Through the Cracks Ch6 bit – Testing the Waters

“Retaliation?” Selenay said neutrally. “From your own people?” Kerowyn had put together quite a story. Let’s see how much of it he admits to.

Yamagata drew back a step, watching her carefully. “He is… Battousai.”

“Katsura’s blade,” Selenay said levelly. “Katsura’s assassin.”

If Yamagata winced, she couldn’t distinguish it from his glare. “Don’t tell me you don’t have your own, your Majesty.”

Now she wanted to wince. Thank the gods Elspeth did resign as Heir. She understands killing, and being sent to kill, but… I’m not sure she would ever accept being responsible for ordering the kind of the things I’ve had Alberich and Kerowyn – and even Skif – do. With luck, Elspeth’s younger brother Kris would. He’d have to. “The Heralds protect Valdemar. And I understand from Heralds Kaoru Kamiya and Kerowyn that Himura Kenshin has affirmed he only intends to use his skills to protect your people.” Selenay paused. “I’m sure you understand that I hope your people are also my people.”

Tell me, Yamagata. Do you mean to stay? Is Valdemar a home for you? Or is our refuge just a place to wait and bide your time, before you start another war?

Tell me the truth. Just this once.

Yamagata looked away. “I understand Himura’s going to have to give testimony as to his whereabouts at the time of a murder in Rethwellan.”

“Yes,” Selenay said cautiously; the Guards had given the Heralds the broad details of the case as soon as they realized the man in question was about to come before the Council. “I believe Herald Kamiya will take it tonight.” It’s going to be hard enough telling our people about hanyou without starting a panic. The last thing we need is a murder investigation hanging over the main example’s head. If he’s innocent.

“Hmm.” Yamagata flicked a glance at her. “It should be interesting to hear what your Prince Consort’s people have to say tomorrow.”

You mean, it will be interesting to see what we say – and do – when the Rethwellans insist Himura’s guilty, Selenay realized. Of course.


28 thoughts on “Through the Cracks Ch6 bit – Testing the Waters

  1. >You mean, it will be interesting to see what we say – and do – when the Rethwellans insist Himura’s guilty, Selenay realized. Of course.>
    Because Yamagata was not born yesterday and as a war leader, he’s pretty cynical.

    And that’s even before the signs of Oni corruption running around.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. >Ooo boy.>
      Also is she’s willing to rock the boat defending these newcomers versus a faction that has been part of the kingdom for many years and probably has a good bit of unofficial and official pull?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. >>Also is she’s willing to rock the boat defending these newcomers versus a faction that has been part of the kingdom for many years

    Wasn’t her late husband Rethwellan? And her current husband? Whatever she does, someone is going to be tossing accusations about favoritism and revenge around. Selenay is very beloved of her people so the attempted coup probably damaged the Rethwellan power base in the kingdom. Not saying they didn’t gain it back, but there are always going to be holdouts who will hate all the Rethwellan in Valdemar. The only reason her current husband might have a pass is that he was Chosen.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. wait, wasn’t all of the first husband’s treason kept strictly under the radar – at least, as far as the general population and even most of the Court was concerned? It was given out that he died in a ‘hunting accident’, after all. Pretty much all the Court knew their marriage was ‘troubled’ and that Selenay wasn’t all that sorry about losing him, but that he was plotting to kidnap/kill her? I thought that was all swept under the rug, (with the blessing of the Rethwellan royal family, because they all thought he was an asshole too) except for the high-level Heralds and maybe Council members… unless I missed something? wouldn’t be the first time
        Basically, I thought Rethwellan was a long-time ally – even more so since Tarma and Kethry’s day… which in itself would lend itself to all sorts of issues.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It was swept under the rug, but there have been Rethwellan-related problems now and again, and given Orthallen’s messing about with noble privilege probably had plenty of hangers-on involved, I’m sure he messed with that alliance too before he died.


  3. Tell me, Yamagata. Do you mean to stay? Is Valdemar a home for you? Or is our refuge just a place to wait and bide your time, before you start another war?

    Little did she realize what ‘home’ would imply for Valdemaran militarism, decades in the future…

    (Okay, headcanon, and the equiarchy wouldn’t care for it. I’ve still been very amused with this line of thought. (There is a case I have an unpleasant sense of humor.))

    Liked by 1 person

      1. The case for it assumes that Yamagata’s influence was primarily responsible for Imperial Japanese activities after WWI, and that his ability will get him similar amounts of influence here. Since this is weaksauce even before taking Valdemar’s institutions into account, it really relies on “wouldn’t it be funnier if…”.

        That’s not the kind of story this is, and that isn’t the audience it is targeted towards.


      2. *Wry G* I doubt he’d get similar amounts of influence because he’s too busy trying to keep a bunch of fractious clans from each other’s throats. Family fights are the worst!

