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"Arton Foler, my lord."
"And you are my builder?" I asked curiously. He was a brown haired man with brown eyes. He looked to be about eighteen years old, and stood at about five foot six, shorter than me now. I was approaching five-foot eight, after another month in this world.
"Yes, my lord." The young man answered.
I smiled, knowing that the boy didn't know what he had gotten himself into. The road ahead was going to be long and arduous, but prosperous for sure.
Arton had found me in front of my weirwood tree in the heart of Baelish Keep. I was taking a nap, or as far as he and the rest of the town was concerned I was. Truthfully, I had been watching him since he peaked the hill that overlooked my small little town.
I had watched as him and his men stared and examined the weirwood trees about every one hundred yards. They had been immensely intrigued at the unique trees. Apparently there weren't that many in the Vale anymore.
I watched him marvel at the rows of spinach fields that were recently planted on the south side of the road. He even stopped to look into the fields, marveling at the lack of stone throughout the pastures. When he saw the pig farm that had recently popped up though, he had really been surprised.
No doubt he thought this assignment was beneath him when he received it. I wasn't sure he was up to the task, truth be told.
"Come ride with me. I know you've had a long journey, and you will be allowed to rest later. There are some things that you should know before we start." I said as I walked past him towards where Gimli and another horse were waiting.
"Lina." I called out as I looked behind me to the old flint tower.
"Yes." She said as she walked out, with a book in her hand. It was a book that I had brought from Riverrun in my bags. She was currently learning how to read, as she had the desire to. A month in, and all she needed was practice.
"Can you show these men where they will be camping until further arrangements can be made?" I asked as I hopped on Gimli and began riding towards the north.
"Yes, my lord." She said and immediately began snapping orders at the workers being Arton.
Soon enough, we made our way to a natural levy in the land. In the center of the levy was a river that flowed into a waterfall that fell into the ocean. It was surprisingly full, because of all the rain we had gotten the last month.
Surprising to anyone who didn't have a magical game that ruled their life and made sure that it rained enough to feed crops the perfect amount to be prosperous.
Gods I love the gathering skill tree. I thought as I remembered all the boosts it had been giving me.
"What do you see?" I asked as I pulled up, overlooking the levy and the river. Even now there were some townsfolk gathering fresh water to go boil and drink. It really was astounding how much I had gotten done in the last month.
"A river, my lord." He said simply. I liked him, he didn't try to be more than what he was and I respected that.
"You would be right." I said. "Do you know what I see?"
"No my lord." He answered quickly.
"I see clay." I answered as I surveyed the land around the river. "Over the years, rain and melted snow have washed away everything in this levy but the sturdiest of dirt. Clay saturates this ground." I explained.
I reached into my bag and grabbed a piece of rolled up parchment.
"Can you read?" I asked simply.
"Yes my lord, and I know number as well." Artos answered.
Good, one less thing to teach him.
"Excellent, read this." I said as I handed him the parchment to unroll and read.
I was patient as he opened it up and looked at the paper. On the front was a design of a rotating kiln with arrows showing what direction it needed to rotate. It also showed what ingredients needed to go into it, and what the end product would be.
"Kament?" Artos asked as he read the letters at the top of the paper.
"Cement." I corrected, telling him the proper pronunciation. "A new building material discovered in Braavos recently. You'll find that I will give you a lot of blueprints from Braavos in the coming months. What is the recipe?"
"Finely ground Limestone, clay, and sand." Artos answered as he continued looking at the designs.
"I'll show you the Limstone caves tomorrow. I believe you know where to collect the sand?" I asked rhetorically. We were literally right next to the ocean, and had an entire peninsula to collect sand from.
"This is your first project. I need you to build me this. Once you do, come to me and we will discuss future projects." I told the man as I turned Gimli around and began heading back towards the town at a slower pace to allow Artos time to process and think some.
"My lord." Artos finally said as we were half way back to the town.
"Yes?" I asked curiously.
"I have 200 men with me. This is work for my blacksmith. I will have this done in two weeks with 10 men." He said with a frown on his face.
I grinned. I think I'm going to like Artos.
"Good. That leaves us with 190 men to start leveling the ground needed for housing you all, and the collection of those resources." I told him as my grin continued to spread.
