Finally, there is the lord paramount, I think there is a king somewhere in the south but no one knows enough about how that works, so I'm going to stop at the Lord Paramount. He is the top dog in the North, the other lords are his banner-men who have sworn to protect and follow them into battle. Every lord pays taxes to the Lord Paramount, and he can travel anywhere in the North without the need to ask for permission. Other lords need to send word of their arrival and ask if they can enter another lord’s territory first. The Paramount can enter anywhere he wants with any number of soldiers. This is only ever done when the Paramount has hard evidence of either avoiding taxes or breaking the kingdom’s laws. If it’s a minor fault that is proven true then a fine can be issued, and if it is serious enough the paramount can even declare the house a traitor, confiscating their lands and executing the ones at fault. Of course, this is a rare event even in the history of the North.
Knights are an attainable rank for peasants with either talent, time or luck while Margraves are appointed as the lords require. The lords are special. Every recognized member of a family is considered a noble unless they are excommunicated. When someone is named a knight they are allowed to take a last name to identify themselves, unlike commoners who when referring to themselves or others either call them the son of whoever, where they are from or what they do.
Lords form Houses, they not only have a last name to identify themselves but they also choose their own banners. Banners are their flags and sigils that they fly above their keeps or when they travel. This tells everyone that a lord is there and helps to identify them on the battlefield.
As far as the strength of this world is concerned it is rather disappointing. In my world a village this size would have at least a dozen or more 1st tiers with some talented people reaching the peak of 1st tier. In Oakbridge the strongest person is Ser Ethan Roc who would at best be a match for a middle tier 1 fighter, and that is due to his skill with a blade and large muscular stature, not any form of qi reinforcement that I have seen. Now that could be due to the fact that the qi in this world is smaller than my previous, but that is only about half or so. As evidenced by my own achievements, cultivation is definitely possible, but it seems that at least in the village no one knows how to cultivate. Other than cultivation the rest of the world seems to be relatively similar to a village in my past world, the numbering and lettering were the same. The language is different, but figuring that out a least gave me something to do when I was a baby, and rough spelling was quite easy to piece together from how the words sound and several signs and letters I've seen.
From the information I have good news and bad news about my current situation.
The bad news is that in the world as a whole I and my family are incredibly insignificant. Our social standing is that of peasants, the lowest rung and the distance from bottom to top is larger than in my old world. Back then my father-in-law was the lord of a small state of about 200,000 citizens, with the largest city having only 30,000 and a total military of 3,000 soldiers. He was basically a king in the territory with no one above him. Here, the North is about 100 times larger than Banders Hills judging from the travel journeys I've overheard. A lord in this world only needs to spend the change he carries in his pocket to buy the equivalent of my entire family's possessions, including our house.
The good news is that in Oakbridge at least my family is considered very safe. My parents both have jobs with decent income and long-term employment, ensuring our position as upper class as far as the peasants here are concerned. Our ‘connections’ if you would call it that, are quite good as far as the towns elite are concerned. Mum’s dad is the head cook for the margrave and has served him for ten years now and is considered almost a friend. Ser Ethan Roc, the person my dad saved and who made him sergeant, has continued their interactions and are considered good friends who have with the wives often taking turns cooking meals for the 2 families. We have no problem in terms of food, warmth or shelter and no disagreements with the leaders of the village or the neighbours.
I can take my time to gather qi and strength till I reach 2nd tier again and I will have the power and capability to travel the world and do what I want. So long as nothing terrible happens...
The front door opens with dad and mum entering, a frown on dad’s face and tears in mother's eyes.
“Marg, Ben I have something I need to tell the 2 of you.” Dad says forebodingly.
‘Me and my fucking mouth’ I mentally slap myself.
A word I hoped to have nothing to do with. When I was a boy, I wanted to be a knight, but I lacked the peerage to be a squire so instead my father spent most of his savings getting me into the town guard. After that for 2 years I hoped for conflict, a chance to be knighted on the field of battle was my dream.
