I had the itch to write another chapter, don't expect an update every day though. Even Writers have lives on occasion.
An American in Westeros
Journal Entry (September 294)
I'm halfway to the War of Five Kings. It scares the shit out of me, I'm going into a war were people are going to try to kill me and the only option is to kill them first which almost scares me more. I'm not sure if I'll be ready physically either.
I've had to change my plans for fortifications entirely, I can't finish both fortresses in time so Winterhold on Gods' Eye Lake is being delayed and redesigned into a large star fort that will be done in 299 at the earliest. Since everyone just calls it "The Star Fort" I decided to change the name to just that. The benefit of this is that I have shifted enough resources to get Eagle's Reach (Formally Summerhold, more 'Murican now) finished with some time to spare before the war begins.
Between that, my military buildup and the prototypes, I am bleeding money. Oh, the prototypes are a mixed bag of their own within the larger mixed sack of my life. I have a world class team of experts in every field with far more practical knowledge than myself sequestered in an isolated and well protected villa. I spend a good deal of my time there coming up with new ideas for them to bring into life. Interestingly enough, I have found that military developments are far simpler and cheaper to develop than domestic ones. We have a prototype trebuchet yet we have given up (perhaps forever) on indoor plumbing. I have successfully developed a tiny batch of rough black powder yet I have barely made any progress in food storage or plant hybridization, it's a bit depressing.
I am completely satisfied with some of my projects though. Harrenhal is essentially operating like America under FDR's New Deal. There is enough government sponsored work for everyone wants a job to have one even if it's just digging ditches. When everyone has money to spend, a service economy pops up to take their money (Bakeries, Whorehouses, Taverns, etc.). Since these business are on my land, I can tax them giving me more money to pay my workers and soldiers who then spend it in town in the same businesses that I can tax again. It works out for everyone involved. Also because everyone is happy with the changes I've made that make them money and improve their lives immediately and clearly, the smallfolk have become more accepting of some of the stranger changes I've introduced. For example, the boiled water law doesn't have to be enforced anymore and most of the smallfolk are completing their weekly longbow practice, people just accept it as a quirk of their Lord and do it without being forced to.
What surprises me the most is that my developments aren't spreading outside my lands. Everyone who is truly interested has moved to my lands. While other Lords and ladies are happy to do business with me but they are keen to keep any advancements and the social changes they bring contained. Fine by me, I don't want them to try to keep up with me anyway. The more I can open the gap between myself and my competitors before they catch on, the better.
Journal Entry (October 294)
I'm a terrible at diplomacy by mail, I've made a few friends abroad (like the Lannisters and Tyrells) which of course has only made things more complicated. Most of the people who I'm working with hate each other (like the Lannisters and the Tyrells). It's time to go meet the major players in person.
It's time to go to King's Landing.
Almost every single character in the books complained about how bad King's Landing smelled but no amount of warning could ever prepare someone for the horrific truth. Lord Hunter Whent cursed the weak stomach his 21st century upbringing gave him for the millionth time since arriving as he leaned over to avoid vomiting on his horse upon coming across a ditch in Flea Bottom in use as an open sewer. "Mhm" he growled as he wiped his mouth. "how much further to the Red Keep?" he asked the captain of his guard.
Captain Grimsby, resplendent in his black and yellow plate sidled up alongside his liege on horseback and playfully clapped him on the back. Affecting an overly serious tone he said "My Lord, we've been here naught 5 minutes, it'll be a long while before we reach our destination. I'm afraid it'll be more of this for miles on end."
"Grimsby" Hunter warned.
The younger Grimsby in Whent service had the decency to look sheepish over his ill received levity. "20 minutes" he shrugged.
Hunter sighed and kicked his horse back into motion, resigned to a miserable passage through the city. Captain Grimsby was endemic of one of his most frustrating issues. Even the competent and trustworthy people he worked with treated him like a boy rather than a man. A phenomenally lucky and abnormally capable boy but a boy nonetheless. The circle of people that realized that he was closer to 30 than the 16 he appeared to be consisted of a total of four people.
It was lonely.
20 odd minutes later, Hunter found himself being conducted into the throne room of the keep while his people went about the business associated with arriving in a new place.
Though he was dressed as stylishly as anyone else in the colors of his house, he still felt profoundly uncomfortable. He understood the evil, both past and future, of this great room and the terrible throne he approached and it was all he could do to keep a neutral face as he approached the King. He felt the eyes of all the Lords, ladies, courtiers and servants dig into him, probing for secrets and weakness. Vipers, murderers, spies. Enemies, one and all. "Know thy enemy" Sun Tzu said. Well he knew their faces now and soon he'd know more.
