"This is a complete nightmare." Marvyn grumbled as he flipped over another page in the ledger. "I thought accounting practices had been switched to the King's Method?"

Working by the light given by the candles and torches located around the room, Jon's quill scratched into the paper as he entered in the debits and credits of the Darklyns into a more manageable form than the confused monstrosity that was in front of him. "Do you honestly think all of the high lords in the realm would follow the king's decrees for something as small as 'counting coppers'?"

Marvyn made an indiscernible sound. "I expected more from a lordly house that ruled a coastal city that sees as much trade as Duskendale does."

Jon could do nothing but at the very least give a nod in agreement with that statement. "Then it is up to us to bring Duskendale up to standards. So less complaining, more working. The sooner we make more sense of the accounts, the quicker it is for us to go about doing the job that His Royal Highness gave us."

Marvyn didn't give a verbal response but from the periphery of his vision, Jon was able to see the younger man give an incline of the head to show that he understood. For Jon, that was good enough and he was quick to turn all of his attention to his own task at hand.

But Jon was aware enough to give to Marvyn that the young man had something of a point. Years back, when King Aerys was nothing more than a prince and Good King Aegon still ruled the Seven Kingdoms, the prince's men, newly educated and shown the way of his more efficient method were sent about throughout the kingdoms to all the lordly houses, to show people how his method of bookkeeping worked.

To say that it was revolutionary was an understatement. The King's Method, or as it was used to be called the Prince's Method when Prince Aerys was still nothing more than a prince, was a clear and simple way of paying observation as to where coin came from whilst at the same time, where coin would be spent at.

If there ever came a time when someone ever got too greedy for their own good, the method also made it far easier for the bookkeeper to check where the discrepancy was coming from and investigate any unsavoury attitudes. It was magnificent in truth.

It was said King Aerys was blessed by the gods by the amount of ideas and notions that seemed to come out of his head, but Jon was a learned man. He was less inclined to believe in divine intervention, even if some of those interventions was something that even maesters had yet to come grips with. All in all, Jon had an inkling that the King's Method was more than likely an appropriated form of bookkeeping the Braavosi had been able to keep secret for hundreds of years.

The how was lost on him, and it wasn't in Jon's job description to ask questions as why his king knew things that the Braavosi had been able to keep secret for hundreds of years. He was merely employed as a high ranking 'civil servant' that was tasked with helping of making sure that the Seven Kingdoms ran as smoothly as possible.

And he couldn't help but curse the Darklyns in their arrogance of not adopting to the newer method of bookkeeping. If they had done so, he would by now, already know what he was working with and from there, beginning moulding Duskendale into the vision that was set out by King Aerys.

A grumble nearly escaped from his mouth at the lot of his luck, but he stopped himself from realising it. Instead, he opted for rubbing the temple of his head with a free hand, the pressure he was applying to the action less soothing and more of a minor pain than he had initially hoped it would do for his frustration.

An action that Marvyn was able to catch him doing. "Jon?" He asked, and was that some worry in his voice? Perhaps. "Is something the matter?"

There was a lot of things the matter, but that was for him to see to rather than complain. He was a professional, not some pampered Dornishman lazing about in the sun. "No, it's nothing." He glanced towards the window to look into the night. "Gods, is it that late already?"

Marvyn glanced towards the window for a moment before his eyes flickered back to Jon. "It's been dark for a while now, Jon."

"Time seems to fly when you are having fun." The king's man mumbled just loud enough for him to be heard. He marked the page that he was on before closing the ledgers in front of him. "I think I've kept you long enough Marvyn. Go get some rest, I'll be needing you fresh and ready for tomorrow's work."

Or was it morning's work? Hopefully, it was not yet past midnight.

Marvyn nodded as he did to put away his own ledgers. "And you?"

"I'll get some rest as well. No point in doing all this work whilst craving a nice bed to sleep in, yes?" He asked, washing a hand over the books.

Marvyn chuckled. "Aye sir. I'll be leaving then. Good night, sir."

"You too, Marvyn."

The door made a soft sound when Marvyn left, leaving Jon alone in his assumed office. He looked again at the window and then at the stack of books in front of him. He then lifted open a cover. "I suppose one more book wouldn't hurt. One more then I'll go take to my own bed."



The bastard daughter of Valyria was a grey city full of fog, rain and the occasional bout of cold winds. And it was still only summer. It was to be expected in truth, Braavos was located further north than Driftmark, so the warm winds and kisses of the sun of his youth was something that Alyn was going to have to confine to the memories of his youth.

