Mid 265 Summer
"That is a very… serious meal." Alysa commented on the distribution of our breakfast.
My platter, for it could not be a simple plate at this size, bore slices of grease toasted bark bread topped with sea moss paste, three fried herring, a half dozen fried eggs, a bowl of berries, and a steaming cup of nettle tea with honey.
"Eating is serious business when your husband is a growing boy." I informed her and got down to business to defeat the platter.
I need max gains, too much relies on my prowess as a warrior and it is never an advantage to be the smaller guy in a fight. There's wars to fight and money to make. If I were to win just the melee at the Tournament of the Hand I'd have brought in more money in a day than the rest of my family has put hands on in the last thousand years. Longer even. It pays to be a badass in Westeros.
"What exactly are our plans for the day?" Alysa asked considered the sea moss paste in a bowl before spreading it across a piece of bread, "I feel that learning how to run Rockhall will be a fairly brief lesson with Birgitte."
"I will be outside felling." I stopped filling my face to tell her, "The docks are due to be replaced again, and I intend to have all the materials ready to do so once enough people have fallen through the rotting wood for the rest of the fishermen to realize that the disrepair can no longer be ignored. On that topic. Don't walk on the docks at all unless you are very confident in your swimming prowess."
"These are the docks we arrived on?" she asked for confirmation.
"The very same." I nodded in response.
"I suppose that explains the bit that was broken off." she shrugged then took a bite of her toast.
"I had the village kids jump around on it before you arrived." I told her, causing her to almost choke.
We both chuckled darkly and went back to our breakfast.
We did not have the mythical ironwood trees on the island, but we had enough hundred foot cedars to attract a wandering Gilgamesh. The beautiful softwood was a pleasure to work with, but also resisted the elements better than any of its earth equatable competitors. Docks made of cedar last decades longer than pine.
My axe bit deep, proof that the local weaponsmith can make good steel when you hold him accountable for the product. The tree itself was six feet wide and covered in twisting bark. Alternating golf swings and shoulder line strikes I opened a birdsmouth cut along the side, removing chunks of the trees' gorgeous pinkish insides.
I worked swinging from both sides, not the best for efficiency of felling, but I always took time to build up the dexterity of my non-dominant side. Because of this, and due to the sheer size of the tree, I needed to stop for a break before finishing the undercut. Using the chucks of cedar laying around, I got a hot fire started and heated up my next meal and a kettle full of water.
I ate four meals a day. One off from the best bulking practice of five a day, but I just didn't have the time available to break for another meal and get productive work done without the support of modern conveniences.
My second meal mirrored the first, but the herring was smoked and the eggs hard boiled. I'd eat a copy this meal again in three and a half hours. Hopefully after I finish bringing the tree down.
"I knew a woman wouldn't keep you at home all day!" the voice of my nine year old cousin, Dacy, came from the direction of Mormont Keep as she hiked through the woods towards me.
"Some guard dogs you two are." I chided the hounds, Ace and Duke, for not warning me of the real dangers of the Bear Island woods.
"Always running your gums about building this and planning that." the girl yammered while my dogs looked at the ground in false shows of guilt.
Clad in a thick green tunic, a fur coat, and pants tucked into her boots, my free spirited cousin sat down next to me and snatched up a piece of sea moss topped bread while putting down her spear.
"Told mama no woman would stop Jorah the Builder." she spoke with her mouth full of my food.
Truly, I had no need of my dogs as trackers when my cousin always seems to locate the scent of anything and everything easily eatable carried on the wind to her for miles.
"Whatcha building this time." Dacey asked after she finished her first slice of my bread and took another.
"Docks." I replied as I quickly fed myself to avoid her completely draining my resources.
"It was so funny when Bran went right down into the water." she smiled and I nodded.
I'm not a prankster at heart, but I do inflict some humorous cruelty on smallfolk children from time to time. Just to keep up with the joneses.
As we finished my second breakfast I went back to my work and finished the undercut, moving around to the other side to continue weakening the tree to the point it will tip over with a push. A man needs to keep his head on a swivel and his ears peeled while felling. There are many points of possible failure during the process, and a tree coming down at the wrong time kills many a lumberjack.
This specific tree gave me no trouble, and tipped over as I intended. I got through a fair bit of delimbing before needing to stop again, and reveal yet more of my food to my patient cousin. We ate until she realized that I had no more food left with me.
"Pleasure doing business with you, cousin." she grinned as she got up and left me to the rest of my work.
I finished my work on the limbs and called it a day. It'll take far more work to split out the boards and pilings from it, but this tree would meet the majority of our needs, and the wasted pieces will find themselves in fireplaces during the winter, as cedar burns hot.
Food and fuel. Those are the two problems we face daily in the North.
If I ever want to get these people building a future worth living, I've got to find a way to put those two problems in their place. At the bottom of the hierarchy of needs.
After all, rags to bitches is about transcendence.
We'll meet Jeor and Maege next chapter and that will round out the main cast for the Bear Island crew.
You can support me and my family at
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