2.0 is beginning! An American in Westeros, better edited and expanded. I promise at least an extra thousand words for each chapter minimum. Particularly as we get into the later chapters you can expect more.
You can also expect if not side stories than at least parallel stories. There are many more people in the world than the original focused on. What did Willis Wode think of indoor plumbing? What did Cersei and Whent talk about during his time in King's Landing? Where did Harry Bracken, regent of Harrenhal go after the first chapter? What are the personal thoughts of the ordinary citizens living through the changes that are brought about? Who knows? (I don't, not yet at least) We are going to find out together.
The story will be similar to the original but it may evolve in new and unexpected ways, these things take on a life of their own once they get going.
An American in Westeros 2.0
Journal Entry (Date: ?)
Good news, I'm not dead! (Maybe)
Bad news, I'm certainly going to die horribly! (Probably)
I'll elaborate dear Journal because you are the only one I can ever relate all of this to and frankly I will go NUTS without letting this all out. I was an American. I was in a car crash, I had saved up all my money to buy a self-driving Google car. I guess it couldn't self-drive away from a semi in the wrong lane. Somehow I woke up in (dramatic pause) Westeros! Yay! (Sarcastic) Also I have to go through puberty again, my best guess is that my body 13 or so. I'll double back to the how and why of this when I know more (probably never). There is something weird going on in Harrenhal and given this worlds record with magic, I have absolutely no interest in finding out. Curiosity has killed a lot of people throughout history and I suspect I am going to be worrying about plenty of other things potentially killed me.
Weird or not, it's an opportunity. I arrived while Lady Whent (current owner of Harrenhal) was wasting away in her deathbed and she immediately took me for her long lost something or other returned by divine will and declared me her heir. What was I going to do? Say no and wander a hostile world with no resources or local knowledge?
I suspect that the local Septon is a lunatic because it took almost no convincing whatsoever to declare my 'return' as a genuine miracle and a sign of divine favor. In a medieval world, the state religion has broad authority and with the lack of communication, one probably crazy man's proclamation can take hold over the land for a long time before someone with the authority to countermand it gets word. It takes even longer for them to come to a decision and send word back. If that does happen, I can think of many other ways to drag things out. Requests for clarification, messages being lost, debates on legality or even just playing stupid. All that means that I might have enough time to establish myself before people really start messing with me.
So, with a the command of a delirious and dying woman and the blessing of a probably crazy septon, I was declared the new heir with a regent to be decided upon by those who missed out on profiting from the end of Whent control of Harrenhal in the next few days.
Now I couldn't just ask everyone what year it was without setting off even more alarm bells so I have had to do some investigation and guess work. All the Stark children are born from what I hear but they are still much younger than in the beginning of the show. Based on that, I figure that I have seven or eight years before the shit-storm begins with the War of Five Kings. I need a game plan here.
Option 1- Bailout now and go to some beach in Essos with as much money as I can pilfer from the Harrenhal treasury and live out the rest of my days in peace. This seems like the safest choice at first but I only got to see season 5 of the show so I don't know if the White Walkers will make it over to Essos and even if they don't it's still a dangerous place with wars, disease magical beasts and I wouldn't have the protection of being important. Let's shelve option 1 for the moment.
Option 2- Try to get back to Seattle. It would be nice but I can only guess that it would involve magic and as I said before, I don't do magic.
Option 3- Stick around and prepare for the coming shit storm. Now hear me out Journal (I refuse to call you diary) this isn't as crazy as it sounds. Lady Whent won't last the week most likely. I can cut a deal with my regent putting me in charge in reality if not in name. With real power and resources I can restructure my lands and introduce targeted changes. Eight years is enough time to improve my situation greatly. If nothing else, it will give me time to save up money for when I bail.
Okay, I think I'm going to stick with option 3 for the time being. Assuming I stick around I need allies, I need to pick a side in the war and I need some goals.
Rob Stark- Can't win. I'm sorry bro but this King in the North thing will never work out and I'm not going to tie myself to a sinking ship
Renly- Second verse, same as the first.
Stannis- I'm not down with the whole burning people alive thing…or the losing.