Ser Jeremy Hightower plucked a grape of it's bundle as they continued onwards towards their destination. A destination that was becoming more and more visible the nearer they became. "Dare I say, I think this is a far more comfortable ride than I had expected. Better than a horse or a carriage."

Their guide, a Braavosi official by some blasted name that was difficult for the tongue to say could only smile pleasantly. "You would be pressed to find a road in Braavos. Near all of our trade and travel is taken through our many canals. It makes for far easier and less costlier mode of transportation."

Ser Jeremy nodded his head in understanding. "Exactly. That's the reason as to why to this day and age, all meaningful travel and trade is done by ships. It is and shall always be cheaper. That I can agree to." Another grape was flickered into his mouth and his jaw quickly went to chomping down on it. "Truth be told, I've always had an affinity for the sea, but I suppose I shall take this canal a close second."

"Water is water to us of Braavos." Their guide replied with a vague shrug of the shoulders. "An element that we have garnered for our own use and strength."

"That, and coin." Alyn said quietly as his eyes roamed across the spacious packed buildings that dotted the lagoon Braavos was located in. It was only after Ser Jeremy guffawing reached his ears that did he realise that he had said something out loud.

His eyes darted towards their guide – Lazzaro Fantagar, that was his name! - and caught him looking at him in amusement. Lazzaro dipped his head slightly. "Yes, water and coin. I shall not deny that one of the two is something that we are more known for." He shrugged his shoulders more noticeably this time. "It is, what it is."

Alyn was caught short with a reply of some kind, but Ser Jeremy was able to stop an awkward blunder from his occurring as he went off when something caught his attention. "I have to say, you Braavosi are a mute people. I've seen nothing more than greys, purples and black for the clothing. The only people that seem to have some life in them are those lot that walk around like peacocks!"

"Those would be the Bravos, Ser Jeremy." Alyn told the man as he made himself comfortable again in the boat. "From my understanding, dressing so flamboyantly is how they identify each other." His eyes roamed around the walk ways and streets they passed. "I do believe they only come out at night?"

Lazzaro nodded his head in confirmation. "That is true, Ser Alyn. Well, in part, but the night of Braavos does belong to them. When night falls, all the people of good repute retreat to their homes until the morn."

Ser Jeremy rubbed at his jaw, scratching at the bushy black beard that nearly hid his throat from view. "Ah yes, I've heard a little bit about these bravos during my travels. I hear they are good with a sword?"

"Some, not all." Lazzaro replied with a pleasant expression on his face. "Although their constant duelling amongst themselves in the nights eventually results in the truly talented and exceptional ones making themselves known. A word of advice, my lords, if you come to find yourself walking the streets and walkways of Braavos at night, carry no sword. They shall not trouble you at all."

Alyn didn't like that advice as he frowned. "I think I'll keep my sword then, no matter the time or day. One can never be too prepared."

Once again, Lazzaro Fantagar gave that vague shrug of his shoulders. "Very well, if you say so. It cannot be said that I did not warn you." He looked forward and smiled gently as he brought their attention to the front of them. "We are here, my lords. Welcome to the Sealord's Palace. I hope you have a pleasant discussion with the Sealord."

Alyn wasn't all that astounded by the sheer size of the Sealord's Palace, although to his reckoning, the Palace wasn't the tallest building in Braavos. The Titan of Braavos stood taller. The Palace itself was a building of muted colours that Alyn had quickly come to accept as the norm for the Braavosi that was composed of domes and towers. A spire rose into the sky and due to the fog, it was difficult to make out for what it was that Alyn thought he was seeing nothing more than a trick of the eyes, but after blinking for a few moments, he noticed that something atop that spire was spinning.

He wondered what the purpose of such a contraption.

Lazzaro was the first one to step off the boat. "If you would follow me please."

Ser Jeremy Hightower smiled brightly as he stepped of the boat as well. "Well, what choice do we have? You know this place better than me or my young companion do!"

"Yes, that is very much true." Their guide replied with a gentle chuckle.

Alyn noted that the man was good at this. For all he knew, Lazzaro could very well find Ser Jeremy's excessive friendliness to be nothing more than irritating and yet, Lazzaro never seemed to give a single iota of his inner thoughts of what he thought about Ser Jeremy or Alyn himself.

Lazzaro led them towards the building that was the centre of Braavosi government. When they passed through the arching, ancient doors that led them inside, Alyn found the beating of his heart pounding in ears. Perhaps he was nervous? Why would he not be nervous?

The Sealord was amongst one of the most powerful men in the world. Questions would have to be asked of him if he didn't feel a slight inkling of dread or nervousness in the coming meeting.

