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[ASOIAF][SI] No Promises

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by Nugar, Jan 29, 2018.

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  1. Threadmarks: Chapter 1: It's actually really easy to not be an asshole, why don't more people try it?
    Nugar

    Nugar Know what you're doing yet?

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    Note: The first chapter is now the prologue, this is now chapter one. This starts before the events of the old chapter two.


    Eight years and change later, I stared down at the smoldering ruins of one of my alcohol distilleries and pursed my lips. The stone walls of the small building still stood, but the wooden roof and all of the contents were so much charcoal and ash. Even the heavy oak doors that stood wide open were charred and sagging on their warped iron hinges. I could see the big iron retort inside, which might be salvageable, but the copper piping of the still, which spiraled up and over a stone wall to the condensing side, was a mangled mess.

    The jugs and pots the alcohol would have flowed into were a shattered, partially melted catastrophe. With so much alcohol as fuel, even the surface of the stone had cracked under the heat.

    Most infuriatingly, there was another, identically burned distillery right next door, thirty feet away. A distance I THOUGHT was far enough to keep fire from spreading.

    Irritated by the loss, I looked around. There were five more small distillery houses in this row alone, and five rows. I knew the volatility of grain alcohol vapor, but these also might distill anything ranging from wood alcohol to kerosene to ammonia, depending on the still. Fortunately, I’d had each one built using as much stone as possible, kept a distance from its neighbors to reduce the likelihood of fire spreading, and this was in a field outside King’s Landing that tended to have a breeze to disperse dangerous concentrations of fumes. I also had multiple people keeping an eye on them at all hours of the day, and three small water wagons, two wheeled hand carts, really, with basic hand pumps on standby in case of fires. Every previous time there had been a fire, it was put out with no issues.

    “What did this one make?” I asked my assistant slash secretary slash officially appointed spy, Cayla.

    Rusty, my big ass war dog, sat at my side, pushing his head under my hand for a quick ear scratch.

    She consulted her notes, then replied. “Whiskey, my Prince, the new Smyte recipe with apple mash. Both were loaded with first distillation product yesterday, totaling thirty six dragons, five stags, two pennies in value, each. A man named Seban was the tender for this area, Rody Lowfield the supervisor, and a woman named Jeyn the other tender on duty. There should also have been six guards. Would you like their names as well?”

    I make a motion of ‘wait on that’ and looked over where a series of singed, burnt smelling men all kneeled, heads down in shame. My personal bodyguard, Sandor Clegane, loomed ominously behind them, hand on the hilt of his sword.

    Not because he was preparing to kill one, or even really expecting this to lead to murder, he just liked to stand that way. Nice guy, kinda intimidating, a little too quiet.

    “Seban.”

    A man I kinda recognized and had met a few times before straightened up slightly. He was an older man, with a few streaks of grey in his hair, and a short, well-trimmed beard. “Yes, my Prince?”

    “Tell me what happened.”

    Hesitantly at first, but with growing surety, he launched into his tale. Apparently, since most of the retorts were being scrubbed and prepared for their next batches, they had only called in two tenders, himself and the widow Jeyn, for the night. He had three rows, with a total of five stills. Jeyn had two rows with seven, but they were all close together and easy to manage.

    The night had been going well, as usual, although for a change, there was no wind or breeze. When he saw a fire inside one of the distilleries. A bend of the copper pipe near the top had apparently started leaking and the alcohol had instantly caught on fire from the flame under the retort. He had called for the water wagons and tried to beat out the flame, but it was already too much to be put out by hand.

    Guards had brought the water wagons, and at first it looked like it was going to be put out, but the first wagon ran out of water, and when they switched to the second one, the pump wouldn’t work. The third one was low on water, having been used for retort rinsing earlier that day, and not refilled.

    I had to pinch my nose. Leaking copper tubing, plus lack of wind to keep the fumes dispersed, plus two failed water wagons. Seban started getting really nervous.

    I looked over at Cayla, her long blonde hair pulled back into a neat bun. “What’s Seban’s work history?”

    She didn’t even have to glance at her book. “Impeccable, my Prince. He was one of the first still tenders hired, and has multiple marks on record as being a hard worker, honest, diligent, and punctual. He’s received the max raise every year, and only one complaint has been filed against him, which turned out to be a lazy employee who resented Seban for criticizing the quality of his work.”

    I nodded. “Seban,” I announced, turning back to the man, who looked more sure of himself after Cayla’s report. “You have a reputation for good work and are a valuable employee. I judge you innocent of negligence. You may move to the side.”

    Flushed with relief, and maybe a little proud that he was considered valuable, Seban stood and moved to the side.

    “Jeyn,” I said, and the woman perked up, “you had no direct responsibility in this matter other than helping fight the fire, which I see you did. You may move to the side.”

    The singed middle aged woman murmured repeated thanks and removed herself from the group.

    “Rody Lowfield,” I intoned.

    A slightly chubby man with badly burned hands and arms already wrapped in lotion and bandages straightened. He was balding, though the hair around the sides of his head had burned away to the point it might be more accurate to call him bald, his clothes had holes burnt in them, and he trembled slightly with barely repressed pain.

    He would have been offered a dose of laudanum, which I’d made as a more effective, longer storing alternative to the ubiquitous ‘milk of the poppy’. Basically, it was the opioids of milk of the poppy, distilled out, then mixed with high proof grain alcohol. It’d put you on your ass and kill pain pretty effectively, but it also dulled the wits. This man wanted to be able to talk coherently more than he wanted to be free of pain. I wondered if that was a good or bad thing.

    “Yes, my Prince,” he said, bowing low and nearly toppling over.

    “Which guards were assigned to check the water wagons?”

    “Jeffary and Eman, my Prince,” he replied promptly.

    I glanced to the side at the various guards.

    Four of them looked mostly relieved that their names hadn’t been called. Two young men, however, also sporting minor burns, looked like they’d just been called to the chopping block.

    “I’m only going to ask once. Did you perform the beginning of shift inspection of the water wagons?”

    “We did, my-!”

    “We did not,” one of them said, talking over the other one and bowing his head like he merely hoped the blade would be swift.

    The other one looked at him in shock and betrayal. “N-no! Eman! We did! We did-”

    “Be quiet, Jeffary,” I ordered. “Eman?”

    He spoke quietly, almost morosely. “We did not, my lord. We were assisting the others with moving some gear at the beginning of the shift, and instead of going back to do our checks, we decided it was okay to skip it just once.”

    A small part of me wanted to ask if, in fact, it had been okay, but I decided against it. I raised an eyebrow at Jeffary.

    He sputtered, then sagged. Not agreeing, not denying. If he wasn’t still upright, I’d say he had fainted.

    “Rody, who is at fault here?” I asked.

    “I am, my Prince,” he admitted.

    “Did you make your own beginning of shift checks of the safety equipment?”

    He flushed. “No, my Prince.”

    “Why not?”

    “Laziness, my Prince,” he said, dropping into a bow again. “We spent the first portion of the night moving equipment, and I simply didn’t follow up. If I had, I would have found that Jeffary and Eman had skipped their duty, and they would not be in trouble. If I had, the fire would have been a small accident quickly put out. I accept full responsibility, and ask for leniency on behalf of Jeffary and Eman.”

    Well, he certainly had internalized the lingo I had built my subordinate management around. He’d also clearly fought like a demon to put the flames out by hand, though obviously that didn’t work.

    “Cayla?” I asked.

    “Rody Lowfield also has an impeccable record, at least until now, and was promoted to management two years ago on the strength of his work and his willingness to learn reading and writing and his numbers.”

    “Family? I asked.