Targaryen- I can't realistically wait for Daenerys to get here years and years from now on my own.
Barratheon/Lannister- Am I really considering this? Am I really considering joining the bad guys even temporarily? I feel like Poland considering joining Germany in 1938 in the hopes of switching to the allies in 1944.
I need to sleep on this.
Journal Entry (291 AC)
I saw someone writing a letter labeled 291 AC so I now know what year I am in. If I remember correctly, the War of Five Kings takes place in 299 or 300. Eight odd years then, that was an accurate prediction at the very least.
Lady Whent is dead and I lord Hunter Whent have a castle full of visiting Riverlords who hate my guts. Every single one of them knows what's best for me and they often don't agree. This poses a problem for me but I have a cunning plan, I'll let you know how it goes.
Hoster Tully is an ass.
Journal Entry (Do they have names for months?)
It kind of worked.
My regent is Harry Bracken the 30-odd landless and bitter third son of house Bracken. He was considered unimportant enough to assign to a temporary position but loyal enough to support Hoster Tully's interests in Harrenhal. I had a frank chat with Harry about who would be really in charge at Harrenhal. After I gave him a choice between disappearing forever or having riches, land and the opportunity to start his own household all the while screwing the people who had denied him any opportunity for success, he joined my team.
With Harry's help I put all of my vassals and servants to work surveying, taking a census etc. the theory being that if I can keep them busy enough working for me they won't have enough time to plot against me. I sent my vassal Ser Willis Wode and several others to Essos on various errands.
We also managed to send all of the Riverlords home eventually but unfortunately we managed to offend most of them. Harry is turning out to be a competent administrator but he is the farthest thing from diplomat imaginable and I don't know how to act like a lord, my mom made me read Emily Post but I don't remember most of it.
Less than successful!
It occurs to me that the more I change things, the more my foreknowledge of events will be less and less useful. As much as it sucks, I think my best option is to pull a Switzerland until the right moment to make my move. Sorry Starks! I actually feel pretty terrible knowing what's going to happen knowing that these are real people.
In financial news, Harrenhal is actually fairly wealthy so I should be able to make some of my plans work. Plan number one is to tear the damn thing down. Based on what I know from the books and the show and by my presence here I have decided that Harrenhal has some kind of magic, I hired several septons, worshippers of the Old Gods and even a red priest to bless every stone, plank and piece of furniture they pull out of their just to be sure. I may be ruining my only chance to get home but I need immediate security from occult influences more than I need a slim possibility of getting home way down the line.
Journal entry (July 291)
So they use the same calendar as us, I guess I shouldn't be that surprised given that they speak English. I can't help but wonder if the language and the culture is so similar or I simply have some magic with me always translating between me and the rest of the world. I arrived in April by the way.
Putting everyone to work turned out to be the right idea the survey I ordered found silver to the north of the old fortress, a lot of silver. I wrote to the Maesters in Oldtown and found that a proper survey of the Seven Kingdoms was never conducted, surveys have only been made by local lords and explorers and then compiled at Oldtown. It leaves me salivating over the resources that have not been found yet. Harry shares my opinion. I'm pleased with him, he has adjusted really well to the idea of a 26-year-old in a 13 year old's body and has been fantastic at setting up a fledgling bureaucracy to manage my lands while I try to translate my crazy ideas into reality. Hopefully my new guest shall help this process along greatly.
Dear God I said "shall", I've been here too long.
"You want to tear down your ancestral home?" Castellan Harry Bracken asked his charge incredulously. He had dealt with many odd and unexpected things in recent weeks, especially with regards to the partnership he had entered into with the young Lord Whent but this took the cake. He continued "I know it is not in the best shape but it has a proud history and tearing it down may have severe impacts on your already extraordinary claim."
Bracken and Whent were sitting at Bracken's writing desk in his chambers. Lord Whent was small and slight of frame but he had bright eyes that exuded intelligence and his movements carried a boundless energy with them. He began to lift a large stack of papers and leather-bound books of records onto the desk. Bracken scowled at this, he hated reading and writing and was in no mood to dig through even more on top of what his duties already forced him to do. "What's this?" He asked
Lord Hunter Whent spoke as he continued to fill Brackens desk. "These are the financial records of Harrenhal and its associated land plus documentation of every kind stretching back decades."
