NaNoWriMo 2011 Story 3 - Day 16 Part 1


He looked up with a start, green eyes filling his vision, pulling him in.
“Um,” he said articulately. “Yes, yes, of course, please do, Ms. …?”
“Witherow. Sunniva Witherow. It’s a pleasure to meet a man of your talents, Mr. …?”
“Ahh, my apologies! I am Archerd Dolet, and the pleasure is all mine. But you speak of my talents; it sounds like you have me at something of an advantage.”
She smiled, leaning in closer, not to him so much as to the device in his hand he thought. “Yes, I believe so. I saw you working on this device earlier; it’s a very impressive piece of workmanship, Mr. Dolet. Am I right in suspecting you can use it to communicate with another, similar instrument?”
Archerd grinned, forgetting to be distracted for a moment. “Why yes indeed, this one right here.” He slipped the other communication device out of his pocket. “You must be familiar with the more typical form they take if you recognized the function of these so quickly. I’ve not had a chance to test these properly yet, but my initial test was a success. One should be able to transmit a voice from anywhere to the location of the second, without limit or degradation of quality. Remarkable, isn’t it? I’ve been fascinated with the technique since I learned of it at the Academy …”
“I knew you must have been an Academy student! I graduated from there myself last year.”
Archerd blinked. It certainly wasn’t unheard of for women to attend the Academy, the oldest and most prestigious institution of science learning in the land, but it was rare enough that he was slightly taken aback.
“My congratulations, Ms. Witherow, on graduating then. I know how brutal the final testing can be. May I ask what branch of inquiry you studied?”
“Oh yes, it was dreadful, but so worth it. I was a student of physics and mathematics. I trust you,” she nodded at the devices, “took electrics?”
“Electrics, yes, and some geosciences for the electrite work, and of course a lot of mechanics. I’m afraid I never had much of a head for the mathematical branches.”
The server returned this time, and Archerd noted he bore not one, but two steaming bowls of the stew, which he set before them with a flourish. “Can I get you anything else? Drinks, perhaps?”
“Wine sounds just dandy to me. You, Ms. Witherow?”
“Not for me, thank you.” The steward nodded and withdrew. “And you may call me Sunniva.”
They chatted pleasantly as the sky grew ever darker outside. Notes were compared on the activities at the Academy, and changes in staffing since Archerd had left several years earlier, and finally the conversation turned to their travel purposes.
“After the conference gathering was over with, I decided to stay on for several weeks to learn more of the area, and of course to begin working on this,” he indicated the device that sat between them on the table, “which occupied most of my attention. I’m afraid I didn’t get to see much of the city!”
“Oh, that must have been wonderful … I wish I could have attended myself, though much of it would have been over my head I’m afraid. But the physics of electrite and the quantum properties it expresses, that sounds like it must have been fantastic! I’m so sorry I missed that. The Conclave won’t be sending me to events like that for several more years yet, I’m too junior in my position.”
Archerd felt a chill work its way through him that had nothing to do with his proximity to the window. “You’re … with the Conclave.”
She noticed his change in tone, and the merry smile that lit her face so delightfully slipped. “Why yes, of course. Surely you must be as well?”
He cursed himself for a fool; the assumption had been there throughout his Academy days, so all-pervasive he’d never given it a thought at all, and then he’d returned home to Dolesham where he’d been well insulated from the Conclave’s influence. It was virtually unknown for any practitioner of the scientific arts to not work for the Conclave; they worked hard to ensure that.
His father had in fact founded Dolesham specifically as a haven against the Conclave’s influence, fearing that they held too much power and locked away too much knowledge and too many unobtainable resources from the rest of the world. His plan had been wildly successful, at least so far, as even a majority of the people in Dolesham were completely unaware of the reason for the town’s existence, but those who did know also knew it couldn’t remain that way forever. What was the point of creating a town to fight the hiding away of information if the town’s own resources remained hidden? They’d be nothing but another Conclave.
The first steps were underway back home to open the town up to increased trade, making the critical eletrite found in the region available openly to others, and plans were underway to open a new university of science outside of the Conclave’s control. If ever there were a time for the Conclave to become aware of the threat to their dominance, it was now.

Continue to NaNoWriMo 2011 Story 3 - Day 16 Part 2