Dying was easy. It didn't hurt, I wasn't scared; one moment I was just going to bed, and the next thing I knew everything was white. A blank expanse with nothing around me, and I barely had enough awareness to even realize it. I was numb, at peace, I couldn't feel anything and so I didn't care. I closed my eyes, and fell back asleep. The next time I woke up was much less peaceful.
I was being squeezed through a tube, crushed in the jaws of some massive beast, there was no air and I couldn't fucking breathe. I tried to squirm, to move, to break free; anything at all and yet nothing worked. Everything was dark around me and when my panic was just getting the best of me and I was sure I would pass out, there was light and a rush of air and suddenly I was free! I was yelling and screaming, because thank fucking god I wasn't in wherever that was anymore, when I felt myself moved around and wiped down. Opening my eyes again, I got a glimpse of a blurry figure smiling softly at me.
"Tis a boy, my Lady, a healthy boy." The man said.
"Let me hold him." Came the soft reply, and I quickly found myself passed off to someone new. Someone warm, and safe, and my eyes picked up the blurry form of a young woman with dark hair and grey eyes smiling at me. I felt like I should probably freak the fuck out over the fact that I was just FUCKING REBORN of all things, but I didn't have the energy. I just smiled tiredly back at my new mother.
"What should we name him, my Lady?" Came a new voice, one hard as ice yet as soft as snow.
"Brandon, my Lord. Brandon Stark." My mother answered.
Oh that's nice. Not a bad name...wait, the fuck she just say? Brandon what now?
Growing up in Winterfell was pretty much how you would expect growing up in a medieval castle with a decent family was. It was a good life, definitely could have been worse, and I wasn't complaining. Sure there was no internet, and no TV, no electricity or indoor plumbing. One can not understate how much I miss indoor plumbing. The luxury of being able to wake up, take a piss or a shit, and go back to sleep is something I will forever be jealous of my past life for. Here I had to either shit in a pan, and try and sleep with the smell, or walk across the castle to where the outhouse is dug. Either way, not really going back to sleep. I appreciated that I was born a Lord however. I had pretty much all of the rights I used to have, minus that fact that I could be executed for saying the wrong thing to the King. That happened to old me, right? Or the me I would have been if I wasn't born as me? Fucking confusing. Regardless I had a good life, I didn't have to work myself to the bone for scraps, and I could have someone summarily executed for the hell of it, just like the King could do to me. You have to take the good with the bad I suppose.
I wasn't that important of a person in my old life. I drove a damn forklift for a living, had a small but close circle of friends, and a fiance that makes me tear up every time I think of her now…best not keep thinking of her. I was also a history buff, I loved reading about ancient history, everything from the dawn of civilization up until the discovery of America, I drank it in. The stories of the great men of history, undefeated Generals who claimed glory on the battlefield, statesman famed for their cunning, inventors praised for their innovations, and they were all my heroes.
Here, I was the Heir of the North. Future Lord of Winterfell, and Warden of the North, I was in a prime position to make something of myself. To go down in history. To be remembered and read about generations later. I had a father who was stern and strict, yet loving and caring. My mother was sweeter than candied sugar, and she loved me with her whole heart. It was their love that helped me heal, helped me to move on and realize this chance I was given. I knew history. I knew this world, a good deal of its awful secrets, and the strengths and weaknesses of the major players. I knew the inventions and innovations that let nations rise from poor and desolate to rich and decadent. I would have to be careful, not introduce too much or upset the social structure, or I would find myself with more enemies than allies. It would be hard, but hey, since when is the easy way any fun?
Learning to read and write, again, was a fucking chore, I mean it really earned the title "Fucking Chore." I had to be careful, don't be too smart or people would get suspicious. I was not getting myself burnt as a witch. However, I had to be smart enough to impress. Learn fast enough to be noticed, because if I didn't generate a reputation for genius early, I would have to wait that much longer to start trying to improve the North. I wanted this kingdom o' mine to be something at least equal to any of the Southern Kingdoms by the time I inherited. Who wants to rule both the poorest and coldest kingdom anyway?
So I started my lessons when I was five, just a year after the birth of my little brother Eddard. He was cute as a button, and I was already protective of him, and the idea of him having nothing but that glorified hovel Moat Caillin to inherit pushed me to work harder. By the time I was six, I could read and write in the common tongue as well as any Maester. That wasn't hard or impressive, I knew all that already. The hard part, however, was learning High Valyrian, because that shit really was difficult and I knew nothing of it from my past life. It sounded kinda like the bastard daughter of french and latin, but I never was any good with languages in my past life. The fact was I had nothing better to do in this medieval world than continue to study, so I picked it up eventually. A conversation with my father later, when Maester Walys pointed out my skill with languages, and I managed to convince him to bring in someone who knew the Old Tongue of the First Men. Whenever I managed to gain the respect and love of the North, I would try and bring some of the Free Folk south, but what I really wanted was the Giants and Mammoths. Mostly because Giants and Mammoths are fucking awesome, and I won't hear a word otherwise. Knowing the language would definitely help with that. I'll have to be extra careful about Brynden "The Three Eyed Raven" Rivers however. Supernatural, half-dead, prophet wizards are fucking scary and I have no defense against magic people who know what I'm going to do before even I know.
The problem with my uplifting plan is that despite everything, past Lord Starks have not been fools. Every mountain in the North has been prospected, and while there is an abundance of iron, coal, copper, and tin, there are scarce few precious metals. The silver mines of the Manderly's truly are the biggest deposit of precious metals in the North. That was a damper on my plans. I mean really, all the other SI's come in as little kids, and find gold right where a thousand generations of Lord Starks just happened to have missed. What, am I playing on Hard Mode here? Sure, I have ideas. I could ship all sorts of crops and other goods from Braavos and other places, I could even be reasonably sure that they would do well in a colder climate (after all it worked on Earth) but we Starks just didn't have the coin to afford the gamble. We weren't poor, not by any means, and many a "rich" house in the South would have only a fraction of the gold that flows through Winterfell, but winter was expensive. All the gold we saved throughout summer went to buying food to stock up for winter, and what is left come spring is spent on seed for the fields. Any gamble in trade that failed meant good Northerners starved in winter, and so the Lords just stopped trying. Nothing changed in the North for millenia, because all effort had to go to food so you wouldn't starve, every last copper spent in fighting the ice and snow. I might know that those crops would work, but my father and the other Lords would never be willing to risk it.
It was a vicious cycle that had held the North prisoner since Brandon the Builder, and it was one I was determined to smash. All it would take is just the right gamble, at just the right time. After all, other Lords and the previous Lord Starks were all betting on things they couldn't control, using money they couldn't afford to lose. I, on the other hand, know what will work. I know just exactly how to make a good deal of gold, and the beautiful part is that it will cost me next to nothing. All I have to do is convince my father to harvest and sell blocks of ice to the South. How hard could it be?
AN: Not really an update. Added a few sentences, and tried to clean up a few errors I missed.