Bracken wore an expectant expression. He asked "and what do they say?"
Whent finally finished filling the desk and looked up at his regent to say "We should be rich; we would be very rich if we didn't spend so much money on the keeping this terrible fortress from falling apart around us. Forget the prestige of this ruin. If we tore this down, we could pay off all of the people whose opinions matter with regards to my claim with money left over. We can be build a new fortress. We can put it on the Kingsroad and tax a penny from everyone who uses it. We can say it's for maintaining the road to justify it. We even will spend some of the money on the road to encourage more travel. There are countless travelers along the road every day. We have plenty of guards we already pay to sit around and make their presence known. All we have to do is send a few of those same men to sit on the road and make their presence known!"
Bracken considered the possibility for several moments. Like most things he discussed with his charge it was clear that Whent had put more thought into matters than a boy his age would be expected to. It had merit. He motioned to the mountain of documents on his desk and asked "And all these documents support this, you've read them?"
Whent nodded and said "They do, and I have"
Bracken leaned back in his chair and thought about it some more. "We would need money in the short term, a lot of money. It would take quite a bit of time for our new income to reach acceptable levels."
"There are many ways to get money" Whent replied quickly
Bracken let out a small chuckle. "Indeed there are" He said "Some are smarter and less dangerous than others. Go now, I'm sure you are missing a lesson of some sort. You have given me a lot to think about. And take all this damned paper with you."
Whent flashed his best smile and began to gather his evidence confident in his victory. They had been through several conversations like this and he knew from experience that if you put enough paper in front of him, Bracken would not read a word of it and simply ask for a summary. A dangerous trait for the older man but a boon to one Hunter Whent. By this point he had taken to including pages and pages of gibberish in all of his proposals to make the reading seem intimidating.
July 291 AC
In a relatively humble manse 30 miles East of Harrenhal, Lord Hunter Whent practically melted into his new leather armchair when he first sat down. He took a mug of hot coffee newly imported from Ghis from his most trusted servant, Seneschal Grimsby and sighed with satisfaction. "Really my lord its midday, with the number of projects you've started upon is gathering moss from inactivity the best way to spend your day? Representative Nestoris is eager to see you." Grimsby chided lightly.
Lord Whent chuckled, "Grimsby what have I told you about Saturday mornings?"
"That they are sacred." Grimsby replied with the tone of one almost but not quite defeated.
Hunter nodded in absentminded agreement while staring absently at the smoldering fire. He turned back to Grimsby suddenly alert and excited "you're right though, I want to meet with him as well, have him meet me in my office in an hour."
"Very good my lord"
Hunter's office had been elegant showpiece designed to impress visitors without ever really being used. Under his occupation of the old retreat designed by some forgotten minor family or another, the gilded room had become a scene of organized chaos that frightened any maids brave enough to peek in. Aside from the tall and thin shelves of leather-bound books any of the gilded trappings of the office were lost to the drawings and diagrams plastered on every inch of wall space and every surface was covered in maps and charts. Stacks of records and other miscellaneous items lurked in every nook and cranny. All ornaments had been removed other than Whent Crest of black bats upon a yellow field above the main desk and a wood carving of an eagle standing alert resting on the same table.
Almost the moment Hunter sat down Seneschal Grimsby conducted Representative Nestoris into the room. Tycho Nestoris was tall, thin, and gaunt. He had a narrow face with dark eyes and a long, thin beard, which almost reaches his waist. He wore a brimless three-tiered hat of purple felt, robes of a sober purple trimmed with ermine and a high stiff collar that contrasted Hunter's dark leather jacket and well-made but simple pants and shirt.
"It's so good to finally meet you Representative" Hunter began, "please sit"
"Why thank you Lord Whent" Nestoris replied, soaking in the odd designs and figures around the room while sitting down. "I'll admit that I'm surprised to be meeting with you rather than your regent. You're taking on serious responsibilities for one so young." He had a rather predatory smile on his face.
