23.2.12 | By: Megan Langham

Beautiful People - Evan Dynge

Yes, yes, I know. My last few Beautiful People posts have been focused on Volunteer Mission's more minor characters, and this particular character, though he does indeed belong to Volunteer Mission, is anything but minor. (Just don't tell him I said that, will you?) Anyway, I have taken this slight deviation from my former course because, in spite of the fact that I mention Evan a good deal in excerpts and such, I've never once given him a Post all to himself. The same for Selwin. And since they are the protagonists of this work-in-progress, I thought that rather unfair.

So, here you are: Evan Dynge (which means "the storm" in Anglo-Saxonthere's quite a story behind that, for he's Welsh as they come), six-and-twenty years of age, soldier and brother and friend.

1. If he could be played by any actor, who would it be? That's difficult, you see, as I have made a vivid image of him in my head which no other face can perfectly match. Rupert Evans (ha) comes the closest, I think. It's the eyes that do it.

2. Does he have a specific theme song? Not as such: at least, nothing that is both distinct and all-encompassing. Andrew Peterson's "You Came So Close" makes me think of him every time it comes on, as does "Darkness" by Blackmore's Night, though the lyrics don't quite fit.

3. What's his worst childhood memory? He has never said, and I don't expect he ever will. Where he is concerned, painful memories are meant to be buried and forgotten.

4. If he had a superpower, what would it be? Evan is a distinctly un-supernatural sort of person. If he were to be gifted with a special power, it would probably be an extension of his already considerable fighting prowess. Superhuman strength, or some such. Invulnerability.

5. If he crashed on an island with a bunch of other people, how would he help the group survive? Since he's an excellent knife-fighter and a good hand with a bow, doubtless he would find himself on the hunt-for-food-and-defend-the-group-from-outside-threats squad. In factunless he happened to crash with someone equally skilled and more charismatiche would most likely be the head of it.

6. Is he married? If not, does he someday wish to be? Evan is not married; for years he has hardly even given marriage a passing thought. All that changed, however, when he lost his strong-shielded heart to the beloved of his friend. Now he only harbours broken dreams of marriage, dreams without either bitterness or hope.

7. What is a cause he would die for? Every day he is prepared to lose his life fighting for his country's freedom: but this feels more like a duty than a sacrifice to him, and not a likely duty at that. For years his skill has kept him safehe sees no reason to doubt it now. This aside, he would die readily for Rhoyna (his sister); for Selwin (his friend like a brother); and also for his mother, though perhaps he does not know that. 

8. Would he rather die fighting, valiantly, or quietly at home? When Evan dies, it will not be quietly. Not if he can help it, that is (which, granted, most men can't). Though he's fond of his life, he would far rather fall young, in a blaze of glory, than wither away respectably with a priest at his bedside.

9. If someone walked up to him and told him he was the child of the prophecy, would he believe them? Evan does not set much store by prophecies, or indeed foretellings of any kind. I think he would assume the stranger was either mad or drunk or both and laugh him off.

10. Does he prefer the country or the city? The country, because it is his home and his familiar place. Towns (the closest thing he knows to cities) are all very well in their way, but he could not enjoy life surrounded by traders and pilgrims and traveling minstrels for very long.

Selwin laughed lightly at the remembrance of Evan’s face, of how dismayed it had been when he learned that his friend, not he, was to have all the dangerous delight. Most men would have been content to dabble in danger; a good many men would have shrunk from it altogether; but Evan was not that sort of man. Everything he did, he did to the utmost. Perhaps he would have violated some vital unwritten rule if ever he were to do something halfway, if ever he were not to finish a task with all the passion and brilliance that had been in his mind when the idea was first born. 
21.2.12 | By: Megan Langham

Wolves on the Moor

This is a Little Thing that came to me last night when I ought to have been sleeping. Perhaps that makes it akin to a dream. Or perhaps it only means that my mind works in mysterious ways and at ungodly hours. (But then I knew that already.)

the wolves

Maddie did not fear the bleakness of the moors. All her life she had known the swooping of the wind about her ears, the keening of the ravens in the brush, the desolate dance of the heather. The barren misted landscape was her home, her highest ideal of beauty—she had no other standard set to measure. But even sixteen years had not prepared her for the dull terror surrounding her now, all the more dark for its familiarity.