    “Yes, Prince. A wife of fifteen years, and six children. Fifteen-boy, twelve-boy, eleven-girl, ten-girl, eight-girl, seven-boy.”

    I nodded. “Rody, you’re an idiot.”

    “Yes, my Prince,” he agreed in shame.

    “Not just because you didn’t do the checks, but because you clearly nearly killed yourself trying to fight the fire.”

    “It were my responsibility, my Prince,” he tried to explain, looking up slightly.

    “You’ve got a family, fool. Even if I dismissed you, you could still feed them if you worked somewhere else. You can’t do that if you’re dead.”

    He bowed even lower.

    “Alright. This little fuckup has cost several hundred dragons, and I’m not happy. Rody, you’re demoted to…” I glanced at Cayla, but didn’t give her time to speak, “whatever lower position we need more of. If, a year from now, there are no more problems, we can look at whether you’re worth keeping, or even promoting again.” I paused and frowned at him. “And make sure the clinic gets you healed up. It’d be a shame to lose a man because he lost use of his hands. Report to Marvion Fisher when you’re healed up enough to work.”

    I turned. “Eman. You fucked up pretty bad. But you were honest. You’re on half pay for two months. And I don’t think you’ll ever skip the equipment check again, will you?”

    “No, my Prince!” he gasped, like a drowning man who suddenly got a lifeline. “I’ll be the most diligent man in Westeros!”

    Heh, I bet he would be. That’s why I do things like this. I want a diligent, honest workforce that doesn’t take bribes to let product or secrets walk off into the night. So I put a little effort into it.

    Sometimes, though, you can’t forgive people.

    I shook my head. “Jeffary, you fucked up, and you lied. You know I hate being lied to, or if you didn’t, someone should have told you. You fuck up, you admit it, you might get a second chance. You lie, you get caught lying, it’s your ass.”

    I motioned at the other guardsmen. “He’s dismissed. Kick his ass out. Cayla? He’s blacklisted. Now let’s head back to my office. The morning is shot anyway, I might as well head back and work on something. Rusty, follow.”

    We turned and headed back to King’s Landing. I’d planned on a much more entertaining trip out on the river this morning, to see how my new model fishing rod would hold up, but nooo. Gotta deal with fuckups.

    You know, this is why I don’t actually want to be king?


    AN: I hope this works better. There's still a time skip, I don't particularly feel like writing a whole childhood, but this is intended to ease readers into the new King's Landing and daily life of Prince Eddard. Let me know what you think. Also, I set up a discord channel specifically for talking about this fic. If you want to say something personally, and have easier input to influencing the fic, come say hi. https://discord.gg/k7BPP2Y
     
  2. Generic_Generica

    Generic_Generica Verified kōhai Moderator

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    (Thumbs up)

    Me likey.

    Granted I still feel like it's too early to really comment (And I'm sort of shit at commenting on specifics so you're going to have to tell me what you want feedback on specifically) but this offered a pretty good view into what the prince's life was like before the clusterfuck that was, well, y'know.
     
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  3. Nugar

    Nugar Know what you're doing yet?

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    Thanks. Yeah, it was a good life. Not perfect, I mean, I'm not even touching the toilet paper situation, and I've yet to get enough money to fix the King's Landing sewer system, since Robert still pisses away gold like he does wine, but it's not that bad.

    I mean, hell, maybe this really is what the story needs. Showing why Eddard is actually mad about the whole fleeing KL rather than just being mad that it makes it harder to be king.
     
  4. Prince Charon

    Prince Charon Just zis guy, you know?

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    He shows good judgement, and is far more forgiving that Lord Vader I think most other Westerosi nobles would be, including many of the ones he's related to (I mean, I could see Kevan or Tyrion being that forgiving for the same practical reasons, but Robert has a hell of a temper, Tywin has this thing about pride, Cersei is nuts... Stannis I'm not sure about, because I'm not sure if this would be Book Stannis or Show Stannis; not sure about Renly or Jaime, either).
     
  5. Ser palps

    Ser palps Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    I suspect Varys hand in this incident...
     
  6. Winged One

    Winged One Not the Simurgh

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    Really? I was thinking just some other brewers who didn't like the competition.
     
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  7. Ser palps

    Ser palps Your first time is always over so quickly, isn't it?

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    It' ASOIAF everything is a nefarious plot
     
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  8. Winged One

    Winged One Not the Simurgh

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    Well, yes. I just thought it might be a nefarious plot by an OC rather than by this Varys guy. Surely he can't be behind everything.
     
  9. cezyou

    cezyou Know what you're doing yet?

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    I think that certainly works for showing the practical parts of introducing new technology. It's also nice to go from smoke to smoke in the openings to the new chapters one and two—if possible I might try to find a way to use the same motif to open the prologue. Minor foreshadowing as the messes get bigger and ties into the original series' fascination with fire, and I think, depending on how you do it, a more interesting opener with more opportunity for characterization than the vaguely edgy one you've got now. Though that would require rewriting that section entirely, so something to consider only much much later, after you get the skeleton of the rest of the story hashed out.
     
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  10. Threadmarks: Chapter 2: And I said, what about, breakfast with Varys?
    Nugar

    Nugar Know what you're doing yet?

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    I spent most of my time walking back to King’s Landing squeezing a set of grip trainers I tend to carry around. Made of spring steel with leather grips, they were harder to make than you’d think, since spring steel isn’t easy to make at a blacksmith’s forge, but I considered them pretty essential for training on the go. One of the most important aspects of melee fighting is good forearm and wrist strength, and the grip trainers helped. I was too lanky to look like Popeye, but I was at least pretty strong for my age.

    Although, maybe that’s not that unusual given that I was already nearly six feet tall at fourteen years old. Robert Baratheon was a beast at six and a half feet tall, so I felt pretty confident in my growth. Just wish I could eat enough to pack on the muscles. By the Seven, I was always hungry.

    And, uh, there were some other consequences to going through puberty, too.

    Unconsciously, my eyes strayed to the shapely behind of my secretary. Cayla was hot. Long blonde hair, though often in a bun or ponytail, pretty but slightly severe face… basically, she shared a lot of traits with Cersei, without really looking just like Cersei. I suspect that was deliberate when Varys chose her and trained her and sent her to me.

    I said she was my officially designated spy, but she’s not spying for me. I know she reports to Varys. I mean, I’ve never seen any actual evidence of it but come on. It’s obvious. I suspect she occasionally sends reports to a few other people. Grandfather Tywin seems likely, maybe Cersei on occasion. Jon Arryn maybe? Not sure.

    That being said, she’s hot, she’s diligent, and she took to the ‘severe, slightly dominating’ secretary role with a will. I even checked her to see if she needed eyeglasses, because the role really does call for eyeglasses, but her vision was fine. I made her some neutral lenses anyway. Black rimmed wire frames with rectangular lenses, which she quickly learned to use to devastating effect as she stared down employees.

    If it’s wrong for the world’s best spymaster to use his powers to find me the perfect secretary, I don’t want to be right. It’s good to be the prince.

    We got back to my lab office in just under an hour. I loved my office. I spent more time there than in my rooms back in the keep.

    Rusty immediately padded to his blanket just inside the door and lay down. He’s a good dog, literally the most trustworthy companion I have. He might bite me one day, but it won’t be out of greed or malice. I named him Rusty because his fur is, of course, a kind of reddish brown rust color. It was kinda kinky and wiry, a bit like an airedale but shaggier, covering a two hundred pound body that looked like some kind of mastiff hound cross. He wasn’t the biggest dog westeros had, but he was bred for war, not pit fighting, and was a better runner than the pure pit fighting mastiff types.

