The North's White Wolf

Chapter 2

Third Person P.O.V

"That's it, boys, don't let up!" Ser Rodrik called out as two boys fought.

The first boy was a simple squire, learning under one of the few knights of Winterfell. He was tall and had short brown hair and brown eyes, wielding a dull longsword.

The second boy was Nathan Stark, future Lord of Winterfell. He was four and a half feet tall, with short but loose white hair and deep blue eyes like his father. Some of the men joked he was the prettiest boy in all the North, Nathan set them straight after giving them a bloody nose after a quick spar.

The boy was only ten yet fought with the ferocity of a hungry wolf, making the older squire go on the defensive as he tried to find an opening. Suddenly the squire took a step back before raising his practice sword high and striking down, aiming for Nathan's head armored head.

The young Stark did not block the attack, but sidestepped it instead, making the squire hit the ground. Nathan wasted no time kicking the squire in the side hard, knocking him down before pointing the dull plaid at the squire's neck, making him stiffen.

"And you are dead," Ser Rodrik said, making the squire slump in defeat. "Remember boys, most fights won't be clean duels like the South thinks. They are bloody and painful, and your opponent will do everything possible to put you on the ground. So you should do just as much to survive." Ser Rodrik said, getting nods from the other young boys and men. "Now get back to work!"

Nathan sighed as he sheathed his sword and offered his hand to the squire, who took it and got up.

"Impressive as always my Lord," The squire said with a sigh, while Nathan patted his shoulder.

"I've had years of practice and I am quite talented, I'm sure in a few years you'll easily catch up to me," Nathan said as he took off his helmet and the squire nodded. "Go train with the others, and we'll have a spar on another day."

The squire nodded as he walked away to join the others in training.

"Hard at work as always,"

Nathan turned to see his uncle Ned Stark walk next to him, smiling at Nathan.

"I think the boys are still amazed by your skill," Ned said with an amused look as he looked to the side, and Nathan followed his eyes.

Not far away Nathan saw Robb Stark and Jon Snow, both boys hiding poorly behind a wall as they looked at Nathan in awe. When Nathan smiled at them both the boys gasped before running away.

"I thought they had lessons?" Nathan said with an amused look.

"They convinced Luwin to let them out early to see you train. They keep asking me to teach them how to use swords." Ned said while shaking his head, but still had a smile on his face.

Ned now had four children, Robb and Jon, both boys of the tender age of six, and Sansa and Arya, two girls, with Sansa being four and Arya just turning three. Cat was also pregnant with Ned's fourth child, and it would be a few months before the child was born. Ned felt his life come back together with each of his children being born and was very happy that Nathan considered his cousins to be more of his siblings, as the older boy loved all of them and nearly spoiled them all from time to time. Yet Nathan was a guiding hand when needed, such as when Robb and Jon tried to skip their lessons from time to time, and Nathan put his foot down and told them the importance of Luwin's lessons. The boys would listen for the most part as they both looked up to Nathan like an older brother.

"Well, I started training with a sword when I was four," Nathan said with a grin while puffing his chest out.

"You swung a wooden sword around like a mad boy until you got tired, you only started taking your sword training seriously when you were six," Ned said with a pointed look, making Nathan cough.

Ned couldn't help but smile down at Nathan. Six years Ned has raised the boy, and the Quiet Wolf couldn't be happier.

Nathan was turning into the ideal heir for House Stark, intelligent but wise enough to know he didn't know everything, and skilled with a blade to put anyone his age to shame. The boy was also full of life like his father, always having a smile on his face that lifted others. Not to mention the boy had a big heart, always wanting to help others the best way possible, but not simply giving handouts as he knew that would only be short-term help.

Over the six years Ned raised Nathan, things were quiet in the North for the most part as the Northern Lords were happy with the reconstruction of Moat Cailin, feeling the North was more secure from the South than ever before. There were a few incidents in the past that Ned did wish to avoid, such as Nathan having to witness the execution of a man who had killed his wife and child in a blind rage, or when Ned and Nate visited some nearby villages that were attacked by bandits, and what they found was not very pleasant. Yet despite the hardships Nathan continued to smile, work hard, and strive to be a strong Lord when he came of age.

"Well, I better get back to training," Nathan said, stretching his arms. "I have a long session with Maester Luwin, something I can't miss," Nathan said before turning to Ned with a serious look. "Also, can you visit me and Maester Luwin later today? We have something important to discuss."

That made Ned gain a serious look as well. Over the past few weeks, Nathan has been meeting with Maester Luwin and having long discussions with the old man. Ned didn't know why his nephew was meeting Luwin every day beyond lessons, but he trusted his nephew and gave him his privacy. Now it seems his nephew would finally tell Ned what all the secrecy was all about.

Nathan sat quietly in Maester Luwin's study with several books on the round table they sat at. The two were in silence as they combed through the many books they had available, writing down whatever they could find.

Luwin looked at the heir to House Stark and couldn't help but give a small smile. The boy, despite being so young, had the heart of a wolf as he liked to think. He was kind and caring to his family and people, practically adoring all of his family members and finding ways to help the people, such as training a few peasants to guard villages from thugs and bandits. Yet against those who threatened his people, Nathan was hard and almost ruthless, only showing mercy to those who surrendered and were willing to face the consequences.

That was why there was a large pile of books in Luwin's study, as Nathan was trying to find ways to help the North as a whole.

Suddenly the door to Luwin's study opened and Ned Stark walked in. The Quiet Wolf gave the pile of books a raised brow as Luwin stood up and gave a quick bow.

"Lord Stark," Luwin said out of complete respect, to which Ned nodded back.

Nathan put his book down and smiled at Ned. "Glad you could make it uncle, we have something we like to discuss with you."