“They’re not wolves,” she said aloud, tightening her fingers around her brother’s hand. “Wolves aren’t evil, Geoffrey. Wolves don’t speak.”

Her brother glanced down at her, his face a mask of almost infuriating calm. “But wolves do speak in their own way. They howl." When she merely grimaced in reply he added, gently, "There’s no need to be frightened, Maddie. We’ve lived too long on the moors to lose our way while there’s light left to see by.”

“Perhaps we should not lose ourselves,” said Maddie. “But if there’s something trying to confuse us—several things, an army of things—then what chance have we got? We’re like dolls on strings.”

Geoffrey stopped walking abruptly and swung around to face her, his blue eyes dark. “You’re not to speak so,” he said. “Don’t let fear take root in you, or your nightmares will wake real.”

“But you’re a priest, Geoffrey!” She was almost crying. “You’re a man of God—surely you know evil.”

“I do,” Geoffrey replied. “If there were evil near us, evil of the kind you mean, then I should sense it. But there is none, Maddie. We only strayed too far. We took a wrong trail, and if we double back we’ll be home soon, simple as that. So why are you so afraid?”

Maddie choked back a sob. Her arms dangled at her sides, helpless. She wanted to turn and run, but her brother’s eyes held her. 

“Please,” said Geoffrey quietly. In the silvery twilight his hair shone black, almost blue against his pale face. He looked like an angel, like a spirit of the not-yet-darkness…and she, Maddie, had sunk lower than the earth.

“Forgive me, Father,” she whispered with down-bent gaze, “for I have sinned.”

Her fingers tingled in the cold of the air. Her curls twisted in the wrench of the wind. Across the far stretches of moorland the loudest of the wolves pronounced his judgment.

Geoffrey lifted her chin, gently forcing her to meet his searching eyes.

“I am not your priest now, Maddie. I am your brother. I am your protector… but I can’t protect you when I’m blind to your enemy. What is it turns the wolves to demons in your sight?”

“I cannot tell you.” Maddie ran her hand under her nose and stood up straighter on her heels. You wouldn't understand.

“Wouldn't I?”

“I said, I can't tell you if you're not my priest.”

Geoffrey ran his hand through his hair, sighing in unison with the wind. Very well, then. I'm your priest. Confess your sin, if that is the only way to ease your mind.

For a moment Maddie hesitated, gathering the right words together in her mind, taken from the air that snapped and stung. It was on the night— she began, and got no further before terror struck her dumb. 

Over Geoffrey's broad shoulder she saw a monstrous dark shape, leaping shaggy-grey from the grey-purpling heather, and the eyes glinted gold like the eyes of a demon, and the teeth shone white like an avenging angel. And then she was running, fleet as she had never known she could run, and her brother's voice was calling her name but the fear pounding in her ears like breathing drowned out all other sound.

The moor was dark, the air was dread, and there was nowhere for her to run. But still she fled like a fool until her heart, ready to break in her breast, forced her to a stop. Behind her she could still hear the wolf's heavy tread, but she was too spent even to scream.

My sins have caught up to me. Fresh sorrow is waiting to consume me, and it's right, it's good, it's the rightest thing in the world. I don't deserve to be rescued. I don't even deserve to confess.

She stood alone in the middle of the moorland, her dark head bowed, her trembling arms crossed over her chest. Through the strands of hair in her eyes she could see the wolf. It stood in front of her, watching her with cruel intent in its bright eyes. But for a few lingering traces the fear in her heart had gone now, replaced with crippling apathy. Geoffrey was nowhere to be seen.

“Come, she said aloud, holding out her hand to the wolf. “Why do you wait? Come and punish me.

The wolf took a step towards her, muscles rippling gracefully beneath the silvered fur. The gold glint in its eyes had softened to a shine. Maddie held her breath.

In one fluid movement the wolf swept its head in a bow, touching her feet. Though its mouth never moved, Maddie could have sworn it spoke.

Fool. I can't.

She gasped. The wolf looked up at her, wonder mingled with a strange sort of contempt gleaming in its eyes. Then it turned from her and moved away, swift and lithe as it had come.

Maddie stood staring after it. She did not move, not even when her brother caught her by the shoulder with a surprised exclamation.

“Good Lord, Maddie, what was that? I've never seen you run so wildly—it was as if Death himself were after you.”

“He was, said Maddie, turning slowly to face him. Didn't you see the wolf?

