No matter how much he looked at it, Hex hated his discolored eye. 10 years with it hadn’t helped him accept it any more than he had as a colt. In fact, the longer he had it, the more he tried to hide it from sight. He sighed, pulling his minty hair down over it as he always did. At the very least he looked normal when it was hidden from sight. It wasn’t like he could see through it anyway. Having a hairstyle like this didn’t make it any harder for him as it did for ponies with perfect vision.
But today was a special day. All this time he’d been researching and reading. He’d memorized quite a lot of his mother’s writings and found that there were monsters and ponies alike across Equestria that could either help him themselves or held ingredients that could assist him in possibly removing the damage. His magical skills had grown significantly, and he’d even started on his very own Grimoire. Now that the stallion was officially 18, his father had agreed to allow him to travel outside of their home to explore all of Equestria as he’d wished.
The stallion looked through his room one last time to make sure that he hadn’t forgotten anything he needed. Things had grown quite a bit spookier in there as he’d grown up. Despite his father’s hesitation after the first “incident” with the potion, he’d still tried his best to be supportive of his son’s newfound interests. Even if that meant Hex wanted to sleep in a coffin. Oh boy, did that take a lot of getting used to! At the very least, he’d managed to get one that wasn’t used. The lavender pony’s musical interests had become quite varied over the years as well. While the older pony was fine with some of the calmer music, there were some things Hex listened to that were quite a bit… noisier. His fashion took after his mother much more at first: Earth tones for the most part. However Hex’s clothing wound up much more like the very first cloak he’d taken a liking to. The pretty spiderweb cape-let was his most precious fashion item and the rest of his clothes grew more and more black and bleak as the years went by.
Somehow, Puer never expected his son to go full Goth. But hey, there were far worse things his son could be into. Why should he care if Hex wanted to wear thick eye-liner and all black? The only thing he’d had to put his hoof down on was his son wanting a bat as a pet. Sure the attic was a good place to house the little creature, but their guano was unbearable! Otherwise things the lavender pony wanted were generally accepted. Coffin for a bed? Weird, but sure. Books about death and the afterlife? Creepy, but okay. Tarot cards and pendulums? Sure, what’s the worst that could happen? Spirit board to try and talk to ghosts? Okay, but not in the house. The collections of herbs were easy enough to acquire thanks to Puer’s loose herbs for his tea shop. Crystals were equally easy thanks to the ponies out in the marketplace that sold crystals from their travels.
For the most part, Hex had to leave quite a lot of his collection behind. His hip packs contained only the essentials. On one side he had his Grimoire, bags for herbs, a single pack of Oracle cards, bones with runes on them, and a quill and ink pot. On the other side, he had a small pot for cooking, some travel food, a tightly rolled up blanket, and his bits. For the most part, the Unicorn planned on staying in Inns along the way, but he’d looked up how to make a make-shift shelter should he be stuck in the forest for too long. If anything, he could look for a nice, dark, spooky cave to take refuge in. His father had brought up the possibility of purchasing a wagon to use for his travels as well. On one hoof, it was better shelter and possibly cheaper than staying at inns. On the other hoof, Hex wasn’t sure what kind of terrain he was going to be crossing and there was the possibility that a wagon could be more detrimental. So for now, he decided against it.
As he headed downstairs to say his final goodbyes to his family, Hex could see the worry in his father’s eyes. This was the first time they would be apart for more than a few hours since he’d been born. Bitter was trying her best to look disinterested, but the stallion had learned how to read her well over the years. She was worried too. The mare looked relatively normal to most, save for the socks she wore with strange creatures faces all over them. She’d designed them herself, along with the matching pendant around her neck. They were creatures she’d dreamed about more than once, and shared mostly with her brother. But even the pendant she was rubbing at with her hoof brought her no comfort today.
“Are you sure you’ve got enough food with you?” Puer asked as he looked over his son’s pack.
“Yes, Papa, I’m sure. Any more and it’ll spoil before I can eat it,” Hex answered calmly.
“Are you sure that blanket is going to be enough? It gets cold out there,” his father continued.
“I’ll be staying at lots of Inns, Papa. I’ll be alright. I can always build a fire and sleep beside it if it gets colder than I anticipated.”
“What about bits? Do you have enough bits?”
“I have an entire bag of them. I think I’ll be--”
“I’m going to get you more bits.”
And away went Puer, rushing off to make sure his son had at least another purse full of bits. The two siblings watched him go, both standing in silence before their eyes finally met. Bitter chewed on her bottom lip for a moment or two before she finally stepped forward, trapping her brother in a tight hug without warning.
“Just… be safe, okay?” She asked, nuzzling into his coat.
A soft smile graced his lips as he found himself returning the hug just as tightly.
“I will. And I promise, I’ll write to you both as soon as I get into any town, alright?”
He would simply purchase the paper and envelopes whenever he got to a post office. It was much better than carrying them around with him everywhere. The two stayed linked for as long as it took for their father to come rushing back in.
“I got the bits! I know you said one purse would be enough, but now you have two just in case of any--” He choked on his words as his eyes fell upon the two.
Giving a soft noise of worry, he too joined in on the hug; squeezing both of his children so tightly that Bitter had to give a soft protest. Breathing was important, after all. Muttering a mall apology, Puer released the two and reached to wipe away the tears forming at the corners of his eyes. The purse was tucked away inside of Hex’s pack, which made him feel only slightly better about the whole situation.
“Hex… I--Just be careful out there. That’s all I ask,” his father started once more. “I know you can take care of yourself. Trust me, I’ve seen it. I know I’m worrying too much. But you just…”
There were the tears again. Puer chuckled softly as he tried to wipe them away, only to feel his son nuzzling into his shoulder.
“Your mother would be so proud,” the older stallion finally said, choking on his words slightly.
Somehow, even without her influence there with them, Hex still followed in her footsteps. Who was Puer to stop him when traveling was simply in Hex’s blood? It was how he’d met Mystic Marsh to begin with, after all. Both of them had been traveling for their own reasons only to have their fates intertwined. For all he knew, the lavender pony might meet his own soulmate out in his travels. With one last hug, Hex finally pulled away from his family.
“Don’t worry. This isn’t goodbye. I’ll be home sooner than you know it,” he promised softly.
With one last wave, he made his way out of their home and out into the world.