I guess I might as well point out that I'm dabbling in another Harry Potter story, should anyone want to check that out. This is still my main focus however.
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It still surprises me how quickly infrastructure projects get built in this world.
As an American, it was a hard concept to grasp. Roads normally took years to repair and fix, and eminent domain took a very very long time to settle in court. But with a builder on hand, like Arton, who can look at diagrams and implement my vision, things were progressing faster than I had ever imagined.
Not only were ships being completed at the ship docks, but concrete production was ramping up as well to meet the growing needs for my new projects. Trade was beginning to blossom again in Myr. After the Betrayal, as the people began calling it, there had been a lull in activity as merchants tried to stay away from the strife of the city. I don't think anyone believed that I would stay as a ruler for very long.
Finally, we were beginning to break even with some of the projects lately. After most of the Masters of the city had been wiped out, it had taken a while for their businesses to get up and running. Now that the people were fed and protected, they got back to normal life. The old families especially like all the tax cuts that I had implemented. They didn't realize that they would wind up paying more with the sales tax, and I didn't see fit to inform them of the fact. We had already collected one months worth of the tax, and we expected that to rise as trade increased.
200,000 gold dragons to get a city back on its feet. I thought as I pondered how much gold I had dished out to Bravos, and mending the city the past few months.
The hoofbeats on the ground beneath me was almost a nostalgic feeling. I had been riding Weirńa the past two months nearly every morning without the need to mount a horse. It reminded me of the days I spent on Gimli's back during our rebellion in Westeros. I had never gotten to make good on the promise of putting him up on a farm, letting him breed until his heart gave out.
I looked down to the stallion that I was currently on and although it was of good stock, I hadn't bonded to it like I had Gimli. This also meant that its stats didn't look anything like his and wouldn't make for as good a breeding horse. I would still love to accomplish such a thing, but wouldn't it be smarter to begin breeding something else at my disposal.
Surely the Gamer could accommodate my want for dragons? Could I control them all?
"As you can see, Your Grace, the seedlings you purchased are performing more than adequately." Arton told me with a smile as we rode down the small road to our newest project.
I took that time to look around me. Farmland for as far as I could see graced my eyes on either side of the roads, split by haphazard fences that marked property lines. It was a painful process, sorting out the mess that I had made of the 'Ten-acre edict', as people were calling it. But in the end, my people were expanding into the Disputed Lands, and farming as I wanted.
"More than adequately." I agreed as we continued to ride down the road. The further we rode, the more I began to think we might actually have a surplus soon, which was not something I had planned for a long time with such a big city, and such infertile lands.
Once again, I must state how broken the Gamer is.
"Wow Arton." I said as the newest structure came into view.
From the hill we were on, I could see the beginning of the walls of our newest fort. From my vantage point, I could tell that Arton built it a ways off of the road like I asked, instead of having the road go right through the heart of the structure. I didn't need traffic piling up in the center of the fort in case of emergencies.
"The wall is not yet finished, but the structure is there. Two moons is when we are projected to finish the fort, considering we are only doing a small tower." Arton told me as he eyed the structure critically.
Soon, I found myself on top of the completed sections of the walls, looking down and over to the treetops. My eyes found the road that we had traveled on and I couldn't help but find it lacking. Extremely lacking. One of the wonders of this world was the Valyrian road network, and I couldn't help but want to recreate such a thing. Roads were the backbone of trade.
"The road is our next project, Arton." I said, not taking my eyes off of the pitiful road in front of me.
"I couldn't agree more, Your Grace." Arton said with a slight smile as he too looked down at the road. "I had plans of proposing that in the next council meeting."
"Good." I told him as I made my way back down the wall and to my next appointment. Weirńa had been jealous of the horse I had ridden in on. It was obvious that my earlier thought of recreating Gimli wouldn't go over so well. She would probably burn and eat the steed if I rode it again.
"Make it wide, Arton!" I called out as I began jogging over to where Weirńa was landing.
"Syrio Forel, the First Sword of Braavos."
I was surprised to hear the name at first, but after a moment of thought I realized that it could be possible with the timeline that I was in. Syrio was one of the rare few in A Song of Ice and Fire that nearly everyone loved. He was also one of the few I would pause in crossing swords with, although I was confident I would still win.
"Welcome to Myr, Syrio." I greeted as the man walked into the room.