    In an odd bit of symmetry, Sandor also went to his spot in a different corner, where a big, overstuffed leather arm chair waited beside a table. He still wasn’t big on reading, but part of being my bodyguard gave him a lot of sitting around time, and he’d pick up a book occasionally. He’d mellowed out a lot from the severe, bitter young man who’d been assigned to me. I think, seeing a member of the nobility that wasn’t a monster and who genuinely tried to take care of him back helped him deal with some of his childhood trauma. He still wouldn’t take a knighthood, though. I didn’t care enough to argue.

    “Get us some breakfast, Cayla. Simple is fine.” So saying, I went to my partially walled off desk in one corner of what I liked to call the tinkerlab. I had a little bit of privacy, but didn’t actually feel separated from the work others were doing. I liked being a part of a busy group. It made me feel productive and alert.

    My lab was just outside the Keep, on what had been a section of ground usually used for the small number of horses kept near the royal apartments. I had it built of stone and slate, so it was less likely to burn, and I didn’t do any really energetic processes there. My lab was broken up into four main rooms. A big kitchen, where I did food related research, a tinkerlab where I had my desk and where nonvolatile projects took place, and a hot room for two small forges, a vacuum chamber, and my efforts to produce steam power. There was also a chemistry lab on the far side of the building away from the kitchen, but it had its own separate entrance.

    Maester Carsen and Maester Keath both bid me good morning as I entered, with a more cursory greeting to Cayla, who immediately walked past toward the kitchen. Carsen was designing gear sets according to the formula I had ‘developed’, and overseeing a woodcarver, Bryer, as he made prototypes. Keath sat at his own desk and looked to be updating the books. Cayla was good with figures but she didn’t have time to do all of the accounting herself.

    The only other person in attendance was also the only other female, Ilina of Braavos, my most talented sculptor. Unlike the others, she did not greet me when I entered She was painstakingly reproducing an entire set of crow feathers in a black silver-copper-gold alloy the maesters found for me called hepatizon, apparently used in old Ghis. Her workbench was covered in bird drawings, a stuffed crow with wings outstretched, and the already articulated body of the whirligig automata she was working on. It was going to be a crow that flapped its wings and cawed once or twice every thousand turns of the small windmill that drove it. The wonder was a diplomatic gift for one of the noble houses that supported the Baratheons, House Morrigan.

    I liked Ilina. She was in her early thirties, actually needed glasses unlike Cayla, and was a little bit flabby, with limp, dark hair and grey eyes. I suspected she probably fell somewhere on the autism spectrum, since she was painfully awkward and shy, but also had tremendous artistic talent. She completely ignored me as I came in, being completely focused on her task. Of course, all of that could be a ruse, and she might really be a fiendishly clever spy, but much like Cayla, it’s just the price of doing business in King’s Landing. She was the bee’s knees at art, and absolutely loved my clockwork automatons, but she was pretty much a pig’s ear at everything else.

    The only other lab resident she got along with was my cat, Noric, named after a minorly famous blacksmith.

    I scratched behind the big sand colored tabby’s ears as I got to my desk and sat down. Noric promptly said ‘mrrp?’ and rolled over, exposing his flabby belly and purring loudly. I didn’t fall for that trap, though. That’s what got him banned from the keep despite his start as what was supposedly Myrcella’s pet kitten. Peasant or prince, cats don’t care.

    The heat was already building, since I had yet to ‘invent’ refrigeration, so the first thing I did when I sat down was turn to the side of the desk on my left. This side had a stone top, bare except for a single device I was both perversely pleased by and utterly disappointed by. It was my recreation of a tiny, one cubic inch displacement stirling cycle engine, much like the demonstrator toy I had once owned. It was an external combustion engine powered by a pressurized lantern fuel burner. I worked the little thumb pump up and down, which I had copied from the coleman series of camping gear, getting a good pressure in the round, shiny brass fuel tank. A turn of a knob adjusted a needle valve, starting the fuel flow, and a flick of my zippo lighter reproduction got the flame started and glowing a nice pale blue.

    Although simple enough to be made with the limited tools I had available, and actually very efficient in fuel, stirling cycle engines were a dead end as far as I was concerned. Their power to weight ratio sucked they tended to wear out the cylinder pretty fast. There were solutions to those problems, but I’d never learned them. Instead, I was trying unsuccessfully to replicate a decent steam engine, and my little ‘prince engines’ mostly ran the clockwork automata I made. The one on my desk actually powered a small fan, which kept the lab from being stifling. Some of the maesters were looking into making larger versions, but I was sure that steam was the way to go.

    On my desk, held down by a variety of pretty but meaningless paperweights, were stacks and stacks of papers. Drawings, reports, financial data... and most frightening, a sappy letter from Sansa Stark.

    I have only myself to blame. I’d been essentially betrothed to Sansa at birth, and I didn’t want to marry a girl I’d never met before, right? So I wrote her, and set us up as pen pals. I sent her gifts for her birthday and such. Wrote her a few letters. Unleashed the monster that is a preteen girl with a crush, a pen, and some paper.

    Oh my god. Gods. Seven, old gods, flaming gods, goat gods, whatever. Sansa was fairly cute. She’d sent me some drawings that had been made of her. And I knew she’d grow up and be pretty awesome. I’d always considered Arya to be more interesting, but it’s hard to deny that Sansa would be a better queen. That didn’t change the fact that I had been getting about three or four letters a month for years now. And I tried to be interested, I did. But it’s all ‘Arya got in trouble again’, ‘Robb is doing well in his training’, ‘the septas say I’m doing really well in my lessons’, ‘I’ve never met you personally but our souls are as two halves’.

    Meanwhile, I can’t tell her any of the really interesting stuff I’ve been up to. Dearest Sansa, ‘I’m going through puberty so I invented lingerie, not that I can tell you what that is’, ‘my incredibly hot secretary has been writing about half of my reply letters’, ‘I cured a man of greyscale but six more got worse and died and I don’t know why’, ‘I can’t sleep with my secretary because I’ll fall in love with her and pull a Tyrion, so I went to a whorehouse, got the clap, not that you know what that is, and invented penicillin, another thing you don’t know about, in five incredibly uncomfortable months and now I’m scared to touch whores’, ‘penicillin doesn’t work on greyscale’, ‘puberty is hitting like a freight train, not that you know what that is, so I’m about to invent the strip club, not that you know what that is, so whores can take off the lingerie I invented, which you still don’t know what is, and if I tell you your father and brothers and bannermen will want my balls on a stick’.

    I suck at writing letters.

    ‘PS: puberty is overriding my fear of whores. Send nudes.’

    Which obviously I can’t say. She’s way too young and my idea of a hot woman is pretty solidly stuck in the 20s and 30s range, which Cayla fits perfectly. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I have the memories of Robb and Tyrion’s examples of why I don’t need to be risking actual attachment.

    I have to settle for writing sexy plays. When Tyrion returns next month, I’m going to surprise him with a sexy kancolle type reproduction of the Greyjoy rebellion in my theater slash strip club I secretly own and manage. It’s going to be great. All of the ironborn shipgirls will be played as vacuous tarts who lose their ship costumes when they sink, and only occasionally win through dumb luck, because fuck those dollar store vikings. If this seems like an abuse of the wealth and power I have as a prince, well… Maybe. But it’s equally possible that this is what cements my legacy as a genius. What’s the point in having a playhouse if you don’t use it to mock your enemies?

