Nov 28, 2020 2:18 PM
Annatar in the Game of Thrones
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Bran is not impressed by power gained from knowing what people want. According to him, his father has a dim view of POLITICS. He is fascinated by talk of weapons. Less fascinated by gunpowder. It sounds less honorable than a sword, kindof like a crossbow and boring to learn to aim with. He gets to start learning swordplay next year! 

Breakfast is simple and uninteresting. Eggs, pork, biscuits and lots of each. Lord Stark greets Annatar warmly when he enters, but seems at least as stressed as the day before. The great hall is cavernous and mostly empty, though the Starks, the bastard, and the Iron Islander are present. The hall is unlit though there are chandeliers with empty spaces for candles, thick reinforcing beams of timber that would make an elf gag and a numinorian blush for the flaws in the stonework they imply. Heavy woolen banners from victories past decorate the walls and hint at a long and proud martial history, but also at a technology base which has remained unchanged for ages. 

Annatar is shown to the seat to the right of the Lord Stark and presented with a wooden platter heaped high with food. 

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Annatar eats heartily. The energy is trivial in comparison with his current power, but it can't hurt and the men may find it polite. He does add masonry and some of the easier Numenorean recipes to his mental list of topics to share.

Do these people seem the type to talk while eating? If so, he will inquire about the number and availability of forges and smiths, and ask if any members of the family have inefficiencies in their lives that a foreign culture might have solved differently. He is excited to see if there is useful knowledge that might be shared!

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They absolutely talk while eating. Lady Stark introduces herself and apologizes for being unavailable yesterday. 

The castle has one furnace, three anvils. and one blacksmith. No forge outside the castle can get hot enough to produce decent steel, and their language shows a difference of kind: castleforged steel. 

None of the adults seem aware of inefficiencies in their lives, and being unfamilar with all that many foreign cultures, they aren’t sure where the points of difference may be. Lord Stark would be interested in Annatar’s foreign views of the issues peasants bring to him for mediation. Without invading his mental privacy, Annatar has difficulty determining if Lord Stark is delegating a distasteful task, evaluating Annatar’s judgement, or curious about Annatar’s home culture as he claims. 

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Annatar is honored to meet the Lady Stark, and pleased to hear of the castle forge's superior quality. He would like to see the forge as soon as is convenient, and perhaps to see examples of some different local pieces of metalwork.

He does not find it likely that Stark would ask for his judgements as a trap, he's not really the type. If it's a test, it's an honest one.

"I would also be interested to see how you find my judgements of your petitioners! I do of course caution you that I am unaware of local precidents, and cannot offer final judgement on men not my own, but I would be honored to offer my thoughts."

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Lord Stark agrees that of course he should have final say over Annatar’s judgements until such time as Annatar’s judgement has been proven. Would he like to see the forges first, or aid with petitioners?

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Petitioners happen during meals, right? If there are already petitioners available he'd be fine with hearing them now.

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There are! Two cases have yet to be seen. 

The first is a farmer who claims his farm was burned by bandits. The bandits have not been caught, but the man discribes them a a band of men half a dozen strong, riding horses and wearing plate armor. He claims they rode in near evening two nights before, killed his adult son working the field, abducted his young daughter, set his fields and thatched roof aflame, and left. The farmer smells distinctly unwashed, his clothes are grimy, his face ash blackened except where long-dried tears washed clean tracks down his cheeks. He has come because he does not know what else to do. Without his seed stores he cannot replant, without this harvest he cannot afford to feed his surviving family, and without his home he cannot protect them from the elements. 

The second is a dispute between a miller and a farmer; the farmer complains that the miller stole three chickens, the miller claims the farmer came to have his grain ground and refused to pay so the miller seized three chickens as payment and an excellent few meals for his own family. 

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Does Lord Stark find it plausible that bandits here would both have plate armor and be aimless enough to burn a farm? What does Annatar see in this man's eyes, is he a man who has suffered a great loss, or a man playing up his hardships? And how strong is the man? More the malnourished dirt farmer or the strong manual laborer?

For the second, does the farmer deny the lack of payment, deny the obligation to pay, or merely think the reaction was unreasonable? Are the chickens eaten already?