If Ser Jeremy was feeling the nervousness that he was feeling, he didn't show it as he looked around the corridors where they passed one functionary after another, few of them sparing any of them a secondary glance at best as they went about to do their duties. "Pretty place. Is it made out marble?"


"All of it?"

Lazzaro mused for a few moments before he spoke again. "Most of it, I would say, but certainly not all of it. After all, is the Red Keep completely made out of red stone?"

Ser Jeremy and Alyn shared a look between the two of them. "Yes."

Alyn might have been seeing nothing more than a trick of the eye, but he was sure that their guide had nearly missed a step. But maybe not. In other words, he was going to go with a version of the event that Lazzaro had indeed, missed a step.

"That must have been...costly." Lazzaro eventually found the words to say.

"Our Targaryen overlords have a tendency to go for the grandiose!" Ser Jeremy laughed out. "I mean, have you not heard of the tales of our Good King Aerys and his many contraptions?"

Lazzaro gave them a warm, thin smile at the question. "We've heard much and much more about your young king. Interesting fellow to say the least..."

They eventually came to a wide room that only had one large ornate door guarded by two men in quarter-armour with halberds standing at full attention. So still where they that Alyn could have mistaken them for statues if not for the slight movement of their eyes when it came to appraising them for threats.

Lazzaro stopped them short of the door. "I shall go inform the Sealord that you are without. Please, stay here. It shall not be long."

Alyn and Ser Jeremy nodded and with that confirmation, Lazzaro made for the doors that by some unseen command or action, had begun to open inwards with nary a sound. Alyn was quite curious as to how that worked. Was there some sort of spotter that gave the signal to open the doors when someone approached?

If so, where were they? Hidden from view from somewhere in this very large room? Or perhaps it was one of the guards with some sort of device that gave notice? So many questions and he doubted he was ever going to learn the truth of it.

"Nervous?" Ser Jeremy asked calmly. Well, as calmly as the boisterous Hightower could ever be. His voice still boomed round the cavernous room like rumbling thunder.

"Not at all." Alyn remarked with clear calmness to the tone of his voice. He peered at the older and taller man beside him. "Are you nervous, Ser Jeremy?"

Ser Jeremy's lips crept up one side of his face to form a bemused smirk. "You cheeky little..." He trailed of with good humour. "That's good. Don't be nervous, not that it's bad to be nervous. Just don't come off as cocky. Cocky can sometimes be even worse than nervousness, depending on the situation."

Lazzaro's reappearance from the room within cut off any further conversation between the two of them. Their guides deer skin boots made a soft rhythmic sound as the heels hit the marble floor. Click, click, click, click. There wasn't a single misstep as he did so before he eventually stopped shot in front of them.

"The Sealord will see you now." Was all he said as he stepped aside to give them way towards the Sealords personal offices.

Alyn raised an eyebrow. "You are not joining us?"

Lazzaro only gave them an amiable smile. "I'm only a middle functionary. I have done the duty that was given to me, the rest consists of things that are far beyond me."

The two lords from the Sunset Kingdoms nodded their heads as they walked past Lazzaro and the two guards. Behind them, the doors silently closed behind them, the only sound they made being the click of them being locked.

For the personal offices of one of the most powerful men in the world, there was a certain sparse aesthetic the room had been decorated in. It wasn't to say that ostentatious wealth had not been spent, but Alyn had been expecting something more from the room. Especially considering the wealth that House Antaryon and Braavos was supposed to hold, he had expected...more to say the least.

Instead, all he could see where several paintings and tapestries hanging perfectly on the walls along with a giant, gold seal of the Sealord's office hanging directly behind the man himself. "Ser Jeremy Hightower, Lord Alyn Velaryon, it is a pleasure." The Sealord spoke as he rose from his chair to his feet.

The Sealord's command of the Common Tongue was impeccable. He didn't even speak with a hint of an accent and anyone could have mistaken the man for a Westerosi if they didn't know any better.

Ser Jeremy smiled widely as he returned a greeting of his own. "The pleasure is all ours, Lord Antaryon. I have to say, I'm quite surprised by the sheer speed of the arrangement of this little meeting of ours."

"Oh, I wouldn't call it 'little' by any means." Ferrego Antaryon replied with a gentle smile on his face. He motioned a hand to a pair of richly decorated seats in front of his desk. "Please, take a sit. I beg you."

The two of them complied with wordless nods of the heads as they took the seats in front of the Sealord. It was whilst he had taken the seat that Alyn noticed something that he hadn't been able to notice before. Either it was just him or something else, but he was sure that the desk was somewhat elevated from where he sat. In other words, it forced him and Ser Jeremy to slightly look up towards the Sealord to look at him in the eyes.

