingdom, is going to go a long way towards reassuring those whose concerns were genuine, Your Majesty,” Alahnah said. “And, frankly, the fact that Mahrak and I accept your authority, not to mention taking both you and Sharley at your word when you claim to be true partners and coequals, is going to be just as reassuring. Unfortunately, mere reassurance isn’t going to inspire the ambitious to suddenly abandon their own designs. Nor,” her eyes darkened, “is it going to magically convince those Temple Loyalists Mahrak just mentioned to acquiesce in your ‘blasphemous’ defiance of Mother Church.”
“Perhaps not,” Cayleb agreed calmly, sitting back in his chair — the comfortably upholstered, ornately carved chair in which Sharleyan had sat so many nights — before the softly roaring fire. The priceless emeralds set into the golden chain about his neck danced with hearts of green fire as he fingered it, and he smiled. “Perhaps not. On the other hand, when all of the Charisian sailors and Marines I’ve brought with me come ashore and begin telling Sharleyan’s people how she already has every single one of my subjects eating out of her hand, I suspect those Temple Loyalists of yours may find it just a bit more difficult to foment distrust. And I’d imagine that all the marks they’re going to be spending in your taverns and taprooms — not to mention your brothels, if you’ll pardon me for bringing that up — will make them rather more welcome visitors. Which, of course,” he smile grew thnner, baring his teeth, and this time Queen Mother Alahnah felt a profound satisfaction as she saw in it all of the cold steel and ruthlessness she’d been so afraid of seeing such a short time before, “completely leaves aside the fact that if any of your Temple Loyalists — or ambitious nobles — should have been cherishing any notions about challenging Sharleyan’s decision to link Chisholm’s fate with that of Charis, it’s just remotely possible that finding forty or fifty thousand Charisian Marines in the vicinity will cause them to . . . rethink their options, shall we say?”
“Oh, I believe it’s entirely possible you’re correct about that, Your Majesty,” Green Mountain said with a satisfaction which matched Alahnah’s own. “And in the meantime,” he continued with a smile, “might I tempt you to sample just a little more of this truly excellent chicken?”
As you know…
The fact that you…
I know I don’t have to explain this to you, but I’ll explain anyway…
What a surprise! (?) Cayleb has made a great start! But when he visits Hektor and Irys in Corisande, what then?
Cayleb would know if he’s been getting their conversatoin by proxy. They shouldn’t have a clue about what he knows.
This “little touching scene” here seams to be the grease that oils the hinges for later development. And so, like grease, it might be best ignored until one runs out or has to check the variety later on.
@2 Execute Hektor, hand throne to Irys and let inbuilt sexism keep Corisande tense enough to keep itself in check.
is Green Mountain married? i sense a bit of unrequited love between him and the Queen Mother.
This was covered more than sufficiently with the last clip. We have moved past redundant into retched excess.
Enough with the complaints already. The entire dinner scene is only 3 or 4 pages and it’s nessesary background.
I agree with E (#3). Scenes like this are like grease that oils the hinges that the story will turn on. They may not be terribly interesting, but they are nessesary, and in their absense, things wouldn’t work very well.
I don’t remember if Green Mountain is married or not. The only thing I remember is a comment that he considers Sharleyan the daughter he never had.
By the way, I wondered about ‘unrequited love’ between him and Alahnah as well. If he is unmarried, I won’t be surprised if they marry after Cayleb and Sharleyan have children.
I have to admit I do like that analogy too, Bryan.
I’m just wondering how this fits with earlier speculation by myself and others as to why and how long they’re stopping in Chisholm. With the transports “packed to the gills” it doesn’t appear they are planning on picking up more Chisholmian soldiers… or at least not for loading them on board those transports. They could of course be planning on loading them on board other ships that join from Chisholm. I would think it likely they’d have to pick up at least some to make sure they don’t give the wrong impression. During BSRA Cayleb had discussions with Merlin about how he’d find Sharleyan even more ready to move on Hektor than he was, and that’s still rattling around in the back of my brain making me figure there has to be at least SOME Corisandian army around ready to load up and head out to seek a bit of revenge for Sharleyan’s dad. Unless all that meant was that she would want to attack but had nothing to do with ability (which I rather doubt) then I figure we’ll see some army integration scenes before TOO much longer…. Either that or we’ll see some of the troops setting up training cadres where they start training the Chisholmian Army in rifle tactics so that they can be ready to serve as a very powerful “second wave” of the assault….
