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Snippet #16

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Snippet #16
Post by runsforcelery   » Sat Dec 08, 2018 2:45 am

runsforcelery
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Location: South Carolina

“And remind me to tell your father when he gets back here—if he gets back here—that Orsyn Hylmyn wants another wagonload of grain,” Madlyn Tompsyn said, and her son Sheltyn grinned at her tone.

The Tompsyns had been through a lot during the Jihad, but his mother had never lost her sense of humor. It might have been strained more than once, and it had disappeared entirely on some of the worst days, but it had always reemerged. That and her love for his father had been the lifeline which kept them together during the nightmare trek after Zhaspahr Clyntahn’s Sword of Schueler swept through their hometown like fire and pestilence. His younger brother, Tohmys, had died of pneumonia during that trek, and they’d almost lost his sister Ellyn, the baby of the family. They had lost Sheltyn’s fiancé, Mohraiah, to the same pneumonia which had killed Tohmys. She’d died in his arms, the sound of her fading breath wet and laboring in his ear, and a part of him had died with her. But they’d survived as a family, they’d returned to their homes after the Republic’s victory, and his mother—his indomitable, unbreakable, magnificent mother—was the reason they’d been able to.

“I’m sure Dad’s out there making all sorts of deals, Mother,” he said now, his own tone soothing, and she snorted.

“And sealing the bargains with beer, I suppose?” she asked tartly.

“That’s how it’s done,” Sheltyn pointed out, and looked to his surviving brother for support. “Isn’t it, Styvyn?”

“Don’t get me involved in this!” Styvyn said. “I don’t have the least idea how that works. And I’m sure not going to admit it if I do in front of witnesses!”

“Coward!”

“Prudent,” Styvyn replied, bending to toss fresh coal into the rudimentary fireplace.

Unlike towns blessed with milder climates, Selyk’s market square boasted permanent booths for its licensed vendors. They were about as bare-bones as a structure came, but they had steep, snow-shedding roofs, weathertight walls, and chimneys. They also had windows in three of their four walls, although light came in only through those facing on the square at the moment. The others were tightly shuttered, given the cutting wind coming out of the south.

“The last thing I’m going to do is get crossways of Mom,” Styvyn continued as he straightened. “You know how that always ends up!”

* * * * * * * * * *

“Mom’s going to smell it on your breath, you know, Daddy,” Ellyn Tompsyn observed, tucking a hand into her father’s elbow.

“Smell what?” Tobys Tompsyn asked innocently.

“Beer, Daddy. Beer.” Ellyn shook her head. “It’s only ten minutes back to our booth, so I don’t think the smell’s going away before we get there. And when she smells it, she’s going to have your ears.”

“Nonsense.” Tobys pulled his arm free to give her a hug as they left the pastry-maker’s booth and headed down the aisle towards their own. His other hand raised the parcel he’d just paid for. “I have my secret weapon.”

“Oh, Daddy,” Ellyn said in a tone of profound disappointment. “You’d actually use Mom’s sweet tooth against her?” She shook her head. “I can’t believe you’d stoop that low.”

“In a skinny Siddar City second,” Tobys replied complacently, and Ellyn laughed.

In fact, her father had concluded several profitable transactions this morning, he’d had only two steins of beer in the process, and her mother knew exactly what he’d been doing. Just as she also knew Tobys hadn’t touched a drop of anything stronger than beer since their return to Selyk. That was a good thing, and an edge of grief that somehow made her present happiness only greater went through Ellyn as she remembered darker, grimmer days. She’d been only eight when the Sword of Schueler crashed over Selyk and people who’d been family friends all her life suddenly wanted to kill them. Her memories of their flight were horrible but much less distinct than those of the older members of her family. She remembered how bitterly she’d wept for her brother when he died, though, and she remembered her father after he’d gotten his wife and surviving children into something approaching safety. Remembered how his iron strength had failed him and—as he himself put it—he’d “crawled into a bottle” and stayed there for almost five months.

It had taken all her mother’s love and strength to pull him back out of it, but she had. And he’d stayed there, even when the Army told him he was too old to enlist.