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Lord Stark says that there are people who can afford armor, and that there is overlap between them and the subset of people who would be cruel enough to burn a farm for reasons other than money. Plate armor is expensive though, and the pool of those who can afford it is limited. The man’s eyes do hold intense sorrow. He doesn’t seem malnourished, but there are signs that he has gone hungry before. 

The farmer denies lack of payment. The chickens have been eaten. The farmer ends up yelling at the miller and talking over Annatar by the end of the exchange. 

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If the man is not exaggerating due to grief, Annatar would expect either unruly young nobles or veterans of a recent conflict who feel they were not paid their due. Is either plausible? In any case, is the man's family at risk immediately, or are there neighbors who can take them in for a short time?

Annatar asks that the men be separated, and each removed from the room while the other is questioned. He asks each a couple of leading questions and listens to their thoughts to figure out what actually happened.

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There are no wars quite recent enough for there to be veterans returning home. There are nobles who would delight in such sport. The man does have neighbors who are hosting his family, but they have their own large farming families to feed. 

By their thoughts, the farmer refused to pay because he felt the grain was improperly ground. It certainly LOOKS coarsely ground in his thoughts and there are odd black spots. He liberally insults Annatar’s parentage during the conversation. The miller knows he waited too long to grind the grain, knows it, and did his best to correct the problem, but the grain had gotten wet while stored. He is unfailingly polite, more eloquent then the farmer, and better able to make his point. He does not verbally admit to wrongdoing and without osanwe, it would be very difficult to determine the truth of the situation. Lord Stark listens impassively- as does his eldest son, Rob- and does not speak except to answer Annatar’s questions. 

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Let it never be said that Annatar is unwilling to cheat when it nets a better result!

Nobles harassing peasants in their homes is a problem that Annatar thinks should be met as aggressively as possible, to discourage its spread. He recommends that Lord Stark send a tracker to see if the bandits can be identified. As for the man and his family, how much manual labor is available at the castle currently?

For the other two, Annatar tells Stark that he thinks they are both hiding some greater complexity. The farmer should be whipped once for insolence, the miller told to repay the value of a single chicken, and both told that they must have a witness to future transactions. Additionally, do they have the concept of insurance, here? Because that's the real solution.

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Lord Stark approves of the solution for the former. A tracker is dispatched, and the man is offered temporary employment in the castle’s grain stores. 

They have no concept of insurance. Lord Stark is not usually inclined to whipping people for insolence for he claims that is a slick road to whipping people because they disagree with you and that is a dangerous policy. For the rest, he takes Annatar’s suggestions and seems glad to be rid of the headache. 

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Well, Annatar thinks you can draw a principled distinction between discouraging people from being rude and discouraging people from providing you with new opinions and information, but okay, that works too. Annatar is glad he was able to help.

If that's all the petitioners for the moment, Annatar will finish eating and ask to see the forges.

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And Annatar is shown to the forges  

The forges are... well, the people in this castle certainly seem proud of them? There is one furnace- if it can even be called that. A shallow rectangular brick furnace, open on three sides with a chimney in the brick back and a single vent and bellows opposite. Three anvils, a rack of hammers and tongs, a half dozen apprentices, and a single very grumpy blacksmith. He does not seem enthusiastic to be sharing his forge. The Lord Stark, for his part, is delighted by the prospect of Annatar’s artistry. 

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Hm... Annatar might need to do some bootstrapping here. Can you even make good enough ceramics for a proper forge in an oven like this? At least he has some of his own tools, and in a pinch he could sustain a hotter fire himself.

"It is a good work! But I do think I could build a more advanced device. A stronger bellows or more insulation may be of use. If your smith would honor me with leave to impose upon his domain, I would value the opportunity to experiment with your materials."

He looks deferently towards the smith as he speaks. The man may keep his pride for the moment, poorly founded though it may be.

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The man replies “I have a backload as long as a horse’s dick. I can’t afford for your foreign projects to set that back any. You can use the third anvil, that won’t slow me down too much, but there’s too much work for you to go rebuilding my forge now.” 

Lord Stark frowns, but doesn’t contradict him. “You are the smith,” he says, “and it is unwise to hire experts if you’re going to ignore their advice.” He turns to Annatar, “we can set up what you need there,” he points to a stretch of wall across the courtyard currently filled with archery targets, “or you can use the third anvil?”