    We’ve already had classic burlesque shows, song and dance numbers, and some pretty hilarious short comedy bits based on my memories of the old Oglaf comics. My favorite is the one where a thinly disguised Loras expy tries to give a thinly disguised Renly advice on how to seduce a thinly disguised Margary, only for ‘Renly’ to fall for the declarations of love and end up sexing ‘Loras’ in the bushes while ‘Margary’ looks down from her tower window and fans herself.

    Among all of the other things I’ve invented, I also introduced the fujoshi to Westeros. I am become Death, Destroyer of Worlds.

    Renly actually loved the play, because of course I checked with him first since I didn’t want him as an enemy. I also invented male lingerie so that might have helped, but he wasn’t terribly worried about people talking about his sexual preference. It was about as much of an open secret as the knowledge that Prince Eddard was secretly A.N. Onstead, the part owner and playwright of the Wayward Rose. The people that were ‘in the know’ knew, but they also didn’t say anything about it in public. And you had to be in the know to get an invite to the Wayward Rose, which of course made it the hottest entertainment spot in King’s Landing, selling my booze, unusual snack foods, and lingerie at literally obscene markups.

    My theory of business is basically, ‘Own the entire goddamn supply chain.’

    Breakfast arrived quickly, carried by a cook from the kitchen. Eggs over easy, lightly fried corn tortillas, beans, rice, tomato salsa, and for the huevos ranchero sauce, a failed effort to reproduce Worcestershire sauce. Sandor absolutely loved the stuff and used it basically every meal, so I named it Hound Sauce in his honor. Westeros bizarrely has an absolutely top notch food culture for its tech level, but I didn’t want to live in a world without tacos and burritos. They also didn’t use tomatoes, potatoes, and rice as much as I preferred, and I had yet to find soybeans, okra, or peanuts at all.

    Also, right behind the cook, Cayla reappeared.

    “Prince Eddard, the Master of Whispers is here to see you,” Cayla told me, letting the cook slide by her. “What shall I tell him?”

    “Varys? Sure, show him in. See if he wants breakfast, too. Are you going to eat with me?” She did sometimes, sometimes Sandor did, and sometimes we all ate together.

    “No, my Prince. I will let you and Varys discuss things in private. I will join Sandor in the atrium.”

    I nodded and sat back in the tiny breeze from the fan. A moment later, Cayla returned, escorting the softly chubby Master of Whispers.

    Now, I liked Varys. After killing Joffrey and Baelish, one might think that Varys was the natural next choice. The thing was, Varys never betrayed anyone who didn’t deserve it. I think he’s some sort of weird proto-nationalist, doing what he thinks is best for the stability and welfare of the realm itself. The other thing is, he’s really, really, really good at his job.

    Given how much of my resource gathering and trading took place in Essos, I needed someone who knew their stuff.

    Varys offered me a polite greeting as he entered, and I stood, but I’d stupidly stuffed a chunk of tortilla and egg in my mouth and all I could hear was my own crunching. I swallowed, looked around for a drink, and realized I’d forgot to order one.

    “Hey~aaak,” I said back, momentarily choking. “Hol’ on’.” I gasped and swallowed convulsively, lurching to my feet and all but shoving past the pudgy eunuch as I headed for the kitchen. “Tea! Brown!” I croaked, grabbing a jug of purified water and chugging. The water was lukewarm but had been standing long enough to not be flat, so I carried the whole jug, basically the size of a flower base, back to my desk.

    “I’ve got tea coming, would you like some?” I asked Varys. “Or wine? It’s a little early for whiskey, but I don’t judge,” I said, lying. I totally judge.

    “Tea would be lovely,” Varys replied. “Black, please.”

    “Hey, Tarla,” I called back to my chef. “Get some black tea for Varys, too.” Westeros didn’t drink a lot of tea, which baffled me. Both black and brown came from the hills of Norvos, but you could also get really expensive, exotic types from Qarth. I thought the qartheen teas were too floral, and it seemed Varys agreed with me.

    “What about breakfast? I’m afraid you caught me just beginning mine,” I offered.

    “Is that a new form of wrap?” he asked, referring to my term for both tacos and burritos.

    I waggled a hand in a so-so motion. “Sort of? It’s the same as a breakfast wrap, but with fried tortillas. Very crunchy.”

    “Ah. Sounds… messy.” He looked dubious.

    “Tarla could get you a regular wrap…?”

    “Please.”

    Tea and a breakfast burrito were delivered, and we both dined companionably for a while. This wasn’t unusual. Keep your friends close, your enemies closer, and it’s probably best to sit on the people you aren’t sure about.

    “So, how’s things?” I asked, pressing a shard of tortilla into a bit of leftover egg yolk. The plate was all but scraped clean, and I eyed it with a mind to ordering another.

    “Shall I start with a personal note, then, Prince Eddard?” he asked with a wry note. “Before you get more breakfast, I should warn you that your Queen Mother is planning on inviting you to an afternoon luncheon. She’s ordered a number of crab dishes prepared. I also believe your uncle, Ser Lannister, will be there as well.”

    “Crab? Wonderful!” I replied, perking up immediately.

    “She may be wanting to discuss something, as I note that the Princess will be elsewhere,” he cautioned.

    I shrugged. “Whatever it is, it’ll be cheaper than Father.”

    “Quite likely,” he admitted. “In other news, I’ve just received word from my contacts in Myr that in exchange for the secrets of lens grinding, Myr will continue to sell you materials and not interfere if you hire any more glass blowers. I believe your uncle Tyrion was looking at a few families that had gotten rather deeply in debt. The raids on your soda ash suppliers have ceased, at least for the moment.”

    “They talked him up to the lens grinders, then. Perfect, that’s what I wanted them to have.” I tried for a Gendo pose but my plate was in the way.

    Varys looked doubtful. “Are you sure? Your field glasses sell for a thousand dragons each, and your spyglasses for twice as much. That seems like a very profitable market to share with the glass makers guild in Myr.”

    “We’ve already made around eight, almost nine hundred thousand dragons off our spyglasses and field glasses. Everyone with the money wants one, for forts, for ships, and for generals and scouts. The problem is, not that many people can afford them. We’ve already sold them to almost every noble house in westeros with the means, with the wealthier houses buying more than one. But that’s it. We’re seeing maybe ten orders a month now from the Seven Kingdoms. All of the orders are coming from Essos and Yunkai and such now. And by this time next year, I expect we’ll be seeing fewer orders from them, too. Market saturation, Varys.”

    “Saturation… as a rag soaks up water,” he said, considering the term. This is why I liked Varys. He was the smartest guy in the room, one of the few I could really talk to.

    “Once it’s full, there’s no more room. A few will probably be stolen, or broken, and need to be replaced, but by the time Myr has anything as good as ours? They’ll have a hard time finding anyone who doesn’t already have one.” I grinned.

    “Oh? And do you have a solution to this ‘market saturation’?” he asked.

    “Of course I do,” I replied, feigning offense. “To borrow your metaphor, you make the rag bigger.”

    “You intend to make people richer?” he asked.

    “Well, make more rich people, at any rate. Trade benefits everyone. But also, I can make each spyglass cheaper. It only costs about two hundred sixty dragons to make a spyglass, and a lot of that is because we reject the lenses that didn’t turn out right, and my artisans spend a lot of time engraving the barrel and making it pretty. We can make them cheaper, and we can sell them cheaper. That lets more people buy them, and we keep making money. We can trade the massive profits but low volume we currently have, for lower profits and higher volume. And with a larger volume, Myr’s competition shouldn’t matter nearly as much.”

    Varys nodded thoughtfully. “It’s too bad they’ve already stolen the formula for your silvered glass mirrors.”