I looked at the pitiful slab of concrete on the ground. It was lumpy, and had yet to dry in the proper time span. Although, I knew he was on the cusp of finishing the correct recipe.
"You used too much water, and the chunks of stone were way too big." I told him, immediately deducing the problem.
"Yes, my lord, I thought much the same." He said with a grin on his face.
"Good." I said. I reached into my pocket and pulled out another piece of parchment before handing it to him.
"Those are instructions on how to make a proper foundation, one that will last a very very long time." I said as he looked at the paper in his hands. "The dirt is almost leveled for the first neighborhood." I said as I turned to walk out. "We'll start there."
"I am very pleased, Artos."
"My lord, Ben has returned." I heard Lina say from the stairwell on the first floor of my tower.
I was currently sitting behind a desk that I had some of the extra workers put together quickly, with a quill in hand and parchment beneath me. I got up, thanking her for the excuse to leave my office. I belted my sword on before heading downstairs.
Thank god my sparring partner is back.
I walked outside to see Ben standing outside of the keep with a water skin in his left hand gulping it down, and a biscuit in the other.
"I'm glad to see you return in one piece." I greeted him as I walked up to him.
"It is good to be back. Fuck those mountains!" Ben said as he pointed behind him.
"How did it go?" I asked, getting straight to the point.
"They all agreed to the terms. They will stay off of your land." Ben said with a nod.
"You are making deals with the Mountain Clans?" Lina asked, getting angry.
"I told them that I would pay a small tribute once a year as long as they did not raid or hunt on my lands." I told her simply. She was not the type to forgive easily.
Although, once you earned her trust, Lina was a fierce friend. She was my liaison between myself and the townsfolk. I was training her to become the steward, as she had a knack for readings, writing, and counting. It didn't hurt that she was young and would continue to learn as she got older.
And after the bruises had disappeared from the Mountain Clans treatment of her, she turned out to be prettier than expected. I wouldn't say that she would rival Ashara Dayne in beauty, but she had her perks.
Two very perky perks, come to think of it. The damned woman was prime stock for my land. She stood about 5 foot 4 inches, taller than most other women in the town. Her naturally wavy brown hair had a slight reddish tinge to it, but not enough to be called a ginger. Her eyes were such a light brown, that I would rather think of them as a honey colored hazel.
And goodness that body. It turns out that she was the granddaughter of the local blacksmith and generations of swinging a hammer led to good genetics. Her father, and husband, had been killed in one of the raids from the Mountain Clans, hence her fierce hatred for them.
She was curvy, with full breasts and a toned rear that made me watch as she passed by me. Which was definitely often, as she took on more and more roles for me around the town.
I would be going off to fight a war soon, and I needed someone I could trust to keep things moving along in the direction that I wanted.
Obviously, the woman was growing on me.
Lina's intense stare turned into a smile in the flash of an eye. "Good." She said as she opened the book in her hands and continued to read. I shook my head at her change in mood, but knew better than to dwell on the habits of women.
"Now come on Ben, I need a good fight." I said as I led him to the fields we had taken to sparring in.
"With pleasure, my lord."
"Things have changed." Ben said.
We sat on our horses, on one of the hills leading into town. Below us lay a bustling town, that was once a shit-pile. Now this did not mean that in the span of two months, we had turned the place into something rivaling Kingslanding, no.
But what I did have was almost three times the population when I had arrived, clocking in at around 400, which was a rough estimation based on the housing we were still erecting. I had the start of something beautiful.
"Yes they have." I said as I studied the layout of the, one-day, city.
"Why didn't you put the new houses closer to the ocean? Don't you want to fish one day? It's so far from the main road." Ben said as he saw the housing development beginning to unfold on the sound side of the road.
A brand new dirt road, soon to be paved road, split off of the main road and trailed to our right. Slabs of concrete were currently drying, while others were having rebar laid down and secured.
Some of the earlier houses even had a simple wooden skeleton going up on the outside, that would serve as a frame for the logs houses that would be erected.
"It is not such a problem yet. Every morning, carts come to pick them up and ferry them to where they are working." I answered, nearly exactly as I had for Arton when he had raised the same question.
"And you call them townhomes?" Ben asked as his eyes drank in my design for my people's homes.
