It was stupid, really. When he awoke in this world, he had every intention of taking a back seat and letting things playout so that he was a non-factor. He had it decent enough for a child of his standing, even in the modern world that he was familiar with bastards were not treated that great. Then again, the world he was in was full of imbeciles, the only non-imbecilic person there was himself and those he came to care about. So, no he was done taking everyone else’s shit. He’d just let this new life be a breather where he can relax and say “responsibility? Never heard of it.”
Sadly, that notion was destroyed when Jon, who is Jon and yet so much more than just Jon, reached his eighth nameday.
It all started the day the imbeciles, what Jon lovingly calls every single person living in Westeros, came to his father for advice. Normally, Jon would not sit in on the hearings that the Warden of the North would have with the extremely uneducated, though by means their own fault, smallfolk. However, Robb had been taken by Lady Catelyn to the Riverlands to visit with her family. For this reason, Eddard Stark decided to allow his only other son to sit in on the hearings of the smallfolk, a tradition that the Warden of the North had for a few years now. Every month, he would take two days of the third week to hear the concerns of the smallfolk to ensure that Winterfell and Wintertown were properly functioning. In Jon’ s mind it didn’t even matter because these weren’t really “important” people. So, in the end he was still not contributing much in these hearings.
It was sad, really, education was a gift. How can people go through their lives without knowing the joy of reading and writing? In this, Jon was always upset. There were no churches to teach the people reading and writing, nothing to teach the plebeians of the world how to make their own lives better. The septs and septas are useless, only blathering about this religion and never actually teaching. Honestly, how are people supposed to evolve in their thought process and religion if they aren’t even allowed the basic human right of self-determinism? If a man is not educated, then how should he grow? It angered Jon simply because he was an educated man before he ever came to this world. He had a master’s degree in Industrial and Computer Engineering and this lack of education that the “government” of this world let continue was frankly appalling and offensive.
Robb, Jon’s half-brother, could sit in on the more “important” meetings. In a way, Jon was jealous. It was hard, having made himself one of the smartest men in a world just to be shoved into a lower station in another. Not unbearable, but still difficult. Even so, it hurt not being able to contribute to conversations that “adults” had, a word used liberally due to the majority of adults in this world having the mental maturity of a two-year-old. The “Bastard of Winterfell” couldn’t possibly be intelligent enough to help in any way, was the common thought that many people had. If only the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover,” could be applied in this world.
Jon, for all his admittedly slight jealousy of Robb, couldn’t find it within himself to make a fuss about it. Robb was his brother, and even though he lived a life before this one, he still loved the tyke. He was a hellion, but Jon would do anything for that hellion. There wasn’t a bad bone in Robb’s body, and so Jon would admit that he didn’t really mind that Robb was preferred over Jon in literally everything. Jon was a big boy; he could handle it.
Over time, Jon came to love Robb. Who wouldn’t? From his messy brown hair to his curly blue eyes, the kid was lovely. He was kind, and Jon was fiercely proud of him. If he had to, he’d burn the world to the ground for him. Even though Jon knew a life before this, he’d never felt the kind of brotherly affection he felt for Robb, the kid who stole his blackened heart.
For Jon, his siblings were his chance to create intelligent individuals. When Robb didn’t know something, Jon was there to fill in the blanks. Jon was always there to impart wisdom to Robb. He’d be damned if he didn’t turn his siblings into the smartest people Westeros has ever seen. He’d so it for all his siblings if he’d had access to them.
That’s not to say that he didn’t love his other siblings. He loved Arya and Sansa fiercely, but he hadn’t built the connection with Sansa yet that he had with Robb. How could he? He was Arya’s best friend and always there to help her. She had him wrapped around her finger, but Sansa was kept away from him by Lady Catelyn. He loved Sansa, but he wasn’t allowed to play with her. Even so, he tried to make her laugh and have fun. It wouldn’t do for there to be another stick in the mud like “prim and proper” Lady Catelyn. Even now, he missed his brother and the adventures they would have.
