Hern Growing Up: Age 14

~ Prologue ~

Herns father had done really well with spending time with Hern up until his 12th birthday. It sent Azaiah into a spiraling depression. Azaiah and Sonata had made big plans for his 12th and here the king was. A single father on it. He threw himself completely into work. No matter what Hern did he could barely get any of his fathers time.

It wounded Hern deeply. They had grown a stronger relationship than they ever had and now here his father was throwing it away again. It was now the morning of his 14th birthday and Hern remembered what he had told himself when he was 10. If his father didn’t want a son that was fine. He would leave right after breakfast. No reason to stay another day when Azaiah didn’t even know today was his birthday. The king had forgotten last year too.

~ Chapter 1 ~

Hern ate his breakfast angrily. Once he was done he got up and went to his fathers office. Azaiah wasn’t there so he went to his dads room. He was laying in the bed “Father” Hern exclaimed. Azaiah didn’t answer so Hern yelled again. Azaiah turned over “what.”

“I’m leaving, I don’t want to live in this castle or with you. All you do is work or lay in this room. You don’t even care that today is my birthday. Mom would be disappointed in you if she could see you now. I’m leaving to live in the wild. Don’t send anybody after me because I will not be coming back to live here again.”

“Hern I..” Hern shut his fathers door and walked out the castle. Hern had atleast hoped Azaiah would come after him but he wasn’t. Hern felt this was the right choice. This way his dad couldn’t hurt him any longer. Azaiah just sat up in the bed and cried again. He really hadn’t know today was Herns birthday. He hardly ever knew what day it was any more.

He wanted to chase Hern but felt it fruitless. He couldn’t promise him he’d be better because he didn’t know if he could. He had let himself fall apart and couldn’t pick up the pieces. All he could do in this moment was cry. He felt weak and ashamed. Fallon was on her way to the castle with a cake for Hern when she saw him walking by. “where are you going Hern?”

“I’m leaving the castle.”

“Hern”

“Don’t try to convince me otherwise Fallon.”

“Will you atleast eat this cake I made you first?”

“If we can eat it at your house. I’m not going home.” Fallon nodded and they walked to her home. The cake was delicious. “Thank you so much Fallon. Atleast someone cares about my birthday.”

“Your father”

“Don’t you dare make excuses!” Hern snapped and Fallon went silent. “I love you Hern, please keep in contact with me.”

“I will Fallon. You’ve always remained good to me. I love you very much. I will see you often I swear it.” Fallon knew this to be true and smiled. Fallon didn’t push it any further. She knew this had to happen. If Hern didn’t leave the castle him and Suri would never be. His future if he didn’t leave his father was to never marry. Suri was truly the only woman he could fall in love with. Azaiah would never set it up if he didn’t need to get his son back.

This was another sad piece of history but a very vital one. If she said anything that made him go back it would greatly hurt the future of the kingdom. When Hern was done he hugged Fallon. “Take care of yourself. I’ll be angry if I visit and you’re not.” Fallon laughed “I will. Please come to me if you need anything.”

“Thanks” Hern started to walk. He had no real plan, no real destination. He was just going to roam the land and maybe some other worlds for the rest of his life. Hern was walking through the forest when he heard Lokie calling to him. “Hern! Where are you going?”

“Nowhere just away.”

“Away?”

“I’m leaving the castle.”

“why?”

“I don’t want to live with my father any longer.”

“You cant abandon the castle. You must be our king one day.”

“I wont, you already knew that.”

“Yeah but I thought you’d grow up Hern. It’s your job!”

“I thought you were my friend”

“I thought you weren’t such a baby.” Hern ran off kicking up dust in Lokies face. It would be the last words between them for a very long time. Hern was upset his best friend wasn’t more understanding. Why should he have to rule just because he was born of the king. It wasn’t fair. Azaiah could just appoint sombody. It shouldn’t have to be him. Hern wouldn’t be forced into it. He hoped Lokie would understand some day.

