The Home Stretch
That wasn’t quite the case. While she was not strictly required, herself, to perform any of these tasks, there were a number that needed doing and Katja found herself involved in them. Two triceratops, slow and generally less aggressive than mammoths, had to be killed because they refused to remove themselves from the area north of the Suite where the tent was to be erected. Lane opined that the meat was as good as beef, and since there was so much of it they should butcher the carcasses and preserve it for the party.
Katja and Wyll found themselves working together out on the deck to produce an enormous chest, with inner and outer layers of wood stuffed with tundra cotton between them and thin sheets of Dwarven metal lining the inside. This had a drain hole at the bottom. Hunks of the meat were wrapped in waxed paper to prevent damage from freezing, then Anders used his best frost spell on one layer of meat packages at a time as they filled the chest up to the top. The frozen meat helped to keep itself cold, and once or twice a day depending on the weather Anders or Ellis would apply some additional frost.
Wyll borrowed a small crew from Hegmar for a one-day job at the Suite, extending the deck on the south side by some 20 feet and putting a 10’ deep, open-fronted lean-to shed on it running the depth of the building, attached to the Suite building across its southern end. A hole cut in the Suite’s kitchen area on one side of the fireplace gave access to the lean-to from within the building (with a door to close it, when not in use). They put their “cold storage chest” in there, protected from the elements and offering more counter space for kitchen operations.
The men took turns going down to the project site for a few hours at a time while Katja was busy with other things and not likely to notice. This gave them the opportunity to keep tabs on progress, supervise the job to make sure their intentions were being fulfilled (though both had to admit, Hegmar seemed to have it well in hand), and learn about house construction from watching and working with Hegmar’s experienced crew.
Katja considered removing the tall grass from the intended tent site by having Anders use a fire spell on it. His powerful destruction magic should have been able to char the grass right down to the ground. But she feared a wildfire getting out of control, and the possibility existed that the smell of charred grass, contained by the tent, might make sleeping in it a nightmare. So, they did it the old-fashioned way. She hired a couple of farm laborers from Battle-Born Farm, across the road, and they scythed the grass down to the height of a nice lawn in few hours. The area was only about the size of a small wheat field, after all.
The people Lane had gotten the tent from were willing to provide a couple of crew to help get it up, but more including Katja herself (and, to her immense surprise, even Igmund) came out to assist with the effort. The thing was quite magnificent, a pavilion of some sort she guessed, and probably intended to house a traveling bazaar. Such things were rare sights in Skyrim, but more common in Hammerfell – or so she’d been told.
Arngeld’s two young sons came by with a partial delivery of their order, two more of the small tables and 8 chairs. These were almost immediately pressed into service, as the Suite continued to fill up in the evenings and at lunchtime. Lane soon set up more cooking equipment in the lean-to, and requested that some removable panels be made for the front of it so that it could be used in foul weather. This also necessitated the installation of chimney pipe in the lean-to’s simple sloped roof.
Carpets covered the shorn field, providing a floor for the tent, and bedrolls were distributed in it. Those Suite employees who normally slept in beds, including Farquhar (who acted as Security), began sleeping in the tent. This freed more beds for inn guests, and eased the congestion. Lower lodging rates were offered to those guests willing to bunk in the tent or in the guardhouse, which sat on the rear deck.
In the midst of all this Katja found time to finalize some sketches of clothing she wanted made for her, and fast-travelled into Whiterun (giving both Wyll and Anders a rare opportunity to spend a few hours at the project site together). She visited Gerde at the Gray-Manes’ main residence (though several of the clan were members of the Companions and resided at Jorrvaskr). Gerde was quite intrigued with the designs Katja had brought her, took all of her measurements, and let her choose from among several fabric samples. One dress, the one she wanted to wear to the wedding in Riften, would be ready on the 15th.