"I am always willing to listen, nephew," Ned said as he sat at the table with Nathan and Maester Luwin.

In the past, Nathan had brought Ned on a few discussions on how to better the North as a whole. Most were just ideas and discussions, such as finding specific food that could grow in the cold, or finding mines as the North had a lot of untapped resources. Ned considered a lot of what Nathan said, but couldn't follow through with the plan, as it was very risky, even with the gold left over from the reconstruction of Moat Cailin. If any of the plans or ideas fail they lose gold that could have been used for stocking food for Winter.

"We've come up with a plan to help bring food in during the coming winter, and strengthen the North," Nathan said as Ned gave the boy his full attention. "With the reconstruction of Moat Cailin, we still have under 4 million gold dragons left over, and we feel that money should be invested."

Ned folded his hands at his nephew's words and gained a thoughtful look. Thanks to the North's frugal lifestyle Ned had Moat Cailin reconstructed to its former glory while saving most of the gold by avoiding anything that was deemed unnecessary. The Northern Lords were more than willing to help in the reconstruction of Moat Cailin, as most lords already sending men to defend the North. Most of the Lords have already sent men to guard Moat Cailin under Benjin along with other skilled men.

"I am willing to hear out your plans," Ned said, giving Nathan his full attention. "However, I make no promises. The gold could be used to feed the North for years if we save it right, remember that."

"I understand uncle, I just want to find a way for the North to become more independent," Nathan said, understanding the situation, but wanting to strive for more. "We rely too heavily on the South giving us food during winter, and because of that they extort the North for most of our gold, leaving us the poorest Kingdom of the Seven, and that hunts any growth in times of need. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build something thanks to King Robert being so generous with the North. However, coming next winter it is very likely the South, such as the Reach and even the Riverlands, will ask for massive amounts of coin to be given for mere food because they know we have the gold to pay for it but we don't have food. We should find ways to become more independent now before the next winter."

Ned looked very thoughtful at his nephew's words, as what the young Stark said was true. The Reach and other Kingdoms did extort the North in times of need, greedily taking every gold, silver, and copper before giving scraps of food while looking down at them. It was one of the reasons the Northern Lords hated the South and wanted nothing to do with them, even Ned himself somewhat resented what the South had done in the past, but he knew being angry would do nothing except cloud his judgment.

However, Nathan was different, something Ned had seen very early on in the boy's life. Whenever Nathan was upset or angry, such as losing a spar or failing to answer a question during Maester Luwin's lessons, the boy would use his anger and frustration to push himself even harder until he became better. When Nathan learned how badly the South mistreated the North over food, the boy was very upset as he loved the North.

"Do not worry Lord Stark," Maester Luwin said with a smile and a look of pride on his face. "Young Nathan and I have had long discussions on what he plans to do, and I must say I fully support them and feel they are worth the risk."

Hearing Maester Luwin support Nathan put Ned at ease. The man was brilliant and loyal to House Stark, someone Ned trusted with his life and house. If Maester Luwin supported Nathan's ideas, Ned would consider them.

"Alright, what do you plan to do?" Ned asked as he nodded to his nephew.

Nathan glanced at Maester Luwin and the older man gave a nod. "With the gold we have, I feel we should create a Northern Fleet."

Ned would admit, he was floored by such an idea. The North hasn't had a Northern Fleet since Brandon the Burner, who burned the fleet of ships the North owned after his father died at sea. From that point on the North never had a worthy fleet, the closest thing to a Northern Fleet would be the ships owned by House Manderly, and most were fishing and trading vessels.

"With a Northern Fleet, we can repurpose the ships to fish during winter, and if we dry the fishes out they will last for about a year at most," Nathan explained as he slid a paper over to Ned, to which the man quickly read it and found what Nathan said was true. "Not to mention the ships can help protect the western coast from Ironborn rides, something that has always been a problem for the North."

Ned was silent for a while, but he could see himself quickly agreeing with his nephew. A Northern Fleet would strengthen the North as a whole and during winter fish would be aplenty as long as ships and people who knew how to use them were available. Still, Ned had his reservations. To build a Northern Fleet would be costly, very costly.

"Do you plan for House Stark to pay for the entire fleet?" Ned asked with some worry, as such a fleet on both the west and east coast may take up all the gold Robert had given the North. While a fleet might be worth it, it was still a massive risk that may not show a profit for years.

Much to Ned's relief both Nathan and Maester Luwin shook their heads.

"No, as paying for the whole fleet in lands the Starks don't own would cause problems in the long run. Instead, we came up with a plan," Nathan said as he grabbed another paper and slid it over to Ned. "House Forrester is a poor house but has large access to Ironwood, which you know is the strongest wood in Westeros. Ships built from Ironwood will last for years easily and can battle Ironborn Ships. We plan to buy a very large amount of wood in bulk from House Forrester and have House Forrester transport the wood and provide carpenters. As for where the port will take place in the east and west, in the East Lord Manderly has the most experience handling ships so we would have him handle the East Coast. We'll cut a deal with Lord Manderly, we'll pay for the wood and help him expand his port to handle the number of ships, in exchange he provides gold to help with rope and other things needed for good ships, and experienced shipbuilders and sailors to go to the West Coast to help."

"And where will the West Port take place?" Ned asked as he pulled about a map and looked it over. There was no large port in the West to handle such a fleet, so they would need to build it from scratch.

