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second chances

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There is a world out there for you.

Is it better to have loved and lost, or to never have loved at all?

Trite words, he thinks. There is no more room for love in his life. The few days that skyfarer spent with him were in an ignorant bliss that was unsustainable. The hamlet continued to crumble around them, rife with traps they were forced to acknowledge for their own safety, and the illusion was close to shattering.

It's a bittersweet relief when the man leaves before the shallow peace deteriorates, allowing him to preserve the moment for eternity. While carrying all of his travel gear, that man says, I have to go again. There's always somewhere to be. No rest for the wicked becomes no rest for the saviours, and here, that man's already done what he needs to.

He watches the skyfarer exit the hamlet. He reaches his hand out, but the motion is an insincere attempt to call him back, and he clenches his fist in the hollow light. He knows his punishment intimately.

When he opens his hand again, the silhouette of the man is already gone.

Ruling is passed onto the second oldest son of the royal family, the only surviving member. Their kingdom has survived, but with desperate need for reconstruction.

Their growing kingdom as a whole was unprepared, bleeding hearts finally let for all their worth. The prince-turned-king—too young to take on the burden, still with the sparkling eyes of youth not yet dampened fully by tragedy—thanks his family for their service.

His family is not without its own losses. They armed the defense, and yet it wasn't enough. They were too inexperienced. Too unprepared. They didn't know enough.

In a way, he regrets leaving his father and his youngest brother behind, the only remnants of his own generations-old blacksmith family. He was the most gifted of the bloodline, but talent means nothing without knowledge. Leaving the only place he's ever called home with Sierokarte and a merchant's son trained in combat, he casts his eyes towards the neverending, blue skies. There are things to learn, people to protect, insight on how the world works. One day, he may be worthy of returning home with knowledge for everyone's sake.

He trusts that his family will survive, and that their small kingdom will rebuild. But he will not fail to protect again.