There was no family in the whole kingdom happier than ours, or so it seemed.
Then one day I met a little old man as he was hunting in a lonely part of the woods. “How are you, my unlooked-for Prince?” he said. “You have kept us waiting a good long time!”
“And who are you?” I asked.
“You will know soon enough. When you go home, give my compliments to your father and tell him that I wish him to square accounts with me. If he neglects to pay his debts he will bitterly repent it.”
Then the old man disappeared, and I returned to the palace and told my father what had happened.
The king turned pale and explained the terrible story of how he had gone to drink at a well, and he had been grabbed by the beard by Kostiei, king of the Underworld. Kostiei wouldn’t let him go until he had given away his rights to his only son. He had hoped that Kostiei had forgotten the deal.
Whether or not the underworld king has gone looking for me, I’ve gone looking for him. He might have laid claim to me at birth, but I intend to get my birthright back.