Their appearance was startlingly alike that of the actors portraying them on the show. In fact, add a few years and Robert and Cersei Baratheon would look exactly like their respective actors. Meeting someone in person made a difference though. King Robert was far less impressive than even on the TV show. Fat of course, but he slumped into his chair in a deeply apathetic manner and he could be smelled from across the room. Queen Cersei though made for a stunning and queenly figure that sent the hormones rushing through his teenage body. Being in her presence for the first time made him wish for a brief moment that he was blonde and insufferable enough to attract her…attention.
That last thought put a small smile on his face as he reached the bottom of the throne dais and dropped to his knee. After an uncomfortably long time, he finally heard Lena Headey's voice address him with a waspish tone. "Lord Whent, so good of you to finally come to the capital to swear fealty to your King in person."
"Well there went that fantasy" Hunter thought to himself in irritation as he raised his head. He was somewhat mollified when he immediately realized that the Queen was furious with her silent and absentminded husband rather than himself. Though a man sat upon the Iron Throne, it became more and more clear as the silence dragged on once again, that today Westeros had no King to rule it. In the hopes of engaging the King and gaining some small form of initiative, Hunter immediately began his oaths. "I Lord Hunter Whent of Harrenhal do swear my fealty to Robert Baratheon, First of His Name, King of th…"
"I accept," the King said distractedly then "I am done for today".
The whole throne room seemed startled as the King abrubtly stood and left the room, Kingsguard trailing behind him. "Somethings wrong" Hunter thought to himself as he watched a scrawny blonde boy scurry to pick up the cloak Robert had absentmindedly let slip to the floor, Lancel Lannister in all likelihood. "If the whole court is revealing how startled they are by this then something very wrong". "Probably my fault" he muttered to himself "every other damn thing seems to be."
Journal Entry (November 294)
It's my fault. It turns out that my dear Lord Tully has been raising far more hell abroad than my agents have reported (time to get better agents). Between that and the trade conflicts I have created by associating myself with the Lannisters and Tyrells, I have created endless headache for King Robert. All of the "Let me help you be better than the Targaryens in peace" sentiments can't make up for nearly half of the Lord Paramounts in the Seven Kingdoms fighting over me. In addition, my meetings have been profoundly unhelpful. I met very briefly with Queen Cersei where she informed me that she was "confident that Harrenhal's Lord will make the correct choices". Because the Tyrell representative meant to meet me had left unexpectedly just before my arrival, I had to request a meeting with Renly which boiled down to "I don't know what you are talking about. I certainly do not represent Tyrell interests." Ass.
I can't talk to the Lannisters, the Baratheons, the Tyrells and I refuse to speak with the Tullys at the moment. Thankfully because the show added in the scene where Varys explains why he hates magic so much I know not to trust him. That leaves one man in the capital to visit who can get things done.
Petyr "I cause every problem in this world" fucking Baelish.
I have clearly lost my mind.
The sights along the way to Baelish's office in on the top floor of his brothel were extraordinary, the smells far less so. Hunter didn't even pretend to blame his reaction on his teenage body, he knew he would every bit as excited if he was in his original body. Instead, he tried to think constantly about the exotic medieval STD's were probably infecting everyone in the building besides him. It was hard enough to do that with maids and maidens at home when they tried to catch his attention with, less than subtle means. Here it was a Sisyphean ordeal.
When he finally reached Baelish's office, he found the another nearly naked woman lounging on a plush, purple divan on the far side of the room. "Red hair, well rounded curves and legs for miles" Hunter thought to himself "Baelish knows everything about everyone doesn't he?" The office itself matched what he remembered from the show, luxurious, even over indulgent furnishings and decorations belied the efficiency and purpose built into the design of the room. Sitting behind the desk in featured in the center of the room was the Puppet Master himself.
"Welcome Lord Whent, please have a seat." Baelish invited grandly. Gesturing to the woman who began to rise "Can I have Annyte bring you any refreshments? Wine perhaps?"
"A glass of wine would be lovely" Hunter said, seating himself. Oddly enough, the satisfaction of finally meeting the true villain behind so much of Westeros's coming pain made it easy to act relaxed. He allowed a small smile onto his face.
Then Petyr Baelish smiled again and every part of Hunter began screaming at him to cut his throat and run to the farthest corner of the world. "I hear you've been having some business trouble. Have you come to forget your worldly worries?" Baelish asked casually "You will find no establishment better than mine, and I think you'll find none better equipped than dear Annyte here.
Hunter was suddenly grateful to have the very beautiful lady distract him from his business dealings while he collected himself. Intently focusing on the beauty pouring him wine, he managed to pass off "P-perhaps later" as lust rather than abject terror.