    I shrugged. It irritated me but it wasn’t entirely unexpected. “Yeah, but too many people are involved in that. No real way to keep the secret from everyone without choking production. Silver, aqua fortis, ammonia, and sugar are just too common. Most of our sugar comes from Volantis sweet beets anyway. We’ve got our own crops growing in the North, but the secret is out.”

    He nodded. “Speaking of the north, I’m afraid I have some bad news.”

    Oh no, here we go. He spends some time buttering me up, then hits me with the whammy.

    “House Mormont has been caught breaking some very serious laws. Lord Jorah Mormont was caught selling captured poachers to slavers from Essos. Rather than answer the charges, he took his wife and all of the portable goods he could and fled, with the exception of his ancestral sword, Longclaw, which was sent to his father at the Wall.”

    “What.” I paused. “No, seriously. Why in the fuck would he do that? I’ve been shipping coin and resources to Bear Island for two and a half years. It was going to be the western trade hub of the north! There was more than enough money there for him to skim some off for himself!” I went with a slightly suboptimal plan to develop the northwest region specifically so I could keep Jorah fucking Mormont out of the business with the Targaryens!

    “Apparently, his wife has expensive tastes.” He gave a little shrug, as if to divorce himself from the vagaries of husband and wife relationships. “I believe she developed them when you had them come spend four months in King’s Landing on your coin.”

    “She already had expensive tastes! The point was to alleviate- ahhh dammit! You say he made off with the portable goods. You mean the spyglasses and field glasses I sent up there to guard against fucking ironborn raids, don’t you?”

    Varys nodded. “As well as the compasses and at least a few crates of steel tools which had not yet been shipped to the mountain clans.”

    I snapped a hand up in a ‘wait’ motion, closing my eyes and pinching the bridge of my nose. “Don’t tell me. I can already see it. He sold them to the fucking ironborn.”

    He made a ‘sort of’ gesture. “Not by choice, at least initially. Much of this appears to be the result of his efforts to avoid disappointing you, Prince Eddard. I believe his lady wife arranged for a few spyglasses to disappear from the signal towers. When he found out, rather than report the losses, he turned to slavery, apparently hoping to get enough money to replace the spyglasses without being caught. Of course, when he was caught selling slaves, he simply loaded a ship with his best and set sail. We don’t know if he’s sold anything else to the ironborn, or if he intends to make it to Essos before selling.”

    I nodded. “So your last word is of him fleeing Bear Island?”

    “Indeed, my Prince.”

    “Well. So despite my efforts to set things up where people will come to me with a mistake before they cut their own throat trying to cover it up, he does exactly that. And now the ironborn have spyglasses.”

    “Between two and ten, my Prince.”

    “That’s going to be a problem.”

    “Indeed, my Prince.”

    “Gods above, I hate the ironborn.”

    “Indeed, my Prince. I’ve noticed you’ve gone out of the way to invent protections against their reaving. I’ve always wondered, was it because they rebelled recently?” He looked curious.

    I blinked. “No. I mean, that doesn’t help, but why wouldn’t any right minded person hate the ironborn? They build nothing, they destroy everything they touch, they keep slaves by using another word for it, and they ruin lives simply by being who they are. They’re almost as bad as the fucking dothraki. I mean, did you know that the dothraki have actually killed cities and turned prosperous lands into empty wastes? The ironborn would do that if they could get their shit together long enough. They’re stupid and careless and every one that dies is another reason to smile. Fortunately, while dangerous as raiders, they’re pretty weak against prepared forces.”

    He nodded. My disdain of the dothraki, who had raided some of our trade convoys and resource expeditions in Essos, was pretty well established at this point. I take a pretty dim view of peoples who raid for resources and slaves instead of building cities and infrastructure. If they ever showed up on my shores, following a dragon or not, I was going to open Pandora’s Box all over their asses.

    “Do you have any orders regarding the ex-Lord Mormont?” Varys asked instead.

    “Ahh,” I said, hesitating. “I suppose I can kind of understand where he was coming from. But I already risk looking weak with how forgiving I am, and frankly, he has only himself to blame.” I paused. “And his wife. He definitely has his wife to blame. I guess if he sells the stuff he stole in Essos, he can just stay banished, and if he sold it to the ironborn… I may have to make a point. I mean, he’s going to have to live in exile with that bitch of a wife of his, and you know she’s going to spend all the money they have and then leave him for some rich asshole over there. Then she’ll be living the good life and Jorah will be the one fucked over again.”

    “A proposal, then?” Varys offered. “They may stay in exile untroubled, provided your condition that he didn’t sell any more spyglasses to the ironborn is met, but only if his wife remains faithful to him for the remainder of their lives. Should she cuckold him or leave him for, as you say, some rich asshole, a bounty shall be placed on her head.” He smiled slightly. “Should you choose, you could even forgive his exile should he bring her back for execution personally. Though I doubt Lord Stark would accept him returning to his ancestral seat, there are other places he could live out his days, as a living example of your forgiveness, and knack for creative punishment.”

    I nodded, impressed. “Daaaamn, that’s vicious.” I thought for a moment, then agreed. “Yeah, I do blame her the most, and having him deliver her for punishment would be satisfactory given the crimes he committed for her.” I smiled grimly. “You know, this is why I like you, Varys. You’re the only one around here with any balls.”

    “Of course, my Prince. I keep them in a little box on my desk,” he said genially, taking no apparent offense.

    I blinked, realizing my inadvertent insult to the eunuch.

    “Where they can’t influence my decisions.”

    Fucking Varys. A killer with the manners of a rabbit. The most dangerous kind.



    AN: Can't post this on SB yet because I'm waiting on word that some parts are too risque. So QQ gets it first! Oh my god did this see like eight fucking rewrites. I hope this reads well. Comments please!
     
  11. HypoSoc

    HypoSoc Time, once consumed, has no meaning

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    Really liking this. Too often people in the fandom shunt Varys with Baelish.

    And yes, Varys can be terrifying, and it would be a terrible mistake to think you could use him to your own ends. But unlike Baelish, you can actually have a mutually satisfying arrangement with the man.

    Plus, he's one of the few people who would absolutely and unhesitatingly stand against both Euron and the Others, if he were to become aware of them.

    It's sad to know all this is going to come crashing down. I look forward to seeing how he can recover from Cersei's fuck up.


    Also, why not just have sex without falling in love? Cayla clearly would expect it, just as Varys would have expected it. Plus you wouldn't have to worry about the clap.
     
  12. Nugar

    Nugar Know what you're doing yet?

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    Oh, yes, why didn't I think of that. I'll just casually fuck my hot, bossy, glasses wearing super competent secretary/assistant counterpart to my genial noble scientist self and have it just be about the sex.

    I'm joking. But seriously, that's not my number one fetish, but it's definitely a big one. She could be the Pepper Potts to my Tony Stark. The Cecile to my Lloyd, or to a certain extend Kallen to Lelouch. The Matsurika to my Mariya. The Temari to my Shikamaru. Ohhh no. I'd better stay away from that. I don't need to pull a Tyrion. I know she's a spy working for someone else.
     
  13. HypoSoc

    HypoSoc Time, once consumed, has no meaning

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    Honestly it sounds like you already are pulling a Tyrion, if, despite knowing she is a spy, the act of sex would cause you to fall in love with her.

    Seems like you are already screwed, so why not also get screwed?

    At least that's my thought process when reading it. I understand if other people don't think the same.
     
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  14. Nugar

    Nugar Know what you're doing yet?