He was Braavosi through and through. He had the infamous olive skin tone and curly black hair of Braavos. The way he carried himself reminded me of the Braavosi merchants I had met in my life. Although he had a more dangerous edge to him than the merchants. This was natural to me, as Syrio had to be one of the best fighters on the planet to ascend to his current title.
"It is a pleasure, King Petyr." Syrio said with a small bow towards me. I would expect nothing less from a man that did not owe his allegiance to me. It was kind of refreshing to see him not call me 'your grace'.
"I was not aware that you were coming. The Sea-Lord made no mention of it in his last letter." I said, starting the conversation off. I was beginning to become more and more impatient as time went on.
"I am simply sent as a reminder of the promise that you made to the Sea-Lord. He wants you to know that I am the last delegate that will wear a face, unless you uphold your end of the deal." Syrio said with a shrug and careless demeanor, before turning around and leaving the room. It took everything I had to keep calm at the disrespect, but I understood their position.
"Tell your Lord that I do not take kindly to threats, but I will uphold my end of the deal!"
"The Sea-Lord has made a demand of me." I said, officially starting the council meeting. "There were some specific arrangements for the food and grain they sent that I must admit, I held from you all."
I had already gotten over my anger at the threat he had given me. I knew that Braavos was not a city to play games. They made deals and expected them to be honored because they were not afraid of violence.
"Demands?" Ben asked, anger seeping into his voice.
"Specific arrangements?" Ashara also asked, more cordially than Ben.
"I'll just get down to it then." I said, a little sheepishly. "I promised what Pentos promised." I told them with a smile.
Ashara was the first one to realize it, because of her education in Starfall. She groaned and put her head in her hands. "I thought that you had forgotten about that, or learned it wasn't possible." She said in response.
"Would you two mind sharing with the rest of the council?" Davos asked, with a not so happy look on his face.
"Slavery, Ser Davos. I promised to outlaw it." I told him, and therefore let everyone in on the information. Surprisingly, none of them acted like Ashara did. They all just kind of nodded, now that they knew what we were talking about.
"It really is an abhorrent act." Arton stated. He had been more confident in the past few meetings. He was constantly stating his opinion, which is what I wanted from the man. "It has been outlawed in Westeros for as long as anyone can remember."
"I agree." Lina stated quickly, but did not elaborate. She was the last member I was trying to get to come out of her shell. I was patient, though, because I knew she was having a hard time at the bank, trying to hire and train new employees and also meet the rising demand for coins for the kingdom.
"Yes, well now that the ten acre edict is done, and the fields are planted, they will have no need for their slaves for a while, and will have to adapt. I'm worried about the city." I told them in a straightforward manner.
"Riots, protests. You name it, and it will happen." Ashara commented as she leaned back in her chair. "People will die."
"Yes." Ben agreed. "But it must be done."
Exactly what I was about to say.
"How do we mitigate the damage?" I asked before throwing my ideas in before anyone else could comment. "I will begin to introduce the Bill of Rights through our speakers. Every day, I will write an explanation, further expanding on the ideas introduced. We'll start there."
"That will do good for public opinion, but what about the reparations the old families will demand?" Davos asked quickly. He was the one council member that had more interaction with the old families than anyone else, even myself. The docks were his home now, and he dealt with the captains of the ships that transported the old family's goods. He was starting to understand the politics of the city more and more.
"Between us, and this stays between us. I will not let them know of just how much negotiations I am willing to have!" I said, looking at everyone in the room with a serious look on my face. "And remember, I will find out who it was." I added while touching the weirwood beside me.
"The Sales tax is becoming a gold mine, and I do not want to give up any breaks for this. I am leaning towards a property tax cut across the board. I'll offer a year, they'll demand anywhere between 5-10 years, and we will agree on 3." I answered, having given the topic a fair bit of thought.
There was a moment of thought when everyone began to ponder the offer I was willing to give. That would definitely soften the blow of the old family's profits plummeting. They would have to hire the skilled slaves that they had taken advantage of over the years, or else the freedman would start their own businesses. If they were smart, the slaves would just leave. But the masters that were good to their slaves would be affected the least.
"Time will tell if that will be enough." Arton commented. This was not his area of expertise, so I was surprised that he would comment.
"I'm not convinced it will be." Davos stated, after Arton, with a serious look on his face.