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"The courtyard will be fine, I would be loath to intrude." He smiles.

Talking more directly to Lord Stark, he explains the materials he would need to build a small demonstration furnace. Can Stark provide a few pounds of iron, some clay for baking bricks, some timber and leather, and a couple pounds each of some rarer minerals like lime? The actual construction won't take too long, if the materials are available.

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Of course he can! It will not be cheap, but if the result is anything like the treasures Annatar showed him, it will be well worth it. He presumes Annatar would also like a roof built to keep the rain off his forge? 

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Annatar unfortunately has no local currency, but he expects better equipment from his homeland could bring much wealth to this country.

He talks Lord Stark through the process as he collects and assembles materials. He would like a roof, yes, or possibly a shed, but for the demonstration models it would probably be viable to just cap them so the rain won't get in.

"The most difficult aspects of ironcraft to control are the temperature and impurities, you see. The heat of the coal can be hightened by first roasting it, instead of simply burning it. But in order to burn at those temperatures the fuel needs more air than it can itself circulate, so you need a forced air pump of some sort. For this scale I think a hand crank is easiest, but at larger scales I have seen good results with a system turned by oxen or horses walking in a circle. Gears can be used to convert the motion to a larger bellows, or multiple in tandem. The air is forced through the block of fuel, heating high enough to itself melt the iron. The air can be directed where it is  needed. In the refinery, for instance, the air is forced through the iron from below, taking with it any impurities but leaving the pure metal ready to be mixed with fine charcoal for steel. I will make these all small, so that you may see their function without using too much material. If the design works well for you, I can lead your men in constructing a larger assembly."

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The explanation goes over Lord Stark’s head, but the wonders Annatar demonstrated are more than enough to earn his aid. And so, after pleasantries are exchanged, Lord Stark orders construction to begin and leaves to oversee the procurement of the harder-to-find materials. 

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Thankfully nothing should be too hard to find. The rarer materials are uncommon sorts of rocks, but not especially expensive sorts.

Annatar is a quick worker, and has coal roasting and the wood mostly cut for the bellows in a matter of hours. He'll need to wait for the rarer minerals to come in to mix the clay and grout, but he has wooden molds prepared to support the furnace and forge as they set. The blast refinery will be itself made of steel, coated on the inside with a heavy layer of lime clay, and will need to wait for the forge to be complete before he can forge the basin. If the materials for Annatar's clay, grout, and refinery lime can be found quickly, he will be able to complete the example forge within a couple of days, only cheating a little bit with his magic.

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Then the example forge is completed. The Stark children, particularly the young ones, spend most of their free time watching. 

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The completed structure is, in fact, somewhat child-sized. However, if a strong man will crank the bellows, Annatar will demonstrate its use. It's more dramatic than the castle forge, the blast refinery roars and throws off enormous clouds of gas, leaving behind pure liquid iron. Annatar mixes this iron with powdered charcoal, switches the air to flow through the forge, and the metal glows much hotter than in the drafty main forge.

He forges two daggers. The first a hunting knife: pure, simple, and clean. The metal swirls in your view, complex patterns and shades forming a hazy speckled pattern, and it is durable enough to be suitable cutting wood or bone as well as flesh. Different grades of steel folded together, it will hold a sharp edge and yet not shatter under cold or impact, and most importantly it will be reminiscent of Lord Stark's own sword, apparently rare and ancient in this world. Annatar makes a die and winds the grip with bright wire, and presents it as a gift to Lord Stark, as an effective tool that may also be an effective showpiece.

The second dagger is harder, more brittle, and made to puncture armor. The weak steel of this world should crack under a direct strike from this blade. Annatar fashions the grip out of the antler, plucked from the neck of the dead direwolf, and gives it to Theon, who seems perhaps in deep need of a friend.

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Theon Greyjoy is appropriately grateful for the gift. 

The patterned steel is obviously rare and ancient by Lord Stark’s awestruck expression. He pauses for a moment to admire it, then turns to one of his ever present guards. Orders are given to seal the gate and post a watch on the raven room. “Who else saw you make this?” His voice is as stern and sharp as a good blade. 

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