Darkness. That’s all Alex saw. Then, came the light. It sparkled with gold and red. The light took shape into a crown. A crown Alex wore every day since the coronation and she hated it. But she wasn’t a she in her dreams, she was always a boy in his dreams. Alex was genderfluid (an argr), but he couldn’t tell anyone. If he did he would be branded an enemy of the gods. The same ones that made his family.
His father might have been the king of Scandinavia, the person who knew everything, didn’t know Alex’s secrets, no one knew about his secrets. Not yet at least.
He felt someone touch her shoulder. Alex opened his eyes. He saw his half-sister, Sam, smile at him. Alex turned herself female, thinking about the dress she was going to wear today. As Alex rose from her canopy bed and frowned at Sam. Sam’s full name was Samirah al-Abbas. Sam was Muslim so she was in servitude to the king and usually wore a hijab. Today, she wasn’t wearing a hijab today.
Sam looked more tired than usual today, “Last night, the guards brought a murderer in the dungeon. Your schedule will start with his trial and then you can go riding into the woods to train with Amir.” Amir was Sam’s fiance. “Don’t worry, Sam. I won’t do anything stupid,” Alex laughed as she walked over to her dresser, picking up the dress, she had set out the previous night.
Alex walked over to the mirror, where Sam was waiting with the golden crown. Alex shivered as Sam put the golden crown on Alex’s head. Her mind flashed to the first time the cold golden metal had touched her head. “Sam, where am I supposed to meet Amir?” Alex murmured as she clasped the clasp on her white cloak. “Amir is meeting you at the clearing at the edge of the forest,” Sam said as she opened the large oaken door.
Alex’s high heeled boot echoed as it clanked against the hard stone floor. Why do I have to be there for the stupid trial, Alex thought, if he killed a bunch of people, kill him. She banged the giant doors that lead to the throne room, open. “Father,” Alex said angrily. “Alex,” her father said calmly. Alex said down on the smaller silver throne.
The doors opened and one of the soldiers that Alex actually knew walked inside. Thomas Jefferson Jr. or T.J. was African with dark skin and dark hair. He stood in front of the king and bowed. “Sire, we found the murderers, but we only caught one. We don’t know that much just that he was staying with two of the others. My men and I will check the campsite again, just to be sure,” T.J. said. “Bring in the prisoner,” the king yelled.
The giant doors were pushed away. Two men held a boy between them. The only thing you were able to see of him was his long, blonde hair. “The only thing we could get out of him was his name, even that he barely muttered,” T.J. said. “What is your name, boyo?” her father said.
The boy raised his head. Alex stifled a gasp. He. Was. Handsome. The boy’s eyes were dull, gray and shined with power. “My name is Magnus. Magnus Chase,” he murmured. “Magnus Chase, we have barely any evidence that connects you to do the murders. You will remain in our custody until further notice,” the king said and turned to the guards, “Take him to the dungeons. Everyone else is dismissed.” The king rose and walked out, everyone else shuffled out of the room after the king. The guards took Magnus to the dungeons.
Alex stood from her throne. She nodded at Sam dismissing her. Alex waited for everyone to leave except the guards on duty. She quietly walked to the dungeons. She quickly made her way to Magnus’ cell. He was in the shadowed corner of the cell clutching a necklace. “Why are you in this cell?” Alex asked him. He didn’t look like somebody who could get caught easily. Magnus was smaller than all the other crazy murderers Alex had met. “Why do you hide who you are?” Magnus murmured raising his head.
Alex stared into Magnus’ dull, gray eyes, “What do you mean?” “Your hair. You color it and cut it, making yourself different from other girls,” Magnus said. “I make a point with this hair. It gives me a reputation and I never hide,” Alex said. Magnus chuckled. “Why do you kill people?” Alex said grabbing the cell’s bars. He stood and his eyes blazed with anger, “I never wanted to be a murder,” he walked over and grabbed the bars where Alex’s hands were. A spark surged through Alex’s hand, through her arm and straight into her heart. She resisted the urge to smile.
Somebody grabbed her waist and a spear poked Magnus in the stomach. He ran back into the shadowed corner and sat still holding the necklace. “Are you alright, Princess?” a soldier asked. “I am alright, soldier,” Alex muttered. She walked away thinking about the spark that she had felt. Then as she went over what happened, she remembered what was on the necklace. It was the rune of Frey, just a simple F.
