16.2.11 | By: Megan Langham

Meet the Cast of ... da-dum ...

...Volunteer Mission.

Why yes, that happens to be the project uppermost in my mind right now. And no, this delightfully silly idea was not mine at the outset. I caught the bug from Jenny, who caught it from her friend, who caught it from another friend, and only goodness and Gandalf know where it started. This is not the entire cast, naturallyonly the ones I consider to have the most impact on the story, one way or another.

So, without any furthernope. I refuse to be cliche and hackneyed. In the absence of any additional what Shakespeare's characters made much of over nothing, I shall introduce you to the inhabitants of my world.

Evan se Dynge (Evan the Storm)

Evan is the main character of Volunteer Mission. Since the day he was old enough to be a soldier he has battled for the cause of Wales' freedom from England in any way he can. Moody and introspective, he falls easily into dark despair and self deprecation; at the story's beginning, he had intended to volunteer for a suicide mission as a way to go out in a blaze of glory. Though he is skilled and physical on the battlefield, he finds it difficult to voice even his clearest feelings and hopes. For this reason he appears cold and unfriendly to those who do not take the trouble to search his heart.

Selwin ap Tuder (Selwin son of Tuder)

Carefree and charming with a winning lack of reserve, Selwin is Evan's opposite in nearly everythingand his most devoted friend. It is for love of Evan that Selwin volunteers for the suicide mission, giving up all hope of life and love until the world to come. Though his reckless nature tends to get him into scrapes, his boyish good looks and frequent laughter ensure his popularity with Welsh and English alike.

Glynnis verch Ithel (Glynnis daughter of Ithel

Glynnis is like a sister to the Tuder brothers; since childhood there has been a tacit understanding between her and Selwin, which was rather drastically undermined on the day she met Evan. Though she tries to fight her attraction to him, deeming it a weakness, it will prove to be both the destroying and the saving of her. She is a gentle, sensible, nurturing woman with a strong faith and a selfless spirit. It is this, rather than her nondescript beauty, that endears her to so many.

Rhys ap Tuder (Rhys son of Tuder)

As different from his younger brother as Selwin is different from Evan, Rhys carries with him a sense of melancholy joy. Gentle and quiet, he is generally overshadowed by his more exuberant brother. He has been giftedor cursedwith a touch of second sight and a sensitive spirit. Pain in others wounds him, as their joy delights him; though he is young, he has seen more suffering than many men twice his age and in consequence is mature beyond his years.

Rhoyna verch Griffri (Rhoyna daughter of Griffri)

Rhoyna is the younger sister of Evan, betrothed to her father's friend. Beautiful and light-hearted, she flits like a butterfly on the surface of life, too young and thoughtless to let love touch her deeply. For all her levity, however, she is a loyal daughter and a warmhearted friend. Evan is dear to her above all othersshe is destined to find out just how dear, but for now she lives on laughter and takes her darling ones for granted.

Lord Iorweth se Pengrek (Lord Iorweth the Curly-Haired)

He is the commander of a significant portion of Wales' army. He is a trusted confidant of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd himself. He has not gotten where he is by being scrupulous or tenderhearted. Though Lord Iorweth cannot be said to love any man, it is Evan se Dynge who bears the brunt of his cruelty. Clever and charming, he lives for nothing more than glory and honorall in the name of patriotism, of course. And when he stumbles upon a secret he was not meant to discover, revenge becomes his driving passion.

[It has become customary to include here a private disclaimer, generally consisting of finger-waggling and death threats and such delightful stuff. So I shall follow tradition and declare that if anyone--ANYONE--even CONSIDERS stealing so much as a TIDBIT from these characters of mine, they will regret it for the rest of their lives, if indeed they live so long. Thank you! I love you. Every one of you. ^.^]

12.2.11 | By: Megan Langham

Incoherent Babblings on Faith, Sociology, and Legend

Sometimes schoolwork can be a necessary evil. Yesterday morning I wanted to get to work on Volunteer Mission; I’d stayed up later than I meant the night before writing an inexplicably exhilarating scene for it and now here I was with an essay on sociology staring me down. Cruel.

But before I had finished reading page one of the misbegotten essay little bubbles of happiness began to form silently behind my eyes; when I turned to page two, they burst in my mouth, making a sound something like “squee!” when they popped.

I think that is normal behavior for Bubbles of Happiness.

This particular essay, you see, was not merely on sociology but on sociology as it relates to the Christian church—and, more specifically, the church in the first years, decades, centuries of its beginning. Whenever I read anything having to do with those few early bands of closely-bound believers, stalwart in the love of God and constant in the war of spirits, I feel refreshed. Strengthened. There was a beautiful simplicity, a freshness of reality, about the church newborn; most of that has been lost today. Of course there is—and there will always be on this earth—a remnant that retains such freshness and simplicity, but it is a remnant, and it is pitifully rare.

So as I was reading through this essay, noting these habits of the early church that ought to characterize all our lives, I found myself thinking of Arval.

Arval may or may not be real. He is the mainest main character of The Road to Avalon (not yet written but often mulled over); in my shortish story “The Readiest Road”, he is Joseph of Arimathea’s son, come to Britain in the hopes of escaping his past and atoning for it both at once. In early legend, Joseph of Arimathea planted the first British church on the island of Avalon, which had formerly been a pagan place of worship. Eventually Avalon became the home of Glastonbury Abbey—connected in several ways with the legend of King Arthur. What isn’t there to love about such inspiring material? And yet so few people have chosen to work with it. These days Avalon has been relegated to a place of healing in Arthurian myth, with little mention of the legendary church that came before. There is a certain magic, I think, in keeping close to the original likelihood of history: not a nice magic, perhaps, or comforting, but good and strong.

When I write Arval’s story properly, I want to keep a firm grasp on the history forming a basis for what-could-have-been, and I want the pure, precious, sunstreaked faith of the early church to stand out in bold beauty against the landscape of primeval forests and mystical marshlands and snow-capped mountains. Because though the physical setting is breathtaking, it is such faith that is the story’s true beauty. The question that is life finds its answer in Life. Eternal life, joyous life, abundant life. Always we lost ones find ways to choke it, stifle it, do it to death—but it springs eternal in the hearts that God has made. Arval’s story is, in one sense, not just the journey from darkness to light but the fight to uphold the light against the darkness, the struggle to keep what has already been won. It is the difference between contentment and complacency.

I don’t know if any of that rings logical. Perhaps it is because I am used to writing fiction, in which you aren’t supposed to tell things straight. Or perhaps I ought to blame it on the sociology essay and all of the disjointed ideas it planted in my mind. Arval, too. He’s one of those with a way of making himself known when you’d fully intended to stuff him in the closet and forget about him for the time being. It remains to be seen whether that’s a good thing or not.

Simple faith is a good thing, though; that much I know. So, likewise, is Avalon. And Glastonbury, and “squee!” bubbles.