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    Nah, you're essentially right. Eddard is already a little bit in love with her. I mean, I'm not the type to just casually fall in love with a girl. I've had sex with whores before, and it's a business transaction, no feelings involved. Never done bar pickups for one night stands before, but I've dated without falling in love and been broken up with and broke up with without being particularly bothered. (not counting the ones I was actually in love with) But a girl I like and respect and spend a lot of time with who hits all the right buttons? Oh man. I'd be screwed, exactly as you say.
     
  15. Caelleh

    Caelleh Fine Arts Patron~♡

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    I think it'd be cool if you lingered more on that to fill up some space, if you have the time. There was a lot of talking about liking Cayla and how cool she is to have around, but not enough Cayla whet the appetite.

    Great banter with Varys btw, and the inner dialogue fleshing out his more carnal activities had me smiling the whole time.

    Just remember, at a certain point, they're not whores, they're professionals.
     
    Nugar likes this.
  16. Orm Embar

    Orm Embar Refutation

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    I imagine Eddard'll long for the days of less literal fuckups soon enough.
    If I recall correctly, there was originally a Cayla scene considered as an alternative to Varys' appearance, so perhaps there'll be more of your not-quite-namesake in the future.

    Poor Jorah, though, thinking with the wrong head in every continuity. But hey, look on the bright side: you can add this to the list of reasons not to risk actual attachment. I wonder what Varys makes of your scheming, since you implied that inviting Jorah & Lynesse to King's Landing was intended to safeguard against something like this. Even if it went wrong, his proposed solution should deny Daenerys one supporter. The looming threat of a price being placed on Lynesse's head and the constant temptation to turn her over for a pardon seem engineered to create a tragic and salutary lesson for Eddard's enemies. This is the problem with Varys. He'll take tea with you, make jokes, propose solutions to your problems... and then the dagger finds your back, and it's all, 'Et tu, Varys? I thought we were bros!'
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2018
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  17. Xicree

    Xicree Destroy and Rejoice!

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    Varys is a Best!
     
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  18. Caelleh

    Caelleh Fine Arts Patron~♡

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    Ayy yo, none of that. Don't even consider those pronounced nearly the same.
     
  19. Nugar

    Nugar Know what you're doing yet?

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    I dunno, the real question is, do you look good in glasses and a stern librarian outfit?
     
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  20. Caelleh

    Caelleh Fine Arts Patron~♡

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    I'm a Mexican man, so while I look good dressed up and in glasses, probably not to your taste.
     
  21. Nugar

    Nugar Know what you're doing yet?

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    It really all comes down to whether or not I get a boner while you're being bossy.
     
  22. KanameFujiwara

    KanameFujiwara Getting out there.

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    Running Westeros like running a company....

    Marvelous!
     
  23. Threadmarks: Chapter 3: The King’s Solar
    Nugar

    Nugar Know what you're doing yet?

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    xxxxxxxxx Interlude: The King’s Solar


    “It’s a fascinating city. After having been there for several months, I can say that it truly deserves the title of Queen of Cities more than Yunkai. They keep slaves, true, but it is a city of many interests rather than just a city of slavers. The red wastes hold many unusual ores, and it also sees trade from the lands beyond. I wanted to see Asshai as well, and perhaps even travel all the way to Yi Ti, but circumstances did not favor it.” Lord Alester Florent looked quite pleased with himself as he picked up his colorful glass goblet and took a sip.

    “Bah, trade is all anyone thinks about these days. When your son becomes King, are we to all become merchants?” Lord Gerrar Ashford grumbled, frowning at his own glass goblet, produced in Glasstown by the efforts of Prince Eddard.

    The two of them, plus Lord Lothar Mallery and Lord Myles Gaunt, had spent the morning together with the King and his Hand in the king’s solar. Robert was currently missing, having left to piss.

    “Ah, but it’s not just about trade! That’s the genius of the Prince,” Lord Florent countered. “I may have brought back some fine goods, but the thing of true value was the ability to produce them. Why should we have to send gold and goods away from our lands to buy the silks and cottons they make? Look at the carpet I brought,” he said, indicating his gift for the King, stretched out on the floor.

    “It is a fine gift,” Jon Arryn admitted.

    The carpet was as beautiful as any embroidered westeros tapestry, but was made so thick and heavy that walking on it was like stepping on a folded woolen blanket. Tapestries were heavy cloth, but meant to be hung on the wall, not walked over. Somehow elaborate geometric designs and fantastic beasts were picked out of the carpet in dense fluff. The Hand thought that he might well have to put some sort of order in place to keep muddy boots off it.

    The clomping steps from beyond the door announced Robert’s return, and all the men got to their feet.

    “Look who I found!” Robert boomed happily, ignoring the deference shown him. “I thought you were fishing, boy?”

    Prince Eddard was right behind the King, his lighter footsteps lost in the King’s own. The young prince was already as big as a man grown, though he was still a half head shorter than his father. His dark hair was pulled back and tied, showing off the green eyes of his Lannister mother, and perhaps a hint of her cheekbones. He dressed much as his father did, in muted colors and plain cloth, though at the moment his surcoat was missing, leaving him in just a light tunic and breeches. The rest of him was almost pure Baratheon, looking so much like Robert did when he was being fostered that Jon occasionally slipped up and called him Robert. Usually when he was being difficult, such as when he insisted he be allowed to clean out the Black Cells under the keep and use them for a room he called a ‘laboratory’. Or worse, more recently, when rumors of him being the secret owner of a brothel and mummery playhouse started going around.

    For someone who acted almost the polar opposite of Robert so much of the time, quiet, thoughtful, studious, and mostly obedient, his Baratheon blood picked some wild ways to express itself. Robert fucked any woman he could convince. Eddard didn’t even take advantage of the scullery maids or his pretty little assistant, but came up with clothing for women that could get a rise out of the dead. Robert loved whores more than most men and didn’t care who knew, but his son either didn’t often hire them or kept his actual liaisons exceptionally quiet… until he bought a brothel, which was something a prince just shouldn’t do. Robert drank like a fish, and on the other hand, Eddard could nurse a goblet of wine all evening. However, when he did turn his attention to drink…

    “Fishing didn’t work because some of my stills caught on fire last night and I had to go deal with that,” Prince Eddard explained, hefting the strap of a large leather satchel. “But none of you care about that. The important thing is, we cracked a barrel of the ’88 whiskey and bottled it. Perhaps some of you fine Sers would like to give it a try?”

    The Prince hadn’t created just one new kind of drink, he’d made an entire industry. Robert had, at one point, spent almost ten thousand dragons on dornish and arbor wines in a single year. Even most Lords Paramount didn’t spend that much in a lifetime. Eddard got paid for his, and it was now pulling in money faster than Robert could drink it away. Although, at least part of the reason why was that much of what Robert now spent on drink went to his son.

    “One of the Prince’s own? Sounds wonderful,” Lord Florent said enthusiastically. Because Lord Florent was an ambitious man who openly admired the Prince’s accomplishments.

    “Should we give you our purses now, or wait until after?” Lord Mallery asked with faux innocence.

    “It doesn’t matter, I’ll get them eventually,” Prince Eddard replied casually, pulling three strangely square bottles from the satchel and setting them on the table.

    Each bottle was three times as tall as it was wide, with square corners, a flared base, and sides that tapered out as it rose. Each also had a shiny brass topped cork.

    Robert picked one up, noticing that words and an image were somehow picked out in raised letters on one side of the bottle. A stag’s head, symbol of House Baratheon, but instead of the magnificent antlers of an adult stag, it had the short double spike of a yearling. Prince Spike, the young Stag. Probably the most polite of the titles given to the Prince.

    “Ours is the Fury. Ours is the Whiskey.” Robert traced his thumb over the smooth glass, then abruptly slapped the table and laughed.

