Aerion looked at the four horses and chose the most vibrant of them all. All of them were of a similar breed; chargers, the most common type of warhorse. The only difference was their colour and Aerion chose the whitest horse. It wasn't purely white, looking slightly grey but it would do. It reminded him of the mounts that shining knights would ride.
"As expected, you chose the one that stands out the most."
Jaime stated before turning.
Elia chose a brown charger and mounted it with the assistance of Jaime. "Thank you, Ser."
He took some of the supplies from the Lannister men and loaded it onto her saddle. One of the bags had a detailed map of southern Westeros. Being an educated knight, however, Jaime did not require such a tool but it would certainly help him with the finer details nevertheless. Following that, he did the same to their white horse and loaded it with supplies. Now the largest problem arose and it was focused around Aerion.
He looked at the relatively tall, intimidating, charger and back at Jaime. "I'll need to be picked up."
"That is no issue... holding on, however, is a different matter." Jaime lifted him onto the saddle and chuckled. "Try not to fall, my prince."
"I won't fall," Aerion promised.
"Confident... good." Jaime nodded with great approval.
The horse was surprisingly tame and so, Jaime mounted it himself with great ease. After placing his feet into the saddle pads and grabbeding the reins of the horse, he was ready to ride. "Would you prefer to sit in the front or the back?"
"The front," Aerion replied as it would have been quite impractical to place him at the back now. More importantly, he wished to see the land ahead of him without many obstacles.
"I would have suggested the back... but the front will do as well. I'll hold onto you at times but it will be up to you to keep your balance when I start galloping." Jaime stated. "We will start slow to better acquaint you to keeping your balance, of course."
Aerion nodded. "Alright."
Being a lady of House Dorne, Elia Martell naturally knew how to ride a horse. Most nobles were expected to have that skill, especially in Dorne where there was greater equality between the two genders. Horse riding was taught to her from a young age so she found no trouble with it. This was a great benefit to their journey because they would all have to walk if she could not ride. Also, with two horses, they could carry a greater amount of supplies which would make their journey more straightforward.
As they started to ride slowly, Aerion had to ask the questions that were on his mind the entire time. "How did the Lannisters manage to enter the walls of King's Landing?"
Jaime grit his teeth slightly and sighed soon after. It was not something he wanted to answer but the truth would come out sooner or later and he'd rather explain it in his perspective. "Your grandfather, the King, opened the gates of King's Landing to my father's host, believing his claim that he was loyal. He was not... and so, his men tore through King's Landing once they got past the gates."
"What about my Grandfather, how did he fall?"
"I was there to see him fall, yes. You do know of his most recent obsession?"
Jaime nodded. "Yes, wildfire... something closer to the breath of a true dragon. After he realised that King's Landing will fall into the Rebellion's hands, he sent out his Hand to light the wildfire beneath the city. This stack of wildfire would have been enough to turn King's Landing into a ruin, burning away half a million people along with it."
"My grandfather was going to do such a thing... he was mad to the core, it seems. My father should have been King years ago."
"Indeed, he should have." Jaime agreed. "I slew Rossart and, following that, to protect King's Landing, I entered the throne room and I..."
"Killed my grandfather?" Aerion replied.
"Yes, I broke my oath to protect him."
"I was not fond of him," Aerion admitted. "Although he was fond of me, I found it hard to see him in a positive light due to his terrible acts and overall appearance. In the end, you saved King's Landing while failing your duties to the old King who would have died to Tywin anyway. Kingslaying is a great crime that would result in certain death... but you have done much good through and after it."
"You saved me and my mother from a terrible fate... that alone makes you a greater Kingsguard than the rest in this era except for, maybe, Ser Arthur. Your loyalty is something that I will never be able to repay..."
Jaime chuckled, gladened with his response. It set his heart at ease and removed the heavy weight of guilt that had been weighing him down. "There is no need for you to repay me, my prince. Except for a single promise... if you are willing."
"And what would that be?" Aerion inquired, rather curious as to what the promise could be.
"In truth, it is two promises in one. No matter where you find yourself in the future, you must always remember your identity. You are Aerion Targaryen, the last living son of Rhaegar Targaryen and the rightful King... promise to me that you will remember this and not let any other man or woman tell you otherwise."
Aerion nodded. "That's simple enough..."
"Good. And now, for the second promise... I wish to be your Kingsguard until the very end. Is that acceptable?"
"Of course!" Aerion nodded. "Why wouldn't it be?"
"Good." Jaime smiled and patted his silver hair. "It means that one day, you will be King and I will be there to see it."
