Adrian was concerned.
No, not concerned. Concerned would imply that he was simply worried about his friend. And to say that he was only worried about his friend would be a heinous understatement.
So it was much to Adrian's great joy when he saw Alexander enter the room in which Adrian could typically be found when resting between knight's training and aiding the prince in his duties. When Alexander entered the room, Adrian nearly choked from surprise.
The prince's eyes were clear.
"I thought - that is to say, I'd assumed..." Adrian finally gave up, unable to speak from both surprise and relief.
"I know. Well...I'm not ready to give you back the key. Not yet. The thing is, I'm...ah..." Alexander stopped and shifted awkwardly. "Sara challenged me to a duel."
At that moment, Adrian really did choke. "A duel? Are you jesting, Alexander? Surely, you're jesting!"
"Not in the least. I know - that was my reaction, too."
"But you can't be serious! She's a woman! Women aren't meant to wield swords! Women aren't meant to do anything of that nature! You can't let her duel you, Alexander. Prince, sir, I mean. You just can't."
Chuckling, Alexander strode over to Adrian's desk and traced the intricate carvings. He picked up a feather pen and ran his fingers along it. Adrian recognized the signs of anxiety and temptation - whenever Alexander was anxious or tempted, his hands were always busy. "She made a deal with me. If she wins, I'll relinquish my alcohol. If I win, then I can...you know..." Alexander's voice trailed off, and in his conflict with himself, he snapped the feather pen. Far too distracted to realize he'd even broken anything, Alexander absently set the broken pen down and turned to Adrian.
"You know," Adrian said before Alexander could speak, "I hope for everyone's sake that Sara wins."
"You know, I do, too," the prince muttered, more to himself than to anyone else.
Adrian could not possibly express to his friend how much he hoped Sara would win the challenge. Walking over and scooping up the broken pen, he held it out in front of Alexander. "I believe you broke something of mine," he said with a satirical smile.
Alexander was snapped from his thoughts. "Eh? What's that?"
"You broke my pen," Adrian said, raising his eyebrows teasingly at his friend. "That means you owe me something."
"Like permission to watch the duel," Adrian replied. Inwardly, he wanted more than to simply watch the duel. He wanted not only to watch Sara, but to also distract the prince so that Sara would have more of a chance of winning.
Because honestly, the fate of the kingdom was at stake in the gamble.
The prince left the room, distractedly muttering something about preparing for the duel. Adrian watched his friend disappear through the doorway.
Sara, I do hope you know what you're getting into. I really hope you do.
Adrian wondered if Sara would even be able to hold a sword, much less swing it...much less beat someone as skilled as Alexander. Well, time would tell.
Yes, time would certainly tell.