    Eddard grinned proudly at his father, then pulled out some squat, strangely shaped drinking glasses. Square base, but twisted into a spiral as it rose to rounded rim tapered inward, all in perfectly clear glass. “I figure a new drink needs a new glass. I give you, the whiskey tumbler.” He gave the strangely shaped glass a small toss onto the table, where it rolled twice, bouncing on its corners, then stopped. “For when you get absolutely piss drunk, you won’t break the glass as easily.”

    “Magnificent, my Prince,” Lord Florent praised.

    Lord Ashford rolled his eyes, but Mallery was chuckling and shaking his head as he was the first to reach for one of the new ‘tumblers’. Sour faced Lord Gaunt kept his silence, as he often did.

    “Very pretty,” Jon Arryn admitted, turning one over in his hand. He’d gotten used to the things the Prince came up with, and was exceptionally hard to impress these days. “Is it blown?”

    “Pressure molded,” the Prince replied. “Same as the bottles. It’s faster and cheaper than hand blown, and sometimes prettier. I got plans for pressure molding.”

    Jon nodded. Of course he did.

    “Forget what they look like, what’s it taste like?” Robert grumbled, popping the cork out with ease and splashing the golden brown liquid into a glass.

    Everyone held their silence as Robert sipped a generous amount, then swirled it around in his mouth before swallowing. The King’s beard twitched with contemplation, his yellowing eyes closed as he rendered judgement.

    “Smooth. Still has a bite, but smoother. You’ve come a long way from that horse piss you got me to drink that first time.”

    “I think it could probably stand to be cooler, maybe watered down a touch. I’ll make some ice and have it sent up.” He took the bottle from his father and started pouring for the rest of the men.

    Lord Gaunt spoke up for the first time. “Excuse me, did you say you were going to ‘make’ ice?”

    Eddard nodded. “Yeah, it’s pretty cold down in the black cells, and there’s a crop fertilizer that if you mix with water, gets cold. Put them together and you’ve got ice. I need a better way of doing it, really, but don’t get me started.”

    “Wouldn’t it be better for you to be training, rather than ‘making ice’?” Lord Gaunt pressed. “You didn’t even ride in the lists on your nameday tourney.”

    “The lad got his arm broke in the melee,” King Robert warned. “And was doing well, at least until he tried that damned fool charge against the Hound.”

    “It was the one thing I’d never tried against him,” Eddard admitted quietly. “He’s my bodyguard, he’s just supposed to knock me on my ass, not break my fucking arm. I’ll ride in the next tourney.”

    “And I’m sure you’ll do well,” Lord Florent offered.

    “My thanks for the confidence,” Eddard replied, returning a cold look to Lord Gaunt. “I like hitting things as much as the next guy. Can’t be a prince without hitting things, right?”

    Jon decided to steer the conversation to less tense matters. “Lord Florent has just returned from Qarth.”

    Eddard perked up, dropping the matter of tourneys. “Qarth? I’m envious. I can’t even get permission to make a trip to Winterfell. Find anything interesting?”

    “Oh yes, Prince. I’ve been quite inspired by your efforts bringing glassmakers to the Seven Kingdoms, so I went looking for something similar. A trade of exotic, expensive goods that we spend gold on, that I might bring home and so enrich our lands.”

    Prince Eddard positively lit up at the idea, then glanced to the side at the lovely carpet. “Yours?”

    “I hired the family that made it, though that one was made in Qarth. Not just carpet makers, however. I hired a family that works in cotton, and two that work in silk. More importantly, I acquired something even more crucial than just the men that work them. It took some work, since they guard the source jealously, but I have my ways,” he bragged.

    Eddard’s mouth dropped, then closed as he put both hands on the table and leaned over it, staring Lord Florent in the eyes. “You fucking stole silkworms.”

    “I fucking stole silkworms.”

    “Hah-HAH! Now that’s what I’m fucking talking about!” Prince Eddard slapped his thigh with the same boisterous enthusiasm of his father. “How in the fuck did you do that? I’ve heard they kill people who even ask.”

    “Ah, but that’s the trick,” Lord Florent said with a grin, and took a small sip of his whiskey. Manfully gagging only a little, he continued. “I didn’t ask.”

    Robert made an impatient motion with his hand, indicating that he should get on with it, since the rest had already heard the story.

    Alester Florent hastened to comply. “In Volantis, I hired a modest number of mercenaries, Aghiq of New Ghis’s Talon company, and a ship to carry them. While I stopped and made deals in Qarth, including finding slaves from Yi Ti that knew how to farm silk, the Company of the Talon made a single raid against a village known to produce silk. They dug up as many plants as they could steal in a night and all of the worms they could get their hands on.” He made an expansive gesture. “Truthfully, I’d have been back a month ago, but it was not the time when the worms are eating leaves.”

    “And the slaves?” Prince Eddard asked.

    “Freed of course, slavery is an abomination in the eyes of the Seven. Of course, they took me up on the offer of land and jobs. They’ve already paid off, we’d have lost many of the bushes on the way back if not for them. I bought seeds in Qarth, since mulberry bushes are not guarded like the silkworms are, but all of the worms would die long before the seeds could produce new plants.”

    “That’s one for the history books, Lord Florent,” Eddard said with admiration.

    Robert his glass. “A toast, then, to Lord Florent and his silk.”

    Tumblers were raised, then drank, with only mild spluttering for those not expecting the strength of the whiskey. And if some of the tumblers weren’t raised as high as others, no official notice was made.

    “Not just the silk. I found weavers, both for silk and cotton. I also bought many sacks of cotton seeds.”

    “Fucking genius, Lord Florent. I don’t have any ideas for silk yet, but I do have some for cotton. Give me some time to work on it and we’ll be able to make cloth cheaper and finer than anyone else in the world. Also, you should see another invention of mine that will help.” The prince was talking faster and faster as he got excited. “I made a machine to be pulled by a horse or oxen, which will increase yield in a field without wasting seed. I call it the seed drill. It’s working great in the Lannister fields and they’re trying them in the Stormlands and the North, but no one else wants to try it. Farmers are a hidebound lot, scared of anything new. But since they’ll be starting fresh with new crops, you can probably get them to use it.”

    “Do you wish for a partnership, Prince Eddard?” Lord Florent asked.

    Eddard seemed taken aback, then thought about it. “Ehhh, if you want one? You’re going to be planting on your lands, right?”

    “Yes, Prince.”

    “Right. If you need a loan or something to get going, we can talk. I don’t imagine the mercenaries were cheap. Otherwise, I figure I’ll make some machines for processing and spinning and we’ll see what’s appropriate from there. I don’t want to take this away from you. You earned it all on your own. But I do think I can help.”

    “Are you saying that you know how to farm better than the farmers?” Lord Ashford asked incredulously. “And you think you can weave cotton and silk better than Qarth and Yi Ti?”

    Prince Eddard apparently didn’t notice the disbelief in Lord Ashford’s tone. “Enh, I mean, I couldn’t sit down and make cloth by hand like they do. I’ll make a machine. And yeah, our farmers aren’t actually that good at their jobs. I see a lot of ways it could be better, but they don’t want to try anything different. Also I’m still looking for some stuff and we’ll really see some improvements.”

    “Farming, brewing, ‘machines’, and glass. You should be training harder, not running about like a common laborer. It’s beneath you,” Lord Ashford chided. “It’s all fine and good to put some effort into getting good arms and armor, but you’re not supposed to work the forge yourself, boy!”

    Robert frowned, started to say something, but his son put his hand on his shoulder.