That was a neat little trick of sorts.

Ser Jeremy wiggled about in his seat for a moment before relaxing as he leaned back. "This is perhaps the most comfortable chair I have ever sat in, in my entire life."

Ferrego Antaryon smiled. "Please, I'm sure you have sat in more comfortable chairs in your long life, Ser Jeremy. But it warms my heart that you would praise the leather workers of Braavos as so. It is nice to know when we are doing something right."

Ser Jeremy let out a good chuckle at that. "Just so, Lord Antaryon. Now, as Sealord of such a wonderful city as Braavos, I'm sure you have much on your time. Perhaps we can move on to the finer points of our meeting."

The bluntness of Ser Jeremy caught Alyn off-guard. He had come to know the Hightower knight as an honest man who would rather go straight to the point, but he didn't expect for the man to do just that so soon. Especially in the halls of their current guest.

The Sealord gave a simple incline of the nod as he pulled out a sheaf of papers from the side. "Very well, Ser Jeremy. I have read the documents from your king and they are certainly...interesting to say the least."

Ser Jeremy leaned forward, a single arm resting on the armrest of the chair. "And? Have you come to a decision?"

"Yes." The Sealord flicked over some of the pages. "We accept the terms of the agreement of your king. The Iron Throne has been granted permission to create an official residence for their envoys in Braavos and as so, Braavos itself shall have such an official residence for it's envoys in King's Landing."

Ser Jeremy laughed out loudly. "Excellent, His Grace would be most pleased to hear this news."

"And now, on to other matters that didn't see such a speedy resolve among the magisters and keyholders..."


King's Landing

"It seems we'll be having that dinner with the Rogarres in the near future." Aerys informed him as he looked over the days documents that needed his attention.

Duncan made a sound as his eyes glided over another document that he meant to pass over to his nephew and king. "I'm not invited to that am I?" He had nothing against Maegor or the Rogarres, he just didn't feel the particular need to be friendly with them.

Aerys stopped for a moment, his royal seal that had been dabbed in wax just hovering just a few inches short above the document he had meant to stamp. "He's family."

"How many times removed?" He asked, eyebrow quirked in good humour. "At some point, it stops being family and people that we are related through so and so. The Penroses happen to be related to us, yet I don't hear you claiming them to be family."

The king hummed for a moment before speaking. "I suppose you have a point, but for this one, this is rather important. Maegor will be in charge of the Royal Bank of Westeros."

"Thank the gods I was able to convince you not to use that deplorable name." The Dragon Bank of Westeros? His nephew had a rather strange fascination with dragons.

Hopefully, it won't lead to something dangerous, but it was best that he kept an eye on him, just in case. Many a Targaryens had cut their lives short with fascinations and obsessions with dragons. He loved Aerys, quite the strange child that he was and would love for him to live a long and happy life with that northern wife of his.

But most importantly, Lucerys was still only a child and in the event of something happen to Aerys, gods forbid, he would most likely become Regent of the young prince whilst in his minority. There was something about that he didn't particularly like the sound off.

"It was a good name. A brilliant name." Aerys grumbled. "I swear, you and grandmother seem intent on stopping me from having some fun in my life."

"Fun is nice and all, but really Aerys? The Dragon Bank? Your sense of naming brings me a whole lot of embarrassment I wasn't even aware I could feel."

The young king shook his head as he eventually pressed his seal into the document and moved onto the next. A single gold-silver eyebrow rose up his brow as he read the contents. "They need more men and coin? How many men and coin do they need?" He asked, his tone exasperated.

Wondering what he was talking about, Duncan leaned forward slightly to look down the paper and grimaced when he understood the nature of the document. "Perhaps that is something that should be left in the, as you would say, back burner. For all time in truth."

Aerys shook his head. "No, no. This is important. We always knew that it was going to be costly, that's the reason why we sold shares in the company in the first place. Seems like we need to raise more coin then."

"Sell more shares?" Duncan suggested as he tried to think of any potential buyers that could have an interest in the project. "The Manderlys, Freys, Lannisters are a few I can name of the top of my head. There's also merchant houses and Houses along the Mander that we can approach, as well as raise the required coins through loans from the Iron Bank."

"We could do that," Aerys said with a nod. "But I figured something like this could happen. Large infrastructure projects always end up costing more than they are estimated to cost which means it's always in the best interest to have more money in reserve for situations like this. Just in case though, we might need to sound some potential investors into the project."

"The Hightowers and Tyrells are already invested as much as they can in this. The Hightowers more than the Tyrells."