"Yes." I answered. "Every structure is really two homes." I told him as I held my hands out in the shape of a home. "You see how it angles up, and comes to a point?" I said talking about the roof.
"Good, split it down the middle." I told him as I sliced my hand teepee. "There will be a good structural wall dividing the two houses. A main living area, and a small platform above it for a bed will be identical on either side of this wall." I told him, trying to make it as simple as possible.
In reality, the 'townhomes' were smaller than a studio apartment was in my old life. It was essentially a single room, with a small elevated platform above it.
"That is more than these people could ever expect to live in. What about the winter?" Ben asked.
"There is a small area for a fire on the outside of the walls, with a hole for the smoke to escape." I told him, shrugging it off. Honestly, I wanted more for my people, but it was all I could afford to build.
"This will be the talk of the kingdoms soon. No lord has ever built such extravagant housing for his people." Ben praised.
I didn't know about any of that. In my mind, it would never be enough for me or mine. But in reality, it was more than smallfolk ever hoped to have. Normally it was a small mud hut with a straw ceiling was all they could ever hope for.
Just a little more I would strive to do for this world.
"And two lumber mills? I still have yet to understand how the water helps them." Ben said as his gaze shifted to the north, where the river ran and fell into the ocean.
"Well the lumber mill isn't as good it will be. It still requires men to push the logs back and forth on the saw." I said as I brought my fingers up to my chin.
Engineering Lvl 40.
"But I'm sure I'll figure it out." I said as I read the skill with a smile. Considering it had literally been at level 10 when I had unlocked it trying to draw out plans for the kiln needed to make cement, I was pretty happy.
"I'm sure you will my lord, I'm sure you will."
"Will you teach me how to wield a sword?"
The quill in my hand paused, as did the thoughts in my brain. I had been filling out the budgets for the last month. I had promised myself that I would keep detailed records of my finances and where they were going, to improve upon them in the future. But that was all halted.
I looked up to the brown haired woman that had recently forced her way into my life.
"Didn't I tell you to go home already?" I asked, definitely remembering that I had told her to rest for the rest of the day.
"Yes, but I was too busy stressing over the numbers you had me do so I did them again." Lina said as she laid a stack of papers down on my desk.
"And was the final calculation correct?" I asked, curious as to her findings.
"Yes. We will spend a thousand gold dragons this year if we keep up this pace. Then two the next year." Lina said, looking as if stress had literally just fell onto her shoulders again once she uttered the words.
"Truth be told Lina, that is not a lot." I said as I put the quill down and I ran my palms over my eyes.
"A thousand gold dragons Petyr?! That is not a lot?" Lina asked as she bent over the table.
I couldn't help but chuckle at the look on her face. I suppose that would be a lot to most people. I could only imagine what the Lannister pay roll looked like every month, never mind the year.
"In a year, the pier will be completed. By that time we will already have built all the fishing boats, and can start on merchant ships to sail to Braavos, White Harbor, Gulltown. Cement will be our main export and trust me, that's all we will need. Once we open trade to the town, we will make more in taxes within the first year, than we will spend." I told her, trying to get her to calm down and go home to her grandfather.
Although he rarely talked to her anymore, instead he was focusing on his second and third sons to continue on the family trade and name. His loss and my gain as far as I'm concerned.
"I see what you draw, I know you have more plans than just that. Plans that will undoubtedly cost more money." Lina said as she pointed an accusatory finger towards my chest.
I frowned. How had she figured me out so quickly? Was my high manipulation skill not working anymore? She was supposed to leave the conversation alone after that. And when did she think it was her job to monitor my finances?
Deflection it is, then.
"Yes, I will teach you to wield a sword." I said, almost out of nowhere, while standing up and reaching for the practice sword I had been using with Ben. I had left it in the fields, where we normally practiced, beside a tree.
"I had wondered how this found it's way back in here." I said as I lifted the sword off of the wall and walked over to her. She looked at me shyly at being found out.
"Now?" She asked as I handed her the sword, hilt-first.
"Yes." I said. "First lesson, stick 'em with the pointy end."
Luckily, my manipulation worked this time. Or perhaps it was her manipulation of me that was successful?
I lazily twirled the long sword in my hands, deflecting the thrust of my opponent, before spinning past them to gain distance. Lina stumbled forward, not expecting my fast movement.
