The thing about death was that when it stared at you in the face, you had only had one of three options: fight back, accept it like a coward, or try to outrun it for as long as you could. But fighting back wasn't an option here, and as a king, he was not a coward. No matter how anyone looked at it, all three choices were as bleak as a sunless world. But when bounty hunters were baying at your back, the third option seemed the most likely to keep you alive for maybe a day longer.

Every cell in his body was on fire as he raced through the forest, every step putting just a little more distance between him and the hunters. Everything burned with wild panic, the desperate need to get as far away as he possibly could from his pursuers overwhelming; nothing else mattered at the moment.

"There he is! Get him!"

"Put down your lance! We were ordered to keep him alive."

What lies. Everyone was out to kill him; either for who he was or for what he was planning. Perhaps this was the only curse his royal lineage brought upon him, but it was a curse that was easily broken and he would soon break it. That was on his pride as a king.

He had no idea how these people found out the truth about him, but he refused to let them capture him, no matter what. A king didn't allow himself to get caught.

Exposed skin scratched up by that bramble from earlier? No problem. Tree branches snapping in his face every five seconds? Annoying, yes, but he'd been through far, far worse. But if he was totally honest, this was completely beneath him as a king.

As long as he didn't have to relive the day when fire curled and crackled at the sky and the painful screams of his people flooded his ears, he could take on any horrendous situation this stupid world decided to throw at him. He was a king, not some wannabe peasant complaining about spoiled milk.

And while he could easily outrun any grown man, he wasn't sure if he could outrun a dog. Especially if it was a trained hunting hound, bred for this specific purpose. He didn't get a good glimpse at his pursuers before they started chasing him, but if they had any dogs with them, his chances of escaping, alive or dead, were slim. Even so, as a king, he refused to go down so unceremoniously! He would make these bounty hunters regret the day they were born and force them to live the rest of their lives in utter shame. Fully-grown adults failing to catch a mere teenager? Pathetic!

Squinting through the dim light filtering through the thick forest canopy, he grinned in relief upon seeing a clearing in the distance. Mustering up the last of his strength, he hurtled himself forward as fast as he could, only to quickly brake, arms flailing. It was a cliff, a damn cliff now out of all times. It was a sheer hunk of rock looking down on even more forest, with thicker trees covered in needles he did not want to deal with right now. Kings didn't fall onto forests during a getaway. Only idiotic adventurers did that. Taking a few steps back, he glanced behind him uneasily only to have the wet mud under his feet give way, dropping him down gods know how many feet into the forest below.

Dammit…!