18 The Bank of Bear Island

Mid 272 Fall

"Boy!" I shouted, causing Ulfric to come running across the deck to me where I held the rudder of The Thunderer.

"Yes, father." the boy snapped to attention in front of me.

"Burn the sight of these islands into your mind, boy." I commanded him as we passed by Pyke, "We owe them nearly all that we have, and one day we will take even more from them, or be destroyed by them. The outcome will be decided by our efforts to prepare, and theirs."

Was it wrong to dump that kind of load onto my six year old? No. Spare the rod, condemn the child and what not. Ulfric showed potential, but like all children he needs drive. Prince Rhaegar would be a wimp with a harp if he hadn't read of the Prophecy of Ice and Fire and learned of the coming apocalypse. Believing himself to be pivotal in prophecy Rheagar forged himself into a man who almost defeated Robert Baratheon in single combat.

"But you've beaten them, father, and you'll beat them again." Ulfric put his hand on my knee, full of confidence that I can single handedly defeat every man on the Iron Islands… and probably thinks I'll take all their women as thralls too.

The boy isn't completely wrong.

"Yes I have, and I will do everything I can to keep beating them, but in ten years time you will be a man, with a wife and children of your own to protect. You will follow me into battle and into war. Do not expect a live of peace and ease, strive to be strong enough to endure the chaos and hardship." I informed the boy who looked confused.

"Will I be married to Helgi?" he asked.

I could feel my countenance fall and answered him, "No."

"Why not?" Ulfric puffed up in indignation.

"Helgi is my property." I informed him, "You will not marry her. When Winter breaks I will travel and visit the Ryswells, Flints, Tallharts, and Dustins. If I do not find a suitable wife for you there I will see about a match with Ser Lionel's new daughter. If that doesn't happen, Big Bucket has a daughter about your age, as do the First Flints."

"But I don't even know those girls!" Ulfric exclaimed with raised fists in the air.

"The first time I met your mother was on our wedding day." I told him as I continued guiding the ship, "If I cried about how I did not know her instead of doing as my father commanded me to, you would not be alive. Do you like being alive boy? Do you love your brothers and baby sister?" Ulfric nodded his head, "Then trust in me, and in my commands. Work with me and we will achieve greatness as father and son."

Do not worship pussy in this way, boy. Come back from simping.

Ulfric nodded and came in for a hug. Another day, another spine of steel grown.

We sailed on past the Banefort and the decrepit Crag, the beautiful Faircastle and simple Kayce. The fortified manor of Feastfyre. Despite traveling by so many castles, the sight of Casterly Rock and the culture shock of docking in Lannisport overwhelmed the boy, causing Ser Lionel to grin.

The man had once more rolled out the proverbial red carpet with his welcome, this time backed by the infamous Red Cloak soldiers of House Lannister. They brought with them many horses of a far finer quality than those of my personal stock, and I pulled Ulfric up in front of me on the offered saddle. The kid was in jaw slack awe as we rode through the city unlike anything he has ever seen before to the fortress upon a high stone hill overlooking the sunset sea.

Though only a mile away from Lannisport, the Rock was a 2100 foot climb to the many towered walls atop. As we entered the proper home of the Lannisters, even I felt like I'd entered some alien domain of opulence and luxury beyond the means of men. I'd completely forgotten what the residences of the ultra rich look like after eighteen years spent in Westeros. Everything was gold, silk, marble, oak. Flawless statues, painted ceilings. If not for all the weirwood, Rockhall was a hovel in comparison. Mormont Keep a pile of cold shit.

Speaking of weirwood, I found what the Lannisters did with theirs when I finally entered what I assume is Tywin's office when he's home. The large executive desk and surrounding chairs and couches were white wood veined with red and adorned with gold. The pride on Ser Lionel's face as he stepped into the room he helped furnish was only matched by my son's awe at the sight of the little girl seated on one of the couches holding hands with a little boy who looked almost exactly like her.

Harden your heart, boy.

The Hand of the King could not leave King's Landing for this meeting. In fact he couldn't even leave King's Landing at all as he'd tendered his resignation to King Aerys this year and been refused. He remained chained to the position known to wipe up whenever the King shits.

It is a beautiful show of what it is really like to be 'the power behind the throne', an idea foolishly bandied about online as the ideal position to be in during times such as these. It is not. Many of the ideas of what is and what can be done with 'the power behind the throne' are treason, and rely entirely on the idea that every king is like King Robert, an easy mark and a cuck too. Then you get a guy like Aerys who's playing dodgeball while everyone thinks they're playing chess. Good luck working with that, Rickard Stark leaves no stars for his review, does not recommend.