Alex stopped, as she realized, she was at the stables standing in front of one of the horses. She put one of the saddles on the horse and lifted herself on it. The horse started running straight for the woods, where Amir was going to teach her to fight. Alex reached the clearing sooner than anticipated. Amir was waiting for her with a sword at hand.
“Why are you so late?” Amir asked. “I was delayed with the prisoner and the trial,” Alex answered. “This prisoner is he from the band that killed all those people?” Amir asked. Alex nodded, taking out her garrote. “Today’s lesson is on disarming and defending. Remember what I told you a few training sessions ago, how to swipe your garrote. And go!” Amir said and they began the fight.
Amir and Alex circled each other. Alex swiped her garrote at Amir, which he deflected with his sword. Amir came closer and launched himself at Alex. She dodged and was able to scrape his shoulder with her garrote. Amir held his shoulder and laughed as he removed his hand. A tiny stream of blood was soaking his clothes. Alex smiled and threw the garrote at Amir. He tried deflecting it with his blade, but that’s exactly what Alex wanted. The garrote wrapped itself around the sword and Alex pulled at it. Amir’s sword went flying and landed in Alex’s open palm. She clutched the hilt and smiled.
“Great job, Alex! You are starting to get professional,” Amir laughed. “Thanks, Amir, for everything,” Alex said as she leaped on her horse and rode off. Alex rode for the rest of the day. She stopped at one of the streams to let the horse drink. As Alex sat at the rocks, she thought about what had happened at the dungeon with Magnus.
She had heard about how Freya, the goddess of beauty and love, chose which two people should get married. People had described a spark of electricity when they touched their “soulmate”. Alex didn’t think that criminal was her “true love”. She was to be a queen when her father died and none of her people.
Alex looked around, nobody was around. She decided to become a he. Alex looked at his reflection in the stream. His green hair sparkled in the sunlight. Alex looked at his heterochromia iridium (different colored eyes). One of them was light amber and the other was dark brown. People thought that when Alex was a girl, he was a witch. The truth was Alex’s mother had a secret only Alex and his father knew.
“This is the girl you chose?” a male voice said. Alex looked up. He barely saw the outline of a man and woman. The man had long golden hair and sky blue eyes. The man also had a golden beard the same as his hair. The woman looked like the man. The same golden hair and blue eyes. “Yes, brother dear, this girl will be perfect,” the woman said. “She is not perfect enough for my son, sister,” the brother told her. “Nobody is perfect enough for my precious niece, I know that, but this girl is perfect,” the sister said. “We shall see,” the man said and both siblings disappeared in a breeze.
Alex was quite shaken. He ran for the horse. Alex jumped on the horse and rode off. As Alex rode towards the castle, he turned back into she. When the horse and Alex finally reached the stables the sun was setting, bathing the sky with gold, orange, and red light. She ran for the dining room where she and her father were supposed to have supper at this very moment. Alex pushed the doors open breathlessly.
“I am sorry for being late, Father,” Alex muttered. “It is alright, daughter, I can smell that you were out riding,” her father said raising his fork and taking a bite of chicken. “Alex, am I to understand that you were attacked by our new prisoner?” the king said as he had finished chewing. “No, Father, I was not attacked. The boy grabbed my hands. I would not call that an attack,” Alex said quietly as she began eating her own food. “I will not permit my daughter to talk to lower people than her. That is why I am giving you this,” Alex’s father said, snapping his finger. A servant came in holding a red velvet pillow with something sparkling on it.
The king rose and grabbed the item from the pillow. It was a dagger on a belt. The king motioned for Alex to rise. She did. Her father put the belt on Alex’s waist, right under her golden garrote. “You will only take this knife away when you go to sleep, my daughter,” her father said, kissing Alex’s forehead. They sat once more to eat their supper.
Alex walked toward the prison once more. The dagger around her belt was a tad annoying when she walked. When she reached the guards, Alex showed them the dagger and they let her pass. Magnus in the same position as that morning. “The princess returns,” he whispered as Alex approached him. Alex grabbed the key from the wall next to the cell and unlocked the cell door and opened it. She walked inside and closed the door behind her.