That was eight years ago, and Ellyn sometimes thought it was a miracle—one named Madlyn—that her father hadn’t become one of the “Siddar Loyalists.” That was the self-identifying label for the exiles who’d returned home from the eastern Republic filled with searing hatred for the Temple Loyalists’ “treachery.” But he hadn’t, and the dark days which might have turned him into that were long enough ago now that her mother could tease him about his beer once again. In fact, it had become even more of a treasured joke between them, a reaffirmation that they both knew he would never return to that dark place again. That was what made their chaffering about it so comforting.

“I don’t know, Daddy,” she said now, thoughtfully. “I think the Blessed Bedard might say it was my duty as a loving daughter to protect you from your baser instincts.”

“You are not getting your mom’s mountainberry tarts, young woman!” Tobys shook his head in profound disappointment. “And you accused me of stooping?”

“I never said I didn’t have a sweet tooth, too,” Ellyn pointed out with dignity, and he laughed in a cloud of breath-steam, shimmering in the icy sunlight, and hugged her more tightly.

“No,” he acknowledged. “No, you didn’t.”

“Of course I didn’t, and that doesn’t change—” Ellyn broke off, her head tilting. “What’s all that racket?”

* * * * * * * * * *

Settle down!” Mahkluskee shouted, coming halfway to his feet as he threw his weight against the reins. “Settle down, Grygory!”

The dragon’s head flew up as the check rein to the ring in its sensitive nostrils came tight. But this time, not even that was enough. It twisted and lunged again, squealing frantically, and the twenty-ton freight wagon jumped the curb and went swinging through the market. Pedestrians scattered to avoid it. Voices cried out in alarm and warning, and the shouts only added to the dragon’s agitation. Its squeals turned into a whistling scream of panic, and it lunged even harder against the traces.

* * * * * * * * * *

“What in the world—?”

Madlyn Tompsyn shook her head at the sudden uproar and started towards the booth’s unshuttered front windows.

“I don’t know.” Styvyn was closer to the front of the booth than his brother or his mother, and he reached it first. “It sounds like— oh my God!

* * * * * * * * * *

Daddy!” Ellyn cried as she and her father hurried around the corner and turned into their booth’s aisle, and Tobys Tompsyn’s heart froze.

The package of hot mountainberry tarts hit the paving and crushed under his boot as he and his daughter sprinted towards the wreckage.

* * * * * * * * * *

Shormyn Mahkluskee crawled out of the remains of his shattered freight wagon. A pair of experienced drovers had leapt in to assist, grabbing the dragon’s nose ring, wrestling it into trembling submission. Mahkluskee was deeply grateful, but he had no attention to spare for Grygory as the horror of the accident filled him.

He stumbled, nearly falling, as he hit the ground, vaguely aware that there was something wrong with his left arm, but he forced himself upright and staggered towards the booth the plunging wagon had demolished.

* * * * * * * * * *

“Madlyn!” Tobys shouted. “Sheltyn—Styvyn!”

Braisyn Klymynt, whose family owned the booth next to the Tompsyns’, turned at the sound of his voice. He’d been heaving wreckage aside. Now he saw Tobys and Ellyn running towards him and his face tightened. Tobys charged straight for the booth, then staggered, spinning around, as Braisyn tackled him.

Madlyn!” he half screamed, and Klymynt shook his head.

“Don’t—” He stopped and swallowed hard, tears streaking his weathered face. “Don’t go in there, Tobys,” he said brokenly. “Let . . . let us get them out.”

Tobys looked at him. For a moment, only incomprehension looked out of his eyes at his friend. Then something crumpled inside him.

Madlyn,” he whispered.

“I don’t . . . I don’t think she felt much,” Klymynt said. “Never even saw it coming. Her . . . her or the boys.”

Tobys staggered, his knees buckling. He would have gone down if Ellyn hadn’t turned into him, burrowing into his warm, solid body, burying her face against his chest. She needed him. His daughter needed him, and somehow he got his arms around her, hugging her fiercely, while the market square disappeared behind a shimmering curtain.

“How?” he asked numbly.

His wasn’t the only booth that had been wrecked. Klymynt’s had been half demolished, two others showed massive damage, and at least a half-dozen other people were down, many with broken bones.

