An Unwilling Prince Chapter 12: Cannibalism

Kern rolled over. His expression, cast in shadows by the moonlight, was bitter. “I don’t want to be a farmer. I want to be a swordsmith,” he confessed. “My Dad says it’s too late for me to be an apprentice to any of the smiths, but really he just wants someone to take over his farm.”

Jonathan felt like he was looking at a younger version of himself. He hated it, yet there were things that he wished he had known then. Jonathan might as well pass some advice on if he was asked. Albeit considering how things turned out he likely shouldn’t be giving advice to anyone. His personal bias on this question was also rather strong, but he didn’t think he should tell the kid to give up on his dreams.

Besides, who was Jonathan to say just stick to the safe life and have happiness in normality? His own situation gave him some insight, but he had also seen too many people who were made miserable because of what they had been forced into by their families.

Jonathan wondered why giving advice was so complicated. “If you really feel like you want to . . .” he hesitated before sighing and rubbing at the bridge of his nose. “If you really feel like you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life then go do it. Try to talk to your father and convince him first, and plan out what you’re actually going to do whether you leave with his blessing or not. And you’re going to need to wait a few years, you’re far too young right now.” He wasn’t sure whether or not he hoped Kern rethought his dreams and didn’t chase them, or whether the kid managed to succeed as a swordsmith.

Kern sounded just as unsure as Jonathan felt. “What if I do run away?”

“Make sure your family still knows you love them. That’s . . . really all you can do if you run away.” Jonathan regretted not doing that.

Kern was thinking for a while in the silence that followed. Eventually he asked, “What’s your dream?”

“Happiness.”

“Are you not happy now?”

“No. I’m miserable.” Jonathan drummed his fingers against the rough wood. He laughed quietly as he added, “I have been for a long time.”

Kern looked confused, eyes wide and both of his eyebrows were raised. “How are you going to get happiness? What are you going to do to get it?”

“I’m not sure exactly.” It wasn’t Jonathan’s fault he hadn’t planned out his new life in this world yet. He had just gotten here a few days ago. “I’m thinking of just trying to live a normal, good life.”

“That doesn’t sound too bad, I guess.”

Jonathan smiled slightly. “Thanks.”

“I . . . That’s all I was thinking about,” Kern muttered. He sounded embarrassed now that the conversation was over. “I want to sleep.”

Jonathan wanted to tease the kid but held himself back. It was rather awkward to tell people anything personal like that.

———

Jonathan woke up, checked that his saddlebags hadn’t been stolen from, and tended to the fire while the farmer and his son continued to catch fish. Once the fire wasn’t in danger of dying out, he carved into a branch of softwood. He kept having to shift positions, as the wind and smoke seemed to target wherever he sat.

Kern gutted and brought his catch back. He rubbed a handful of spices into each, then spitted the fish and set them around the fire.

Jonathan continued whittling while they waited for the fish to cook. The wood turned slowly into a proud zweihander.

“What are you making?” Kern asked.

“A zweihander. It’s a large, double handed sword. It used to be carried by Germ . . .” Jonathan quickly corrected himself, “. . . by fearsome mercenaries.” He finished it and handed the carving over. “This is for you. Good luck with whatever you decide to do, kid.”

“I’m not a kid,” Kern protested and yet accepted the carving anyway.

“Uh-huh. Sure.” Jonathan ruffled Kern’s hair and got a glare for it. He looked over towards Biscuit to check if the mare had wandered too far away. Instead of going for grass, Biscuit seemed to be nosing at one of the saddlebags that Jonathan had put in the wagon for the night.

“Hey, no,” Jonathan scolded. He went over and grabbed the mare’s lead. “What are you even looking for in there?” He opened the flap of the bag to see the biscuit they hadn’t eaten last night for dinner on top.

Jordi walked by. He was headed to the fire, having finished fishing. The old farmer was carrying gutted fish, strung together through their gills. He tilted his head at the situation. “Is she looking for a treat in there?” He guessed.

“I think so.”

“What’s she trying for?”

“A biscuit.”

The farmer laughed loudly and slapped Jonathan on the back. “Well, that’s fine now and then. Give her one if you want to.” He held up his fish. “We have more than enough for breakfast with the three of us.”

Jonathan pulled out the biscuits and closed the bag. He offered it with his hand flat to ensure he wouldn’t get a finger bitten off.

Biscuit took the offering immediately. She chomped twice and swallowed.

Jonathan stared at the strange scene before him. A biscuit was eaten by Biscuit. He couldn’t help but think it was, in a strange way, cannibalism due to the horse’s namesake.

The mare nosed at the bag again in the hopes of another treat.

“No. The rest are for us,” Jonathan scolded. He decided to put the bags near the fire and tie Biscuit’s lead to the wagon to keep the horse from attempting to steal another treat.

 

A/N

What is everyone’s favorite type of bread? I like sourdough, wheat, and sweet dessert ones.

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About Luxa Ren

Writer of An Unwilling Prince. Longtime reader, fanfic writer, artist, and animator. Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/thesilverhunt3r Tumblr: https://anunwillingprince.tumblr.com/

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