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Authors: David Weber

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A Mighty Fortress

BOOK: A Mighty Fortress
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A MIGHTY FORTRESS

 

TOR BOOKS

BY

DAVID WEBER

 

 

Off Armageddon Reef

By Schism Rent Asunder

By Heresies Distressed

A Mighty Fortress

A MIGHTY FORTRESS

 

 

DAVID WEBER

A TOM DOHERTY ASSOCIATES BOOK

NEW YORK

 

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events

portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or

are used fictitiously.

A MIGHTY FORTRESS

Copyright © 2010 by David Weber

All rights reserved.

Maps by Ellisa Mitchell

A Tor Book

Published by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC

175 Fifth Avenue

New York, NY 10010

www.tor-forge.com

Tor
®
is a registered trademark of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

ISBN 978-0-7653-1505-2

First Edition: April 2010

Printed in the United States of America

0 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

For Bobbie Rice.

Wait for us, Grandmommy-in-law. We miss you,

but Sharon and the kids and I will be along.

Maps

 

SEPTEMBER,YEAR OF GOD 893

.I.

Lizardherd Square,

City of Manchyr,

Princedom of Corisande

 

So I don’t know about
you
people, but
I’ve
had more than enough of this dragon shit!” Paitryk Hainree shouted from his improvised speaker’s perch on the municipal fire brigade cistern.

“Bastards!”
a voice came back out of the small crowd gathered outside the tavern. It was early in the morning, on a Wednesday, and like every other tavern on the face of Safehold, all the taverns of the city of Manchyr were closed and would stay that way until after morning mass. The sun was barely up, the narrow streets were still caverns of shadow, but the clouds overhead already promised rain by afternoon, and the humidity was high.

As, Hainree noted, were tempers. It wasn’t a huge crowd, in fact it was considerably smaller than the one he’d hoped for, and probably at least half the men in it were there more out of curiosity than commitment. But the ones who
were
committed—

“Fucking murderers!” someone else snarled back.

Hainree nodded vigorously, hard enough to make sure everyone in his angry audience could recognize the gesture. He was a silversmith, by trade, not an actor or an orator, and certainly not a priest! But over the last few five- days he’d had the opportunity to profit by the experience and advice of quite a few men who
were
trained priests. He’d learned how voice projection and “spontaneous” body language could support and emphasize a message—especially when that message was backed by genuine, burning outrage.

“Yes!” he shouted back to the last speaker. “Damned right they’re murderers, unless you want to believe that lying bastard Cayleb!” He flung up his hands in eloquent contempt. “Of course
he
didn’t do it! Why, what possible motive could
he
have had to order Prince Hektor’s murder?”

A fresh chorus of outrage, this time formed of pure anger rather than anything as artificial as words, answered him, and he smiled savagely.

“Goddamned butchers!” yet another voice shouted. “Priest- killers!
Heretics!
Remember Ferayd!”

“Yes!” He nodded his head again, just as vigorously as before. “They can
say
what they want—this new ‘archbishop’ of ours and
his
bishops—but
I’m
not so sure you aren’t right about Cayleb’s precious ‘Church of Charis’! Maybe there
are
some priests who’ve abused their offices. No one wants to believe that—
I
don’t want to, do you? But remember what Archbishop Wyllym said in his report about the Ferayd Massacre! There’s no doubt Cayleb lied about how terrible the original attack was, and it’s for
damned
sure he and all his other bootlickers have been lying about how ‘restrained’ their response to it was. But even so, Mother Church herself acknowledged that the priests who were hanged—hanged impiously, with no proper Church trial, by ‘Archbishop Maikel’s’ own
brother,
mind you!— were guilty of wrongdoing.
Mother Church
said that, and the Grand Vicar imposed a personal penance on the Grand Inquisitor
himself
for letting it happen! Does that sound to
you
like Mother Church can’t be trusted? Like we can’t rely on
her
to deal with abuses and corruption? Like the only answer is to defy God’s own Church? Cast down the vicarate Langhorne himself ordained?”

There was another snarl of fury, yet this one, Hainree noted, was less fiery than the one before. He was a bit disappointed by that, but not really surprised. Corisandians, by and large, had never felt directly threatened by the policies of the Church of God Awaiting and the Knights of the Temple Lands. Certainly not the way Charisians had felt when they discovered their entire kingdom had been condemned to fire and the sword by that same Church. Or, at least, by the men who controlled it.

Still, it would have been inaccurate—and foolish—to pretend there weren’t plenty of Corisandians who had their own reservations about the Church’s current rulership. Manchyr was a long way from the Temple or the city of Zion, after all, and Corisandians as a whole were undoubtedly more independent-minded in matters of religion than the Inquisition or the vicarate at large would truly have approved. For that matter, plenty of Corisandians had had sons or brothers or fathers killed in the Battle of Darcos Sound, and it was common knowledge that Darcos Sound had been the disastrous consequence of a war which had seen Corisande and its allies conscripted to act as the Church’s proxies. Among those for whom religious fervor and orthodoxy were major motivators, they burned with a blinding, white- hot passion that surpassed all others. The majority of Corisandians, however, were far less passionate about those particular concerns.
Their
opposition to the Church of Charis stemmed far more from the fact that it was the Church of
Charis,
linked in their own minds with the House of Ahrmahk’s conquest of their princedom, than from any outraged sense of orthodoxy. For that matter, Corisande undoubtedly harbored its own share of the reform- minded, and
they
might well find themselves actively attracted to the breakaway church.

BOOK: A Mighty Fortress
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