“That idiot lost control of his dragon!” someone else threw in, and Tobys turned his head. It took him a moment to find the speaker, then follow his pointing gesture to see the battered-looking man standing there with a dazed expression. There was something familiar about him, but Tobys couldn’t quite—

“The fucking Temple Loyalist couldn’t even manage his own Shan-wei–damned dragon!” the man who’d pointed him out snarled, and Tobys Tompsyn’s universe vanished into a terrible, driving fury.






.IV.

Siddar City,
Old Province,
Republic of Siddarmark.


“Langhorne, Daryus! What the hell happened?” Greyghor Stohnar asked.

“We’re still trying to put that together.” The seneschal’s voice was harsh. “So far—so far—it sounds like something that . . . just happened.” He shook his head sharply, manifestly unhappy with his own choice of words. “I mean, it doesn’t look like this was preplanned, not the result of anything anyone saw coming. It sounds like it was an honest accident and the reaction just got out of hand.”

“‘Got out of hand,’” Samyl Gahdarhd repeated. “I guess that’s one way to describe it.”

“I’m not trying to minimize this, Samyl!” Daryus Parkair snapped. “I’m only trying to explain how it started, not saying a word about how it ended!”

“I know that.” Stohnar laid a hand on Parkair’s arm. “We all know that. But that doesn’t make it any better.”

“I know.” Parkair shook his head again. “And my people are trying to get to the bottom of it. As soon as they know anything more, so will you. So will all of us.”

“Greyghor’s right,” Gahdarhd said, his tone apologetic. “I’m just still trying to wrap my mind around it myself, I suppose. My people didn’t see this coming, either. Not on the scale, at any rate. And not in Selyk.”

“No one did,” Stohnar pointed out, “but it’s not like this is the first incident like it. I doubt it’ll be the last, either.” It was the lord protector’s turn to shake his head. “I know tensions run higher during the winter months when ‘cabin fever’ gets added to everything else, but I don’t know if this is going to get any better after the thaw.”

“At least Daryus had troops available to restore calm,” Henrai Maidyn pointed out.

“This time. And after a quarter of the town went up in flames,” Parkair growled.

“Surely it’s not as bad as the early reports suggest,” Maidyn countered. “It never is, Daryus!”

“You’re probably right,” Stohnar said before Parkair could respond. “That doesn’t mean it’s good, though. And I especially don’t like what we’re hearing about lynchings.”

“It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Gahdarhd cautioned. The others looked at him, and he shrugged. “I’m not trying to borrow any trouble, but the truth is that we’re likely to see more incidents like this one, especially as the news spreads. For that matter, Selyk wasn’t anywhere near as volatile a situation as some of the larger towns in Westmarch and Cliff Peak. Tensions are high in all the western provinces, but especially in places like Alyksberg and Aivahnstyn.”

“I know what you’re about to say, Samyl,” Stohnar interrupted. “And we still can’t. Not yet.”

“Greyghor, my boys may’ve managed to put a lid on Selyk—for now, at least—but Samyl’s got a point,” Parkair said. “They may’ve put out the actual house fires, but they couldn’t put out the one that started all this, not really. I understand why we had to let the bastards come home, but the resentment—the hatred—our people who stayed loyal to the Republic feel for Temple Loyalists would be awful hard to overstate.”

“And my agents tell me some of the speculators are deliberately turning up the heat,” Gahdarhd said. “The more hatred they generate, the more Temple Loyalists they can get to accept bargain prices, trying to get out with what they can salvage.”

“I know. I know!” Stohnar’s expression was grim. “And I’m hoping, come spring, we’ll finally be able to do something about that. But we still can’t. Not yet,” he repeated. “Not until Fyguera has Thesmar up and running.”

His most trusted subordinates glanced at one another, then looked back at him and nodded, although Gahdarhd’s nod was rather grudging.

Stohnar didn’t blame the keeper of the seal, but he couldn’t afford to fight all the battles he wished he could. The death toll from Selyk would trouble his dreams, and he knew Gahdarhd and Parkair were right; there would be more incidents, and some of them might well be even worse.