I will always be there, as you grow into a King until you first rest upon the Iron Throne... until I die. I will always be your sword and shield, wherever you journey... I will be a Kingsguard as great as any other, if not greater than them.
For Aerion's safety, Jaime was willing to give away everything he had.
"Let's first arrive at a safe keep in Dorne before speaking of such matters." Aerion used Jamie's advice against him.
Jamie chuckled. "Yes, that would be wise."
Elia calmly and rather silently listened in on their conversation. Jamie seemed to be more fond of Aerion than his own father which was quite unusual. The two had an unbreakable bond, one that was of a child prince and his loyal knight. Though, Aerion was no ordinary child. He had shocked the court with his extraordinary genius countless times before, from being the youngest walker to the youngest one to talk, read and even write. Everything came so easily to him. This made their bond only stronger as they could converse since he was more mature in the mind.
In terms of her late husband, Elia thought that Rhaegar was more fond of Lyanna Stark than the rest of his family. She was the woman who tore everything apart in her mind. Elia was not wrong to believe this as most of Robert's fury had come from Lyanna's 'kidnapping'. She was most pleased to see that Aerion had someone as capable and loyal as Jamie taking care of him. She loved her child dearly, after all.
He had always been so cheerful... and this war does not seem to have dulled his light yet. I hope that it never will...
Elia made a silent prayer to the Mother, so that she may protect him from the darkness of the world.
They rode across the Kingswood, taking several days and nights. When they were a few hours away from the edge, they camped in the day for some rest. As fire would standout in the night, they had to manage and sleep in the morning. Aerion tended to sleep while they rode in the night so he was given the duty of guarding the two adults in the day.
Due to the Kingswood's kind terrain, there were many places to hide and rest so they could effectively avoid confrontations. However, they were found on this occasion. A Lannister soldier had decided to search deeper in the woods and found Aerion collecting some nearby apples. He had only left their little hideout for a minute or so but... unfortunately, that was enough.
"FOUND EM, THE PRINC-"
Aerion blasted the soldier without hesitation but it was already too late. The soldier had exclaimed as loudly as he could, signalling those closest to him to rally. Fortunately, there were only three of them when they did ride to Aerion who was not hiding in the slightest.
"Ah, the silver-haired prince is right here... we struck gold today!" One of the mounted soldiers laughed with great delight. "Come here, boy, and we won't harm you."
"You will have to lift me first... I'm not walking back." Aerion stated, with a hidden glint in his eyes.
"What about Joff?" One of the men stated with great worry. "I don't see him anywhere."
"He probably took a piss from delight." The last soldier chuckled.
"What is Joff compared to the bloody Targaryen prince of the Seven Kingdoms? Nevermind him for now, let's bring the prince home." The Lannister soldier dismounted and walked closer to Aerion. "You said that you wanted to lifted, eh?"
Aerion nodded with his hands behind his back.
Once he was close enough, Aerion moved as swift as lightning, his dagger piercing the man's testicles most frighteningly. The soldier's scream seemed to have resounded across the entire forest, it was a scream that should not belong to a man... yet it did. The man fell back and Aerion started to stab every point of his body that was less protected by armour, eventually making him fall and ending it by opening his throat.
The last two Lannister men looked at the innocent-looking prince with great fear in their eyes.
"This is no prince... that is a monster."
Aerion's second blast of fire set the mounted soldier alight, leaving only one man out of the original four alive. The last soldier forgot about everything... except for his life, riding away as swiftly as he could. It did not matter where... he just wished to be as far away from the little monster as possible.
Aerion took a deep breath, leaning against the tree and slowly falling onto its roots. The blood-stained dagger fell onto the ground. He sat on the tree and truly wondered...
Am I... a monster?
He had already killed five men as a three-year-old. It had come from instinct... the instinct to survive. But, once his blood stopped running with fury, he couldn't help but see himself as what the man had described him.
After some deep thought, he remembered what Jaime had told him days ago.
I am... Aerion Targaryen, the last living son of Rhaegar Targaryen... and the Rightful King.
He managed a smile and found the stomach to eat a fresh apple from the tree. Jaime Lannister soon joined him, clearly shaken awake from his slumber.
"My prince... you handled them all on your own?"
"There were four of them. Two turned to ash, one fell to my dagger and the other galloped away in fear. You can rest again... they didn't even touch me."
"No, we will be leaving the Kingswood at the greatest speed possible. This single man can cause us many problems... but not if we ride away. Then lady Elia can rest when we find a more suitable place outside of these woods."
"Very well. Want an apple before we ride out, Ser Jaime?"
"I'll take one." Jaime shrugged and took upon Aerion's offer of an apple. "It is... bittersweet."
"Indeed.... mine was too."
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