The Dragonborn Hunts

Influence

Outside in the plaza before the Gildergreen Wyll and Anders conferred. “If we buy Chillfurrow it’s going to need a lot of work, and we haven’t got a lot of time,” Wyll pointed out.

“I’m afraid you’re right,” Anders told him. “I’d like to get the horse and cart back and change into some fancier clothes, but the day’s getting on. We don’t want to catch Balgruuf at supper.”

Thus agreed, the pair mounted the steps leading up to Dragonsreach, admiring the view. As they came in they met Lydia leaving, a pile of books in her hands. She greeted them warmly, and Anders decided to bring her in on their conspiracy. “Don’t say a word to Kat, okay?” he warned.

Smiling mysteriously, she said, “My lips are sealed.” Then she continued on her way back home as the men walked through the hall and toward the dais where Balgruuf lounged on his throne.

Balgruuf sat up straighter as they approached him. He knew them well as the boon companions of the Dragonborn, who had travelled with her to Sovngarde and assisted in destroying Alduin. As Anders appeared to be the spokesman of this small delegation, it was he that the Jarl greeted with “May the gods watch over your battles, friend.”

“And the same to you, my Jarl” Anders responded politely.

“And how may I help you?” Balgruuf continued. Despite the fact that any citizen of Whiterun could walk up to him and get a moment of his time without an appointment, the Jarl usually made a point of how busy he was.

“We’ve come to ask a favor sir,” Anders told him, “on behalf of The Dragonborn.”

Balgruuf looked slightly irritated but he nodded. “I certainly owe her a favor or two,” he admitted. “What is it that you need?”

“It’s a matter regarding one of your citizens from Hammerfell,” Anders said formally. “A certain Nazeem. I’m sure you know of him? He claims to be your frequent adviser…”

Balgruuf snorted in disgust. “That lickspittle! What about him?”

Anders considered how best to frame his request before continuing. “The Dragonborn is desirous of obtaining Chillfurrow Farm, near her inn a short way outside the city,” he explained. “We approached Nazeem, who is the farm’s owner, but he refused to consider our offer. He said the property is not for sale. We were wondering if you might be able to convince him to change his mind?”

Smiling grimly, the Jarl replied, “I do believe that if I told him to leap off the Great Porch out back, he’d do so without a moment’s hesitation. I don’t think I should have any trouble convincing him to entertain your offer. I assume you’re prepared to pay fair market value?”

“Certainly,” Anders replied. “The Dragonborn always pays for what she receives.” He thought it would be impolitic to mention that her current fat coffers were in large part due to a long campaign of raiding tombs and pillaging bandit lairs.

“Consider it done, then” Balgruuf said, smiling more warmly. “Will there be anything else? I do have a city to run.”

“Thank you sir, that’s all we needed” said Anders. He and Wyll nodded respectfully and then took their leave. They collected their horse and cart in the market square, thanking Lars for his trouble. The boy seemed to love horses, and had been sitting on their beast’s back and stroking its neck when they arrived.

They led the creature back up toward the gates, the nearly empty cart rattling on the cobblestones, and returned down the road toward home. As they were passing the meadery, Wyll had a thought. “Hey,” he said brightly. “Here we are going right past the meadery with a horse and cart, and large sacks of gold. Why don’t we pick up some supplies for the Suite?”

Anders grinned at him. “Wyll, you’re a genius,” he said fondly. They went inside and soon negotiated the purchase of several cases of the amber-colored honey beer, which Honingbrew employees loaded into the cart for them.

Wyll and Anders were quite pleased with the idea, though the horse was less enthusiastic. After arriving at the Suite they enlisted the help of Farquhar, Lane, and Ellis in unloading. Then Wyll led the horse back across the road and returned it and the cart to Gwendolyn, who thanked him for bringing it back so promptly. She asked him if he’d like to come in for some tea, an invitation he politely declined. From the look in her eyes, tea was not the only thing on her mind.

Wyll found Anders taking a bath when he came in, washing off the dust of the trip to and from Whiterun. Not a bad idea, so he joined him. Then they got out and dressed in clean clothing, and wandered around the Suite for a while. Anders went out on the deck and practiced his destruction spells on the target dummies for some time, and Wyll went down into his basement lair to do some smithing. He’d been watching Kat work, and he had a project of his own that he hoped to develop the skill for. He’d made arms and armor from iron and steel, and was not bad at it. But now he was working with gold and gems, and found it took a lot of care and attention.

The two of them met for supper at their favorite table, and after eating sat enjoying the usual evening entertainment of the Suite. Lane sang and played his lute, people got up and danced to the music, and there was a parade of good-looking women going into the bathing pool. These two might be committed to spending their lives with one woman, but that didn’t mean they didn’t still like to look. Both of them were missing Kat, though, and they turned in relatively early.