But if I remember the second-hand rumors from previous conventions correctly, I’m thinking Monday we get to see some of Zion’s reaction to the executed Inquisition twerps from Feyrahd. There’s been plenty of time for the news to make it up north by now — barring weather interruptions of the semaphore of course — and I suspect that scene will be rather enjoyable… VBEG…
E@4. Trusting Irys will be tough and neither Cayleb nor Sharleyan can easily accomodate another example of a bad/distrusted Queen in the area. What you propose is to set Irys up without any support from her own nobles. The Imperial Crown would be her only lifeline. This seems a good way to keep Corisande in a constant state of tension and upheval. Had she been able to be trusted, it would be another story. Get her as far away from Corisande as possible or kill her. Cayleb’s sister married to the leading Zebediah noble or some other workable blueblood is a much better proposition.
He might just organize a supply chain from Chisholm if he’s not going to be picking up an army. It makes sense to pick up an army, however, because overwhelming force will shorten the war and the Chisholmians should want to be invited to avenge their last king.
Irys has been set up as intelligent, which means I don’t think she’ll be eliminated just yet. She’ll be either a “see the light” person or a “sneak off and resist” one. Her little brother could become the puppet royalty in question but she could manipulate things behind the scenes, if he were installed, to cause periodic trouble in Corisande after the war. This assuming that Hektor is eliminated.
Well… maybe not sneak off.
E, I like the idea of a supply chain. And it wouldn’t be THAT hard to get them up to speed on making “proper” corned powder and bullets and whatnot. Of course the risk of Hektor getting his hands on that info is increased somewhat but I suspect Green Mountain or Sharleyan’s local spymaster ought to have some clue as to who can be trusted with the info.
It will still get out eventually, of course, but even delaying things another month or two would *probably* prevent Hektor from getting his hands on the data soon enough to do him any good. It might help the Tarot or the mainland, but they aren’t willing (yet) to consider new technologies, and probably won’t be until their next fleet gets reamed.
Come to think of it, Merlin has to know that the secret of corned powder will eventually get out. No doubt that’s why he’s so happy that Baron Seamount is so busy working on the next wave of artillery. Charis will need that, and possibly sooner than any of them might expect. And I have to wonder what rabbit he’ll pull out of his hat next… :)
Not with Irys, she doesn’t strike me as someone capable of sneaking off. More likely a defiant last stand leaving Cayleb and Sharleyan a difficult decision once she is captured and is still ready to kill them with her bare hands and refusing to accept parole or exile.
Irys will probably end up with the ex-Baron of Hanth in exile. I can see Clyntahn setting them up as the “legitimate” dynasty for the “Empire of the Isles” backed by the Church. Irys will be pulling Mahntayl’s strings like a marionette.
Now that’s an evil thought…and one I can see easily happening.
Ohh that would be interesting, I like it. Maybe Irys doesn’t end up with Mahntayl, but I can easily see her in exile pulling every string in sight.
How bad would it be if Hector manages to escape into exile? How bad would the effect be on the pacification of Corisand?
The effect of Hektor escaping? I’m not sure I’d really want to lay odds either way. Some of his subjects are quite fond of him after all, and if he’s still around they may want to bring him back. On the other hand they could feel betrayed if he runs away for his own safety without trying to save them. I wouldn’t rate option 2 as particularly likely, mind you, but people do some pretty strange things sometimes.
On the flip side, executing him, especially after a fair trial, could cause people to figure that there’s nothing they can do about it anymore (especially if his whole family were to die in the bombardment — or otherwise) since they’re all dead anyway. Or it could cause even worse resistance to spring up. Even if they can’t restore their legitimate ruler turning him into a martyr could be a powerful rallying cry.
How about a marriage between Irys and a certain royal duke by the name of Hektor? I always wondered about the “coincidence” of the names. Have Hektor and son abdicate. Ensure Irys’ “loyalty” by making Prince Hektor a commander in the Howard expeditionary force (include most of Corisande’s army and nobles). Clythan will neither forgive nor forget even if PH and/or the nobles want to turn traitor later on. Besides accidents do happen even to generals on the battlefield (Stonewall Jackson). Make her brother an ensign in the imperial navy with an even higher risk of accidents (Horatio Nelson). Machiavelli Lives.
RH, I can’t see Hektor escaping. He will be at the center of Corisande’s comand and control center. He doesn’t have the personality to give up that control untl he knows its too late. At which point he can’t escape because Charisian marines are to close.
Oh I don’t see him escaping either, PZ, I was just responding to the theoretical possibility raised by the others.
