Across town, Wyll was welcomed into the home/workshop of Arngeld, pretty much all Whiterun had to offer in the way of a professional carpenter. His family was large and growing larger, and he had a couple of young sons coming along in the trade. His wife and daughters contributed to the business by weaving and sewing seat cushions, bolsters, mattresses, and bedding.
The tall, sandy-haired Nord’s face split in a grin as Wyll was ushered in to the workshop in the rear of the residence by Arngeld’s youngest daughter, a girl of seven. Like most people who met Wyll, the carpenter had liked him on first meeting – and was pleased at the extra business Wyll had been bringing him of late. “Wyll! Are you here for the table?” he asked genially. Wyll was a bit surprised. It had only been a few days since he’d ordered it.
“Nope, actually it’s something else. But is the table ready? Can I see it?” “Just waiting for the final coat of varnish to dry, then we should be able to deliver it tomorrow,” Arngeld told him. He’d had some past experience with inn tables and knew that if they didn’t have a good hard, shiny finish on them they’d either become filthy and unappetizing (not good for business, if the inn was selling food) or sanded down to nothing in a few months as the inn staff used Holystone on them to remove the inevitable stains.
Arngeld led Wyll out into a side area of the yard, where the table Wyll had ordered sat under a protective overhang. Whiterun weather being what it was, you had to be prepared to get everything under cover at a moment’s notice. Following, Wyll gasped as he beheld what Arngeld had wrought. In keeping with the style employed throughout Skyrim for home furnishings, the table had simple lines. It was made from solid oak and its legs were unadorned, sturdy and slightly tapered. But the top!
“By the Divines,” Wyll exclaimed, studying the design that had been inlaid in the top. “This is beautiful!” The golden oak that composed the entire table was joined here with designs cut in a dark red hardwood and an even darker, almost black one. They formed stylized dragons embedded in the table surface, intricately fitted together and protected by multiple layers of a hard, shiny varnish. “I didn’t realize you were such an artist, Arngeld.”
The older man bowed his head slightly, but the smile on his face could not be suppressed. “It’s not often I get the chance for any artistic expression,” he said humbly. “But I think that The Dragonborn deserves the thanks of the entire province for what she’s done. I wanted something that would be a fitting tribute to her.”
“I’m sure she’ll love it,” Wyll replied whole-heartedly. Recalling Lane’s recent lunge in the direction of marketing, he had a brief mental image of the Suite’s entire collection of tables (and chairs, no doubt) being refitted with the dragon motif.
“In any case,” Wyll went on, “I’m afraid the reason I’m here is not going to provide you with an outlet for artistic expression. I need a whole bunch of chairs and some basic tables, as many as you can provide in the next week or so.” Arngeld smiled. The special “Owner’s Table” for The Dragonborn had been a rare opportunity for him to pour his soul into his work. But his bread and butter, the work that kept his growing family fed, was just such quick-and-dirty assignments as the one Wyll described. All of the output of his shop was sturdy and well-made; but the vast majority of it was as plain as porridge.
Wyll pulled out a coin purse, and handed Arngeld a fistful of gold. “This is for materials. We’ll take as many chairs as you can deliver to the Suite by the 17th. And we need four of the small basic tables, thirty inches square. The 17th was now 8 days away, and Arngeld was calculating. “The boys are getting pretty good at tables, and they’re starting to get the hang of chairs. I think we might be able to do 20 chairs by then. Is that too many?”
Wyll cast his mind back to the Suite. He’d been living there for more than two years, and could walk through it in his memories counting the chairs. They might need to stack some of these new ones up in a corner between parties, but he thought they’d certainly need that many at least a few times a year. He’d never really had a proprietary attitude toward anything in his life before – but as the wedding approached, he was beginning to feel as if he, Kat, and Anders were not just life partners but business partners. And it was time for him to act like a grownup and look to the future.
“Twenty chairs and four tables will be fine, Arngeld,” Wyll said confidently. “Uh, how’s the bed coming?” A puckish expression suffused his friend’s features. With five kids and another on the way Arngeld clearly spent a fair amount of time in bed with his wife; but the circumstances of Wyll’s forthcoming marriage and the bed he was crafting to accommodate its participants could not help but provoke certain… fantasies. These fantasies might have been more to his taste if Wyll were marrying two beautiful women; but he’d take what he could get.
“It’s coming along,” he said. “You still don’t need it until early next month, right?” Wyll nodded. He’d ordered well in advance. The room the bed was to be assembled in was as yet only a glimmer in the architect’s eye. “Irmagard and the girls are nearly done with the mattress, but there’s the issue of the bedding.” Wyll blinked. He’d ordered the bed and the mattress, but had not even considered the sheets, blankets, and coverlet.
“Take a look at this,” Arngeld said, motioning to the other side of the yard. Wyll surveyed the large wooden structure set up under a roof, lining one wall.
“Uh, I give up,” he said after studying it for a moment, “what is it?” Arngeld grinned at him, pride shining in his face.
“It is,” he said, “probably the largest loom in Skyrim. When you ordered your bed, I got to thinking. You usually can’t get cloth wider than about six feet. But with three people working the loom, there’s no reason we couldn’t go wider. This will make a sheet of cloth ten feet wide by up to twenty feet long!”
“Wow,” Wyll said, at a loss for words. Weaving was not one of the areas he’d ever paid much attention to.
Arngeld went on, “We can make tablecloths fit for the Jarl’s table, sheets and blankets any size, really big sails, tents, almost anything.”
Considering the possibilities, Wyll eyed his friend. “You might be needing to pop out a few more daughters, Arngeld…” Arngeld laughed. “Three is enough for this loom,” he said. “I’d need to build another one and hire some help to take on any more work. But we’ll have top and bottom sheets for your bed made from the finest tundra cotton, and a good goat’s wool blanket too.”