"The only place I can think of for a decent port in the West is Sea Dragon Point," Nathan said as he pointed to the spot, making Ned's eyes widen. "The land is poor and swampy with a large number of hills, making it hard to farm, and no obvious resources like mines. However, Sea Dragon Point is rich in fish and other sea game, such as fish, crabs, clams, otters, and seals. Not to mention its natural structure will make it easier to build a port with the number of coves it has. House Glover controls that area, if we offer to help build a port and ships in Sea Dragon Point, House Glover will offer Iron from their Iron mines to help with the metal needed for the ships, along with some of the profits that can go into trading as compensation." Nathan said as he gained a smile. "With House Stark buying the ironwood from House Forrester and paying other expenses such as laborious, House Manderly providing rope, shipbuilders, and experienced sailors, and House Glover providing blacksmiths and iron needed to build the ships, House Stark would only have to provide about... 800,000 gold at most to gain a Northern Fleet."

That number made Ned wince. 800,000 gold was nothing to scoff at. However, with two other Great Noble Houses helping in the construction of a Northern Fleet on both the East and West, that price was very reasonable overall. 800,000 gold now for a Northern Fleet to provide food and protection... it was almost too good to pass up.

Ned suddenly noticed Maester Luwin had not said a word through the entire conversation, as the old man smiled at Ned.

"Nothing to add, Maester Luwin?" Ned asked as the old man gave a small laugh.

"Young Nathan has been hard at work to convince you of this plan, which I fully support." Maester Luwin said with a nod. "Fish and other sea game are always useful and aplenty, especially in winter. Not to mention fish last for long periods when frozen or dried, making it ideal meat for when winter comes. Nathan's plan for having the other great house provide resources of their own to lower the cost for House Stark is also sound. If not I wouldn't be surprised if the cost of a Northern Fleet on the West and East Coast would cost over 2 million gold."

Now Ned felt his balls shrivel at such a large number of gold needed without help from other Great Houses.

"Still," Ned said as he shook off the shock from such a large number. "Your plan is sound Nathan, and it may just work if everything goes right, but House Manderly, Glover, and Forrester would have to agree before we could do anything."

"Of course," Nathan said with a nod. "Until the other Lords agree this is just a thought-out plan, which is why we need to convince them this is a worthy investment for the good of the North. Not to mention how beneficial it will be to their houses as a whole." Nathan said as he smiled at his uncle. "I'm pretty sure I have you convinced this is a worthy idea, so let me try to convince the other Lords this is a worthy plan."

"...Very well," Ned said as he nodded his head, making Nathan's smile widen. "I will summon Lord Manderly, Glover, and Forrester and you will explain your plan to them. I will give you my full support and let the others know I am behind you, but it is up to you to convince them this is a worthy idea."

"I can do it, uncle," Nathan said with a smile. "Lord Forrester will jump at the chance with the gold we'll provide him for the Ironwood, as he only gains from this deal even if it doesn't pan out. Lord Manderly is a businessman and will see this as a long-term investment, something that will give his house more power and a better source of food in the coming winter. Lord Glover might be hesitant as he and his house have no experience in ships or ports, I will need to convince him that this is a worthy investment that will strengthen his house for years to come, and protect his land from Ironborn raids." Nathan said with a thoughtful look.

"..What have you been teaching the boy Luwin," Ned said with shock, surprising a young boy with such strong business sense.

"Over the last few months, Nathan has asked me to teach him finances and numbers, taking a great deal of our learning time most days," Luwin said with a tired sigh, yet he still had a smile on his face.

"Trade is what makes a Kingdome flourish," Nathan said as he gave a small sigh. "The North... doesn't have much to trade with the South and Essos, yet we continue to take from the South when we need food. For the North to become stronger we need to become more independent. The first step for the North to become more independent is we need a steady supply of food." Nathan reasoned and Ned nodded along, agreeing with Nathan's reasoning. "Game is all about chance, such as the chance to run into enough animals to feed a family, making it unreliable in the long run. Fishing is much more reliable as it can be done all year round. Yet it's impossible to only live off fish alone, as a proper diet is needed to grow, even the Ironborn don't solely live off of fish." Nathan said as he grabbed a book and flipped it open. "Maester Luwin and I have been combing through books and trying to find any food that may be able to grow in the cold of the North. We have already started to grow some food in the coldest areas in Stark Lands and the results are promising."

"And have you found anything?" Ned asked, finding this much more enjoyable as farming was always stopped when winter started, giving a lot of men nothing to do but wait and hope they stocked up enough food to last through winter. If Nathan and Maester Luwin found any food that could grow in winter, it would be a major boon for the North.

"A good amount," Nathan said with a sigh but smiled. "We have found that radishes, a grain called Rye, potatoes, carrots, beets, certain barriers, apples, and cabbages should be able to grow in the cold from what researchers say," Nathan said before shaking his head. "However, the real problem is the snow. If a blizzard hits the farm it buries the food, and shoveling risks damaging the plants as a whole." Nathan said as he shook his head. "If we could somehow gain better access to Glasshouses, we could grow food inside them, protecting the plants from the snow but allowing light to come it."

Ned sighed while nodding his head. The fable Glasshouses were something any Northern Lord dreamed of having, as they would protect small farms from the harsh winter and still allow them to be grown with sunlight. The only problem was that Essos was the only place that knew how to make glass, and the Glassmakes of Essos guarded the secret closely as they made mountains of gold off the glass trade. It was known that sand was needed to make glass, however, the technique used was another matter entirely. To make a Glasshouse would take a large amount of gold, and maintaining it would take just as much as glass can easily break in winter. No noble saw any long-term benefit to gaining a Glasshouse, and a South Lord just saw a Glasshouse as a novelty. House Stark was one of the few Houses in the North to own Glasshouses, as they used them to grow certain foods and Blue Roses.

"One problem at a time Nathan," Maester Luwin said, making Nathan sigh and nod. "First we focus on the Northern Fleet, then we try something else when we have time and resources." The Maester said as Ned nodded in agreement.

