Alexander's intentions were swayed upon seeing Ivan. What was an eleven-year-old boy doing in the middle of a battle? Why was he so faraway from the castle? The question that pricked the Prince with the most suspicion however was why Ivan had hidden the moment he'd seen him.
"Eric, I need you to take it from here," Alexander spoke smoothly, kicking the ruffian he was fighting off sending him sprawling to the ground. The knight nodded and swept over to fight off the rowdies Alexander had been occupied with.
Before heading into the forest, Alexander looked over at the scene, weighing the chances of their success. The knights were doing a good job and Imelda had proven her skills as a warrior but something seemed to bother her as she held back against one man.
Frowning, the Prince turned his back on the fight and headed off into the forest. No one had noticed which worked out conveniently for him, especially when he sneaked up quietly on little Ivan who was crouched behind a bush.
The boy jumped and whirled around, his brown eyes widening. Without a word, he scrambled to his feet and ran for it. Alexander, having expected this, followed Ivan without much trouble. Outrunning him, he stopped in front of the boy, clutching his shoulders firmly to prevent him from trying to escape again.
"Let me go!" The boy resisted and started clawing at the Prince who started to realize that he was losing the energy to put up a fight. Suddenly, Ivan burst into tears, alarming Alexander who stood there with no idea of what was going on. He knelt down and in a comforting tone spoke, "What's wrong Ivan? Why are you here?"
"I...I didn't have a choice, Sire." He held out a vial, thrusting it into the Prince's hands as if it were infectious. "I didn't know what else to do. He said I could be free, that Lillie and I wouldn't have to work anymore!"
"Ivan, calm down." The boy hung his head, tears streaming furiously down his red cheeks. Shame washed over his face as he said the very next words. "He told me that if the Knight died, then the Queen would let Lillie and I go."
"The Knight?"Alexander's heart tightened in fear as he looked down at the empty vial in his hands. "Ivan, are you telling me that Adrian's life is in danger?"
Ivan nodded, confirming the Prince's worst suspicions. "I poisoned him."