“Next!” the voice of Eddard Stark rang out as the next plaintiff came into the main hall to plead his case. The man was small, and scraggly. A farmer, by the looks of him. Jon knew the type; he’d grown up on a farm himself in his old life. He even participated in multiple environmental competitions growing up. God, he missed the cattle and the good ole’ days.
“m’lord,” the man began as his weaselly voice began to speak of his, admittedly, important issue. “The fields of my farm ‘ave been growing more and more critters that attack the crops. All I ‘ave been my ‘ole life is a farmer, but I don’ know ‘ow to deal with these critters.”
To Jon, it was simple. To the plebeians in the room, it wasn’t so simple.
“A question for the maester, I’m sure,” spoke Eddard Stark as he motioned for maester Luwin to speak on the issue.
“My Lord, I have never been well read in the dealings of farms. Even so, I could send word to the Citadel and ask for their view on the situations,” Luwin said as he began to motion for a servant to bring a piece of parchment.
Jon couldn’t help the frown that appeared on his face; the solution was simple. Yet, again, the imbeciles of Westeros were trying to make it more complicated than it was. Goodness, he missed Robb. He was never this dull.
As he watched in amusement as Luwin went about trying to write a letter to the Citadel, he couldn’t help but deepen his frown. By the time the raven, and why in the seven levels of Hell they ever decided on ravens for message couriers he’d never know, returned the crops would be eaten through. It wasn’t fair to this man to have to wait that long. Hmm… He’d have to invent a form of long-range communication. That’s a thought for another time.
“I see your frown Jon,” Eddard began, “do you have thoughts on this matter?”
Jon raised an eyebrow in silent contemplation. If he spoke then his father would know his intelligence, but if he didn’t then this man’s crop would be destroyed. Jon wanted this life to be carefree, but it never was. He always found himself hurting on behalf of the smallfolk, he wanted to help them. With his knowledge he could do that. Maybe… maybe it was time for Westeros to have its own changes brought to it. Mayhap it was time for a revolution. Yes, that would be what Jon could do in this new world. Revolutionize it. Change it, mold it, make this world better. Who knows, maybe he could reach industrialization by the time he died? A more worthy goal would be the age of technology, but he wasn’t sure If the materials even existed for that.
With his new goal in mind, he crafted his response to his father.
“Well, the solution seems simple, really,” Jon began, not bothered by the raised eyebrow of Eddard, nor the incredulous look on maester Luwin’s face. “The fields are being taken by pestilence, so something new must be added to reduce the control of pests.”
“And how would this work? Why would adding something new cause the fields to be safer for harvest?” asked Luwin in a pensive pose.
“Well,” Jon began after he had paused to gather his thoughts. “Think of it in this way. If I drink ale the first time, it hurts going down. It is painful, yet after years of drinking it I become accustomed to the taste and the sensation. In other words, it fails to bother me. Do you understand?”
“Yes, but how does that apply…” Luwin trailed off as he began to understand the thoughts of Jon. He looked impressed, that a child could know such advanced practices. Really, they weren’t advanced. It was just that everyone on this planet wasn’t well educated.
“I see you begin to understand,” Jon said. He tried to pull off a serious expression, but on his face it just made him look more of a child than he already was. “It is this way too with the critters of the forests and fields. As time continues, they adapt and eat what they must to survive. It becomes their nature to feast upon the familiar, but the familiar must be kept as the familiar. Tell me,” he then turned to the farmer, “what crops do you plant? Do you rotate any crops so that you can force the creatures to suffer a change in the environment?”
“Rotate m’lord?” The farmer said in a confused voice. “I… I don’t rotate any crop m’lord.”
At this Jon blanched. Not rotating crops? What kind of heathens surrounded him?
“Jon, you seem appalled. Rotation of crops? It sounds peculiar, why should we do it here, when I haven’t even heard of this happening?” Eddard said as he looked at his son.
Jon looked at Eddard and Luwin with a deadpan expression. How could two men show such dullardness?
“Father, what do crops take from the soil?” Jon asked in a polite voice.
“Water, and life wherewith to grow,” Eddard responded in kind.“And what do they give back?” Jon continued in the same voice as if he were speaking to a child.