In the morning Wyll lay in bed for a while, thinking of Kat and absently stroking his hardened cock. “Come back soon, love!” he sent a thought into the ether. He was a young man with a powerful libido, and going a couple of days without release was creating a “hard”-ship. He sighed. The Suite was crawling with beautiful women, many of them disporting naked in the pools and away from home, looking for some fun. But now that he had made a commitment to marry Kat, he didn’t want to bed any other women. He’d made no promises, nor had she; but somehow that seemed to be part of their understanding.

He sighed, then took care of himself before getting up and dressed. As he was eating some delicious warm boiled cream treats for breakfast, washed down with hot tea, Anders came down from the loft looking like he’d slept under a haystack. “Hey brother!” he called. “What happened to you? You look a bit… rumpled.”

Anders grinned at him sleepily. “Give me some of that tea and a few minutes to wake up,” he pleaded. “This getting-up-with-the-chickens thing is new to me.” Wyll grinned in turn and signaled to Ellis, who was on the bar this morning, to bring some more tea and treats.

As the two were nearly finished breaking their fast, sitting there with a good view of the pool and the front doors, who should they see walking in but Nazeem. He seemed to be dressed in even more outrageous finery than usual, and was looking around goggle-eyed at the graceful architecture of the inn and the two gorgeous young women who were relaxing naked in the pool. As one of them made eye contact, he quickly looked away. Then he spotted Wyll and Anders and came over to their table, eyeing the women sidelong as he crossed the central hall.

When he arrived at their table he seemed taken aback. Wyll, the supposed muscle in yesterday’s conference, looked presentable enough; but Anders, the well-bred spokesman, was sitting there with hair uncombed wearing clothes that looked as if he might have dug them out of the drawer last, after everything else in the room had failed the smell test. Which was, in fact, approximately the case. Still, Nazeem had been given what he took to be his orders; and he forged ahead.

“Good morning, M. Lanya” he said stiffly. Anders, caught unawares, scrambled to recover the situation.

“Ah Nazeem, so good to see you. You must excuse my appearance. As you can see, things here at the Suite can get a little… exciting. And I had a very late night.” Nazeem took another look at the women in the pool. And he’s The Dragonborn’s fiancé? he thought. The dog! Nazeem only wished he could get away with behavior like that.

Anders was somewhat surprised to find that, apparently, his disheveled appearance and the explanation for it had raised him in Nazeem’s estimation rather than the other way around. The man, self-important as he was, seemed eager to get to the point. “The reason I’ve come today,” he began as Wyll gestured to a chair and he seated himself at their table, “is that I’ve been thinking and have decided that I might, after all, be willing to consider an offer on Chillfurrow Farm. For the good of the Hold, of course, and as a personal favor to Thane Katja…”

It worked! Anders thought, while schooling his face to blank indifference. “Oh?” he replied, eyeing Nazeem coldly. “After your refusal yesterday, we have of course been considering other properties…” Nazeem looked confused. Did they want the farm or not? Wyll sat there looking like 250 pounds of dumb Nord muscle, ready to pound anybody that caused problems to his boss. Nazeem didn’t want to get in trouble with the Jarl, and he wasn’t much interested in crossing these two either now he had learned they were, as it seemed, high up in the Jarl’s favor.

“I’d be willing to accept a reasonable offer for the property,” he said graciously. “I think thirty thousand should be adequate.” Anders turned a gaze on him that would have frozen a snow cat.

“Thirty thousand? Are you insane? I was thinking more along the lines of ten. The land doesn’t amount to much and the house is tiny.” Nazeem cringed. He had as much as been directed by his Jarl to sell the place to these agents of Thane Katja for whatever they offered, but it was a major part of his holdings in Skyrim. He couldn’t possibly be expected to let it go for such a pittance!

Trying not to reveal the duress under which he was negotiating, Nazeem tried a counter-offer. “Don’t be ridiculous!” he cried. “Land this close to the city walls is almost unavailable at any price, and this land has been tilled and enriched for generations. The house may be small, but it is sturdy and well-built. And the place has provided me with a generous income, as it will you. I could not possibly let it go for less than twenty-five thousand.”

A glint in his brown eyes was the only hint of the triumph in Anders’ heart as he pushed ahead. He had every intention of delivering fair market value to Nazeem and Ahlam in exchange for their property; but he and Wyll would also need money to start on the remodeling that would be required to turn Chillfurrow Farm into the country estate of Kat’s dreams. If it were to be done swiftly, they’d need to hire a horde of workers.

The negotiations went on. Wyll leaned back in his chair and sipped his cold tea, glaring menacingly at Nazeem the while as his friend and the Redguard wannabe-patrician went back and forth. When a deal was finally struck, Wyll was pleasantly surprised. Nazeem had at last rolled over for 18,750 gold septims – far less than they’d been prepared to pay. He hoped Ahlam wouldn’t be too disappointed, and expected that likely any disappointment she did feel would be directed at her sorry spouse for failing to make a better deal. Poor Nazeem was clearly doomed.

44

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