"It will have to be." Ben said, once again taking the words right out of my mouth. Although I was becoming more convinced that he, more than I, was willing to commit violence to see my will done. I had yet to correct this behavior, because that is what I wanted him to be. I wanted him to lead men for me. I wanted to point him in a direction, and know without question that he would do everything in his power to accomplish that goal.
"We must remember that in the Bill of Rights, our people have the right to gather and protest. They do not have the right to riot and destroy property. We will protect the city and property, but we will not kill the protestors." I told my right hand man quickly. "We must remember that the city guard is made up of Myrish men. Can we expect them to slaughter their own countrymen for our will?"
By the way he frowned and looked down to the table, it was obvious that he had not thought of such a thing before. In Westeros, it was common for the city guard to be used against its own people. But this was not Westeros, and I wasn't convinced that the guard could be convinced of such a thing.
"You are giving the people the tool to overthrow you." Ashara told me sternly, as if it was something she had wanted to tell me for a long time. Like it would end all arguments of the topic in her favor.
"Yes!" I agreed quickly and just as sternly. "Because one day I will die and our son will rule. Then his son will rule. And his son. Until one day, our offspring will forget that the people do not serve us, we serve them. It will be the people's responsibility to remind him of his duty, and should he fail at that duty, it will be their right to replace him with someone more qualified." I told her.
"You are a noble fool!" She replied angrily before getting up and storming out of the council chambers as quickly as her growing belly would allow her to.
I didn't watch her go, nor did I react to the venom in her words. I knew that she would be angry at that last part. The people of this world cared about legacy and blood more than almost any other. The implication that someone of our bloodline would do anything but rule was close to blasphemy. Perhaps I was a noble fool.
"Will that be all, your grace?" Davos asked, addressing the elephant in the room, as he was so good at doing.
"I supposed yes. Tomorrow, the Bill of Rights goes into effect. After it is explained in detail over the next few weeks, I will finally give the word to free the slaves. Ben, begin preparing the men. Place an order for clubs and shields to handle the riots, I don't want anyone dying by our hand." I told the man, while dismissing the council.
"Yes, Your Grace."
"As of this day, the third day of moons turn A.C. 282,
The Myrish Bill Of Rights will go into effect. This document will list and describe the rights of every Myrish man, woman, and child. Included in the document are 12 amendments that will be used by the Judges in Myr and her lands to rule on cases they might preside over.
Today I will introduce every single amendment. The following days, I will expand upon every amendment, starting at the first and going in order, so that everyone in Myr understands and comprehends their own rights.
The First Amendment…"
5th day of the moon 282 A.C.
'The protests have been fairly peaceful, which is all we can ask for. I have no indication that it should escalate.'
I breathed a sigh of relief as I read Ben's note.
"Vargys." I called out to the servant that was Esselar's head slave. He was now my assistant and made sure that everyone I called for was brought to me. He was resourceful, and competent. I respected him.
"Yes, Your Grace." The man said while turning to me.
"I take it you have read the latest edict." I stated, while motioning for him to approach my desk. It was that moment that occurred to me that he might spend more time in my presence than anyone else.
"Yes, Your Grace."
"And what is your opinion?" I asked, getting straight to the point. How would this be perceived by the slaves.
"I don't have one, Your Grace." Vargys answered immediately. It was as if he was a robot, programmed to say that on a moment's notice.
"What about your fellow slaves?" I continued. "Surely they must be happy to be free."
He didn't answer that question, and I hoped that this wasn't an indicator of how the changes in the city were to go. I had never considered the possibility that the slaves didn't want to be free. Of course, I knew that most would love the changes, but the old ones that didn't know any different would be slow to adapt.
"Speak freely, Vargys." I commanded the man.
"Most are very happy, the children especially." Vargys told me, relieving some of my doubt and making me feel a tad bit better. "But I fear the retribution from the old families. Will they pay us justly? Will they charge us prices too high and starve us? Will they kill us? How steep is the price for our freedom? It will be a difficult life for my children, Your Grace."
"I think you'll find that the price for freedom is never too high, Vargys." I told the man confidently.
10th day of the moons turn 282 A.C.
"I told you there would be riots."
"Thank you for the reminder." I told my wife as I leaned over the balcony of the tallest floor in my tower. Looking down on the city, I could see the crowd along the main road. Carts filled the streets, not allowing any more in or out of the city and people guarded them with their life.