"We'll double back to the issue of my age in a moment" Hunter said with a predatory smile of his own. He knew it wouldn't work with his young face but he couldn't show weakness. "The Iron Bank is known for its discretion, yes? Anything we speak of will be kept secret unless I default on my payments?"
"Of course" Nestoris returned.
"And you are familiar with the extraordinary circumstances associated with my arrival?
A single nod.
"Then know that I am far older than I appear. I don't pretend to understand how these circumstances came to be but understand that I am taking steps to deal with the forces responsible. In addition, understand the opportunity I bring." Hunter said with iron in his voice that seemed unnatural for one so young. "I come from a land far away, a land far richer more advanced than this one." He gestured grandly around the room to the designs. "I want to bring that knowledge, wealth and power here for all to benefit but I can't do it alone."
Nestoris took it all remarkably well, in fact he seemed to skip the shock stage that Bracken and Grimsby had shared and became keenly interested, even eager. "You need our money?"
Hunter was taken aback "You don't seem surprised"
Nestoris shrugged, "We in Essos are more accustomed to magic than those in Westeros and as I said, we already knew the circumstances of your arrival was extraordinary."
Hunter smiled with relief at meeting someone who could handle his identity. "I have the money and raw material for my projects, what I need is your network, your people. The Iron Bank operates around the world. I have the knowledge from my world but I need architects, soldiers, masons, scholars and more to make my knowledge into reality.
"We can do that, what does the Iron Bank get from this relationship?"
Hunter smiled "Well…"
Journal Entry (May 292)
The Iron Bank found the people I needed. I ended up selling 8% of my silver mine for 2 Million dragons and agreed to house the Westeros branch of the Iron Bank. I'm sure I got robbed but in the end we both are better off from this deal. I immediately committed all of it to my various projects listed below.
2 new fortresses were commissioned, the first on the banks of the Gods Eye Lake and the second, larger one upon a large hill that rose 300 feet above the Kingsroad named Winterhold and Summerhold respectively. Each will be constructed with modern practices adapted into tried and true traditions. The massive construction projects have attracted smallfolk from the surrounding Crownlands, Riverlands and a few from farther abroad. The settlements springing up around them will only be an asset in the war to come. Unfortunately this has pissed off the Riverlords even more. I really need to start working on making friends.
I am hosting a Dothraki named Kalgo whom they managed to get drunk enough to cross the narrow sea. I put him in charge of training the officer corps of my new professional Light Calvary unit the 1st Dragoons. I'm not sure what to do with him afterward I'm satisfied though. He's too unstable to keep around permanently but the last thing I need is for him to go across the narrow sea again to let the Dothraki know everything about Westeros. In addition I have one Sargent Xhar of Ghis to teach Roman-like tactics to my new 1st Infantry, my plan is to build those two units up to full strength by the beginning of the war. Supporting these units will be my National Guard initiative. Rather than militias, the Guard will be far better equipped, trained and more professional than their peers.
Domestically, I have enforced laws requiring boiling water before use. In agriculture, crop rotation and basic harvesting machines like the moldboard plow are starting to be introduced into the fields. Over the next several years these should create a surplus that will last us through the coming winter. I have an experimental printing press tucked away in my manse. I want to keep that in reserve however, I am holding off on that and other inventions like gunpowder until we are closer to the flashpoint.
I can only handle so much however, with everything going on I am not sleeping in any meaningful way and neither are most of the people who work for me. We'll see how things develop in the near future.
"What are you going to do about it?!" Queen Cersei demanded of her Husband
"What are you screeching about?" The Fat King asked, finally rousing from bittersweet memories of simpler times.
"Screeching! SCREECHING!" Cersei howled with a rising fury. "I'll hav…" She stopped herself and looked around the luxurious royal apartments for any potential witnesses. "I'll have you know" she continued in an icy rage "that I don't screech you fat fool. And I was saying" she paused to reassert control over herself "that you have an important lord with lands bordering the crownlands building a fortress on the Kingsroad and building an army of foreigners and God's knows what else so what are you going to do!" She stared with hard eyes at him, waiting for his response.
