What would you do if you had to investigate a murder
you would gladly have committed yourself?
The Science Conservatory of Okucha was Merit's home for ten years—in many ways the only home she ever knew. Here she was attuned to be a Retrospector (a dangerous medical transformation) and here she learned about Forensic Retrsopection. This is Mike's rough (low res) drawing of the Conservatory:
A year into the war with the Rasakans, the Science Conservatory was bombed mercilessly, destroying the precious time Artifice that it contained and killing all of the young Prospectives as well as Merit's mentor, the Old Prioress. Here are Mike's sketches of that destruction:
Early in the book, Merit returns to the ruins of the Conservatory for the first time:
At length they left the shadow of the trees and found themselves on the southern edge of a broad lea covered with new grass that glistened in the sun. The main road, such as it was, made a detour around the tumbled-down archway through which it had once passed, then continued north. But the orderly made a right-hand turn onto the grassy lane heading east. The auto rattled up a long, gentle slope that gave the Site Team a good view of their surroundings.
Half a kilometer to the north was a vast expanse of gray rubble, an ugly scar that time had not yet healed. They traveled in silence past the desolation, then past a dozen men and women dressed in homespun overalls and wide-brimmed hats working a strip of cultivated land beside the lane. Some wielded hoes, others pushed wooden barrows filled with earth; one or two glanced up as the vehicle jounced by.
Donny pointed to a Donny pointed to a place in the ruin that had been cleared and paved in a mosaic of red stone. “That’s the Forum. Guess the pilgrims’ve leveled it off and are having a go at rebuilding. Look at the size of that crater—that’s where the Conservatory Artifice was, right Merit?”
“Yep,” said Merit. But she did not raise her gaze from her lap.