~ Chapter 2 ~

Lokie was still bothering Hern. He wondered if this really was the right choice. He shook his head. Lokie had no idea what life had been since his mothers passing. “He has no right to judge my choices” Hern thought to himself. A Pegasus caught Herns attention. Hern thought of them as the worlds most beautiful creatures. He walked up to it slowly trying not to scare the creature “May I ride you” Hern asked slightly bowing. It closed its wings and allowed Hern to climb on.

The Pegasus soared through the sky. It was an amazing sight. “Thank you” Hern whispered to the creature as it took him further and further away from the castle. Some lands below looked scary while others gorgeous. Hern loved the feel of the wind across his face. This was the life, his new life. He knew this would be much happier than the castle.

When the Pegasus landed Hern was sad but knew they could only fly so long. He gently ran his hand across it’s back and thanked her again. “be safe my friend. Thank you so much.” He was surprised she carried him so long. It must have been about four hours judging by the sun. He knew it must be a pretty young horse.

He had no idea where he was but his lifes plan was spending a lot of time in places he had never seen. The grass felt crunchy in this area. He had never felt grass like this. All around his castle the grass was very soft. Almost liek the wool on a sheep. He liked the sound the grass made as he stepped on it. He began walking in a zig zag fashion just to hear the noise. He laughed and carried on like this until a dark hunched over man said “are you daft?”

Hern looked over at him offended “no, I’m just having fun. Are you normally an asshole?” The man laughed “You just looked silly is all. No need to get in such a knot my prince.”

“That was mighty bold knowing I’m the prince.”

“It’s no secret you dont wish for king so I wasn’t worried. You’ll never have power if you’re not king so can’t punish me.”

“I could have my father do it.”

“That depressed sack of flesh? please, he barely does a thing any more. Just mourns his wife.” Hern scowled. “You are an ass.” Hern stormed off wanting to get away from the man before he fought with him. He didn’t want to start his new life rolling around with some jerk. A few butterflies caught his attention and he followed them until he reached a meadow. Herns mouth dropped open. The entire thing was blanketed in them. It was beautiful. He ran out into them and they all flew at once.

He spun in circles looking at them all.Glad he had stumbled on such a sight. He sighed and sat down. He knew his mother would’ve loved this. Sonata was never too far from his thoughts. Hern laid down hoping some of the butterflys would come back so he could admire their beauty again. He wished there was a way to save moments like that so he could see them over and over.

It began to rain so Hern started looking for cover. He eventually stumbled upon a cave. He settled himself inside. Gazing out at the rain he layed against the wall. It smelled odd in here but the rain was making him freezing so he had to stay. He’d leave the second the rain ceased even if it took until night fall.

~ Chapter 3 ~

Hern heard something moving in the back of the cave than heard a screech. A huge centipede like creature lunged at him. Hern ran out into the cold rain and the creature gave chase. Hern ran as fast as he could. He was barely keeping out of the monsters grasp. His heart was thundering and he felt panicked. Its legs looked so sharp. Hern knew it ate people. He ran and ran, eventually the creature gave up. Hern kept running even when it stopped. He wanted to get as far away as possible incase it changed its mind and started for him again.

The rain was still falling hard. He was in wide open land with no shelter in sight. He had worn himself out so couldn’t run. His only choice was to sit in the freezing rain. He rattled, his skin feelings like ice and starting to sting everytime the rain hit him.He hoped he wouldn’t get sick. His mother would get so upset when he’d stay out in the rain.

The sun went down and it was still pouring. Hern curled up in a ball and went to sleep. Hern woke feeling something on him. He jumped noticing he was in a bed. He wasn’t home so didn’t understand where he could be. A male Satyrs voice broke Herns thoughts. “What’s a young boy like you doing laying in the field at night, not to mention it pouring rain. Didn’t your mother ever tell you children dont belong out in the rain?”

“she did sir but I’ve run away from home.” The saytr looked thoughtful ‘I did too of sorts. Not my place to judge you. You look like a fit boy and obviously have nowhere to go. I need some help around here with a couple monsters that keep bothering me. I can teach you to fight while you help me. You’ll need fighting skills living on your own. It’s a win win situation my boy. What do you say you stay here for a time. Until you’re trained enough to protect yourself properly?”