"I will write to the three lords and invite them to Winterfell to discuss the possible construction of the Northern Fleet," Ned said as he grabbed a blank paper and quill and started to write. "Understand there is no guarantee this plan may work if the other Lords don't agree."

"I will convince them," Nathan said with confidence, making Ned smile.

Ned felt great pride in his nephew. If he was Lord of Winterfell he would only hold onto the gold and save as much as he could to buy food for the coming winter. However, Nathan changed Ned's mind.

Ned remembered the lessons from his father, how before winter the North would save up every gold, silver, and copper, to buy food from the South to live past winter. The Southern Lords would drive up prices on their excesses food without mercy, leaving many houses poor until winter ended. This would stall any kind of development for most of the North, and anyone willing to take a risk and fail met with a swift end. That's how a good number of young Noble houses met their end in the North and even the South.

Yet Nathan was willing to take a chance with a well-thought-out plan, something Ned himself wouldn't dare to do.

"It's just as I thought, the North is in good hands."

In the weeks to follow Ned sent out the letters and Nathan and Ned reserved quick responses from all three lords, saying they come to Winterfell.

The first to arrive was Lord Gregor Forrester, with his son Rodrik Forrester. Gregor Forrester was an older man in well-crafted armor with aging gray hair, yet well cut. Rodrik Forrester was a young man filled with much more life than his father, with thick brown hair and hair starting to grow on his face. Both Gregor and Rodrik Forrester were welcomed into Winterfell by Nathan Stark and Ned Stark. Nathan found Lord Gregor to be quite pleasant and eager to do business with the Starks. Rodrik was more reserved and looked at Nathan with a critical eye, yet the young man did not seem unpleasant.

The next to arrive was Galbart Glover. He was a large and aged man, with a head of graying hair and a white beard. He was a battle-harden man yet gave quick respect to Ned Stark and Nathan Stark, understanding he had business to deal with. To Nathan, he was the hardest to read.

The last to arrive was Lord Wayman Manderly. When Nathan first laid eyes on the man he couldn't help but feel his jaw go slightly slack. Lord Wayman was called the Fat Lord and for good reason, as the man was massive with a large belly, fingers the size of sausages, and multiple chins. He had golden blond hair turning white and deep blue eyes, and he wore the most expensive robes Nathan had ever seen on a Northern Lord. Lord Manderly was so fat he didn't come into Winterfell on a horse, but a litter, which was a fancy wagon being pulled by a couple of horses. Lord Manderly was a pleasant man, joyful, and never ashamed of his weight despite how others looked at him. However, what Nathan saw behind Lord Manderly's eyes was intelligent, after all, you don't become the most prosperous Northern Lord without knowing a few tricks.

When all the Lords arrived they gathered in the meeting room of Winterfell with Ned, Nathan, and Maester Luwin.

"Lord Manderly, Lord Glover, Lord Forrester, I thank you all for coming to Winterfell on such short notice," Ned said in a respectful tone as all Lords bowed to him.

"It was no trouble, Lord Stark, though I will admit your letter was a bit vague," Lord Gregor said with slight confusion.

"Yes, something about an opportunity to strengthen our houses and the North as a whole?" Lord Glover said with a slight huff. "I'm willing to hear this out, though I have my reservations."

"Well, in truth this is not something I came up with, but my nephew, Nathan Stark, requested I call you all here," Ned said while looking to Nathan, who kept his composer.

All the Lords looked at Nathan with surprise and even some hesitation as they took in the boy's age, yet it was Lord Manderly seemed to be the only one to look amused.

"I assume whatever the young Stark Lord has to say, you fully support?" Lord Manderly asked, grabbing the attention of the other Lords.

Ned nodded with a serious look on his face. "I do, Lord Manderly. Despite my nephew's age, he came up with something I believe you will want to hear, as it has a strong market. I can understand your hesitation given his age, but all I ask is you hear him out."

The Lords were quiet for a moment as they looked at Nathan Stark, and the young boy managed to keep his calm face despite the intense looks the Lords were giving him. After a few moments, the lords nodded, making Nathan give a small sigh.

"Thank you all, I understand your reservation, but I promise you all will agree with me once I finish explaining," Nathan said before taking a deep breath and looking to all the Lords. "As you know, after the war between House Baratheon and the Targaryans, Robert Baratheon rewarded the North with a large amount of gold for our contribution to the war. With the gold we rebuilt Moat Cailin to secure the North by land, however, we still have a good amount of gold left over after the reconstruction. With the amount of gold we have, I convinced my uncle we should take a chance before the coming Winter." Nathan said as he saw all the Lords now looking intrigued and giving Nathan his full attention. "I believe if we all work together, we will be able to rebuild the Northern Fleet."

That got shocked looks from all the Lords. Both Lord Gregor and Rodrik were floored by the statement. Lord Glover kept his compositor but blinked and shook his head as if to make sure he heard right. Lord Manderly had a face of pure shock yet it quickly turned to pure joy.

"Lord Nathan," Lord Gregor said as he looked at the young boy with hesitation. "How would we gain a Northern fleet? Even with the gold, it may be impossible."

"If it was only House Stark that is pushing this, it would be," Nathan said with a nod as he looked at all the Lords. "However, if our noble houses band together, we would be able to create a Northern Fleet. With a Northern Fleet, we can protect the West coast from Ironborn raids, not to mention during winter we can repurpose the ships to catch fish before drying them out, allowing them to last for up to a year a most."

"And how would the other houses help in the creation of the Northern Fleet?" Lord Glover said, giving Nathan a serious look.

