This, all of this, began so normally. It was all going well, from the Kings perspective, so well.
The Vessel had completed their training for the day and they and the king were resting on the balcony, overlooking the glowing white gardens below. He looked towards them; and then, they simply looked back. Without prompting, without a command, without previous instructions to respond as such. At first he turned away, dashed out the door and through the halls of the palace, tried to brush it off in his mind. Saying a single little action shouldn't mean anything.
He tried thinking back if maybe he had given them instructions to respond to his gaze like that.
But the panicked king couldn't deny that he hadn't, that that little, simple action, that would mean nothing for most beings, shattered his reality. They had just done something of their own will.
And so he ran back through the halls to face them and… toss them away like the rest? Raise them? Just keep running?
Just as he burst into the room, he saw… nothing? And then he looked down, seeing them, sobbing on the floor staring up at him with worry, knowing their failure to be hollow. Then he quickly realized he had no idea how to comfort them.
"Hey there, uh, vessel, don-don't worry. I'll… your mother! I'll bring you to her!"
And so the king dashed through the halls once more, this time shedding even more grace, attracting the attention of the baffled royal retainers in the process.
"White! Help, they aren't hollow. Please, agh, I don't know, hug them?" he spouted as he burst into the throne room.
The White Lady stared down, baffled at what she'd heard and the tiny black tears falling from the pure ve- no, apparently just vessels face.
"Oh, you poor thing." She cooed as she truly processed what she'd just heard.
"What… what do we do, then?" the root asked as the vessel ran straight towards her, oh, they looked so tired.
"Too many have fallen to the infection, we don't have enough time to make another solution."
the Pale King stated, quivering at his own words.
"The Radiance has… settled in Hallownest, correct? All those in her hivemind are here and unlikely to leave?" the White Lady pondered, mind already racing with thoughts of the lands beyond Hallownest as the vessel slumped against her.
"What do you… no! We've lived here for ages, I've been building up this kingdom here for centuries, we can't simply abandon all our work!" the king shouted.
"What other choice do we have?" the root asked, and at that, the king went silent.
"If you leave Hallownest; your aura, your gift to bugkind comes with. We can flee this land with the remaining inhabitants and find somewhere hospitable beyond the wastelands. We both know they don't go on forever." The root offered, the tiny vessel sitting against her falling asleep.
"As much as I hate to admit it, leaving this place behind appears to be the most beneficial option, how many shall we be taking with us?" the king stated.
"It's rather morbid to say, but since most have fallen to the infection, I believe we can take anyone who's willing to come." the queen reasoned.
"Well then, it's decided. Pack up the essentials, and have Dryya spread the word, I'll get some of our retainers to do the same." the king stated.
In the City of Tears
The sentry stood shocked at what he'd just heard. He waited so long to see what the Pale Kings plan was to stop the infection, and now he's gotten word that the plan is apparently just running out of Hallownest?
"Agh, I mean, I will, but I thought with the time he's been working on his plan, that it would stop the infection instead of just fleeing from it?" he stated.
"Yeah, don't know why it took him so long to think of 'run away'." another mentioned.
"Well, I suppose we should start packing. At least we'll see the stars." the first stated.
"Yeah, I've only seen the surface once when I was younger, spent most of my life down here in the city. Could be real nice to finally see it again." the other informed.
The city was in a sort of organized chaos, everyone panicking to pack up what they need, and for some, maybe a bit more.
Cooked Tiktik and canteens were flying from the shelves, bedsheets torn from their mattresses, and nails ripped from their racks.
"Can't leave without this!" yelled a upper class chap as he grabbed his family portrait, the 900 geo piece towering over him.
"Get to Kings Pass, we're leaving to the left of it!" shouted a royal retainer, dashing through the halls of the towers.
"You have everything, right? The sleeping cocoons, tiktiks, edible mushrooms, canteens, water purifiers, nails, lanterns, pencils and paper?" inquired Lurien the Watcher.
"Yes sir." One of his knights answered back.
"And you checked every house to make sure we have everyone?" Lurien asked with clear worry in his voice.
"Yes, every house and workstation, all informed of the evacuation and given an idea of what to bring." the knight responded.
"Everyone, we will be leaving in 5 minutes, get yourselves to the elevator leading to the Eternal Crossroads at once." boomed Lurien over his city.
"What do you think is even beyond the wastes, Lurien?" his butler asked, her mind wondering.
"I'm not sure, but we have our King to guide us and protect us from the mind deteriorating winds of those lands. And we can finally leave the infection behind." Lurien assured.
And so the bittersweet march towards Kings Pass began.