Nov 28, 2020 2:54 PM
Annatar in the Game of Thrones
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"Not especially, no, though it was my interest in coming here. If House Bolton has aid or advice to offer on this village project I would be pleased to hear it, but my hope was simply to see how others live, a little further from Lord Stark. I may tour some other houses as well, should they be convenient, but I do not expect to see them all on this expedition."

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“Interesting,” Lord Bolton muses. “And what sort of aid or advice would you request of me? I could warn you not to give your smallfolk too much freedom for those that know how to read can read letters plotting rebellion and those who are permitted to travel can travel to buy weapons, but then, I don’t expect one of Lord Stark’s men to appreciate that sort of advice.”

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"I would ask for nothing you do not wish to provide, but if there is insight you have into the peasantry of this land, that may be useful. The peoples I ruled in my homeland were very different from those found here, I must confess."

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“The peasants of this land are base and brutish creatures,” Lord Bolton says. “They care only for their next meal, the roof over their heads, and producing more hungry children. As long as you are providing that, their complaints will be minimal.”

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"That should be manageable. We were considering discouraging contact between the residents and outsiders, to encourage self-sufficiency. Do you expect this would be useful?"

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“Useful?” Lord Bolton replies. “Hmm. Yes, I should expect so, depending of course on the particulars of your endeavor. If there were details that you think old Ned Stark wouldn’t... understand... then of course a policy of no contact would be useful for security. If you care only for self sufficiency as you implied then why bother? The small folk lack the ambition to do anything but rely on those who have it.” 

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"Men of ambition must still get their information from somewhere. Outside interference is a distraction and a liability to any endeavor, in my view, whether it be from a local authority or from more distant interested parties."

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“Yes yes,” Lord Bolton says, and glances meaningfully at Jon. “Privacy, and the security of one’s endeavors are ends in and of themselves.” By the thoughts lurking on the surface of his mind like an oil slick, he seems to think Annatar has secrets he wishes kept from Lord Stark. This doesn’t seem to lower his estimation of Annatar in any way but rather quite the opposite...

”Father,” Ramsay interjects, “I know how we keep the Dreadfort private, and in the same way that this experimental town represents an opportunity for Jon to earn some experience, might it not represent the same opportunity for me?” 

Lord Bolton nods slowly for a minute while Ramsay demolishes the drumstick of some large avian creature with a surgeon’s practiced grace. “Yes,” Lord Bolton says. “Of course it would. Annatar, you said that even the most ambitious man must get his information from somewhere? If we’re being blunt- and I do always like to get to the point- you do seem like a dangerously ambitious man, but you said yourself that you are unfamiliar with these lands.” In his mind, ‘dangerous’ and ‘admirable’ seem to be synonyms. “My son knows these lands, and these people. Ned’s bastard might know the land you build on best- his father is Warden of the North after all, and I assume it will be built in Stark lands proper- but I can guarantee you a Bolton knows people better than any Stark.” In the privacy of his head, he seems to recall a writing: ‘you can be with a man his whole life, but until you see him suffer you don’t truest know him.’ Well the Starks are too engrossed in their flimsy honor to see anyone suffer, but if there’s one thing his Ramsay does well...

He wouldn’t say this to a Stark man of course, and Annatar is a Stark man, and an unknown one at that. 

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"That is a compelling option. Some additional expertise may be valuable, and I cannot assume that I will maintain direct leadership over the project indefinitely. A quick test, boy! You have led an expedition of cavalry deep into the territory of your enemies, burnt their crops and cut at their supply lines to weaken their forces in coming battles. Your men and horses are weary from a week spent on the run, when you find a village that claims they wish to defect. They are dissatisfied with their own lord, and wish to send with you some men and supplies, in hopes that their lands will be captured less violently. The village is a day's journey from your border. What do you do?"

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Lord Bolton scoffs. “My son needs no test; he is heir to the Dreadfort.”

Ramsay thinks for a moment. “That’s an interesting question,” he says. “Are you planning to pick a fight with someone? Hmm. Any physical weariness can be recovered with a day or two of rest and you said nothing of injuries. The delay would let me negotiate from a position of strength, would give me less to fear from my enemy, and would keep from giving the town the impression that they are too important, without wasting the opportunity. Only an idiot wastes opportunities, but it’s a bigger idiot who overextends himself.”  

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"Where would you find two days to rest behind enemy lines? But you have the right idea, yes. Lord Bolton, you would do me a great service if you would allow your son to accompany me to provide his...expertise on this endeavor."

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“Then he may accompany you,” Lord Bolton agrees. 

Ramsay grumbles that he had misunderstood the scenario and thought himself back behind his own lines. 

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Then unless there is further interruption, they will finish eating and Annatar will prepare to leave the next day.

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