"House Stark will pay for labor and will buy Ironwood from House Forrester in large bulk to create the ships and ports as long as House Forrester transports the wood to the desired areas, as Ironwood is the strongest wood in Westeros. House Forrester will also lend experienced carpenters to cut the wood and men willing to work." Nathan said, getting a shocked but eager look from Lord Gregor, while Rodrik felt his jaw drop. "As for House Glover, we feel the best place to station the West Fleet is Sea Dragon Point, as it's far enough away from the Ironborn we can build without too much harassment, the amount of natural sea game in the area is plenty, and the natural coves make it ideal ships to dock without too much hassle. We ask that House Glover offer a large amount of Iron for building the ships and port, and blacksmiths to create nails, hooks, and other things that are needed." Nathan said and Lord Glover kept a neutral face on the matter for now. "As for House Manderly, it is the only house in the North with many ships. I would ask Lord Manderly if he could lend several shipbuilders and experienced sailors to the West to teach the locals. Once the port at Sea Dragon Point is finished with several ships, we will work on expanding the Manderly Fleet to the East to protect the coast from slavers and increase the number of fish we receive during winter."

The Lords all looked at Nathan as the young Stark looked back. The lords were quiet for a moment before Lord Manderly started to laugh.

"Brilliant, absolutely brilliant!" The Fat Lord laughed with joy, making Nathan crack a smile. "Know that House Manderly fully supports the idea behind rebuilding a Northern Fleet, we will provide experienced shipbuilders and sailors to whip the locals into shape."

"House Forrester agrees to the exchange of Ironwood for gold. We will transport the wood and lend our carpenters and men." Lord Gregor agreed as his house would gain a good amount of gold straight from House Stark.

Lord Glover was quiet for a long moment, making Nathan feel nervous. After a few moments, Lord Glover smiled and nodded his head. "House Glover will provide Iron for the ships and skilled blacksmiths."

Nathan let out a breath while Ned looked at his nephew with pride.

"We will spend a few days working out the finer details and form a contract. If we all work together we will gain a Northern Fleet before winter." Nathan said with pride, making the other Lords smile eagerly.

After going over a few more things the lords left to rest for the long talk tomorrow.

Once they left Nathan slumped in his chair with a sigh. "Thank the Old Gods," Nathan said with a breath. "They agreed, I wouldn't know what to do if they turned me down."

Ned smiled as he patted Nathan on the back, a look of pride on the man's face. "But they didn't because you came up with a solid plan that they could see the benefit in."

"But now we run into the problem of making sure everyone gets a fair share," Nathan said, making Ned raise a brow. "Sea Dragon Point is in House Glover's land, so they'll want to appoint someone loyal from their house to run the land. Lord Manderly is investing his people but won't get anything until the port in Sea Dragon Point is finished, so he may ask for some compensation before Sea Dragon Point is finished. House Forrester isn't getting much out of this deal other than gold, they may ask for some long-term compensation as House Glover and Manderly are gaining a fleet of ships."

"One step at a time Nathan," Ned said as he placed a hand on Nathan's shoulder, making the young boy smile. "And remember, Maester Luwin and I will be at your side to help in any way."

"Thank you, uncle," Nathan said as he smiled at Ned. "You know, after this plan goes into motion we won't have much to do other than keeping the peace. Perhaps we can keep ourselves occupied."

Ned sighed before raising a brow at his nephew. "What do you have in mind?" Ned said in a knowing tone.

"The Starks own a lot of land from Winterfell to Moat Cailin, most of the land may have untapped resources such as mines we haven't discovered yet," Nathan said as he pulled out a map from a pile of papers and showed it to Ned. "I think we should hire a few experts to survey the land and see if there are any untapped resources our ancestors may have missed, or even see if our old mines still hold anything. I once read that a noble house that was having hard times became so despite they started digging in a dried-up mine just for scraps, but after digging just three feet deeper they found a gold vein, saving their house from starvation. Let us double-check any old mines our ancestors abandoned to ensure they are truly dried up."

Ned rubbed his chin as he gave his nephew a hesitant look. In the past many Stark Lords have done similar things and have found small pockets of rare metals and sometimes gems in their land, however, it was always small pockets and nothing that lasted for more than a few years. However, the Stark Lords did not usually hire surveyors as they usually requested large sums of gold for compensation and most never found anything, it then became common for House Stark to pick a spot, start mining, and hope for the best.

"And we shouldn't call an expert from Westeros." Nathan suddenly added, making Ned raise a brow.

"Not from Westeros, why not?"

"Because I don't trust the Citadel," Nathan said, surprising Ned quite a bit. "Maester Luwin told me politics plays more in the Citadel than actual learning and the Maesters that we hire to survey our land may lie, as most Maesters are from South Noble Houses and they wouldn't want to see a Northern House grow strong out of spite, especially House Stark," Nathan said while shaking his head. "I think we should hire a few experts from Essos, perhaps the Iron Bank, they follow their contracts like the law, and the worst they will try to do to House Stark is gain a portion of the mine in exchange for setting it up, or try to open a contract to buy the resources from us. It'll be a bit more expensive but we'll get what we pay for without any political baggage and we will have a connection to the Iron Bank, which is always useful."

Ned was quiet for a long moment before he nodded his head slowly. While he wasn't as paranoid as his nephew, a part of him could see a Southern Maester doing as his nephew said. It was why most Maesters in the North were from the North, as they understood the Northern ways and were above petty politics like the South loved to play. Ned also knew the Iron Bank was reliable if you had the coin, though he didn't trust a foreign power too much. Then again, what harm could a couple of land surveyors do in the North?

"Very well, we will go with your other plan," Ned said, making Nathan grin. "We'll talk to Lord Manderly as he's the only Northern Lord who trades with the Essos," Ned said with a smile before he stood up. "Now get some sleep, we have a long day tomorrow." The Quiet Wolf said as Nathan stood up and they left the room.