"Ah well" Baelish replied with grand disappointment. "Then how can a humble business man such as myself help you."
"My agents may have proven myself themselves less than satisfactory lately, but I do know that you are one of if not the most well informed and capable man in King's Landing." Shit, shit, shit, why did he just reveal weakness to Baelish.
"My Lord, I am the most well informed and capable man in Westeros" came the smug reply. "for instance, I know that you are building your new fortresses in the East of your lands when all of your antagonists are in the West. I know that you are arming your peasants and raising a professional army. I can't help but wonder what a Lord whose enemies are in the West yet has the entirety of his forces deployed east might do next." He paused and spoke the next words carefully. "Expansion perhaps?"
"My priorities are my own" This was a mistake, maybe the biggest he had made since arriving.
"Forgive my curiosity then" Baelish said, clearly satisfied. "Again, what is it you are here for?"
"I need you to introduce me with the decision makers in the Lannister and Tyrell and arrange meetings with them. For the capital of a continent, King's Landing seems devoid of real power at the moment, with a few exceptions of course." Hunter said determined to power through the meeting before truly catastrophic damage could be done.
Journal Entry (December 294)
As soon as Baelish followed through, I left King's Landing and put as many miles between myself and that horrible city as humanly possible. I will be conducting a long tour to both Highgarden and Casterly Rock in order to meet with Willas Tyrell and Kevan Lannister respectively. I guess I don't rank high enough to meet the men in charge. Anywhere is better than King's Landing though. I'll never enter a room alone with Baelish again. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Oh well, in a few years I'll be meeting all the Lords Paramount face to face. One way, or another.
Journal Entry (May 295)
We made concrete!
We made concrete!
Do you have any idea how freaking amazing that is! Okay so it's not very good yet and we won't be able to mass produce it for years but still, CONCRETE!
My grand tour was a limited success, I managed to calm down all the major belligerents by downplaying my successes and wealth and making vague allusions to closer ties in the future. I think I bought myself another year or two which is huge. I had to fend off marriage offers every place I stopped however. I may not be worth a Lord Paramount's time but they sure are determined to wed me to their least important daughters. Not that it wasn't flattering. Or painfully tempting. I have bigger plans though and until condoms are a thing here I can't bring myself to take advantage of all the opportunities a wealthy lord has in this world.
When I returned, I was delighted to watch a field exercise of the 1st Dragoons, the 50man unit led by my drunk Dothraki bloodrider Kalgo were a sight to behold, sort of. Even on horseback, they can disappear into forest or brush with equal ease and they are equally comfortable putting an arrow in a target at great speed from horseback or slitting a man's throat at night before burning his camp. Upon completion of the exercises, I immediately commissioned the existing Dragoons to train another 100 more soldiers for their unit.
On the other hand, my peasant longbow men are mediocre at best. For the price it takes to equip them, I would prefer to see much more progress at this point but I try to remind myself that there is still time.
Journal Entry (June 295)
Discovered that many valuable tools, armor and weapons were disappearing from my National Guard armories. I sent the Dragoons out to deal with it.
I have all my supplies back but fewer smallfolk.
My dear Lord Whent
I hope this letter finds you in the best of health. I found our meeting most profitable and was disappointed that I never heard from you again. I must say, I've heard some awful rumors about you in court. Rest assured though, I defended your good name as I defend the good names of all my business partners. After all, it would be a shame to see such a promising lord fall afoul of his numerous and large neighbors.
I must admit I hate to discuss business in a personal correspondence between two friends but I have a favor to ask of you. You see, I have a caravan carrying goods Northwards and I was hoping you could take care of them as well as you would me.
Lord Petyr Baelish of the Fingers.
Journal Entry (October 295)
I want to vow that Baelish will suffer greatly but I'm convinced the smart plan is to just cut his throat when I get the chance without anything fancy. That is if I don't get killed first. I've been learning how to fight when I can fit in the time but I won't be a warrior prince cutting my way through songs with sword and axe. My time is better spent managing my lands rather than learning how to be a great warrior
Journal Entry (November 295)
I miss the Internet
Journal Entry (April 296)
Two years, in two years I am going to let a lot of people die. Then I am going to kill a lot more. Its… sobering. I find myself looking back on the life I had before entering this mad world and I realize I don't remember the man I used to be. The knowledge is still with me but the life is gone. I was Hunter something from a city called Seattle and I had a family, friends, a career, all gone. As Cortez burned the ships behind his men when he landed in the new world I too have lost the way home.
I am Lord Hunter Whent now and there is no retreat, only victory or death.