        …I honestly have a plan for who gets Chosen first as a samurai, though it’ll have to wait for a sequel. It will make many, many people facepalm. *EG*


    1. Having not read the books I’m uncertain myself, but from what I can gather from the comments here and on previous snippets Kris is Elspeth’s younger half-brother-on-their-mother’s-side and first-cousin-on-their-fathers’-side.


      1. a point everyone seems to be forgetting, here; Kris is one of twins. He’s presumably Heir because he’s the older twin (though I don’t think the books were ever specific about that); Elspeth’s pov in the first mage winds book seems to think that his twin sister will be Monarch’s own after Talia.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Selenay’s first husband, and Elspeth’s father, was the middle Rethwellan prince, and he was killed by Alberich for attempted regicide when Elspeth was under a year old. Her second husband is the youngest Rethwellan prince, who was Chosen during the war with Hardorn. Elspeth was in her late teens at that point, I think? And had only recently been Chosen herself. So a little bit more than half siblings on the related scale.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. You mean, it will be interesting to see what we say – and do – when the Rethwellans insist Himura’s guilty, Selenay realized. Of course.


    Because seeing if you will back your new allies against your old allies when said allies or members of their families have done something wrong would be rather telling.

    Plus we know that noble family is going to be looking to stir the pot in whatever way they can so their never-do-well family member can get away with his crimes as he always has. Because they sound like the kind of nobles who believe that the law only apply to peasants, especially the law of a foreign country. Even you are in said foreign country.

    Plus, since I have a very suspicious mind, I’m wondering if the Rethwellans in general or the stirring up trouble family have more than one reason for wanting Kenshin to take the rap for the murder of that woman. Like maybe her abusive spouse has connections . . .

    My bunnies are noting that if one is trying to frame Kenshin for murder, someone who died by strangulation is a poor choice. Certain people like Yamagata might be more willing to entertain the idea being at least possible if the woman had been killed with a blade or claws. But strangulation? Yes, Kenshin is stronger than he looks but still . . . it’s not his style. (Not that killing random men or women is Kenshin’s style at all but still . . . it doesn’t fit. When Kenshin kills, he kills quickly. Strangulation, manual or otherwise, is not quick.)

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Doesn’t have to be connections; just “oh, there was an outsider – had to be him!”

        Ah, good old xenophobia . . .

        And people generally having a hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that most people who are killed, are not killed by strangers. They are killed by people they knew. And in many cases, trusted. But that is a uncomfortable thought and humans are good at ignoring anything that makes them uncomfortable.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Actually, I have some idea that the King of Rethwellan might enjoy the opportunity to slash the support of some of his less tractable nobles. I could see him getting things set up behind the scenes to do just that, actually.

    >>And then there’s Truth Spell. Not available in Rethwellan. Annoying detail, that…
    Well, with the White Winds’ ties to Valdemar, and one of the Kethry&Tarma stories involves a priest magically verifying evidence, I wouldn’t be entirely sure of that. More likely a problem that it’s probably difficult to get such methods implemented against a noble’s influence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point – if these idiots act like this in a foreign country, with presumably the majority of their support base several weeks away, I can’t imagine they behave much better back home. Daren and Elspeth both seem to get along fine with the current king; wouldn’t be surprised if the king discreetly tells Selenay something along the lines of ‘if you can prove they screwed up, you can do what you like ‘. He could even use it as leverage to bring in standardised magic verification – problem is, I get the impression that mages still aren’t all that common in this sector of Velgarth.
      Quite possibly from Ma’ar’s various re-incarnations going around eliminating potential competition. Probably not a coincidence that the mage adepts that finally defeated him came from a) a place where he thought he’d already eliminated the mage-gift and b) a set of moving tribal communities that have magical specialists in ‘camoflage’ and ‘minimise disruption to the world around me’ where he couldn’t get to.
      Point being, I get the impression that mages in this continent (to put some kind of term on it) are about as common as, say, professional athletes here. How many cities have more than one pro-level sports team? How many individual pro athletes are produced from the various cities, in sports that don’t run to teams that can do things like actively recruit and generate sponsorship?
      And applying this to mages, how many would be both powerful enough with enough stamina to do it day-in, day-out for a living and be willing to sign on for public service?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, there are definitely mention of a few mage schools; Kethry and Quenten were White Winds, there’s Blue Mountain, etc. Also Rethwellan has had mages (and priests); Darren as Lord Martial had mages who came with his troops. Well, they did until they reached the Valdemar border. (Like the mages with the Skybolts. Yeah, the vrondi net, while semi-useful for centuries, kind of broke down during Selenay’s reign. First of all not catching Hulda, because she didn’t use magic, and then not allowing allied mages into the country to help against Ancar’s armies. Not unless they wanted to be driven insane.)

        Liked by 1 person

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