The Dragonborn Hunts

Experimentation

Suitably garbed, Anders borrowed a heavy steel bucket from Lane and, armed and with a Destruction spell at the ready, carried it down the stairs leading off the Suite’s rear deck to the shore of the river less than a quarter of a mile down the hill. Despite its proximity to Whiterun the area around the Suite could be wild and dangerous. Sometimes they had wolves or ogres coming right up onto the decks. It was the reason that Farquhar could usually be found patrolling the area around the building, armed to the teeth.

Luckily, Anders encountered nothing worse on his way to the waterside than a couple of enormous mudcrabs, which he blasted to oblivion from a safe distance with his lightning spell. As he’d hoped, he found a wash of clean, fine-sand beach on a stretch of the river where it bent away to the east. Brushing away leaves and twigs, he filled the bucket about half full with the sand before returning to the Suite.

Anders let himself into the basement through the trap door on the rear deck. He had never actually worked with glass before, though he had some understanding of the principles involved. He set the bucket of sand into the forge fires and fed them, pumping the bellows to bring the heat up. Then he applied his most intense fire spell to the bucket’s contents.

Soon the bucket was glowing, and the sand within it was beginning to show signs of melting. But Anders couldn’t maintain the fire spell – his magicka kept running out. Kat had given him several items of clothing and jewelry that she’d enchanted to raise his overall magicka level and improve the rate at which it replenished itself. He went back upstairs, leaving the bucket in the forge, and returned in a few minutes prepared to give that sand the burning of its life.

With this magical enhancement, he was now able to make the heat soar. But as the sand formed into a blob of glass within the bucket, the bucket itself melted through – leaking the thick, molten glass into the forge fire. Shit! Anders was beginning to wonder just how crazy he was. Did he really think he could do something no glassmaker in Tamriel had yet achieved?

Time for a little study. Leaving his mess behind, he climbed the ladder to the trap door behind the bar and began rummaging through the bookshelves that were scattered here and there throughout the Suite. No tomes on making glass. Indeed, few enough books on any technical subject. He knew just where, if anywhere, such books might be found – the library of the College at Winterhold was the most extensive he had ever seen. And its Orc librarian, Urag Gro-Shub, was an acquaintance of his. But without Kat around to take him there with her magic map, getting there in a reasonable amount of time was an impossibility.

Reluctantly, Anders concluded that the issue of large panes of clear plate glass would have to wait until he had more understanding of basic glassmaking. He still had some ideas of how it could be done, but just being able to create glass from sand would be required before he got into any fancy techniques. He was tempted, after this rebuff, just to grab a snack and go down to Chillfurrow to gawk at the work crew and hang out with his friends; but he restrained himself.

Getting an ale from the bar and a roll of paper, Anders sat at the table in the master suite, where things were quieter in the afternoon, sketching ideas for a hot water system. You could, he supposed, split the flow from the tower-mounted cistern into two pipes, with one of them going to a device that would heat the water and then to specially dedicated valves that dispensed only hot water while others, not connected to the device, would dispense only water at whatever temperature it came in at from the cistern. In high summer, that would probably be fairly warm.

Hmm, you could create a sort of hot water reservoir. But for the water to stay hot, it would either need continuous energy applied to it or massive amounts of insulation to keep it hot once it had been brought to the desired temperature. Oh, how he wished for a Dwemer engineer whispering in his ear! Anders considered some other ways that hot water could be produced. If you ran water through a series of copper tubes such as were used to produce spirits, you could apply heat to the coils and the water would be instantly heated as it made its way through them. But how would you trigger the heat?

Anders was still at his drawing board hours later, still wracking his brain for viable ideas, when Wyll returned to the Suite. He’d parted company with Argis as they left Chillfurrow Farm, Hegmar and his work crew accompanying Argis back to town. Wyll looked around for Anders but found no sign of him. He wasn’t down in the basement, though he noticed there was a strange-looking mass of twisted metal and glass in the embers of the forge fire.

Shrugging, Wyll got a bottle of chilled mead from Ellis, who’d taken over from Lane at the bar. Along with it he got a bowl of potato chips. The popularity of these was spreading. Upstairs, Anders pushed himself away from the table and sighed. He had not yet hit on the glowing inspiration that was going to solve the problem once and for all, and he needed a break. When he came downstairs he spotted Wyll, and snagged a bottle of mead from the bar before joining him and helping himself to Wyll’s chips.

“So, how goes it?” Wyll asked him. Anders sighed. “Still working on it, I’m afraid. I don’t think I’m going to be able to do the glass thing for months or years yet. But I should be able to pull off the hot water. Just haven’t worked out the best way to do it yet.”

Wyll smiled at him. “You’ll figure it out, if anybody can. Boy, wait’ll you see the job site!”

Anders perked up at this. “Yeah?”

Wyll continued, “That Hegmar really knows what he’s doing. He had guys with shovels swarming all over the place, digging out the basement and the foundations and excavating the pit for the waste system. Argis and I really picked up a few things. I guess tomorrow we’ll find out what the bite is, and how soon the place will be done. But at the rate he’s working, we might be living there in a month!”

“Let’s hope Kat doesn’t decide we’re getting married in a week then,” Anders said, swallowing a mouthful of chips and washing it down with a swig of mead.

51

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