The Boys are Back in Town
As Anders, Wyll, and Sorine stepped into the Suite they found the place bustling. It seemed to grow more popular with each passing month, as word of it reached the far corners of Skyrim. Likely the inn’s several innovations, including the hot bathing pool and the recent invention of potato chips, were part of the draw. All three of them, the men especially, were fairly ravenous by now. Breakfast had been scanty and many hours in the past.
They found Lane manning the bar, engaged in some washing-up now that the crowd had begun to thin. Despite the Suite’s location on the fringes of the Whiterun trading area, they were starting to see a surge of locals coming here just for lunch. This included some of the workers from the nearby Chillfurrow Farm project, who were swelling the ranks still more.
“Welcome back!” Lane greeted them, adding “You missed Katja by about an hour and a half. She’s off to Solitude.” Both Wyll and Anders were a little disappointed, though they’d expected that would be the case. Much as they missed her and lusted after her, it was probably for the best. Her absence meant they could pursue their efforts to prepare their magnificent surprise without constant attention to subterfuge.
“Ah well,” Anders said casually. “What have you got to eat?”
Lane gave a smile of secret satisfaction, an unusual expression for the calm and matter-of-fact innkeep. “I have just the thing. Here, have some cold ales,” he said proffering three frosty bottles across the bar, “and go sit at your table. I’ll have lunch for you in about fifteen minutes.” Anders took an appreciative swig from his ale. “Seems like Ellis is keeping up with the drinks chilling,” he remarked. “He’s getting better at it all the time,” Lane replied.
The three made their way to their table, setting their packs on the floor carefully. All of them were carrying valuable Dwemer devices they had gone to a lot of trouble to acquire. They enjoyed their chilled drinks, chattering about the recent expedition, until Lane arrived at the table with an enormous tray on which three more chilled ales and three plates of food were resting.
Aha, more of the bread, meat, and cheese combinations. Except these were freshly prepared, not wrapped in waxed paper, and seemed to be hot, the cheese melted. “Have you figured out what you’re going to call these, Lane?” Wyll asked, his eyes focused on the food with a degree of concentration usually reserved for the thighs of his beloved. Lane rested the heavy tray on the table and began passing the plates and bottles around. No utensils were needed, but he had brought some napkins.
That task done, the innkeep considered for a moment. “I’m thinking of calling them Dragonbites,” he said. “It would be just a bite for a dragon… But I’m trying to tie in with The Dragonborn. ‘Luxury Suite’ might describe what we are, but it doesn’t exactly… resonate with the public.” Wyll guffawed around a mouthful of his “Dragonbite.” Damn, that was good! “Dragonbites it is!” he said cheerfully. Followed a moment later by “Hey, these potato fingers are really delicious!”
Lane smiled. “I asked Katja to make me a sort of wire basket for cooking them in, and she came through like a champ. Wait’ll you taste the chips!” He left them to their food at that, and went back to the bar. As he left they could hear him murmuring, “Dragonfries? Dragonchips?” Anders followed his friend with a questioning gaze. Did he detect signs that Lane was metamorphosing into a salesman?
As they devoured their delayed midday meal, the three talked about their immediate plans. Now that they had all the pieces, Sorine needed to finalize her design for the water system and start constructing it. Anders was to help her with that, and see that the space reserved for it at the house was adequate for their needs. Wyll was anxious to finish the ring he intended to slip onto Kat’s finger at the wedding, and equally anxious to be back at the farm, participating in the construction project.
As he had throughout their expedition, Anders assumed the role of team leader. “Kat’s going to be gone at least until late tomorrow, maybe even the day after,” he told them. “From the relative distances, it’ll probably take about the same amount of time to travel between here and Solitude as it does between here and Riften. I really hope we can get the working parts of the water system put together by then.”
“I need to have some pipe fabricated,” Sorine said. “That piece you cut for us is a model. Your builder must have somebody that makes it?”
Anders considered. Several dozen feet of copper pipe were due to be installed between the bottom of the cistern and the house, coming up to valves in the kitchen and bathroom. Hegmar must know the provider. “I’ll take the sample down to show him. Maybe Wyll and I can go down together in a little while. Will you be able to get started assembling your components?”
Now it was Sorine who pondered. “I’m hoping to work in close proximity to the Suite’s system, so I can make sure that I’m matching the model. But what about getting it up and out of the basement?”
“As long as it’s small enough to fit through the trap door to the deck, that shouldn’t be a problem. We can lift it up and push it out, or we can rig ropes to hoist it.”
“Okay,” Sorine said. “That should work… Oh! I also need a flat sheet of Dwarven metal around 2 by 3 feet, very thin, and perforated all over with a lot of tiny holes so that it’s like a fine screen. I hope your fabricator can handle that, too. There’ll be a few little levers and bars and so forth, but I can craft those myself – or you can, Wyll.”
The blond giant grinned at her. “I’ve been getting in a bit of practice at the smithy lately with some more finely-detailed work,” he admitted. “I don’t know about pipe or your screen plate, but I should be able to modify or create any levers you need.” “All right,” Sorine said with a smile. “I think we’re ready to get started. Gentlemen, give me a hand taking things down to the basement?”
The three hefted their packs and carried them downstairs, then spread the contents on the crafting bench with more pieces occupying the alchemy and enchanting tables. Anders pointed out the supplies on the shelves to Sorine, also noting that there seemed to be quite a bit of miscellaneous Dwemer scrap in the chest. “Kat’s had that stuff for months,” he told her. “I doubt she’d miss any of it if it turns out there’s something here you can use.”
Sorine gave him a businesslike smile, and handed him the cut section of Dwemer pipe. “We need four straight lengths of this three feet long,” she said, “and another four sections with a U bend. Plus some kind of collar that will let the pieces be joined.”
Anders took the piece and looked at her questioningly. “Would you mind jotting that down?” he asked hopefully. Realizing that memorizing her specifications and getting them all right after hearing them one time was not something she could reasonably expect even a sharp cookie like Anders to do, Sorine extracted a piece of paper from the collection spread around the room and used her Dwemer pen to produce detailed drawings showing the sizes, shapes, and diameters of the pipes they needed. She passed it to Anders and he pocketed it.
As they had no plans for questing through hostile regions, Wyll changed into some more appropriate clothing before he and Anders went back upstairs. He was completely casual about stripping down, but Sorine found herself simultaneously wanting to look and wanting to look away. In a minute or so he was dressed again, and after the men had vanished up the ladder she headed for the Suite’s water system to refresh her memories and make some notes.