Sunlight sparkled on Lake Ilinalta, a delicate breeze whispering through the pines. Sirius and Vorstag took deep breaths of the refreshing scent as they strolled hand-in-hand along the southern shore. People whispered that Ilinalta was cursed, but it was hard to believe when one gazed upon its beauty. Both men felt refreshed from their trip, energized and happy. They could have ridden or taken a carriage, but walking gave them a chance to go at their own pace, admiring the scenery and being alone together in a way they hadn’t in a long time. Granted, walking briskly would have brought them to Falkreath in less than a day, but they had been in no hurry and had stopped over in Riverwood to visit a few friends. Night had been spent camping in the woods, making love under the stars (and Vorstag was limping a little today, but didn’t care) and falling asleep in each other’s arms with the aurora borealis blazing overhead.
“The directions Siddgeir’s steward gave me say to turn here,” Sirius said, consulting his parchment. A stone cairn marked the head of a barely-discernible path leading away from the lake into the woods. Sirius had been advised to bring a machete, and it proved useful as they slowly made their way up the path, cutting away the shrubs and thorns that blocked their way in places. Vorstag’s heartbeat quickened. They were heading uphill, and as the trees thinned out he could see a roof off to his left. A very large roof, it seemed. After removing a difficult and determined patch of nettles, the two men stepped into a clearing, and the house loomed above them.
The clearing wasn’t exactly clear - the grass needed cutting - but they barely noticed as they gazed up at the manor. It was old - built sixty years ago according to the records Siddgeir had given Sirius - and needed some attention, but was obviously very sturdy and securely built. Elegant rain-spouts carved in the shape of dragons’ heads topped the roof, and the front door was fashioned with a lovely pattern of leaves and vines. But as beautiful as these details were, it was the size that had the men gaping. From the outside, Lakeview Manor appeared to be capable of holding a family of twenty or so.
“Wow,” Vorstag said weakly, gazing up at the behemoth. “I-is that a tower?”
“Yes,” Sirius said, unrolling the floor plans. The parchment indicated a large tower on the northern side of the house, looking out over the water. He squeezed Vorstag’s hand and reached into his coin purse for the key. “Ready to go inside?”
Vorstag nodded, and Sirius opened the door. They stepped into an entrance hall that was easily the size of Breezehome’s main room. Tall, slim windows made of colored glass cast rainbows across the stone floor. Two extremely dusty display cases stood at each side of the hall, containing nothing but a few dust bunnies and flanked by empty weapon racks. Eager to explore, Sirius and Vorstag put down their packs and weapons before continuing. Sirius pushed open a set of doors at the opposite end of the hall to reveal a great room bigger than their whole house. A gigantic fireplace, dirty but in good condition, was the centerpiece of the room. Two staircases rose on either side and closed doors hid yet more rooms from sight.
“Wow,” Vorstag said weakly. “It’s pretty big.”
“It’s great,” Sirius grinned, hugging Vorstag. “Let’s see what else we have here…..”
The western doors led to a plain, empty room, quite large, that would be good for a bedroom. On the eastern side sprawled a big kitchen, complete with fireplace, oven, and a haphazard group of chairs stacked on top of a long, dusty dining table that obviously belonged in the great hall. Vorstag studied it appreciatively, taking stock of the fine carving that had gone into the set.
But there was more. Two archways on either side of the great hall’s fireplace led to yet another large room that could serve as a study. A door at the end revealed the tower’s lower floor, jammed with old furniture that was mostly broken. Venturing upstairs, Sirius and Vorstag found a spacious hall and two bedrooms. A smaller back hall held the door that opened up to the tower’s second floor. A ladder was built into the wall here, and they climbed up and out a trapdoor to find themselves on top of the tower.
“Gods,” was all Vorstag could say, as they looked out over the tops of the trees. It was an awesome view, proving the manor’s name accurate as the two husbands gazed out at the glistening lake, stretching out as far as they could see. It was an excellent vantage point, as well, offering an unobstructed view of the land around the manor in all directions. For a long time they simply sat and drank in the sunshine and scenery. Sirius was on the verge of dozing off when Vorstag asked, “There’s a cellar on these plans too, shall we look?”
The study contained a trapdoor leading to the cellar, but Sirius lit torches and insisted on going first. “There might be skeevers.”
Vorstag was ready to protest that a skeever or two didn’t bother him, when his husband dropped out of sight with a scream.