The first councilor to present an idea was Granny Annabel. The agriculturist took inspiration from the greenhouse that came with her master title and proposed that a glass roof should be constructed over the entirety of Ironheart.
The walls could serve as the base. The furnaces used in tampered steel production and some kilns in Rosenberg district could be adapted for glass production. Building materials and skilled workforce could be withdrawn from other projects. The only missing ingredient, refined sand, could be shipped from the beaches of Merlock.
The ironsmith was the first to protest. Apparently, the risk of cracking would be too great if he had to produce glass panes as thin as the mathematician had calculated. The master of smithing could only produce half a double-stride of glass at a quarter thumb thickness at best. Any thinner than that and he would have to recast a dozen panes for every good one.
“We can make it from thicker panes, can’t we?” the agriculturist asked.
The mathematician leaned toward the inventor, who also held the master of architect title, and asked the inventor’s opinion. The inventor turned to the merchant and discussed something for a moment. Finally, with a shake of his head, he addressed the agriculturist again.
“We can’t ship enough sand to produce thicker panes in time, on top of the extra material necessary to build support for the added weight. At this rate, I think we’re better off digging dungeons and living underground,” Leo explained.
The agriculturist sighed.
“Crops need light to grow, inventor,” she said.
“True, but we can build greenhouses and dig wells to grow crops. If it’s just a few hundred double-strides of land, we can probably make it,” he replied.
Hearing this idea, someone among the masters spoke up. It was the naturalist who raised an eerie question.
“Doesn’t that mean somebody will have to die in order to feed the rest of us?”
All other councilors fell into silence. Before Leo could say anything, the strategist broke the silence.
“All victories demand sacrifices; pawns are to be given—”
A loud thud followed by the clanging noises of shattering pottery was heard from across the Hall of Guidance. At the church’s bench, the princess had slammed her hand on a table in front of her, causing some of the fruits, cakes, and ale to fall on the floor.
“Our citizens are not pawns!” the princess angrily shouted.
On his oaken throne separating the rows of bench belonging to the church and those belonging to the masters, Sir Richard clapped twice to draw attention and signaled the princess to sit down. He then leaned back on his throne. His wrinkles seemed to have vanished when he looked at the inventor and gave an order.
“Nobody will die by leaving the shelters. Herbalist! You may explain.”
Leo scratched the back of his head through his ruffled chestnut hair. Since the baron specifically addressed him by the title herbalist, he must be talking about the cure.
“Actually, I was about to suggest encasing an underground entrance in the greenhouse but well…I guess His Majesty is right. Gentlemen! Nobody will die by leaving the shelters because you see, we have found the cure,” Leo informed, smiling sheepishly.
Standing in awe on the central platform, the agriculturist could only tap her cane on the floor and made barely audible tapping. Her barely audible tapping was soon followed by a flurry of wood knockings as other councilors began tapping their knuckles on refreshment tables and benches to show approval. The strategist grumbled how this news made him look like a villain and gave Leo a good smack in the back. The guy was grinning cheek to cheek.
The baron, too, slowly tapped his knuckle on the arm of his throne. Sir Richard let the celebration go on for longer than the usual before he demanded order in the council meeting.
“So, since you took your sweet time to tell us, what’s the catch?” the agriculturist resumed with a question.
“I need a plant in the Dark Forest for the cure and there lies our problem: we can’t make enough cures to substitute shelters but we can spare a few for those who are willing to work outside,” Leo answered.
Granny Annabel smacked her tongue and sounded irritated.
“Let’s deal with that, then. Unlike you, I don’t fancy spending the rest of my life indoors. What is the name of this plant?” the agriculturist asked.
“Midnight Virgin,” he curtly answered.
“Describe the plant or name a book that can describe the plant to me,” she demanded.
“It’s a grass-like plant with white, somewhat see-through stem and dark red flowers. It only blooms during the great blue moon. Not sure if there was any book about herbs in the Dark Forest but I gave the princess a sample—”
In the middle of his description, Leo darted a glance at the princess.
“—Do you have it here, princess?” he asked.
The princess shook her head. “Unfortunately, I left it in the alchemist’s quarter,” she said.
“Oh good, princess, do you know the proper name of the plant he’s talking about?” the agriculturist hissed in disdain.
The princess shook her head again.
“Midnight Virgin is its proper name! It doesn’t grow anywhere else and since I am definitely the first to find it. I get to name it whatever I want, okay?” Leo snapped at the agriculturist.
The agriculturist’s lips curled up into a confident smirk.
“Oh ho, it doesn’t grow anywhere else? Not if I have something to say about that. Someone like you must have seeds stashed away somewhere. Lend me a handful and I’ll grow you a meadow in no time,” she declared.