“Of course, but we’ve got to make sure that those who come in don’t find out about the minerals! If the Conclave got wind of it, you know they’ll swoop in and claim it for themselves.” That was why they needed the settlement. It was true that it would make the recovery of the minerals far easier, not to mention the processing, but it was really for the security.
They were going to have to go public with the location of the resources sooner or later. Altman intended to carefully control the how and when of it though. Electrite was an incredibly rare mineral, incredibly valuable, and as a student, he’d never had the opportunity to work with it. Samples were simply too rare, too expensive, and too dangerous to waste on students.
He’d had an instructor who had worked with it though, and who had shown him. Adept Bateson had had plenty of experience with electrite, a powerfully radioactive material with fantastic power potential. The burn scarring on his hands and face had been all the warning the younger Altman had needed to treat it with a healthy respect and caution.
“They will, yes. We’ve done all we can on our own to protect it; the sites we know of are all well disguised with run down, ‘abandoned’ buildings. I did see one person wander closer than I’d have liked, but they never spared the area a glance.”
There were telltales for the mineral’s presence it would take a learned eye such as Altman’s to spot. There were also far more obvious clues, such as dead and stunted foliage in the immediate area around a deposit. Luckily the radiation was only dangerous in a short radius around the mineral, at least in the short term. Long-term continued exposure resulted in dead zones meters across; still relatively short-range, but visible enough that attracting people to the valley would inevitably cause attention to be drawn, questions to be raised.
It was a very flimsy defense and wouldn’t stand up to any sort of scrutiny at all beyond the most cursory, but that and obscurity were all they had.
“With the luck we’ve had here lately, it’s just a matter of time before someone finds it.”
“Not you too! You know I don’t believe in luck, good or bad.”
“You may not, husband, but they surely do, and I wish you’d learn to at least understand that, if not accept it. It means we’ve got a problem either way. If luck exists, it’s bound to run out at some point. Even if it doesn’t, they believe it and will get spooked if things like this keep happening.”
There was little he could say to that, and they retired to the house for supper.
The old house that uncle Tremaine had left them was large, and they’d given over a wing of it to the medics. Usually it was unoccupied save for that small group. There really was just the one medic, with an apprentice and two assistants, and now the poor unfortunate Claver, who was badly injured and being kept close to help. After dinner, the couple stopped in to check on his injuries. The medic met them at the door to the wing. She was a stout, older woman in her healer’s leathers.
“How is he doing?” Kaylene’s voice was concerned, but betrayed no anxiousness.
“He’s bad off now, but he’ll live, right enough. That arm, though …” The medic’s face looked bleak. “I’ve got the bones set, but that was a right nasty piece of work. Muscles are all torn up. If I c’n keep infection at bay, he’ll keep the arm. Whether it’ll work right again, though, well it’s just too early to say.”
“Can we see him?” Altman’s voice was a bit gruff; he couldn’t help feeling a guilty pang. It’d been many hours since the accident and his only thoughts of it so far had been of how it impacted him and his plans. When had he become so cold?
“No point. I ‘ave him on the poppiate. He’ll be out till afternoon tomorrow if not later. I’ll let ‘im know you came by though; I’m sure he’ll appreciate it.”
They nodded farewells and the medic disappeared inside the makeshift hospital ward.
“I hope our luck turns soon.”
Kaylene raised an eyebrow, but smiled slightly as they walked back to their rooms. “Apparently, anything can happen.”