Geoffrey stared. What wolf? There was never a wolf. You and I were standing alone on the path together, and you were about to speak, and then without any warning you turned and fled across the moor like a woman possessed. Thank God you stopped when you did, for my legs were ready to give way beneath me.

Relief swept over Maddie. I think I'm going mad, she said, laughing. “Ought I to feel as glad as I do?”

“What you ought to do, said Geoffrey, with an answering smile of somewhat bewildered relief, is come home with me to your supper and your bed. I can't say what it is that happened to you, but I doubt it can't be cured in part with rest—and in the morning, if you're still troubled, you'll tell me everything. Now come.

Obediently Maddie took her brother's proffered hand. They walked for a few moments in silence before Maggie ventured, timidly: Have you—have you ever not wanted to be forgiven?

Geoffrey wrinkled his brow. Many times, yes. But I have had to remind myself that the decision to forgive my soul was not my choice to make. No man who has set himself up as the judge of his heart can know peace as it was meant to be known.

“Mmm, said Maddie, tucking the thought away to ponder. Then she added, looking up, I'm sorry I was so afraid.”

“No harm done, said Geoffrey. I won't tell anyone that you were frightened of the wolves on the moors.”

Maddie pinched his fingers. You needn't speak so pompous just because you're a priest, Brother Faol. You're not my priest, after all.

The rising round moon beamed down on their laughter, and the raw ravening wind drove their footsteps nearer together.
1.2.12 | By: Megan Langham

February's Snippets of Story

I have a feeling that February is going to be an Inspired Month. Or, shall we rather say, I intend that February shall be an Inspired Month, whether it wants to or not; and what better way to make sure it wants to than to start it out by bringing together bits of my unfinished projects to taunt and tantalise me? (Hopefully they will tantalise you as well, but as for tauntingwell, that would hardly be fair, would it? It's not as if you can do anything about their unfinished state.)

Anyway, this idea is all due to Katie over at Whisperings of the Pen: a delightful little person with a delightful little blog, and I'd love to see each of my readers join in on this scheme of hers. I know you can all write well. But I like to keep being reminded.

without further ado

He was standing alone in the middle of a meadow which seemed to him extraordinarily familiar, though even dreaming he knew that he had never really stood there. All about him were mists and wraiths of fog, like clouds fallen from the sky. Evil danced about his feet, palpable and piercing. In the distance he could see a forest beginning: it was all beeches, beeches and elms as far as his vision took him. Behind him he heard the sound of the sea. 
— Days of Entwining

Margery hesitated. It was one matter to know that Will knew; quite another to form shadowy substance into words. Naked words, defenseless words, words that could be mocked and killed. 
— Volunteer Mission

Evan made another gesture of mild impatience. “Best let it lie for the time being. So long as I am competent enough to lead these men to our commander, I care little about my state of mind.”
— Volunteer Mission

“He’s a fool, and the worst is that he doesn’t know it yet, though I’ve tried to tell him tactfully. But I care about him, Rhys. God help me, I care, and I don’t want this to drive him to desperation. I wouldI want him safe, for Glynnis as much as for myself. Please, Rhys. He’ll hate you, he’ll hurt you, but for my sake and hers keep him safe.”
— Volunteer Mission

He would not have to marry her. It would not be necessary to reach so high. All he wanted to do was keep beside her forever, protecting her as he always had. She would be lost without him, he knew that. This man could not protect her. What had he ever done to prove himself worthy?
— Days of Entwining

Rowan continued tapping with his finger; then all at once he grew conscious of it, and made it dance a funny little jig.
— Days of Entwining

"What does a clinging vine do when the oak tree falls? It finds another tree to cling to."
— Volunteer Mission

And he knew then that he loved her, and he felt neither pain nor pity.
— Volunteer Mission

His eyes, too, shone with warmth like the sky in summer. Gently he lifted Mairead's hand to his lips and kissed it again; then he leaned toward her and pressed his lips to her forehead. She breathed him in, deep and pure. He smelled of meadow grass and wild roses and sand warmed by the sunlight.
— Days of Entwining

“That,” said Kathy solemnly, “is not much of a comfort.” She turned away then, whispering “Good night, Merry” without a second glance; but I had seen the dread of the night in her eyes as she spoke, and for the second time that day I had felt her pain.
— Vale of Darkness

“Are you?” Rhys said, unable to stop himself. “Are you sorry for it?”
— Volunteer Mission