Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 20
Thor stood before her, unable to speak. Unable to breathe. It was the first time in his life he’d ever felt this way.
“Aren’t you going to introduce me?” the girl asked Reece. Her voice went right into Thor—it was even sweeter than her appearance.
“And then there’s my sister,” he said with a smile. “Gwen, this is Thor. Thor, Gwen.”
“How do you do?” she asked with a smile.
Thor stood there, frozen. Finally, Gwen giggled.
“Not so many words at once, please,” she said with a laugh.
Thor felt himself redden; he cleared his throat.
“I am…I… am…sorry,” he said. “I’m Thor.”
“I know that already,” she said. She turned to her brother. “My, Reece, your friend certainly has a way with words.”
“Father wants to meet him,” he said impatiently. “We are going to be late.”
Thor wanted to speak to her, to tell her how beautiful she was, how happy he was to meet her, how grateful he was she had stopped. But his tongue was completely tied. He had never been this nervous in his life. So, instead, all that came out was:
Gwen giggled, laughing harder.
“Thank you for what?” she asked. Her eyes lit up. She was enjoying this.
Thor felt himself redden again.
“Um…I don’t know,” he mumbled.
Gwen laughed harder, and Thor felt humiliated. Reece elbowed him, prodding him on, and the two continued to walk. After a few steps, Thor checked back over his shoulder. Gwen still stood there, staring back at him.
Thor felt his heart pounding. He wanted to talk to her, to find out everything about her. He was so embarrassed for his loss of words. But he had never been exposed to girls, really, in his small village—and certainly never to one so beautiful. He had never been taught exactly what to say, how to act.
“She talks a lot,” Reece said, as they continued, approaching the King. “Never mind her.”
“What is her name?” Thor asked.
Reece gave him a funny look. “She just told you!” he said with a laugh.
“I’m sorry…I…uh…I forgot,” Thor said, embarrassed.
“Gwendolyn. But everyone calls her Gwen.”
Gwendolyn. Thor turned her name over and over in his mind. Gwendolyn. Gwen. He did not want to let it go. He wanted it to linger in his consciousness. He wondered if he would have a chance to see her again. He guessed probably not, being a commoner. The thought hurt him.
The crowd grew quiet as Thor looked up and realized they were now close to the King. King MacGil sat on his throne, dressed in his royal purple mantle, wearing his crown and looking imposing.
Reece kneeled before him, and the crowd quieted. Thor followed suit. A silence blanketed the room.
The King cleared his throat, a deep, hearty noise. As he spoke, his voice boomed throughout the room.
“Thorgrin of the Lowlands of the Southern Province of the Western Kingdom,” he began. “Do you realize that today you interfered with the King’s royal joust?”
Thor felt his throat go dry. He hardly knew how to respond; it was not a good way to begin. He wondered if he was going to be punished.
“I am sorry, my liege,” he finally said. “I didn’t mean to.”
MacGil leaned forward and raised one eyebrow.
“You didn’t mean to? Are you saying you didn’t mean to save Erec’s life?”
Thor was flustered. He realized he was just making it worse.
“No, my liege. I did mean to—”
“So then you admit you did mean to interfere?”
Thor felt his heart pounding. What could he say?
“I am sorry, my liege. I guess I just…wanted to help.”
“Wanted to help?” MacGil boomed, then leaned back and roared with laughter.
“You wanted to help! Erec! Our greatest and most famed knight!”
The room erupted with laughter, and Thor felt his face flush, one too many times for one day. Could he do nothing right here?
“Stand and come closer, boy,” MacGil ordered.
Thor looked up in surprise to see the King smiling down, studying him, as he stood and approached.
“I spot nobility in your face. You are not a common boy. No, not common at all….”
MacGil cleared his throat.
“Erec is our most loved knight. What you have done today is a great thing. A great thing for us all. As a reward, from this day, I take you in as part of my family, with all the same respects and honors due any of my sons.”
The King leaned back and boomed: “Let it be known!”
There came a huge cheer and stomping of feet throughout the room.