Walking with no fear, Alex sat down right next to Magnus. He looked surprised for a second then his face changed to neutral. “Hi, Magnus! Why are you here?” Alex said, reaching for Magnus’ shoulder-length hair. He moved away. “What do you want and why are you reaching for my hair?” Magnus exclaimed, jumping up. “I asked you a question!” Alex said seriously. “I did, too!” Magnus said, his voice had a touch of whining. Alex pointed at the ground with a finger and Magnus sat.
“I am here because a soldier grabbed me and attacked my friends,” Magnus murmured. “So you have friends, that’s nice,” Alex said and rose from the cell floor, “Nice chatting with you, Magnus.” Magnus stared at her with confusion and wonder. Alex lingered for a moment on his perfect pink lips as if wanting to kiss them. “I will come tomorrow morning to continue our little chat,” Alex said and smiled, heading for the door.
Alex pushed the cell door open and closed it behind her. She locked it behind her and looked at Magnus. He was back in the corner and still held his necklace, the same way he had that same morning. As Alex left the dungeon, she thought how much she had wanted to touch Magnus’ hand to figure out if the spark appeared.
Before going back to her room, Alex left for the library. She wasn’t much of a library person but right now she needed a book, her father had made Alex read. It was a book of the Norse gods (I think it was called Powerful Deities and How They Look). She walked over to the librarian, Helgi. “What are you doing here, Princess?” he asked. “I am looking for an old book. It is called Powerful Deities and How They Look,” Alex said. “That’s one of the oldest books in the library. Why do you need it, Princess?” Helgi asked, getting up from his desk. “I was just trying to remember something about Frey and Freya,” Alex answered.
Helgi walked to the far side of the library. He walked between two shelves and want straight for the last section of the second shelf. He took out a really old looking from between two other really old looking books. Alex didn’t remember it looking so old or dusty. Helgi blew the dust away from the book and handed it to Alex. “Do you need anything else, Princess?” he asked. “No, thank you,” she said and gave Helgi a tiny smile. He walked back the way they had come.
Alex looked at the book. The title was written in large golden twisty letters. Around the title, pink roses were painted. The picture on the cover was of Odin with his two ravens on his shoulder and he held a golden spear. On his head was a helm with feathers. Alex was a little freaked out by his face. It was regal, yet a tad cruel. She looked out the nearest window it looked at about ten p.m. and she had to go back to her room.
When she finally returned to her room, Sam was waiting with her hands on her hips, an angry look on her face. ”Sorry,” Alex muttered. Sam couldn’t stay angry at Alex. she quickly drew a bath and soon Alex was sitting in her sleeping gown with a cloak on her shoulders and staring at the smaller mirror on her desk. She had taken off the horrid crown and Sam had set it on a velvet pillow on one of the tables. “Well I should be leaving,” Sam said. “I will see you tomorrow, Sam,” Alex said. “Good night, Alex,” Sam said and left the room.
As soon as the door was shut, Alex rose to her feet and grabbed her book. She immediately opened it to the Frey and Freya pages. As her eyes settled on Frey’s description. The book said, “Frey is a very handsome man. He has golden hair and beard and any woman is lucky to attract his attention.” Alex groaned at that sentence but continued on. “His eyes are the color of the summer sky are kind, yet powerful,” the book continued. Alex looked at the picture and gasped at the picture. It was the same man, she had seen by the stream. She looked at Freya.
The book’s description said, “Freya is the most beautiful woman on any world. Any man would love to attract her attention. Her golden locks are not as strong as Thor’s wife, Sif, but still beautiful. Her eyes match her brother, Frey. Her eyes are kind and very bright.” Again, Alex looked at Freya’s picture and once more gasped. It was the woman from the stream. Alex slammed the book closed and breathed deep and hard. She had heard gods talk about her. But there was still a giant question. Who was Alex perfect for? The only thing she knew was that, that the mystery person was a boy and a son of Frey, for that matter. If Freya had chosen Alex for somebody then a spark should have appeared.
Alex realized at that moment who it was. It can’t be, Alex thought, there is no way in Helheim. Alex rubbed her temples. She needed sleep. Alex walked over to the bed and laid on it. Soon, she had finally fallen asleep and for once, Alex slept as a girl.