I could, however, easily see him as smart enough to get Irys (or Hektor JR) into hiding early enough to allow them to cause lots of trouble down the road. On the other hand, I could also see Merlin as smart enough to put little “bugs” in the hair (or nose hair) of each early enough to make such an attempt an exercise in futility.
Not quite futile. With Irys or Jr. out there any replacement Cayleb puts on the thone(s) have that much more reason to stay close to Charis. Without that threat the replacement(s) may try to deal with the Church. The claim will be that Cayleb was going to win anyhow and they wanted to have a pro-church leanings as possible leading Corisande/Zebediah. Merlin may just let them go. I doubt Cayleb or Sharley will, but Merlin might just do that.
If there’s a good reason to let Hektor live in exile, it’s because he’s an effective person who will probably prompt the Church nations into adopting more innovations.
We have a large armada of ships invading a country with a Prince Hektor. Now why does that sound familiar? Oh and one of the soldiers is an invincible hero who is blessed by a goddess.
Seriously though I would expect Hektor to be killed in a battle, saves the embarrasment of having to execute him.
Well Tim C, I don’t expect Merlin to hide in his tent and pout nor will the war against Prince Hektor last twenty years. [Grin]
Merlin could of course get into a fight over a jar of wine and get poisoned by an arrow in his heel… wait, wrong planet.
We’re well beyond bronze-age material at this point. If single-combat does make an appearance Merlin should, of course, give the home team a 50 man disability to make things seem fair.
Bit rusty on my Greek history, just remembered that Achilles was said to be killed by either Paris or Apollo depending on where one places one’s deus ex machina.
Mine is on a shelf in the garage.
“If thereâ€™s a good reason to let Hektor live in exile, itâ€™s because heâ€™s an effective person who will probably prompt the Church nations into adopting more innovations.”
Merlin wants these technologies to become widespread (with Charis-Chisholm staying one step ahead). The key to that is getting the Church to rationalize the changes.
Well Paris shot the arrow that killed Achilles but some versions have Apollo guiding the arrow.
Hektor and family in exile would be useful, since the Church would probably put them in charge of an army or navy as a means of getting some propaganda value or inspiring rebellion in Corisande (but not likely Zebediah). If that were the case, Merlin would have an enemy he knows in the ranks of the church that could be outfoxed predictably, especially with technical advantages being made available over time.
Merlin might want to consider introducing something like kevlar (the greeks even had a leather and cloth armor that came pretty close) to increase survivability with Charis’ limited military force. Remember, even as the Empire, Charis will need to wed the average soldier to as much technology as possible to stand a chance against superior numbers. I just hope the Hektor is old-minded enough to send out cavalry and swordsmen to a battle he’s outclassed for.
If Cayleb stays in Chisholm very long, Hektor will surely find out that he is there, and know his visit will be soon. Hektor might even be able to do some sabotage before Cayleb’s ships set sail.
I’m sure there are Loyalists who might already do that for Hektor, especially in Chisholm where some people might blame Charis for putting them in the position to where they have to defy the Church.
Of course, there’s another alternative to keep Irys alive and in the middle of the intrigue – have her propose a marriage to a commoner, such as a certain Captain of the Imperial Guard, nÃ©e Merlin, as a compromise (rest of family dead – father gloriously in combat and her brother in an ill-fated assassination attempt).
This would remove her from the succession (in most monarchies, at least) and lead to many a merry subterfuges and domestic interludes before we have closure.
@31. This may pointlessly detailed, but there are techniques of layering everyday cloth (IIRC silk) that provides the similar protection to kevlar. Steel thistle should provide the same potential for protection using these layering techniques. I doubt DW will get that detailed in the types of innovations he writes about.
@27. Why Merlin? He has had his aristeia. Cayleb is due one too, eh? After all Merlin is a better parallel with Nestor than Achilleus. The age factor calls for it if no other reason. Cayleb is the nova that threatens to flare then fade quickly. Cayleb is the one that falls for a “war bride”, indirectly Sharleyan came to him as the result of his initial victories against the enemy. Narhman is Odysseus and Admiral Rock Point (Staynair the younger) appears to be Diomedes. Haarald could be seen as Aias, he who sacrifices that which is most dear for his people; Aias is reputation when he worked with that cowardly archer to defend the ships and Haarald his life.
35 ?? I am a non-texter. What does @_@ mean?
@_@ means “bugeyed” as in, I am bugeyed at the prospect of Merlin marrying Irys even in theory.