She was lucky that Ben immediately stepped forward to cover for her.
Ben and I traded blows for a good ten strikes before Lina joined us again. She held a buckler on her left forearm, instead of a large shield like the one Ben wielded. It was just to allow her to protect herself while also being light and easy to move.
I moved around to put Lina between myself and Ben. It was a common tactic I used against them, as they had yet to perfect distance when fighting two on one.
Lina reacted immediately and turned to the disturbance. I did not, as I recognized Artos' voice. The man had a knack for making things a bigger deal than they normally were.
"What is it?" She asked.
I kept my eye on Ben, as he loved to take advantage of my distractions. He smiled at me, and I narrowed my eyes at him. I was used to his cheap shots by now, and I wasn't having it.
"It is done!" Artos cried out.
I looked away from Ben then, to Artos. "The merchants vessel?" I asked, as excitement ran through me. The builder pointed his hand behind me, out to the direction of the ocean.
"See for yourself!"
I wasn't drunk when it happened, neither was she.
We were both celebrating the first successful launch of our merchants ship. The whole town was really. It was what we had worked a year and a half for, and it was the start of a massive fleet that I had planned. A fleet to rival the Redwyne fleet, and the Greyjoys. At least that's what we said to each other for the 12 months it took to actually get the first ship in the water.
Was it any surprise that I woke up with her in my bed, instead of her at my door yelling for me to get up? It wasn't to me.
Actually, I had thought about it quite often and pondered trying sooner with her. She wanted to, if her enthusiasm was anything to go by.
But there was a reason I hadn't, and a reason I had a small amount of regret when I woke up to her soft snores.
I could not take her for a wife, as she was too low born. I had plans for the future, and one day I would be extremely important. Soon enough, I would be a desirable bachelor once more word about cement got out. It was only a matter of time, really.
Important families would be lining up to marry me to their daughters and bring me into the fold. Perhaps a Lannister bride? Maybe even someone from Dorne. Access to more sand was sure to be profitable.
God I sounded like an asshole didn't I?
"Penny for your thoughts?"
I couldn't help but smile at the phrase I had taught her. Almost everything I taught her, she remembered and used frequently. But why had I taught her anything? Was it her willingness to learn? Her eagerness to help the townsfolk she grew up with. Her fighting spirit?
Or was it the words that floated above her head?
Companion Level 90
Lina values you as a friend, a lover, a lord, and perhaps something more. Her loyalty is yours.
Commander Talents (Advanced) - Integration, Garrison, Support
The Peaceful Hammer (Advanced)
When assigned as steward of Baelish Keep, barbarians are 50% less likely to attack. Cement production increased by 10%. Merchant activity increased by 5%. Tax revenue increased by 1%.
How could I ever know if what I did was out of love, or for the boosts the game would give me?
How could I ever truly be sure?
"But I gave myself to you… I thought that…"
"In any other life, I would be overjoyed to be with you Lina." I told her. It was the next day after our celebration of the Merchant's vassal being completed.
We had yet to talk about what happened the other night. It was a mistake, and one I aimed to correct. I knew that I did not love the woman. She was impressive, of that there was no doubt, but I did not love her. I did however, lust her, and that was what I had discovered since the day before.
"Why not in this life?" She asked as her honey brown eyes quivered.
I should never have slept with her, but with the hints she was giving and the prompt above her head… Well it was an obvious deduction that in order to unlock her companionship, I need to fuck her.
What a fucking idiot I am.
Did I sleep with Ben? Of course not. Like what the fuck was I thinking.
It would be easy to blame it on teenage hormones. But the truth was that I took advantage of the game, and of her.
And while I felt bad looking into her eyes, I did not regret it.
"I am a Lord." I said completely truthfully. "My duty to my people will never allow me to marry for love. I will inevitably have to marry for them, and for you."
"But not me!" Lina snarled as tears brimmed in her eyes.
"No. Not you." I said.
Normally, one would have trouble talking as they rejected someone. Normally, my heart might ache slightly for them. It was too easy for me to do it, honestly. I wasn't sure if it was a good thing, or if I despised it.
"They'll call me a whore." Lina said as her voice choked up.