“sure” Hern said. He looked forward to learning to fight better. “good, would you like some breakfast?”

“Yes please”

“I’m Aaron by the way.”

“I’m Hern” Aaron didn’t know this was the prince. He kept to himself and away from interactions with the castle. Hern could tell the man didn’t know who he was and was glad of it. He didn’t need another person looking down on him for leaving. “How old are you son?”

“14 today”

“Ah a man I see” Aaron said with a smile. “Yeah” Hern said proudly. The breakfast was very good. “why do you live alone?” Hern asked. “I prefer it. I never fancied the married life or being around people for that matter. Nobody ever comes out here. You are the first person I’ve seen in a long time. I couldn’t leave a boy in the cold rain and like I said I need some help. I can’t let the monsters run me out of my home. You look strong for a man your age.”

“I work out a lot to relieve frustration.”

“There’s no ladies willing to help you with that?” The grown man winked and Hern laughed “I’m not interested in love.”

“Don’t need love for that, just lust.” Hern laughed again. “Come gather blueberries with me Hern”

“Alright” hern said quickly getting to his feet. Aaron grabbed a walking stick and they exited the small home. Soon they were in the woods and found a bunch of bushes with blueberries. Hern held set the bowl down Aaron had him carrying and the two of them began to pick. Hern accidently smashed a few so his hands were covered in blue. Aaron wanted to tease the boy but decided against it. He didn’t want to make Hern uncomfortable.

~ Chapter 4 ~

They spent the day discussing all the monsters he needed help taking down in numbers. Aaron explained how to kill each one and what skills each monster possessed. Hern listened intently to make sure he didn’t miss a single detail. Aaron kept reminding him to ask questions if he needed to. “I don’t want you getting slain trying to help me young man.”

“I wont. I’m as tough as they come”

“You say that with such confidence. I’m very glad. I think you will do well. Lets catch some dinner.”

“what’re we catching?”

“Rabbit” Hern stood and they went into the woods. They caught and killed one easily then Aaron cooked it. Hern went to sleep eagerly. He couldn’t wait to fight tomorrow. He was glad to have somthing exciting to do. At the castle Azaiah was sad to see another sunset without Hern home. He hoped the prince wasn’t really serious, that it was a bluff. Apparently it wasn’t. Azaiah went to his bed like always. He wondered how different things would be if he had his queen.

Dawn came and Aaron woke Hern “ready?”

“Lets go!” Hern said excitedly. “Today we fight giants. It’s a big start for a newcomer but I think you can handle it.”

“I know I can” Aaron loved how confident Hern was. A man was nothing without his confidence. It wasn’t long before a very vicious looking giant was standing before them. “Remember what I told you about these things yesterday Hern.”

“I will” Hern said as they both ran towards it. It wasn’t long before the giant was down. Hern had never felt so much triumph. Aaron could see the pride on Herns face and smiled. “You did good boy. I bet your father would be proud.”

“I guess” Aaron saw Herns father may be a sore spot so decided to try not to mention him again. “Lets find the other one that’s been causing me trouble”

“Ok” Hern said glad he didn’t speak more on Azaiah. Hern didn’t want to think about his dad. The second one took much longer to find. Hern was just about to ask if they could find some food when Aaron said “There he is!” This one looked even stronger. Hern was actually slightly intimidated. He knew he could do it though. He knew all the facts and trusted his abilities as a fighter. When Aaron was ready Hern ran with him to fight. The giant Mercious managed to get Hern in his hands and squeezed him. Hern felt like his ribs might break when Aaron finally killed the Mercious. The giant fell still holding tightly to Hern. When Aaron helped him out of Mercious’s grasp Hern gasped for air holding his ribs. “Lets get you home and get some food in ya.”

“I’d like that” Hern said pained. They walked back at Herns pace. Aaron hoped Hern wasn’t hurt too badly. When they stepped into Aarons house Aaron said “You fought well. I’m very impressed. Sorry you got hurt though.”