That dream mellowed slightly since Helen got pregnant but I never really got over it until I went on that mission to find the loggers. Before then the most conflict I had been in was a few fights that got out of hand at the inn, or catching a couple pick pockets at market days. That mission didn’t seem to be much to be bothered about either. A handful of sneaky loggers trying to make a few coins on the side, when faced with a dozen large men armed with swords and a knight at its head, they’d either surrender if we were lucky, or run and we have to chase if not.
What we found instead was a camp with 15 brigands. After days of walking we spotted smoke and headed towards it where we found them in the middle of eating. Immediately they jumped up and grabbed whatever they had at hand while Ethan led us in a charge.
I never knew about the smell of blood and another man's insides. When that man swung his axe at me, I blocked hastily and injured my hand from the clash of our weapons. Fortunately, he tripped afterwards and as he was getting up, I thrust my sword, aiming for his back, but hit his neck. The blood spurted from him into my eyes, blinding me. As I blundered around trying to see, I could hear the sounds of screams and yells all around me.
As I opened my eyes, I spotted one of the bandits arming a crossbow. As he raised it to aim, I charged and thrust my sword to his side, pushing him to the ground with myself on top. I lay there, gasping for breath, the smell of blood and guts filling my nose. By the time the battle was over, we lost 4 men, men I knew, men I drank and laughed with. Poor Mike had his head split open from a hammer. He had a wife and a young daughter, just 5 years old who ould have to live with relatives now. The brigands were down to eight when the surrendered, 2 so injured that they had to be put down.
As we walked back to Oakbridge, carrying the bodies of the dead and injured, I was reminded of Helen and the child on the way. Thought about how miserable they would be if I was to die. When we arrived back in town Mike the butcher shouted to me.
“David, you need to get home, your son’s been born, congrats!!” He said.
I froze speechless. ‘My son?!’.
I have no idea how I got home so quickly, but when I arrived and saw Helen she was in my arms before she could get a single word out. When she led me into the room, I could barely contain myself when I picked Ben up in my shaking hands. When I saw him smile and make a gurgling noise, I made a decision. No longer would I seek pointless honour and glory, and will instead dedicate the rest my life to looking after my family.
As the years went by my family grew, having another son and a beautiful daughter. Ben has been growing up to look like me and is my spitting image when I was his age, dad says. Though I think he takes after Helen’s family in terms of brains. My dad was just a farmer and I’ve only learnt a few words and numbers from Helen, yet that boy can write his own name and count to 10 at the age 3. He’s also responsible. I didn’t stop teasing Marg till I was 12, something she still reminds me about, yet by the time Ben was 2 he was already the perfect older brother. Whenever his siblings would cry, he would be the first on there, half the time with a cloth, milk or toy. Everything was going perfectly.
Then that fucking king had to lose his mind. Rhaegar Targaryen, the crown prince, apparently kidnapped Elianna Stark the Paramount’s daughter. When the Paramount and his son Brandon went to Kings Landing to request her return, the king burned Lord Rickard alive and while Brandon was forced to watch, before strangling him to death. That’s the sort of story you hear from the older folk when they try to scare kids from entering woods alone or misbehaving. Some others say the King was the one that took the daughter and ate her after cooking her with wildfire. others saythe crown prince sacrificed the Stark family to the Seven so he could be granted with a dragon. Whatever really happened, the fact that 3 of the Stark family is dead is confirmed.
It was no wonder that the new Paramount, Lord Neddard Stark declared war against the king along with the Vale, Riverlands and Stormlands. As a part of the Stark domain Ser Roc and Ser Tran were chosen to lead my squad to fight. Now we’re all gathered at the Trident in Riverlands, led by Robert Baratheon, Paramount of the Stormlands, waiting for the king’s army that’s marching North. When they try to cross the river at the ford, we will ambush them. The Northerners, us, are to join the Baratheons to charge the centre of the formation. I don’t wish for glory, just that we survive.