"No they will not." I corrected her quickly. "The first person to do so will lose their tongue." I reinforced.
"You'll never hear it, but they'll whisper it as I walk past." Lina argued as she put her head in her hands for a moment.
"I did not call you here to upset you." I told her, trying to move past the subject.
Then came the anger.
"What did you call me here for then, my Lord!?" Lina asked. She spat the word 'Lord' at me, as if it was a sin to even speak the word.
"Did you want me to fuck you again?! You want me to be your whore, is that it?!" She practically screamed.
"Of course not!" I denied vehemently.
"Then what? What do you want?"
"I want you to be the new steward!"
"Hahahahaha yes, Burn!"
I opened my eyes, and instead of green fire, I saw the weirwood tree I had been touching. Something gripped my stomach. I wasn't sure if it was because I just watched someone burn alive, or if it was the son strangling himself trying to save him.
Maybe it was because of the war to come.
"Lord Eon." I greeted with a slight bow. The man stayed on his horse as he rode up, and did not deign me with his presence.
"Petyr Baelish I presume?" Eon asked as he looked down on me.
I knew what he was mad about of course. He hated how his smallfolk flocked to me for work, and safety. His lands had an inordinate amount of raiding lately after all… I wonder why?
Maybe it was also what he saw behind me.
Fishing boats could be seen coming to shore with full or half full boats of fish. More could be seen out in the ocean, continuing to search for a little longer before calling it a day.
Closer to the shore, a single pier extended out into the ocean about sixty yards. At the end of said pier, a larger ship was docked with men bustling all about it. In their hands were wooden boxes that I knew to be cement. They had orders of where to take it to and give it away.
Beside it, other boats were anchored down in a straight line, as men used them to stand on as they built a second pier. Soon, I would have the infrastructure for a dock, and all that I needed after that was
"I had heard you were planning on constructing a pier." Lord Eon continued once I didn't answer his foolish question of who I was. He didn't even bother adding on my titles. For example, Lord was a common courtesy. Hell I would have accepted a Ser.
But he was now on my shit list.
"There will be many more one day." I said as I continued looking out into the ocean.
I hope there is twice as much activity when I return.
"You'll have to live through this war then." Eon said, getting down to why he was here.
I knew what was happening in the realm of course. Brandon Stark and his father were already dead.
"I will." I told the Lord confidently.
"We shall see. Gather every able man, Lord Baelish, Lord Arryn has called his bannermen. We will leave tonight for Gulltown." Lord Eon commanded, in a no nonsense tone.
I whistled. Gimli immediately trotted over from his grazing spot and stopped before me. "We heard of your arrival, and we are ready Lord Eon. I have fifty men ready to march immediately. Ser Ben Rivers will lead them." I told him, just as my loyal knight trotted over to us.
Ben reached me, and I handed him the reins of Gimli.
"Fifty? Why so few? Every able man is needed. And why aren't you leading your men?!" Lord Eon asked with a frown. Anger began seeping into his voice.
Well, too fucking bad for you Eon, you useless sack of space. I was not about to let my workforce march off to war and get killed for something they didn't give a shit about. Fifty-six men had willingly signed up, and that's all I was going to take.
But of course I could not say that to him.
"Every able man is gathered, my lord. You're welcome to inspect the remaining townsfolk yourself. Of course, you might not make it to Gulltown in time." I told him while walking down the steps to my beach.
"Answer me Lord Baelish!? Why do you not answer the summons of your Lord!?" Eon asked as his hand dropped to his sword.
I did not stop walking, but I did turn around to address him. "Our Lord has different plans for me, Lord Eon. I will meet you at Gulltown, I give you my word. In fact, when you arrive, the gates may already be open!" I yelled.
My feet hit the newest pier of Baelish Keep, and there was a man there waiting on me. A man whose beard and hair was beginning to gray but hadn't quite gotten there yet.
"Are we ready Davos?" I asked the man who would be named the 'Onion Knight' in a different life.
Stannis would get the opportunity to knight him, and name him, as Davos was going to bring supplies to the besieged Storms End once the war got well and properly under way. But for now, Davos was my man and it would be very very hard to pry him from my hands.
I paid him outrageously well, after all.
"Yes, my lord. We're ready to set sail."
End of chapter!