“I’ll be fine, lets just eat” Aaron grabbed some fruit and gave it to Hern. They ate in silence then got ready for bed. “will we do the same tomorrow.”

“If you’re up to it”

“Yes I am”

“Good, tomorrow at dawn then” Aaron said smiling.

~ Chapter 5 ~

Hern excitedly jumped out of bed when he saw daylight. They ate and headed out “today Boyters” Hern nodded and followed Aaron. One tried coming at the two from behind but Hern quickly sliced into it’s stomach spilling out the Boyters guts. Four more came out angry. Hern killed them all with ease. aaron stood there shocked. “wow….you…you didn’t even need me.”

“I was born a good fighter.”

“I can see this but it isn’t all birth. You’ve been trained proper.”

“I used to get the guards to train me.”

“The kings guards gave you the time of day? wow” Hern could see Aaron was truly impressed. He wondered if the guards and Knights acted stuck up because of their rank. “Is that enough or do we need to get more.”

“There’s one more group of them I need to take care of”

“Ok, lead the way.” This group were sitting down conversing with eachother it seemed. They stealthily snuck up on the group. They dived and conqured. Once again Aaron was impressed. “You’re an amazing man Hern. I’m glad you are helping me with these.”

“It’s no problem. I’m now living a life of doing whatever I please so I ahve no comitments to worry over”

“Thats my life too. It’s so nice. Would you like to go to a river near by and relax until the sun leaves us?”

“That would be great.”

“Wonderful, follow me.” Soon they reached the river and jumped in. Hern and Aaron laid on the water becoming one with the nature around them. Everything was so peaceful and the air felt so nice. “How long have you been alone?” Hern asked Aaron. “About forty years I think.”

“Wow, still loving it as much as day one?”

“I love it more and more everyday. I’m enjoying your company though so don’t worry.”

“I’ll move on as soon as we’ve handled your problem.”

“Sounds like a plan, it’ll take us about a week I think to clear it all up. Make sure to come back from time to time.”

“I will.”

“Don’t go breaking your word or I wont think so high of you any longer.” Hern was so happy to hear that. He always thought people liked him because he was a prince but he had befriended this man who didn’t know who he was. He had impressed Aaron. Hern felt so much peace. A calm within him that he hadn’t felt since his mom passed. Eventually night started to come so they headed back to Aarons house.

Azaiah was really begining to miss his son. The familiar feeling of regret was in his heart. He had really screwed up adn his son wasn’t going to return. He coudn’t force Hern on to the throne but he hoped before he died his son would return and take what is his by birth right. If not he would have failed as a father. Hern had the makings of a great ruler. Even more so with a good woman by his side to tame that temper

He’d have to keep a calm head as king and Hern was as hot headed as you could come. Azaiahs mind flipped through found memories of his only son. Azaiah sighed and got back to work that was piling on his desk. He neded to snap out of this funk he had let himself slide into. Being king left no time for pity parties. He couldn’t let his kingdom fall to ruin like he now had done to his relationship with his son.

After many hours of work Azaiah heard a knock at his office door “come in” It was Fallon. “What do I owe the pleasure? Especialyl at such a late hour.”

“I was going to give this to you tomorrow but I couldn’t sleep and knew you were up.” Fallon was holding a huge pearl about the size of an torso. “When you want to see Hern just look deeply into this. It will show you how Hern is and what he’s doing.” Azaiah got up and hugged Fallon. “thank you so much. You always know what do to.”

“I know how much you love him.”

“I wish Hern knew.”

“You can’t blame him Azaiah.”

“I don’t, I know it’s me. I really do put my best effort in.”

“was your best effort what got you here?” Azaiah looked at the floor. “you allowed yourself to drown in your sorrow and you neglected Hern. Your best effort isn’t what got us here. I know you didn’t mean him harm though. Don’t try and force him back ok? Thats why i gave you this. You will be able to see him whenever you wish.”

“Thank you Fallon.”

“Thank me by never allowing yourself to wallow in grief again”

~ The End

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