"What can be taking such an inordinate amount of time? It would be ridiculous if it were not unconscionable."
        I turned from the vista to Ince who had, it seemed, finally halted her restless pacing. "What?" I asked. The wind ripped my words away. We stood on a peak swept clean by centuries of winds though rugged trees clenched the riven rock and scarcely seemed to move their short needles clutched in thick brushes for protection. Behind Ince rose the jagged evidence of repeated efforts in the cycles since Mirhveda was settled to establish a mining concern here. Heavy supports of rock construct and alloy rose up but they remained unjoined and unroofed. Here and there were tattered remains of flimsy temps. Wind tugged at old weary pallet covers.
        Ince cast me a brief, exasperated look.
        "I'm not trying to obfuscate or amuse. Are you referring to the aide's failure to return or the fact that this mining operation should long ago have been producing?"
        Ince swung about to gaze at the construct pale against a cloud-laden sky. She dipped her chin cutting a swift look to Gallett rather than to myself. "Why has this construction taken so long? It was funded, I understood."
        "Yes, there are funds," Gallett nodded. The wind flew on the tails of her deep maroon coat.
        "Then what causes the delay?"