But at least we’re turning the corner, he told himself. Or getting close, at any rate. If we can just hang on a little longer. . . .

The newly organized Province of Thesmar, created out of the southern half of the old South March Lands, had been granted its official provincial charter last month. Its first Chamber delegates were en route to Siddar City even now, and the immensely popular Kydryc Fyguera, who’d held the city of Thesmar against everything the Sword of Schueler could throw at it, had been elected as its first governor. That had accomplished one of Stohnar’s major post-Jihad objectives, and he expected it to have a calming effect—ultimately—on the western provinces’ festering animosities. And, for that matter, in Shiloh Province, farther east. It wasn’t going to magically cure all ills, but it ought to be a significant step in the right direction, and he knew Thesmar's new delegates would be a welcome reinforcement for his supporters in the Chamber. It was unfortunate that securing its creation and the approval of Maidyn’s central bank had required so much dragon-trading with the land speculators’ political spokesman. There’d been no other way, however, and he still wasn’t out of the woods on the Central Bank.

The speculators didn’t like the thought of being reined in by official credit laws. Neither did manufactory owners who feared they’d be shut down if the new laws went into effect, or bankers who feared the consequences of government interference in their traditional modes of doing business . . . or who’d been doing well—personally, at least—by exploiting the current situation. For that matter, it would have been impossible to estimate the number of people, including those still trying to rebuild shattered farms and small businesses, who feared the tightening of credit, often with good reason. And then there were the senior members of the guilds, who hated the very notion of Charisian-style manufactories. One would have expected them to favor anything which would dry up money and handicap the “industrialization” of Siddarmark. Instead, they’d become so invested in resisting anything Stohnar and his cabinet proposed that their vociferous opposition to the bank had come as no surprise. It was fortunate they, at least, had so much less influence than they’d once possessed. That wasn’t remotely the same as no influence, however, and perhaps their resistance to it wasn’t quite as blind as Stohnar preferred to assume it was. Perhaps they were actively hoping for an economic collapse because they thought it would allow them to reassert the pre-Jihad model which had favored them so strongly.

If they believed anything of the sort was possible, they were even bigger idiots than he’d thought they were, impossible as that seemed.

“I need another five or six months,” he said now, looking at the others but focused on Parkair. “At least another five or six months. Can you give them to me?”

“Probably,” the seneschal said after a long moment. “It’s likely to get messy, though. And I’ll be honest, not all of my boys are as impartial as we’d all like to think they are. Some of them are going to have a pretty hefty thumb on the scales when it comes time to decide whose head gets broken.”

“I know, and I’ll give you all the support I can through the civil government, but I need to keep as many western delegates in my pocket in the Chamber as I can until they give me Henrai’s bank. After that, you can break all the heads you need to, and Samyl and I will be able to really turn the screws on the provincial governors and their chambers. But until then—”

He shrugged, and Parkair grimaced.

“I understand,” the seneschal half sighed, “and I’ll do my best. But—I hope you won’t take this wrongly, Henrai—I suggest you get that done as soon as you can, because I don’t see the situation getting a lot better anytime soon.”



.V.

Tellesberg Palace,
City of Tellesberg,
Kingdom of Old Charis,
Empire of Charis.


“Stefyny!” Her Highness Alahnah Zhanayt Naimu Ahrmahk, Crown Princess of Charis, crowed exuberantly.

“And good morning to you, too, Your Highness,” Nynian Athrawes observed mildly as the crown princess dashed past her to half tackle the dark-haired, gray-eyed young woman who’d accompanied her.

“Oh, hi, Aunt Nynian!” Alahnah said over her shoulder without interrupting her happy dance with Stefyny.

“I see your priorities are nicely developed,” Nynian said dryly.

“She gets that from her father,” Empress Sharleyan offered.

“With no input at all from the maternal side of her family?” Nynian nodded. “I see. Thank you for explaining that to me.”

Sharleyan laughed and opened her arms to embrace the older woman.

“It’s good to see you. We’ve missed you.”

“Some more than others, apparently,” Nynian said, turning to smile at Alahnah and Stefyny.