Ser Kevan sat behind that executive desk and made me wonder if perhaps some Mormont is mixed into the Lannister line, as the man is wide at the hip, shoulder, and jaw though how much of that is skeletal frame and how much of it is a life of martial training and a love of rich food I don't know. He is of remarkable resemblance to Ser Lionel, another Lannister knight who indulges his glutton wants regularly.

This meeting was quite unnecessary as they could have simply left my gold at the port and I'd have handed over the sword to Ser Lionel for delivery. That would have been far more convenient as well since ten tons of gold is a bit of a bitch to haul. I just knew they'd pay me at the entrance to Casterly Rock and make me and the boys cart it all the way to the port ourselves too.

All the details had been handled in letters between Tywin and myself. Risky considering the sieve like security of raven messaging, but if the Hand of the King can't conduct his business via the Maester Express then no one can. As such the likelihood of anyone acting on the knowledge of this sale is low.

Young Jaime gasped when I revealed the blade of Red Rain and presented it to Ser Kevan, and he only managed to curb his enthusiasm till just before Ulfric, Lionel, and I made our exit. I got to hear just how excited the boy was to hold the sword he would grow to wield.

Baelish who? I just supplied the murder weapon of a king ten years in advance. Nobody plays the Game of Thrones like Jorah. Nobody.

Ser Lionel once more came in clutch when it came time to transport the twenty thousand pounds of dragon marked gold coins, as with his wealth his position in Lannisport rose and he was now the commander of the city guard, the man in charge of law enforcement and the maintenance of the defenses. As such he had many men available to help me carry the oak chests filled with gold coins onto The Thunderer.

With eighteen ships and the demand of the entire west coast of the North I finally broke into the top ten most valuable customers list for the merchant who supplies me coal. Which is cool, because I like the guy. Many merchants have tried to dupe me in the years I've been trading, but the coal merchant has not. He has always charged me the same price he charges everyone else, even though he knows I am twice or even three times as desperate a customer.

With the arrival of fall, the many noble houses under my authority took out low interest loans from The Bank of Bear Island to secure their supply of food and fuel for the coming winter. No physical gold changed hands, and instead each received a line of credit for the purchase and shipping of these goods by me and my Bear Island Trading Company.

People laughed about how I'd tried to disguise my merchant ways behind these new entities, but in truth I just wanted to build up the infrastructure so that I could one day separate myself from the day to day business activities. It'll be a slow process screening and developing people capable of relieving some of my burdens, but I very much dream of one day being like the rest of my lazy peers and kicking back in my keep while other people do the hard work.

Most of my ships conducted their business over the next few days, selling off our trade goods and loading up on coal, but The Thunderer and four of my large seventy oar ships did not. Instead, after sending the rest of my ships back north for their deliveries, I took my five vessels further south, on course to Old Town.


The response to 'How Greek?' was both hilarious and heartwarming. Who knew that the only thing I needed to finally get some reader engagement was to suggest the MC bisexually wreck Oberyn's rectum.

I'd like to thank the small number of you who feel I have the chops to pull it off, but there seemed to be a lot of confusion going on. People seemed to believe there would be romantic and sexual scenes between Jorah and Oberyn, and I don't know why anyone would think that.

Jorah has been married since chapter 1, taken multiple concubines, and fathered many children. There hasn't even been a single romantic scene in this story, let alone a sexual one. Jorah is like 40% hard work, 60% menace in this story.

Despite that, there will be no going to town on the bussy for Jorah. He will have to save his displays of strength and masculinity for the battlefield, tourney grounds, and the Dornishmen's wives.

In other news Ulfric is now a character and Jorah is doing his best to stop him from simping. All progress on that front crumbled when he met Cersei. I originally planned for Jorah to actually save Westeros by impregnating Cersei at the Tourney of Harrenhal and thus make good his early sarcasm about saving the world with his extra creamy loads, but it turns out she wasn't there. The who's who of Westeros and Tywin keeps her home.

That plan was scrapped and the War of Five Kings is back on.

In other news, someone recommended an alternate PoV chapter and I agree. I believe Helga, Jorah's second Salt Wife, is the perfect character positioned for a 3rd person limited PoV, and intelligent enough to blur the line between limited and omniscient narration. She can fill in a lot of the domestic stuff that Jorah doesn't bother narrating.

I'll work on that chapter next, but I make no guarantees on its length. It could be five hundred words or twenty five hundred, I don't know. It will be what it will be.

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