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liquidating the creditors than he was in winning converts for the true gods.
Prince Kestophes of Ulthor blew his priests of Styphon off the guns of his
lakeside fort; along with his allegiance he gave Hos-Hostigos a port on the
Great Lakes. By that time the demolition of the Sask Town temple of Styphon
had begun, starting with the gold dome. It was real gold, twelve thousand
ounces, of which Sarrask, after his ransom was paid, received three thousand.
When he returned to Tarr-Hostigos, Kiestreus was there, seeking instructions.
Prince Balthar was now ready to accept the sovereignty of King Kalvan. It
seemed that, after seizing the temple, massacring the priests, and incurring
the ban of Styphon's House, he discovered that there was no fireseed mill at
all in Beshta; all the fireseed the priests had fumished him had been made in
Sask. He was, in spite of the Sask Town auto-da-f6, still worried about the
possible devil content of Kalvan's Unconsecrated. The ex-Archpriest Zothnes,
now with the Ministry of State at six thousand ounces, gold, a year, was sent
to reassure him.
It took more reassurance to induce him to come to Tarr-Hostigos to do homage;
outside Tarr-Beshta, Balthar was violently agoraphobic. He came, however, in a
mail-curtained wagon, guarded by two hundred of 14armakros's cavalry.
The news from Nostor was still confused. A civil war was raging, that was
definite, but exactly who against whom was less clear. It sounded a little
like France at the time of the War of the Three Henries. Netzigon, the former
chief-captain, and Krastokles, who had escaped the massacre when Gormoth had
taken the temple, were in open revolt, though relations between them were said
to be strained. Fighting continued in the streets of Nostor Town after the
abortive attack on the castle. Count Pheblon, Gortnoth's cousin and Netzigon's
successor, commanded about half the army; the other half adhered to their
former commander. The nobles, each with a formidable following, were split
about evenly. Then there were minor factions: anti-Gormoth-andanti-Styphon,
pro-Styphon-and-pro-Gormoth, anti-Gormoth-and-pro-Pheblon. In addition,
several large mercenary companies had invaded Nostor on their own and were
pillaging indiscriminately, committing all the usual atrocities, while trying
to auction their services.
Not liking all this anarchy next door, Kalvan wanted to intervene. Chartiphon
and Harmakros were in favor of that; so was Armanes of Nyklos, who hoped to
pick up a few bits of real estate on his southeast border. Xentos, of course,
wanted to wait and see, and, rather surprisingly, he was supported by
Ptosphes, Sarrask and Kiestreus. Klestreus probably knew more about the
situation in Nostor than any of them. That persuaded Kalvan to wait and see.
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Tythanes of Kyblos arrived to do homage, attended by a large retinue, and
bringing with him twenty-odd priests of Styphon, yoked neck-and-neck like a
Guinea Coast slave-kaffie. Baron Zothnes talked to them; there was an autoda-
f6 and public recantation. Some went to work in the fireseed mill and some
became novices in the temple of Dralm, all under close surveillance. Kestophes
of Ulthor came in a few days later. Balthar of Beshta was still at Tarr-
Hostigos, which, by then, was crowded Re a convention hotel. Royal palace,get
built. Something that could accommodate a mob of subject Princes and their
attendants, but not one of these castles. Castles, once he began making cast-
iron roundshot and hollow explosive shells and heavy brass guns, would become
scenic features, just as these big hooped iron bombards would become war
memorials. Something simple and homelike, he thought. On the order
ofversailles.
When the Princes were all at Tarr-Hostigos, he and Rylia were married, and
there was a two-day feast, with an extra day for hangovers. He'd never been
married before. He liked it. It couldn't possibly have happened with anybody
nicer than Rylla.
Some time during the festivities, Prince Balthames and Sarrask's daughter
Amnita were married. There was also a minor and carefully hushed scandal about
Balthames and a page boy.
Then they had the Coronation. Xentos, who was shaping up nicely as a prelate-
statesman of the Richelieu type, crowned him and Rylla. Then he crowned
Ptosphes as First Prince of the Great Kingdom, and the other Princes in order
of their submission. Then the Proclamation of the Great Kingdom was read.
Quite a few hands, lifting goblets between phrases, had labored on that. His
own contributions had been cribbed from The Declaration of Independence and,
touching Styphon's House, from Martin Luther. Everybody cheered it
enthusiastically.
Some of the Princes were less enthusiastic about the Great Charter. It wasn't
anything like the one that Tammany Hall in chain mail had extorted from King
John at Runnymede; Louis XIV would have liked it much better. For one thing,
none of them liked having to renounce their right, fully enjoyed under Great
King Kaiphranos, of making war on one another, though they did like the
tightening of control over their subject lords and barons, most of whom were
an unruly and troublesome lot. The latter didn't like the abolition of serfdom
and, in Beshta and Kyblos, outright slavery. But it gave everybody security
without having to hire expensive mercenaries or call out peasant levies when
they were most needed in the fields. The regular army of the Great Kingdom
would take care of that.
And everybody could see what was happening in Nostor at the moment. He
understood, now, why Xentos had opposed intervention; Nostor was too good a
horrible example to sacrifice.
So they all signed and sealed it. Secretpolice, to make sure they live up to
it,think ofsomebodyfor chief
Then they fe;isted for a couple more days, and there were tournaments and
hunts. There was also a minor scandal, carefully hushed, about Princess Amnita [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]




 

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