The next few days were hectic between Nathan Stark, Maester Luwin, Ned Stark, and the Lords of three Noble Houses.

As Nathan predicted all three houses wanted a little more out of the plan than just a Northern Fleet.

Lord Glover made it clear that someone from his home would be Lord of Sea Dragon Point as the cove was in their land. However, it was a surprise to everyone when Lord Galbart Glover wanted his ward, a Bastard named Larence Snow from House Hornwood, son of Halys Hornwood, to be legitimized and become the Lord of Sea Dragon Point. Lord Galbart had raised the boy for a good while and had only good things to say about the lad, such as how smart and courageous he was and that he was a born leader. He also sweetened the deal by saying House Hornwood would support the construction of expanding the Port for Lord Manderly instead of waiting for Sea Dragon Port to be finished.

The other Lords were somewhat reluctant but agreed that once Larence Snow came of age he would be Lord of Sea Dragon Point, creating a new Noble House. Ned said he would send a letter to King Robert to get Larence legitimized. However, the Lords quickly realized that the other Noble Houses would make a fuss with a Bastard gaining such wealth, even if he was legitimized. To quell the other Noble Houses from making things hard it was best if Larence was betrothed to a Noble girl to ease their ire, as they would just see it as a political move.

Lord Glover then brought up the fact that Lord Gregor Forrester had a daughter the same age as Larence, Mira Forrester, catching the Lord off guard.

Both Gregor and Rodrik Forrester were reluctant to marry Mira Forrester off to a Bastard, even if she became Lady of Sea Dragon Port, the eventual West Feet of the North.

Lord Glover eased their worries and made them a promise that if the Port failed Mira would not have to marry Larence. Lord Glover also promised that the boy was good and if he ever hurt Mira in any way Lord Glover would beat the boy black and blue.

That eased Lord Forrester quite a bit, but he also added that Mira and he would meet the boy and should they not find him satisfactory they would not be married, to which Lord Glover agreed.

From that point on things were relatively smooth for the most part, but Nathan had discovered how skilled Lord Manderly was.

The Fat Lord was much, much smarter than he let on, using the newfound support of House Hornwood to accelerate expanding his ports and even try to have House Stark invest more coin into Sea Dragon Point to keep it stable and running faster so they could focus on House Manderly's port.

Nathan, however, wasn't ideal in the talks either. He made sure House Stark would own a good number of ships in Sea Dragon Port and even a few ships in White Harbor, as House Stark was paying for everything. Come winter House Stark would be getting a steady supply of fish to eat and even sell. And should House Stark find any useful mines on their land they hand the ships to transport the goods.

However, Nathan ran into a bit of a problem with the number of men Lord Manderly was willing to offer.

"I feel with the sudden loss of my shipbuilders and sailors I will face a backlash in trade for White Harbor, as I regularly trade with the South and Essos." Lord Mandorly said with a smile on his face. "As such, I ask for a reduction in taxes for the next three years to cover the loss of my shipbuilders and sailors."

That made both Nathan and Ned wince. White Harbor was the only city in the North, and Lord Manderly was the richest Lord in the North. As such Lord Manderly gave the highest taxes to the North every year, and a reduction of taxes would be a big blow to the North.

"Well, we're in a bind," Nathan said as he rubbed his face.

The young Stark was currently sitting with his uncle and Master Luwin, trying to think of a counter to Lord Manderly's request.

"We can't simply deny Lord Manderly's request as he holds the most important piece to create a Northern Fleet." Maester Luwin said with a small sigh. "And while Lord Manderly is loyal to House Stark, we can not demand him to hand over his people without facing much backlash from him and the other Noble Houses."

"Lord Manderly's worries are not unfounded, he takes a big risk for something he may only get years later," Ned said with some reason. "He wants compensation, something to hold him over until Sea Dragon Port is finished."

"We can offer him something else instead of tax reduction," Nathan said with a thoughtful look on his face. "...What if we offer him me?"

That made Ned and Maester Luwin whip their heads to the young Stark. "You?"

Nathan nodded with a serious look on his face. "For Lord Manderly's investment to allow the men to build ships and a port for Sea Dragon Point, Lord Manderly will foster me for up to two years. I would learn a lot under Lord Manderly as he is very intelligent, and his two sons are grown men, and experienced knights I can learn from as well. We also offer a single year in tax reduction, which won't be that big of a blow to the North, and Lord Manderly can use that gold to start early on expanding his Port."

Ned pressed his lips together hard. Everything Nathan said was true as Lord Manderly was a very skilled businessman and a just Lord. Lord Manderly would gain political power by fostering the future Lord of the North and as House Manderly is one of the most Loyal houses to House Stark Ned was certain Lord Manderly would be honored to foster Nathan, even if it was only two years. The single year of Tax reduction would allow House Manderly to expand their port, and once Sea Dragon Point was finished he would then increase the number of ships in the East. However, a part of Ned didn't want to see Nathan go. He promised himself that he would look over the boy for Brandon, and he couldn't do that if he was across the North.

"I can't be a Mother Hen," Ned thought with a small sigh. As much as he wanted to protect Nathan for the rest of his life he had to do right by the boy, right by House Stark, even if it meant letting him go.

"Very well, if you feel it is best," Ned said while Nathan nodded. "Your cousins will miss you," Ned said with a small smile.

Nathan's smile grows a touch sad. "And I will miss them, I can't imagine Arya taking it well."

Ned gave a small laugh at the mention of his youngest daughter. As soon as the girl could walk she followed Nathan nearly everywhere and would always ask the young boy to carry her. Nathan himself would spoil the girl and play with her whenever they were together. Helping her avoid her lessons with the Septa and teaching her how to shoot a bow.