“Outside her immediate relatives—and the Breygart kids, of course—she doesn’t really have any close friends,” Sharleyan said a bit wistfully. “Not like Mairah and I were, anyway. I realize ‘Aunt Stefyny’ is family, too, but you know what I mean.”

“Yes, I do,” Nynian said more gently, although she knew Stefyny was secretly amused at being ‘Aunt Stefyny’ to someone a whole seven years younger than she was. Still, that was beginning to fade a bit. She was much closer to Cousin Stefyny these days, and there were times she must still wonder if she’d followed the white fox-lizard through the looking glass. Or the white rabbit, for that matter, since unlike anyone else her age on Safehold, Stefyny had read the original version of Ahlys in Wonderland.

Nynian felt her smile fade at that thought as she watched her daughter hugging the Crown Princess of Charis and thought about what it had cost Stefyny to become who she was. She remembered the waif whose iron courage—and love—had challenged the certain death of crossing the “kill line” in a Church’s concentration camp to find food for her sick father. Who’d survived and escaped the even more hideous rigors of the Punishment only because of Merlin Athrawes’ direct intervention. She remembered the little girl who’d waked up in Nimue’s Cave, and wondered if Nynian Rychtair was an angel. She remembered that little girl and her brother, and their father, learning the truth about how they’d been saved, about “Mother Church.” And she remembered the day she’d held that same sobbing girl in her arms. The day even Stefyny’s indomitable strength had almost broken forever.

The day Greyghor Mahlard, who’d become an auxiliary volunteer in the Tellesberg Fire Brigade, charged back into a burning apartment house in an effort to save one more life.

Nynian had adopted that little girl and her brother Sebahstean even before she’d married Merlin Athrawes in that very quiet ceremony in Maikel Staynair’s private chapel. She’d adopted them because they’d needed her, and because she’d needed them. They’d been her chance to fill the inevitable childless void left by her avocation as the Sisters of Saint Kohdy’s mother superior and the leader of Helm Cleaver. And they’d been her chance to help rebuild the lives of two youngsters who’d paid far too high a price.

A chance, she knew, which was perhaps even more important to Merlin than it was to her.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Snippet #16
Post by Keith_w   » Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:25 am

Keith_w
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Location: Ontario, Canada

Thank you RFC.
--
A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
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Re: Snippet #16
Post by DrakBibliophile   » Sat Dec 08, 2018 11:53 am

DrakBibliophile
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LIKE!!!! :D
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Paul Howard (Alias Drak Bibliophile)
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Sometimes The Dragon Wins! [Polite Dragon Smile]
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Re: Snippet #16
Post by Dauntless   » Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:38 pm

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interesting. I wonder if the Dragons were poisoned? or if it was just a normal accident?

Darn you RFC, Stefyny's father was very minor character but his loss hurts far more then it should for such a small role.

while I am again impressed with your skill in making me mourn the loss of such a minor person, I'm warning you you I need to nice happy moments from you and soon.

I also hate to think how Rose is going to react. you might need to invest in your own secure bunker.
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Re: Snippet #16
Post by PeterZ   » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:10 pm

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Dauntless wrote:interesting. I wonder if the Dragons were poisoned? or if it was just a normal accident?

Darn you RFC, Stefyny's father was very minor character but his loss hurts far more then it should for such a small role.

while I am again impressed with your skill in making me mourn the loss of such a minor person, I'm warning you you I need to nice happy moments from you and soon.

I also hate to think how Rose is going to react. you might need to invest in your own secure bunker.

Yeah, I teared up reading this in the "look inside" and I teared up again reading this snippet. Not for Greyghor's death but for Stefyny's loss and pain.

She needs to marry Daivyn. Daivyn needs someone that strong and caring. Both of them have lost so much in their young lives and still retained their wonderful sense of self. I believe that if they have met, the chemistry between them will become clear. After all, both of these youngsters are separated from almost everyone around them by their life's circumstances as well as their degree of loss.

