Read Story: SEASON 1 EPISODE 39
Thor tried to follow Reece’s directions as he wound his way through the crowded castle, but it was not easy. This castle had too many twists and turns, too many hidden back doors, and too many long corridors that seemed to lead only to more corridors.
He ran through Reece’s directions in his head as he descended yet another small set of steps, turned down another corridor, and finally stopped before a small arched door with a red handle—the one Reece had told him about—and pushed it open.
Thor hurried outside and was struck by the strong light of the summer day; it felt good to be outdoors, out of that stuffy castle, breathing fresh air, the sun on his face. He squinted, his eyes adjusting in the bright light, and took in the sight. Before him sprawled the royal gardens, stretching as far as the eye could see, hedges perfectly trimmed in different shapes, forming neat rows, trails winding amidst them. There were fountains, unusual trees, orchards ripe with early summer fruits, and fields of flowers of every size and shape and color. The sight took his breath away. It was like walking into a painting.
Thor looked everywhere for a sign of Gwendolyn, his heart pounding. This rear courtyard was empty, and Thor assumed it was probably reserved for the royal family, set off from the public with its high, stone garden walls. And yet, he looked everywhere and could not find her.
He wondered if her note was a hoax. That was probably it. She was probably just making fun of him, the country bumpkin, amusing herself at his expense. After all, how could someone of her rank really have any interest in him?
Thor looked down and read her note again, then rolled it back up in shame. He had been made fun of. What a fool he was to get his hopes up like that. It hurt him deeply.
Thor turned and prepared to head back into the castle, head lowered. Just as he reached for the door, a voice rang out.
“And where are you going?” came the joyful voice. It sounded like a bird’s song.
Thor wondered if he was imagining it. He spun, searching, and there she was, sitting in the shade beneath a castle wall. She smiled back, dressed in her royal finest, layers of white satin dress with pink trim. She looked even more beautiful than he’d remembered.It was her.
Gwendolyn. The girl Thor had been dreaming about since they had met, with her almond, blue eyes and long strawberry hair, with her smile that lit his heart. She wore a large white-and-pink hat, shading her from the sun, beneath which her eyes sparkled. For a moment he felt like turning around to make sure that there was no one else standing behind him.
“Um…” Thor began. “I…um…don’t know. I…um…was going inside.”
Once again, he was finding himself flustered around her, finding it hard to collect his thoughts and articulate them.
She laughed, and it was the most beautiful sound he had ever heard.
“And why would you be doing that?” she asked, playful. “You just arrived.”
Thor was flustered. His tongue was tied.
“I…um…couldn’t find you,” he said, embarrassed.
She laughed again.
“Well, I’m right here. Aren’t you going to come and get me?”
She held out a single hand; Thor rushed over to her, reached down, and took her hand. He was electrified by the touch of her skin, so smooth and soft, her frail hand fitting perfectly inside of his. She looked up at him and let her hand linger there a moment, before slowly rising. He loved the feel of her fingertips in his palm and hoped she would never take them away.
She withdrew her hand, then placed her arm in his, locking arms. She began to walk, leading the way down the series of winding trails. They walked along a small cobblestone path, and soon they were inside a labyrinth of hedges, protected from outside view.
Thor was nervous. Perhaps he, a commoner, would get in trouble, walking like this with the King’s daughter. He felt a light sweat break out on his forehead, and did not know if it was from the heat or from her touch.
He wasn’t sure what to say.
“You’ve caused quite a stir here, haven’t you?” she said with a smile. He was grateful she broke the awkward silence.
Thor shrugged. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
She laughed. “And why wouldn’t you mean to? Isn’t it good to cause a stir?”
Thor was stymied. He hardly knew how to respond. It seemed as if he always said the wrong thing.
“This place is so stuffy and boring anyway,” she said. “It’s nice to have a newcomer. My father seems to have taken quite a liking to you. So has my brother.”
“Um…thanks,” Thor replied.
He was kicking himself, dying inside. He knew he should say more, and he wanted to. He just did not know what to say.
“Do you…” he began, racking his brain for the right thing to say, “…like it here?”
She leaned back and laughed.
“Do I like it here?” she asked. “But I should hope so. I live here!”
She laughed again and Thor felt himself redden. He felt that he was really messing things up. But he wasn’t raised around girls, had never had a girlfriend in his village, and just didn’t know what to say to her. What could he ask her? Where are you from? He already knew where she was from. He started to wonder why she bothered with him; was it just for her amusement?
“Why do you like me?” he asked.
She looked back at him, and made a funny sound.
“You are a presumptuous boy,” she chuckled. “Who says I like you?” she asked with a huge smile. Clearly, everything he said amused her.
Thor now felt as if he’d gotten himself into deeper trouble.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say that. I was just wondering. I mean…um…I know you don’t like me.”
She laughed harder.
“You are amusing, I have to give you that. I take it you’ve never had a girlfriend, have you?”
Thor looked down and shook his head, humiliated.
“I assume no sisters, either?” she pressed.
Thor shook his head.
“I have three brothers,” he blurted out. Finally, at least, he had managed to say something normal.
“Do you?” she asked. “And where are they? Back in your village?”
Thor shook his head. “No, they are here, in the Legion, with me.”
“Well, that must be comforting.”
Thor shook his head.
“No. They don’t like me. They wish I wasn’t here.”
It was the first time her smile dropped.
“And why wouldn’t they like you?” she asked, horrified. “Your own brothers?”
Thor shrugged. “I wish I knew.”
They walked a while more in silence. He was suddenly afraid that he was killing their happy mood.
“But don’t worry, it doesn’t bother me. It’s always been that way. In fact, actually, I’ve met good friends here. Better friends than I’ve ever had.”
“My brother? Reece?” she asked.
“Reece is a good one,” she said. “He’s my favorite in some ways. I have four brothers, you know. Three are true, and one is not. The eldest is my dad’s son from another woman. My half-brother. You know him, Kendrick?”
Thor nodded. “I owe him a great debt. It is thanks to him that I have a spot in the Legion. He’s a fine man.”
“It’s true. He’s one of the finest in the kingdom. I love him as much as a true brother. And then there’s Reece, who I love just as much. The other two…well…. You know how families are. Not everyone gets along. Sometimes I wonder how all of us come from the same people.”