1 The Boy Who Should Have Run From Life

"People told me that no matter what I do, I could never run. But now whenever they open their mouths, I am the one that has to look behind," — Vayne Valentine, The Crippled Prince.

It happened one fine morning. When the birds were singing their songs and the sun gave them the light they wished.

Right when the dew disperses all the evil that might have plagued the night before— but alas, it would seem that not every evil was left behind…


…As a mother mourns and grieves for her son. She gently touched his face, not yet even larger than her palm. She caressed his soft cheeks… and a smile shaped on the baby's lips.

The babe was not dead, no. But the baby was pale; his arms felt like they would break with just a single soft wind. And his legs, they already were— not even capable of a kick.

The babe was not dead, no. But even still, the mother mourned for her son as her soft palms slowly crawled toward his teeny, tiny nose, covering it and his smile completely.

"I… I am so sorry you were born like this," the mother whispered as her tears fell onto her trembling hands,

"I… I will follow you into the next life, my little prince."

The babe was named Vayne.

Vayne of the Valentine. Born to Charlotte, a concubine of Valerion Valentine— a legendary adventurer that vanquished men and beast alike. Earning him the title of the Prince of Explorers.

And suffice to say, earning him riches that would make even nobles kneel before him— and they did.

Charlotte was of noble birth, sold to Valerion by her own family. To be used as nothing but a thing for pleasure.

Charlotte hated every second of it, to be wed to a man that was already married to another. But then she received news that she was to be with child, earlier than Valerion's first wife.

And everything just changed. She started smiling again as if the world became brighter as the life inside her also grew.

She knew there and then, that she would live and die for this babe.

But then… the babe was born a cripple— his legs, twisted in a way they should not.

And all of a sudden, the short happiness she felt disappeared. The happiness she thought would overwhelm and drown her as her son grabbed her for the first time… became the very thing that snatched her happiness.

She loved her son still… but in the world of beasts and angry men, Vayne would be devoured, eaten up alive, and suffer a fate even worse than hers, even worse than death.

Even now, she could already hear the whispers of contempt and mockery.

"It's okay, Vayne…" Charlotte's whimper whispered in the air as she looked away; her hands, still pinning down her son's little head, "Mommy… mommy will follow you."

"Madam, what are you doing!?"

And yet, before life could fade from the babe's eyes, one of Charlotte's maids entered the bright room, only to see its brightness was just a facade.


"..." And as the screams of the maid pierced Charlotte's ears, the color of their bright green eyes returned as she finally looked at her son— and with a gasp, she quickly removed her hand from her son's face and lifted him up.

"What… what have I done!?" Her words stuttered as she hugged her son; her legs, quickly giving out as she fell to the ground.

She cradled her son, once again brushing his face that was now filled with her tears.


"I'm sorry," Charlotte kissed her son's cheek, "Mommy… mommy is sorry. You… I'll… I'll take care of you… mommy will take care of you. Mommy will take care of you… even if the world shuns you, mommy…

…mommy will be here."

That was a mistake. Valerion's first wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy just a year after— extinguishing what little attention Valerion still had left for Charlotte.

The boy was able to outrun death, not yet knowing that it was life he should have run from.

Charlotte was soon isolated on her own, left to take care of Vayne all by herself. She wanted to return home, but her own family threw her away. Telling her that they have already sold her to the Valentine's.

And so, Charlotte asked to be taken back— kneeling in front of Valerion while cradling her barely breathing son.

And from Valerion's mercy, she was. But in one condition, she was to nurse his first wife's son.

'Vayne did not need it', they said. He would die soon anyway. There was no way a cripple like him would survive, they all said.

But no, despite all odds, Vayne survived. The milk from her mother's bosoms that was supposed to be his, he was not even able to taste a drop. It was all drank by his younger brother, Vale.

And yet, Vayne survived.

He survived due to the warmth that Charlotte gave. A warmth that was even hotter than the sun— a warmth containing Charlotte's love and eternal atonement.

Another year had passed, and Vayne still lives. He had already experienced two winters, and yet Vale who was born a year after was already larger than him.

But more importantly, Vale was already walking despite his young age… and yet Vayne still needs to be carried by his mother.

More and more years passed, and Vayne was finally able to walk even with his twisted leg— a limp, and only assisted by a crutch.

And yet at the same time, Vale had already learned the art of the sword and bow.

More years passed, and everyone had already forgotten about the crippled prince. And instead, they praised Vale. Calling him the second coming of the Prince of Explorers, a prodigy amongst all prodigies.

As for Vayne, he was forever locked in his room— with only a mountain of books to accompany him. He did not mind, however. Even as he looked through the window and watched as they celebrated his half-brother, he did not frown or complain, he even smiled.

Proud that his brother could achieve what he could not. He had not talked to his brother even once, but every time, whenever their eyes met, Vale would wave at him, also carrying a smile on his face.

Charlotte warned her not to talk to Vale, but it was alright— he was content with just looking through the window.

Vayne was content with his life of solitude. Despite just being a ghost, a rat hiding in the gaps of the manor— no one mistreated him. Well, at least not straight to his face; as someone who has spent his entire life looking through the window, he has heard many things.

But of course, he did as children do— dream.

He dreamed of becoming like his father, he dreamed of standing by his brother's side as they explored the unknown.

And then, it was time for Vale's Coming of Age ceremony— 15 years old. A chance for Vale to prove himself worthy to hold the name Valentine.

And perhaps, it was also time for Vayne to prove that he, despite all his disabilities, still existed.

After all, for the very first time, Vale did more than just waved at him— he called for him.


And with just that single word, any resentment he might have held from being a prisoner in his own home faded away. And despite all the looks he received from the people outside the window, tears quickly trailed across his cheeks

Tears that cried 'that finally', he wasn't just a ghost in the window. Finally, he had the chance to do the thing he have always wanted to do.

He wiped these tears, however, as his brother ever so slowly approached him, welcoming him with only a smile on his face,

"...Brother," Vayne then also whispered, "What can I do for—"

"I want you to go with us!"

His first words, however, were interrupted by Vale's overwhelming and powerful voice,


"I heard you didn't have your Coming of Age ceremony so…

…let's celebrate it at the same time!"

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