King Robert sat for a long time considering the situation, completely unaffected by his wife's displeasure. Finally, he said "How many other fortresses are along the main roads? Five? Ten? It won't make a real difference in the long run. As for the foreign army. Well, no matter how much silver he digs up, he can't raise enough troops to be a threat to anyone but the minor Riverlords neighboring him, what's he going to do? Take over the Seven Kingdoms? No let him be, he's in trouble with the Riverlords already.
In the center of Harroway's Town Square, a large group of citizens were gathered to listen to an enormously fat and unbelievably loud town herald speak address them. The herald had taken up position on a platform that was used during market fairs and public executions. The symbolism was not lost on the townsfolk and all were anxious to see what the news was.
"I bring word from your new lord!" The herald began. "Momentous times are upon us. First, the fortress of Harrenhal is to be demolished, workers are sought at fair wages and reasonable hours. Go to the local in to see a recruiter for a position on the project."
A murmur of whispered discussion rippled through the crowd. This was good news, large construction projects meant good work for anyone who wanted it.
The herald continued "Second, a silver mine is to be constructed on a large deposit that has just been found, workers are sought for this new project. Go to the inn to find a job recruiter. That generated even more excitement. Lust for silver could be seen in the eyes of many a young man looking to make their own way. "Third" He finished "the military forces of Harrenhal are to be rebuilt. All capable men are encouraged to see their local recruiter and from here on out all citizens of Lord Whent's lands must practice with the longbow for two hours each week. Those who do not have a longbow may practice at a local garrison and borrow a longbow. These are the proclamations of our honorable Lord Hunter Whent."
As the herald turned to leave the crowd began to break up and many went back to their daily tasks. One Sulvan Tiren, a 28-year-old childless widower raced to the inn to be first in line. In the inn there were three tables, one for each of the recruiting jobs. He was first in line in to the military recruiting station. The recruiter looked pleased at his eager new prospect and said "State your name for the record."
Sulven snapped to attention and declared "Sulven Tiren sir!"
The recruiter suddenly looked even more pleased. He said "You're a veteran aren't you? There could be a bonus for you, what's your experience?"
"Sir, I was a sergeant in the forces sent to fight in the Greyjoy Rebellions, I fought in the final siege of pike hand to hand. I was among those who they let go as they downsized their forces after the fighting was over".
"Say no more" the recruiter said, "make your mark on this contract and we will get you back into fighting shape in no time.
Journal Entry (February 293)
I'm in trouble with the Riverlords.
They are upset about me stealing their peasants, foreigners in their lands and making more money than them.
Oh and my liege Lord Hoster Tully demanded I stopped consorting with the Lannister and Tyrells. I was just selling silver and inventions to them…and negotiating trade agreements with them and the Iron Bank that were detrimental to the Tully's. No big deal! Honest!
Hoster Tully is an ass.
I have been informed that you may be receiving demands certain entreaties from Lord Paramount Hoster Tully concerning my lands. I state that everything that he may list as a concern is happening exclusively on my land and has only benefited the Iron Throne. I ask you to consider these facts before making any decisions and to keep me informed of any developments.
Lord Tully helped you prove yourself greater than the Targaryen's in war allow me to help you prove yourself greater than the Targaryen's in peace.
Lord Hunter Whent of Harrenhal
The situation in the Whent lands has become intolerable. I request that you issue a Royal edict requiring the removal of the so called Winterhold Fortress from the Kingsroad and restricting foreigners from gathering in numbers.
Lord Paramount Hoster Tully
I would not recommend overly rash action in regards to the Harrenhal situation, I have sent my son Tyrion to advise you in this matter.
Lord Tywin of Casterly Rock,
Warden of the West,
Lord Paramount of the Westerlands
You make a good case for yourself. I welcome your efforts
King Robert of the Andals and the First Men,
Lord of the Seven Kingdoms,
Protector of the Realm
Lord Paramount Hoster Tully,
I find your case wanting, refrain from taking severe action in this matter for now but keep me advised of developments.
King Robert of the Andals and the First Men,
Lord of the Seven Kingdoms,
Protector of the Realm