That made Nathan sigh before nodding her head. "I'll try to soften my leaving by sending her gifts and writing to her, make sure you read them to her so she knows I'm thinking of her, and the others too," Nathan said, making Ned nod with a smile. "Also uncle, I wish to talk to you about Jon."

"Jon?" Ned questioned with a look of confusion.

Nathan sighed as a worried look crossed his face. "With me leaving for two years, Aunt Catelyn may turn her ire on the boy," Nathan said while looking away.

That made Ned wince before slumping. Ned had hoped Catelyn would come to tolerate Jon over the years, but every time she saw the boy she made her feelings for him known. Ned tried to step up but he was 'in the wrong' for having a bastard in the first place, yet that would end in an argument that would bring too much attention to Jon. Already Catelyn has asked several times who Jon's mother was, something Ned always avoided answering.

Fortunately for Ned, Nathan stepped up where he failed. He protected Jon from Catelyn's ire, made sure the boy had his room that was always warm, had three meals every day, had lessons with Maester Luwin, and made sure none of the guards or servants harassed him. Even when Catelyn tried to separate Robb and Sansa from Jon Nathan would step in and tell them that Jon was their brother no matter what gods say otherwise.

It also didn't help that the Septa Catelyn brought to Winterfell always supported Catelyn's hatred for Jon, to which Nathan always claimed that the Old Gods hold no hatred for those born out of wedlock and that it was politics that made bastards hated. It was thanks to Septa Mordane's attitude to Jon that made Nathan only believe in the Old Gods, and made sure a Sept was not built in Winterfell, as most Northern Lords all follow the Old Gods and having a Sept in Winterfell was a bad political move. Nathan had no hatred for the Faith of the Seven and encouraged Catelyn to pray in her room as much as she wanted, but she would not change hundreds of years of tradition for her own needs.

Nathan did love Catelyn and she cared for the boy, however, when it came to Jon or The Faith they always butted heads like a couple of angry wolves.

"What would you have me do?" Ned said while shaking his head.

"I'll bring Jon with me if Lord Manderly agrees," Nathan said with a smile. "We can train together, Jon seems to love swords more than learning from books."

"Most boys do," Ned said with amusement while looking thoughtful. "I... will talk to Jon and ask him what he wants. If he wants to go with you or stay here in Winterfell, but it's also up to Lord Manderly if he'll take Jon as well."

"That will be enough," Nathan said with a nod. "But if at any point things between Jon and Catelyn become too much, send the boy to me," Nathan said before a smile crossed his face. 'You know I see him as a little brother."

That made Ned's heart ease as he smiled at Nathan. He was truly happy House Stark would have a strong Lord in the future.

"Thank you for coming Lord Manderly," Nathan said as the Fat Lord sat on a chair at the end of the table, both Ned and Nathing heard the chair creek from his weight.

"Always a pleasure my Lords," Lord Manderly said with a smile. "I assume this is about my request for a tax reduction?" Lord Manderly asked with a knowing smile.

"Yes," Ned said as he gained a serious look. "As you know, White Harbor and House Manderly give the most taxes to the North than any other Noble House. Reducing your taxes for three years would be bad for the North and would gain the ire of the other Noble Houses who are less fortunate." Ned said and Lord Manderly continued to smile, as if he knew Ned had a counteroffer. "However, seeing as House Manderly is making an investment that may take years to see results for the North, House Stark has something else to offer." Ned looked to Nathan as the boy gave him a nod. "In exchange for House Manderly's help in creating the Northern Fleet, Nathan Stark will foster under House Manderly for up to two years, as that is how long it should take for Sea Dragon Port to be finished and reduce taxes for House Manderly by 1 year," Ned said, getting a look of surprise out of Lord Manderly.

Lord Manderly looked thoughtful, staying silent for several moments which made both Ned and Nathan nervous. Finally, Lord Manderly smiled before letting out a booming laugh.

"I can't say no to fostering the future Lord of the North!" Lord Manderly said with a laugh of glee, making both Nathan and Ned sigh in relief. "I'll foster the boy. However, I request Nathan be gifted 5000 gold to be given to him during his fostering." Lord Manderly said, making Ned look at the man in shock. "If I plan to teach the boy he'll need money if he wants to learn, as trade is my specialty."

Ned was quiet for a moment before he nodded. Nathan was a responsible boy and knew not to waste money on useless things. At worst he'll buy a few presents for his siblings, at best Lord Manderly will teach Nathan to the point the boy will double the money.

"Very well, however, I would also ask you to foster my bastard son Jon Snow as well." Ned requested.

Lord Manderly was caught off guard but quickly nodded. "I can agree to that, I've seen the boy in the yard playing with your other son Robb, he seems like a good lad."

That made Ned sigh in relief. While most Northern Lords didn't treat bastards like they did in the South, there was still an underlying weariness with bastards and noble Ladies wanting their children to have the best. However, it seemed Lord Manderly would also foster Jon without much trouble.

"Very well, once you return to White Harbor Nathan Stark and Jon Snow will come with you," Ned said as he reached over and shook Lord Manderly's hand.

"I look forward to it Ned Stark." Lord Manderly said with a wide smile.

From that point on the plans for creating the Northern Fleet went smoothly and all Lords were happy with what they got. After about a week of talks and discussions, a plan was set and messages were flown by Ravens to get everything in motion. Lord Glover quickly left to get the blacksmiths and men ready to move to Sea Dragon Point along with Lord Forrester and his son.

Lord Manderly stayed a bit long for Nathan and Jon to take them to White Harbor.

