Maybe it was the stress of putting together a community.
Maybe it was watching Grayson flip a cot with a flick of his fingers… while he was sitting ten feet away. (Thank gods no one else saw it.)
Maybe… maybe I'm just a nincompoop who's better suited to guarding cockroach cupboards.
I'm not sure what did it, but today was absolutely HORRIBLE.
I've been struggling with proper assembly of Pubton since day one. Just when things seem to be going well, people argue over priorities. I'm hard pressed to argue back, 'cause I can't figure out what's more important. Working the fields? Raising the animals? Building the houses? Establishing trade? Setting down laws and taxation and economical shite like that? I bop all over the board from day to day, and though my constituents are sometimes content with my orders and requests, they just as often ignore me and go about their normal business.
Take yesterday as an example. After I'd extracted myself from the realm of the rats, I went back to work. I'd decided that the watermill for grinding crops should take precedence, and I ordered five labourers to work on the foundation of the building. They would have to dredge up some rocks from the river or find a quarry or something to get started.
One worker, precious, happy-go-lucky Morris, agreed. He'd already finished with his cows for the day. The rest absolutely did not. They argued, saying the houses were more important than a watermill that would be frozen solid in two months. Then one said HIS house was most important because he was going to be the town tanner, and that sparked a debate with a passing noble who INSISTED that he have his personal quarters completed first. It ended in a fistfight, and nobody worked on the watermill.
And they were right not to. The watermill would be useless in the winter. Doi.
I stayed up much of the night in the pub's kitchen, where I could get some privacy, fretting over what the rats had said and attempting to draw out a Civic Progression Plan. Y'know, some formal document that would outline what, where, and when we would do things over the next couple months. This would not be a suggestion, it would be a cemented strategy with a big, official name.
I presented the plan to everyone today. It… didn't go over well.
"What the hell are you on about?!" Lonnie the Noble shouted from the roiling crowd surrounding the golden tree, jabbing a finger at me with the verve of a master swordsman. "You can't put everyone on a single project at a time! That's idiotic! You need to spread out the workforce!"
"Yeah!" yelled a peasant whom I couldn't identify. "Ain't no use puttin' lumberjacks on farm duty! Leave that to th'bloody farmers! 'n why the hell should tillin' the fields come afore buildin' houses?!"
"We need food!" I insisted, looking desperately for Robert, thinking the town's cook might raise a hand in agreement. "I'm sure you all don't want to eat grass soup forever -"
"I'm tired of sleeping in a tiny cot!" Robert bellowed, crushing my hope for support. "Me 'n Bora are jammed together every night -"
"Oh, yeah, complain about bein' squished up with that darlin', hey, you wanna give her up, I'll be a pair of warm arms -"
"Yeah? Yeah? How's about I show you MY warm arms, see how much you like a fist to the face -"
"Enough!" I shouted, trying to infuse my voice with the same spastic energy I'd used the week before, stomping on the ground. "Enough, enough, enough!"
It didn't work. Fights were breaking out everywhere. The overriding theme behind the Civic Progression Plan, bringing everyone together as a single community, had failed. Too many self-interested bastards forced it into failure.
"You're incompetent!" a noble shouted, shortly before his scraggly ruff disappeared into the crowd. "Incompetent, incompe -"
Libby pulled me away from the golden tree, out of harm's way. I was too stunned at the effect of political decision-making on this crowd of normally nice folks to protect myself. Barrel, who'd been watching from the boughs of the tree - he really likes that thing - swooped down, turned into a dragon the size of a grizzly, and delivered us from the crowd. Once we were safely out he turned to full size, roared, and brought everyone under control.
I hid the rest of the day, relegating my normal tasks to Harold, whom I've more or less hired as my personal assistant. I was too humiliated by the utter failure of my plan to show my face. Grayson kept me company as I sat in the rat warrens, staring at the roots.
King Jeffrey never faced disobedience like this while he was in charge. I mean, he did eventually, but for several years he ran his tyrannical kingdom without many peeps of complaint from the populace. His decisions were a HELL of a lot worse than mine.
How'd he do it?
I keep coming back to one word to answer that question.
Dragomir the Mayor