    “No, it’s not beneath me. If I’m going to rule this fucking place, I’m going to make damned sure we’re the richest, best fed, most powerful fucking realm in the world. My spyglasses and watchtowers mean there hasn’t been a successful ironborn raid in Lannister owned land in more than a year. My whiskey brings me money but also the chemicals I need to make medicines that can cure the worst infections. Maesters come to ME to learn new things.”

    “You make toys and money. Fine for a merchant, or a child, but not a nobleman. And what’s this rumor I hear of a whorehouse and mummery?” Lord Gaunt countered. “People believe almost anything anyone says about you because you’re too unpredictable. I’m half convinced you really do own a whorehouse!”

    Prince Eddard drew himself up, and started to reply, then paused. A certain gleam came into his eyes. “Actually, that reminds me. I’ve got a mummery play in mind for my whorehouse, and I’d like your opinion of it, Father.”

    Jon Arryn didn’t quite slap his hand over his face as gasps came from the other nobles in the room.

    Robert clearly wasn’t sure if he should be proud of his son, or embarrassed by his behavior. “Careful, boy,” he warned. “I let you take over that place as long as it was a secret.”

    “Oh, we’re all friends here, aren’t we? I’m sure these fine Sers know how to keep a… secret.” Unspoken, of course, was the dire threat implied if they failed to keep the secret.

    “That’s true, I suppose. I’m sure these Lords know that the goings on of the Royal Family are not meant for gossip.” Robert eyed the others, Gaunt and Ashford specifically.

    “Please, my Prince. Did you put dornish peppers in this whiskey? A mere sip and tempers are getting heated,” Jon Arryn said, trying to lighten the mood.

    “You see,” Eddard began, ignoring the Hand. “I’ve just found out that the Lady Mormont stole and sold some of the spyglasses I sent to Bear Island so she’d have more money. Jorah Mormont then sold some poachers to slavers trying to get the money to replace them, but got caught by Lord Stark’s men. Now the former Lord has grabbed everything he could of the supplies I sent up there and fled with his wife, presumably to Essos. Now, since his wife is a cunt and he’s lost his realm trying to keep her from being punished, I’ve said that I’ll forgive him if he brings her back for justice. Since she’s the kind of woman that will probably going to cuckold him with some Essos noble once the money runs out, if she does, I’m sending assassins. Now he can either bring her back, or live with the faithless cunt in poverty for the rest of his life.”

    Robert nodded. “What’s this about mummery, then?”

    “Mormonts are all hairy as bears, right? But it was the woman Jorah married that caused all the problems. Which is funnier? A play about Jorah Mormont marrying a bear, like an actual fucking bear, which tears up the place and shits everywhere but they treat it like a lady? Or a play where all of the Mormont men are dressed up in bearskin costumes to look like bears, and he marries a regular lady, but she turns out to be greedier and worse than the bears, and fucks everything up just like the actual bear would?”

    Robert snorted a brief bit of laughter.

    “Because the Mormonts, the bears, were doing just fine, until that cunt came in and wrecked everything,” Eddard finished his explanation.

    Robert chuckled again, this time more openly. “A spoiled noblewoman causing a mischief among the bears is pretty funny,” he admitted.

    “My Father, the King, quite enjoys my whorehouse mummery,” the prince said in a low voice. “He knows what’s funny. You should take the men later today, Father. My treat. Nachos, wings, and whiskey for everyone.”

    “So the Prince of This and That is to add the title of Prince of Mummery and Whorehouses as well?” Lord Ashford asked, his eyes flashing.

    “The Prince of This and That?” Eddard asked, his hand clenching. “I haven’t heard that one.”

    “Watch yourself, Lord Ashford,” Robert rumbled warningly.

    “Perhaps we should all take a break and cool off. There’s no point in getting riled up over a disagreement.” Inwardly, Jon was cursing, both the prince and the hidebound lords that were so offended they would unwisely insult the prince in front of his own father.

    “Mmm, yes. Probably best if we split up before someone wears out their welcome.” Prince Eddard started to walk away, only to whirl on the men once more. “Oh, and Lord Ashford? If you hear someone using that charming little title for me? Just pass on this message from me personally. I’m not the Prince of This and That.”

    “I’m the Prince of Everything.”

    He glared over the table, then caught Jon’s eye before he left. “Lord Arryn? Please, a word.”

    Mentally wincing at how much smoothing over he was going to have to do to keep a nasty grudge from forming, well, a nastier one at any rate, Jon rose, pardoned himself, and followed the angry exit of the Prince.

    “Yes, my Prince? Please, I hope you don’t plan to start a vendetta over this. Not everyone is going to approve of your actions, as you yourself once warned me. Lord Ashford will soon return to his holdings, and Lord Gaunt won’t want to insult you. His holdings are in the Crownlands.”

    Prince Eddard shook his head. “I don’t give a shit about those Lords. By the time I’m king, I’ll be able to buy as many lords as I need, so fuck ‘em.” He paused. “Well, make sure Lord Florent gets a chance to talk to me later. But that’s not important.” He grabbed Jon’s shoulder with one strong hand and leaned close. “Lord Arryn. Jon. Please. This is important.”

    Taken aback, the Hand nodded.

    “How long have Robert’s eyes been yellow?”


    AN: Hopefully that addresses some of the questions of how the realm sees Eddard. He's not actually that popular, though he is powerful and very, very rich. Although he hasn't been campaigning on behalf of smallfolk and trying to get nobles to stop being assholes, he bucks tradition simply by getting as involved in business as he is. The only proper ways for nobles to make money is through control of land. Taxing their people and tariffs on trade, with some exceptions for major resources owned directly by the Lord, such as mines or ships. Running around and making things, like some sort of craftsman, is for low born. It doesn't help that the stuff he's making is so new and unexpected that it freaks people out by itself. Westeros is not a place favored by Tzeentch. This is the kind of place where a new sail plan would be considered the act of a wide eyed radical.

    However, Robert likes him and so does Jon Arryn, though he does wish he'd make fewer, more manageable waves. And there are those Lords that see the wealth and ideas he brings as opportunity, if they're ambitious and clever enough.

    Oh, yeah, thanks to everyone in the discord chat for their help. https://discordapp.com/invite/k7BPP2Y You make things better! And thanks for the comments from everyone on the forums. You make things better, too.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  24. useless101

    useless101 Doing Nothing, Nothing Doing.

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    I had to google it, but (to make it easier on everyone who is as ignorant as I am) I'll just go ahead and summarize that yellowed eyes, skin, or bodily fluids is almost certainly jaundice. The coloring comes from a buildup of yucky stuff (fancy name: bilirubin) in the blood.

    Jaundice can range from a minor problem to a serious one, but one of the most common causes of it is alcoholic liver disease. Which is a very bad thing to have in someone who drinks a lot and won't stop doing so.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2018
  25. Generic_Generica

    Generic_Generica Verified kōhai Moderator

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    Where’s the discord chat :V
     
  26. Nugar

    Nugar Know what you're doing yet?

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    BlueHelix and Generic_Generica like this.
  27. Generic_Generica

    Generic_Generica Verified kōhai Moderator

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  28. Breadnaught

    Breadnaught I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Ah yes, the guy that has become incredibly rich and powerful in his own right, that will soon be the King and have the power of life and death over you ... be a snobby cunt, then snidely mock and criticize everything about him.

    Truly, these men are the wisest of their generation.
     
  29. Nugar

    Nugar Know what you're doing yet?

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    People don't always do rational things.
     
  30. Breadnaught

    Breadnaught I trust you know where the happy button is?

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    Really, people can be irrational? In Westeros?

    You have destroyed my innocence Nugar. I hope you're happy with yourself. ;)
     
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