When Ned came to Jon about his chance to foster with Nathan the boy was upset, thinking Ned was trying to get rid of him like Catelyn always wanted. Luckily after a quick hug from Nathan and Ned, they soothed the boy's worries and he agreed to come with Nathan. After a few days of getting everything in order, Nathan and Jon were ready to go.

There was just one problem.

"Don't Go!"

Nathan gave a weak laugh as both Arya and Sansa hugged Nathan's legs, keeping the boy from moving.

After Nathan explained his fostering to his cousins they were all very upset. Sansa and Arya cried and tried to make Nathan stay, to which the boy tried to explain as best he could, but only got more crying. Robb had managed not to cry, though he did look at Jon with slight jealousy for going with Nathan, however, that was quickly replaced with great sadness that Jon was also leaving, making Sansa and Arya cry harder.

"Girls," Nathan said gently as he knelt to the two girls, they sniffled with red eyes while Nathan patted their heads. "I need to go with Lord Manderly to learn how to rule the North. It is my duty as future Lord of Winterfell and the North."

"Don't go, you a great Lord!" Arya cried as she hugged Nathan, bearing her face into his chest.

"Please don't go!" Sansa also cried as she hugged Nathan with Arya.

Nathan smiled as he hugged the two girls back before pushing them back gently.

"Sansa, Arya, this is part of my duty as an heir," Nathan said once again as he kissed both girls on top of the head. "But I promise to write every few weeks, and send presents whenever I can."

"Promise...?" Sansa asked while sniffling.

"Pinky promise," Nathan said with a smile as he held up his pinky, as the two girls quickly latched on to the little finger, giving the boy they saw as a big brother a smile.

Looking up Nathan saw Robb who tried to keep his face hard, yet Nathan could see the boy was upset. Walking over to Robb Nathan gave the boy a quick hug, to which Robb quickly returned.

"I am going to miss you, little brother," Nathan said, making Robb hug harder. Nathan then gently pushed back and looked Robb in the eyes. "I need you to be strong Robb, with me gone you're the man of Winterfell," Nathan said in a playful tone, yet it made Robb smile as he nodded his head. "Watch over Sansa and Arya, make sure they are good while I'm away. And you keep up your lessons with Maester Luwin, if you're to guard the North one day, you need to be smart." Nathan said while pocking Robb's head, making the red-haired boy nod with determination.

Nathan then stood up and looked at a pregnant Catelyn and couldn't help but smile. Despite how much they fight about Jon, the Faith of the Seven, and other topics, Nathan still loves the woman for giving him a family.

Catelyn also smiled at Nathan as the boy walked up and gave her a gentle hug. She too cared for the boy even if her son would not inherit Winterfell, and he defended Jon from her ire. Catelyn was the closest thing to a mother the boy had.

"I want you to write as soon as you can when the baby is born," Nathan said while gently rubbing Catelyn's pregnant belly, making the woman laugh.

"I promise to tell you as soon as I can," Catelyn said while placing a gentle hand on Nathan's head. "Ned and I were talking, and we decided if the baby was a boy we would name him Bran, after your father Brandon. If it's a girl we'll name her Rina."

That got a shocked look out of Nathan before he smiled at Catelyn with a loving look. "That sounds fantastic," Nathan said as he reached up and kissed Cat on the cheek, making the woman smile. "I'll write to you soon, Aunt Catelyn."

Stepping back Nathan made his way over to the litter that was packing his stuff away. Jon was already in the back as he said his goodbyes to Robb, Sansa, and Arya.

"Ready to go?" Ned asked as he stood next to the carriage while Ned got a nod from Nathan. "Good, I talked to Lord Manderly and he's agreed to find some good land surveyors from the Iron Bank to send to Winterfell and Moat Cailin. Hopefully, we find a few good mines in our lands."

"Whatever you find send them to me. I want to know what we're working with." Nathan said with a grin on his face. "If we find something good I may be able to make a deal with the Iron Bank, they always pay decent for everything."

Ned smiled at his nephew as he hugged him, once the boy quickly returned.

"Stay safe Nathan, I will miss you," Ned said in an honest tone, making Nathan smile.

"I will miss you as well uncle," Nathan said as they pulled away. "I'll look after Jon and make sure to learn a lot under Lord Manderly."

With that said Nathan slowly border the litter and sat next to Jon with Lord Manderly across from them. Both boys looked at their family members as the cart started to move.

Nathan looked at Little Jon and wrapped an arm around his shoulder, making the boy look up at Nathan.

"Ready for a little adventure Jon?" Nathan said with a smile, making Jon smile and Lord Manderly laugh.

"You are going to love White Harbor Nathan Stark, it is the pride of the North, one of the few cities in Westeros." Lord Manderly said with pride.

"I am sure I will have a lot to learn from you Lord Manderly," Nathan said as he looked back at Winterfell, watching it become smaller and smaller in the distance. "I need to... for Winter is Coming."

RK21: A lot happened in this chapter and I can tell some people will say things are happening too fast or not enough. So let me go over a few things or questions that may be asked.

1: How Smart is Nathan? Well, Nathan is intelligent but not at the level of a fully linked Maester. Nathan's real strength comes from his critical thinking and imagination, he then finds people who are smart enough to help bring his plans and ideas into flourishing.

2: Why is Nathan so mature for a 10-year-old? Nathan realized early on that he would one day rule the North as soon as he was old enough as his father and grandfather were killed by the Mad King. So to honor his father Nathan took his role of Heir to the North seriously, making him more mature for his age. Also, we all know how harsh the world of GoT is and how it matures people swiftly if they want to survive, the perfect example is Lyanna Mormont who was very young but still acted as a leader despite her age.

That's all for now, I hope everyone continues to follow my story!