Thor looked around, flustered, unable to process all that was happening to him. Part of the King’s family. It was beyond his wildest dreams. All he had wanted was to be accepted, to be given a spot in the Legion. Now, this. He was so overwhelmed with gratitude, with joy, he hardly knew what to do.
Before he could respond, suddenly the room broke into song and dance and feasting, people celebrating all around him. It was mayhem. He looked up at the King, saw the love in his eyes, the adoration and acceptance. He had never felt the love of a father figure in his life. And now here he was, loved not just by a man, but by the King, no less. In one day, his world had changed. He only prayed that all of this was real.
Gwendolyn pushed her way through the crowd, wanting to catch sight of the boy before he was ushered out of the royal court.Thor. Her heart beat faster at the thought of him, and she could not stop turning his name over in her mind. She had been unable to stop thinking about him from the moment she had encountered him. He was younger than her, but not by more than a year or two—and besides, he had an air about him that made him seem older, more mature than the others, more profound. From the moment she had seen him, she felt she had known him. She smiled to herself as she remembered meeting him, how flustered he was. She could see in his eyes that he felt the same way about her.
Of course, she did not even know the boy. But she had witnessed what he had done on the jousting lane, had seen what a liking her younger brother had taken to him. She had watched him ever since, sensing there was something special about him, something different from the others. Meeting him had only confirmed it. He was different from all these royal types, from all the people born and bred here. There was something refreshingly genuine about him. He was an outsider. A commoner. But oddly, with a royal bearing. It was as if he were too proud for what he was.
Gwen made her way to the upper balcony’s edge and looked down. Below was spread out the royal court, and she caught a last glimpse of Thor as he was ushered out, Reece by his side. They were surely heading to the barracks, to train with the other boys. She felt a pang of regret, already wondering, scheming, how she could arrange to see him again.
Gwen had to know more about him. She had to find out. For that, she would have to speak to the one woman who knew everything about anyone and everything going on in the kingdom: her mother.
Gwen turned and cut her way back through the crowd, twisting through the back corridors of the castle she knew by heart. Her head spun. It had been a dizzying day. First, the morning’s meeting with her father, his shocking news that he wanted her to rule his kingdom. She was completely caught off guard, had never expected it in a million years. She still could hardly process it now. How could she ever possibly rule a kingdom? She pushed the thought from her mind, hoping that day would never come. After all, her father was healthy and strong, and more than anything, all she wanted was for him to live. To be here with her. To be happy.
But she could not push the meeting from her mind. Somewhere in there, lurking, was the seed planted that one day, whenever that day should come, she would be next. She would succeed him. Not any of her brothers. But her. It terrified her; it also gave her a sense of importance, of confidence, unlike any she’d ever had. He had found her fit to rule—her—to be the wisest of them all. She wondered why.
It also, in some ways, worried her. She assumed it would stir up a huge amount of resentment and envy—her, a girl, being chosen to rule. Already she could feel Gareth’s envy. And that scared her. She knew her older brother to be terribly manipulative and completely unforgiving. He would stop at nothing to get what he wanted, and she hated the idea of being in his sights. She had tried to talk to him after the meeting, but he would not even look at her.
Gwen ran down the spiral staircase, her shoes echoing on the stone. She turned down another corridor, passed through the rear chapel, through another door, past several guards, and entered the private chambers of the castle. She had to speak with her mother, whom she knew would be resting here. Her mother had little tolerance for these long social affairs anymore—she liked to slip out to her private chambers and rest as often as possible.
Gwen passed another guard, went down another hall, then finally stopped before the door to her mother’s dressing room. She was about to open it, but stopped. Behind the door, she heard muted voices, their pitch rising, and sensed something wrong. It was her mother, arguing. She listened closely, and heard her father’s voice. They were fighting. But why?
Gwen knew she should not be listening—but she could not help herself. She reached out and gently pushed open the heavy oak door, grabbing it by its iron knocker. She opened it just a crack and listened.
“He won’t stay in my house,” her mother snapped.
“You rush to judgment when you don’t even know the entire story.”
“I know the story,” she snapped back. “Enough of it.”
Gwen heard venom in her mother’s voice, and was taken aback.