Stefyny and Sebastian are the youngest members of the Inner Circle. That separates them from anyone in their age cohort and even older people not part of the IC. They have to always watch out for what they say or do. Daivyn is a young ruler separated from almost everyone in his circle of acquaintances by his power. Almost every hanger on wants something from him and he has to always watch for that. They are only free to be themselves with a very few people and virtually no one in their age group. How precious is a person that gets their sense of loss AND gets that sense of separation? Daivyn also knows that Stefyny doesn't want anything from him besides whatever friendship they may have together due to their shared understanding of loss. Stefyny also has something very much in common with Daivyn; Merlin as a father figure.

Now, I'm just waiting for Rose's rejoinder.
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Re: Snippet #16
Post by ksandgren   » Sat Dec 08, 2018 4:36 pm

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Thanks for the snippet, RFC. These are getting even better all the time. Fortunately the final release is less than a month away.
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Re: Snippet #16
Post by Randomiser   » Sun Dec 09, 2018 9:12 am

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I'm sorry I've been pretty slow on the uptake about this, although this is the first time Nynian's wedding has actually been referenced in the text, but how does a fully avowed nun, the Mother Superior of her order yet, manage to marry anyone? What about her responsibilities to the Order even if she could get her vows dispensed?
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Re: Snippet #16
Post by runsforcelery   » Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:12 pm

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Posts: 2409
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
Location: South Carolina

Randomiser wrote:I'm sorry I've been pretty slow on the uptake about this, although this is the first time Nynian's wedding has actually been referenced in the text, but how does a fully avowed nun, the Mother Superior of her order yet, manage to marry anyone? What about her responsibilities to the Order even if she could get her vows dispensed?



No one ever said the Sisters of Saint Kody required celibacy. You might remember her role as one of the most celebrated courtesans of Zion, for example. Do not make the mistake of drawing too close parallels to Terrestrial religious orders or over generalizing between them.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Snippet #16
Post by runsforcelery   » Sun Dec 09, 2018 12:21 pm

runsforcelery
First Space Lord

Posts: 2409
Joined: Sun Aug 09, 2009 10:39 am
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runsforcelery wrote:
Randomiser wrote:I'm sorry I've been pretty slow on the uptake about this, although this is the first time Nynian's wedding has actually been referenced in the text, but how does a fully avowed nun, the Mother Superior of her order yet, manage to marry anyone? What about her responsibilities to the Order even if she could get her vows dispensed?



No one ever said the Sisters of Saint Kody required celibacy. You might remember her role as one of the most celebrated courtesans of Zion, for example. Do not make the mistake of drawing too close parallels to Terrestrial religious orders or over generalizing between them.


I should also have pointed out that the Sisters have always recognized (like several of the religious orders of Safehold ) the legitimacy of retiring from the order to become parents or assume other non religious duties. In a sense, there are no “non religous” duties on Safehold, of course, but many of the cloistered orders (in fact, a majority) do not require a permanent renunciation of “the world and all its works,” nor does Safeholdian religious tradition —as a whole; there are exceptions) regard a nun as “the bride of Mother Church” or “the bride of Langhorne.” Those taking vows are generally free to make that renunciation voluntarism, and many do embrace celibacy as a personal form of piety, but few of the orders require it.


"Oh, bother!" said Pooh, as Piglet came back from the dead.
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Re: Snippet #16
Post by Randomiser   » Sun Dec 09, 2018 7:02 pm

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runsforcelery wrote:
Randomiser wrote:I'm sorry I've been pretty slow on the uptake about this, although this is the first time Nynian's wedding has actually been referenced in the text, but how does a fully avowed nun, the Mother Superior of her order yet, manage to marry anyone? What about her responsibilities to the Order even if she could get her vows dispensed?



No one ever said the Sisters of Saint Kody required celibacy. You might remember her role as one of the most celebrated courtesans of Zion, for example. Do not make the mistake of drawing too close parallels to Terrestrial religious orders or over generalizing between them.


Well, yes, there was that former career ... I suppose I considered it as a justified operational strategy in her struggle to reform the church rather than a personal preference and it certainly didn't involve a different set of holy vows. But, yes, I did make assumptions not in evidence about the religious practices of Safehold, you got me there.

So has Nynian retired from the order so as to become a wife and mother? And has Sandaria succeeded her? That would get a few paranoids going again!
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