“I’m sorry, Zai. It’s just not going to happen. It’s not in our scope.”
“I implore you to reconsider, ma’am. Just think of how much easier all sorts of travel would be If we had a fully operational underground system that connected us to the northern world.”
Lady Aimee Calico put her elbows on the desk and pressed her face into her hands, trying her best to push the sleep from her eyes. Ecco snoozed near her in the corner of the office, not a care in the world. She missed the days when the furry little Ravess slept on her shoulder. Missed those days for a lot of reasons.
She turned her attention back to the young scientist. “You just want a research base to study the Wilds and its endemic life more closely.”
Zai, blushing a little. “I think the research could be very beneficial as well.”
“I admire your courage,” she said. “But a small field base in the middle of nowhere is bound to fail. A subway connecting Redview and Trellin is one thing. Those cities are much larger. Plus it goes against everything Lord Athril believed in. The whole purpose of the foundation of this city was to establish a self sufficient town independent of the north.”
Zai frowned, glancing at the portrait of the city’s late founder that hung on the wall near Aimee’s desk.
“No, my primary focus is the safety of Athril’s Edge. Which reminds me, I have to discuss next week’s border patrol with your father. The expansion is going to be happening soon, and I want it to be seamless. So next time you see him I’d like you to send him my way. Got it?”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied.
“Alright, assuming you have nothing else you wish to discuss you should be on your way, I’ve important work to be done.” She found a pen and eyed the ever awaiting stack of paperwork on her desk.
“Actually, if you don’t mind my opinion on the matter,” Zai offered.
“Speak your mind.”
He shifted uncomfortably for a moment before taking a seat opposite her. “Now, obviously this isn’t my field of study, but Cadri and I have been discussing the possibility of constructing walls around the lake-facing side of the city as well.”
Aimee grimaced. “Why in the world would we do that?”
“Well, to be honest I’m growing more concerned about the dangers of aquatic aether beasts.”
“It’s not going to happen, Zai. It would be a waste of resources to build that much wall and effective walls would hinder food production. We’ve been over this.”
“I know, but hear me out. We only build walls on the shorelines. The cliffs don’t need them. And we fortify the docks with constant patrols of tamed beasts. Minimal resource loss. Also, Cadri explained that we wouldn’t even have to build them to regulation height because no aerial threats would be coming from that direction.”
Aimee sighed. “We’ve been fine for years. The lake is half the reason we even picked this spot. We only have to defend on two sides and it’s a good source of food. No significant threat has ever come from the lake, and you’ve given me no reason to believe that that is likely to change anytime soon.”
The scientist looked like he wanted to say something, but either decided not to, or couldn’t put it into words. “It’s just a hunch.”
“I don’t have time for hunches, Zai,” Aimee snapped. “I have work that needs doing. And I don’t want you bringing this up again until you show me evidence that I should be concerned. got it?”
“Good. Don’t forget to have your father come see me.”
“Very well, ma’am,” Zai nodded before turning and leaving the office.
“Oh, and Zai?” Aimee said, looking up just as he opened the door.
She returned her gaze to her work. “It’s not going to work out between you and my sister.”
“You’re not her type. I’m just informing you now. Don’t get your hopes up.”
“Is that an order?” Zai asked.
She shook her head. “No, just an observation. Dismissed.”
The door closed without another word, and Aimee turned to her aether beast, who was still sleeping peacefully as usual.
“Becoming Lady of the city has ruined both of us, Ecco,” she told him. “You get too much sleep, and I get too little.”
She glanced back at the portrait of Lord Athril Mores. His chair was too big for her.