"They are not demanding tax cuts or breaks like you expected. They demand a complete removal of the third amendment. This city was built off of, and thrives because of, slaves." Ashara continued, driving the knife in my chest harder and twisting it.
The third amendment of my Bill of Rights was not the third of the United States. I had obviously changed a few of them, as some were not relevant for my kingdom as of yet. So the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States had become the Third Amendment of Myr, freeing the slaves and outlawing the practice.
"Why is it this?" I asked her, ignoring her comments.
"What do you mean?" Ashara asked, not understanding the question.
"We were driven from our home, based on rumors of Blood Magic you know to be true. You are a follower of the seven, and you still followed a heathen husband you barely knew to another continent. You supported me and never once wrote to your father about absolving our marriage when you knew the Seven would have granted it to you. You followed me blindly." I explained to her. "Slavery is the issue that you decide not to support me on. Why is it slavery, of all things?" I asked genuinely. I had been trying and failing for months to understand that part of her.
I couldn't, for the life of me, understand it.
"Women are all slaves to their husbands." Ashara answered almost immediately. "The smallfolk is just another name for slaves to their Lords, or Kings. You preach to us about wanting to free the people, yet you still wear that crown! Explain how it makes any sense!" Ashara practically yelled back at me.
"You are a good man, and a great ruler Petyr. Those are attributes that I will blindly follow you for, but someone has to tell you when your hypocrisy is too much."
I had nothing to say to that.
20th day of the moons turn 282 A.C.
I stood out on the balcony of my home, as the city screamed. Weirńa flew high above the city, with Anogar, a constant threat to the people that were currently protesting. Not that the people cared right now. We could no longer make any arrests, as the cells were full. I knew that the people would be angry, furious even. But as I stared at the smoke rising into the air, I never considered the possibility of them trying to burn down the city they lived in. In reality, they weren't burning down the city, only the districts where the slaves lived.
"I know Vargys, I know." I told the man as I looked down to the growing fire beneath me.
"Commander Ben asks for your assistance."
I closed my eyes and listened to my city burn for a moment, before I turned around and began running to the door. People needed saving, and I was probably the most qualified to stop a fire from spreading, although it would be hard in a city like this. The buildings were close together, and the damage would be great.
"Hammers! Hammers!" I yelled to the men around me, while trying not to breathe in too much smoke in the air.
"Go two houses away and bring them down, we must stop this fire from spreading!"
I sat in my solar, covered in soot and as exhausted as I had ever been before. Every time I moved, ash fell from my clothes. I kept hearing the crackle of the flames, and the screams of the people it clung to. My hands were sore from trying to slap the flames off of their bodies.
I looked down to the holes in my clothes, that were almost mirrored on Ben's, from where they had begun catching fire. Because of our bond with the dragons, however, we did not burn from the flames.
I unbelted Heartsbane, and set it on the table before unsheathing it. All along the blade, debris from wood and stone could be seen from where I had used it to try and bring down neighboring buildings to stop the spread of the flames.
It had taken us almost all night, but we had successfully stopped the flame from spreading any further.
A movement caught my eye at the front of my room, and I frowned. It was as if the shadows themselves were moving. I stood up and looked in that direction again. It was night, so it was hard to see and only torches lined the walls providing light.
That was when I saw it. A black shape hurling through the room towards me. It was shaped like a man, although that distinction was hard to make until it got closer to me. My heart sped up as I realized what it was. I had seen it once before in a TV show in my last life. A weapon used by the red priestess that served Stannis Baratheon. It had been used to kill his own brother.
The black shape moved so fast that I barely had time to register that it was four feet away from me and stabbing. I managed to turn my torso and stab Heartsbane in response. Immediately I felt my left arm go numb and limp as it was run completely through by the shadow in front of me.
Surprisingly, or unsurprisingly, Heartsbane stabbed straight through the chest of the demon. The effect was not what I would have expected. An otherworldly shriek filled the room before the shadowy body in front of me disappeared without warning.
"What the fuck?!"
And the chapter started off so well too! Myr had begun to heal, and the people had taken to the countryside to farm food, which was going very well.
And then the Bill of Rights happened!
Now, just so everyone is aware. There are nefarious actors in the background that will be revealed in the next chapter. There are some foreshadowing in the chapter that I am sure a lot of you will be able to figure out.
Anyway, what did we think?
The great fire of Myr, what a catastrophe.
Let's talk in the reviews.