“I… Something is given back?” Eddard responded sounding confused.
“Life, m’lord, it’s well known by farmers that they must give and return. The Old Gods ‘ave shown us this much.” The farmer cut in still looking confused as to why a child would be giving counsel to the Lord Stark.
“Exactly,” Jon began in a superior voice, “they give, and they take away. However, if I ate mutton, would I taste the same flavor as that of steamed carrots?” Jon asked rhetorically. “No, I wouldn’t. The plants are fundamentally different. Therefore, the life given back to the soil is fundamentally different. If you do not rotate crops between plots of land, then the fields must lay fallow, or the crops fail to grow. If you do not rotate crops then the pestilence will grow, and if you do not rotate crops then the soil is carried away by the water when it flows down the hills. That, father, is why crop rotation is important. If it is carried out, then fields never need to lay fallow, and yields will be more bountiful than ever before,” Jon finished looking pointedly at Luwin and Eddard.
‘He speaks well my Lord,” Luwin began as he turned from Jon to Eddard. “It might be best to try this. It is a new line of thought, but it has merit. Mayhaps we can get a few to try this new technique and compare to the current way of farming?”
“Aye, it has merit,” Eddard said as he stroked his beard in contemplation.
Jon tried to keep from rolling his eyes. Of course the idea had merit, it was his idea!
“Write the Citadel, it’ll take time for them to respond. While we wait for their response,” which Jon knew would take months, seriously maesters were lazy except for Luwin. “We will try the idea that Jon has presented us.” Eddard said looking at both Jon and Luwin.
Jon was surprised, it wasn’t like his father had to listen to him. He could have dismissed his ideas as the foolish ramblings of a child. Yet he hadn’t. Maybe there was hope for him after all.
“I would like it If Jon were given a few plots around Winterfell to test this,” Eddard began. “Send out the word, maester.”
“Of course, my Lord,” Luwin said as he began to arise. He stopped for a second and looked back at Jon, “It’s a good idea Jon, do you have anything else to add?”
Jon blanched as a thought went through his mind. He forgot the extra fertilizer!
“Well,” he began, “it would behoove us to start to compile much more of the manure of the cattle. I know that the manure of the cattle is used already in the planting process, I’ve spent enough time in the glass gardens to understand the need for it. Notwithstanding, the manure will be lacking if we don’t have enough. If needs must, then we can resort to the waste of the horses.”
Luwin seemed pensive for a moment. He looked as if he would say something, but then Lord Stark spoke first.
“This interests me Luwin, I wouldst like to see if his assumptions bear fruit,” he said as he began to rise. “I’ll allow him this harvest to prove that his ideas have merit, and if so, then we may continue to have need of your council Jon.” He dismissed the farmer and walked to where Jon was sitting. “I know it can be difficult feeling like a child around adults when we have these meetings with the smallfolk, but you carry yourself with the poise of someone well beyond your years,” at this Jon nearly snorted. If only Lord Stark knew. Maybe, in time he could persuade him. He would need people to trust him if he were to take this backwater country into a new age.
“Jon, no matter what happens this growing season, I am most proud of you being willing to give voice to your thoughts. It takes a man grown to do that,” he said proudly as he ruffled Jon’s hair. Jon pouted; it was so easy for his hair to become disheveled.
“Thank you, father,” Jon began as he dodged another hair-ruffling to the amusement of his father, “I won’t err in this. Trust in me, and the yield will be three time as plentiful as they normally would be,” Jon said with a haughty sniff.
Eddard smiled. “I shall wait and see then,” he said.
It turned out that Jon was wrong. The next growing season, the crops weren’t three times as plentiful. No, his plots of land yielded six times the normal amount when compared to all the other lands. Due to this, the next season Lord Stark and Luwin sent out letters to all the lords of the North informing them of the new way they were to tend to their fields. The North, while not being anywhere near as rich as the Reach even with the new techniques, now had a surplus of food that they could trade away for other supplies. Needless to say, Eddard and Luwin began taking Jon’s counsel more seriously and frequently.