Aerys was silent for a moment before asking. "Who is Brunel Bardisam?"

Duncan thought for a moment as he tried to put a face to the name, much like how Aerys was more than likely doing as well. After a while, both of them looked at each other in silence as they had both come to the conclusion that they didn't know this particular individual.

"Is he anyone important?" Duncan eventually asked.

"I don't know," Aerys muttered as he passed him the letter in question. "According to that letter, this Brunel fellow has been badgering Lord Anthony quite a few times about surveying the route for the canal as accurately as possible."

"In other words, Lord Anthony is complaining about something once more."

The king shrugged. "It seems like it. Why did you make me place him charge of this entire thing again?"

"He has a link in engineering from the Citadel. In other words, he's the only lord in Westeros with such a background suitable for a task of this magnitude."

"Some would say he barely qualifies to be a lord."

"None the less, he is still a lord." Duncan rolled up the letter and placed it into a pocket in his coat. "I'll have someone look into his, Bardisam character."

This canal was beginning to seem like it was not worth the effort of trouble that it was causing. How did Aerys convince him to go along with this? Ah, he remembered now. Something about it cutting down the travel time for ships from the east coast of Westeros to travel to the west coast without having to go around Dorne.

"Think about it uncle! The sheer implications of what this canal could do for travel, trade and commerce for the entire realm. It might be costly as of now, but eventually, it will do more than pay back it's share of initial costs in the amount of coin it would be bringing us in revenues that we might as well be swimming in gold dragons by the end of it!"

Aerys might have been exaggerating somewhere in his rants about this canal, but he had been convincing enough at first. And it seemed he had actually thought about this well enough to spread out the initial cost through several investors from the Arryns of Gulltown to the Tyrells and Hightowers to others.

Speaking of Dorne, when news reaches them about the canal, he doubted that they were going to be completely thrilled about this. If what his nephew was saying to be true, Dorne was going to have to prepare itself from seeing a tremendous fall in the amount of traffic it was going to be seeing in it's ports.

Did Aerys realise this? A quick glance at his nephew and he doubted it.

I should probably try and see if I could do something to placate Dornish anger when it eventually rears it's ugly head. He paused in his thoughts for a moment. And possibly have an increased guard on the work camps for this canal.

They were already invested into the building of this canal, if anything, despite his thoughts, Duncan didn't want to see this investment come to see a bad fate because of...knives in the dark.

"Aerys, I have to ask, Lord Bennar-."

Aerys raised a single hand to stop him. "Grandmother has already given me this particular talk, uncle. Did I let Lord Bennar Darklyn off too easily? Some might say that."

"I may have come to be aware that you gave him a deal, a deal that he didn't keep, but nonetheless, you still punished him as if he had kept to the terms of the initial offer."

Aerys gave him a look. "And here I figured that the Kingsguard was supposed to keep all of my secrets until death."

"Well, it's not really a secret in truth. It was in their reports."

"Alright, I forgot about that."

"You have a tendency to forget your own policies that you have invoked. That is somewhat worrying."

"Well, I guess that's why you are here uncle, to make sure that I keep on the straight and narrow." Aerys flashed him a grin then, before he continued speaking on their original topic. "Frankly, Lord Bennar had suffered more from the entire ordeal than we did. We didn't have a single casualty on our side. They saw several dozen deaths, thanks to yours truly."

"And what happens when Denys Darklyn eventually returns to Duskendale with thoughts of revenge or rebellion for the fate of his lord father?" Duncan asked.

Aerys seemed taken aback by the question. "He won't. He will be raised here like one of my own. He'll be friends with Luc, Dany and Theon. He won't go against him if he's taught in the correct and proper manner."

"Blood is thicker than water, Aerys." He told his nephew. Sometimes, Aerys was strangely optimistic for a sceptic. "Denys might very well think that slighting his former friends in revenge for his lord father is well and truly worth it to strike his banners for rebellion."

Aerys face turned to stone for a few moments before he breathed out a sigh. "If he so wishes for it, Denys might strike his banners in rebellion or revenge against me for his father's treatment, but he'll have a hard time ahead of him when the time comes to get any meaningful resources for his meaningless quest for revenge if he ever so takes it up." He paused for a moment. "And anyway, why does everyone speak as if I killed Lord Bennar? He's still very much alive and breathing on the wall, which might as well be the same thing, but he's still breathing."

"You don't have to convince me of that, Aerys. You might have to eventually convince the child that you stole a father from."

"Then I'll simply be the father that he lost." He took another letter from the pile at the side. "These things always workout in ways we never expect them to, uncle. Best you can is make sure that the cards are firmly stacked in your deck and favour."