Please welcome special guests Gwendydd and Myrddin from Rose Vanden Eynden’s fantasy romance novel, Merlyn’s Raven here today.
Thanks so much for coming. Please tell us about you: job, hobbies, special talents, and anything else you would want to share.
Gwendydd: I have seen 16 autumns while living in my grandsire’s household of Caer-Fyrddin. He is called Brychan, a chieftain of our people, the Cymry. My mother died in childbed, and because I never knew my father, my grandfather is somewhat ashamed of my shadowy birth. I do have foster-parents, Betrys and Cadwgawn, who love and care for me. Betrys runs my grandsire’s household, and Cadwgawn is the captain of his guard. I am to be married as soon as my grandsire finds a suitable husband for me, but I do not look forward to this. I prefer to study herbs and healing with the druid Blaise and his apprentice, Myrddin, who is only a few years older than me. My grandsire would be angered to know it, but I have fallen in love with Myrddin.
Myrddin: Since the age of 2, I have lived and studied with the master druid Blaise, who has instructed me in all the druidic arts, including healing, prophecy, storytelling, singing, and counseling. Since the new god Jesus has taken hold in our land, we do not live with our brother druids but travel from place to place, which is how Gwendydd’s grandsire Brychan came to commission us to stay with him. I know, however, that I am meant for greater things. In my prophetic visions, I have foreseen a king, one like no other, and he will unite the warring tribes of our land and bring peace and prosperity to us all. I know I must help bring this king to the throne. As much as I long to be normal and to stay with Gwendydd, I dare not dream about such a life.
Tell us about the first time you met.
Gwendydd (blushing and embarrassed): Some boys in the marketplace were teasing him, tempting him to fight, and I felt sorry for him. But then he vanished, and I could not believe my own eyes! I had never seen such a thing in all my years. I followed him, and I ran right into the back of him!
Myrddin (smiling): She did! I turned, and she was sitting at my feet. When I reached to help her up and her hand touched mine, my skin ignited. I knew there was something very special about her.
What drew you to each other?
Gwendydd: I must admit that I found him handsome, but the way he spoke to me was much more enticing. He treated me as an equal, and he seemed truly interested in everything I said. After only a few moments with him, I felt as if I’d known him my whole life.
Myrddin: The way she looked at me was something I’d never experienced. Most folk are either frightened of my powers or distrustful of my druid ways. Gwendydd was neither, and I could tell immediately that she had a kind and caring soul. That was even more beautiful than her lovely face.
What is your favorite part of her/him?
Gwendydd: Myrddin possesses the most amazing eyes, golden in color and filled with wisdom and love. When he looks at me, I feel as if I can do anything. How could I not fall in love with someone who gives me so much?
Myrddin: Gwendydd is beautiful, and yet it is her boundless heart that I love more than anything. She is bold when it comes to love and will fight for what she holds dear. And she willingly gives love to all who need it. How could I not love her in return?
Care to share future plans?
Gwendydd: Since Myrddin has a talent for seeing into the future, I shall defer to him to answer this.
Myrddin: Alas, the future is clouded, even for me. Gwendydd does not wish to wed a suitor of her grandsire’s choosing, but I am powerless to stop it, even though I love her myself. I study the druid’s path, but I know this king will come, and I must serve him. Gwendydd and I yearn for each other, and for a simple life together, but circumstances will never allow us that. The world burdens us with too many obligations. It would be nice to foresee a happy ending, but our lives promise us nothing. Will I be forced to stand by and watch Gwendydd wed another? Does the menace I feel in my visions portend a dangerous future for this king I must serve? Who knows? As I tell Gwendydd: we must live in the now and cherish the moments we have. That is all any of us can do.
Falling in love is the ultimate magic. For Gwendydd, a young woman in 5th century Wales, it seems an unobtainable fantasy. She dreads the day her chieftain grandfather will marry her off to increase his allies among the warring tribes of Britain. When she meets the mysterious and handsome druid apprentice Myrddin, Gwendydd realizes just how difficult falling in love can be. The ire of her disapproving grandfather is not her only obstacle. Myrddin’s clairvoyant visions of a king who will unify the battling tribes and bring peace to the land become a dangerous obsession that threatens to obliterate their union. Can Gwendydd support her beloved, the man destined to become the world’s most powerful enchanter, King Arthur’s legendary Merlyn? Or will her devotion destroy her and everything she holds dear?
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The scream hung in the air like the waxing moon outside my window. I touched my face, expecting to feel the wound there, my skin cut somehow as Myrddin’s had been in the dream. My trembling fingers came away clean. My heart raced as my mind recovered, but I tore from my bedchamber nonetheless, darting through the shadowed hallways of Grandfather’s household, avoiding the guards that stood, dozing, at the ends of corridors. I knew I’d be beaten if I was caught, but nothing was as important as getting to Myrddin.
I reached the familiar door and slipped inside. He lay on his simple pallet beneath the window casement, but his eyes were open in the moonlight. They sparkled like dew on the grass, as did the sweat that dampened his hairline. His hand lay against his cheek, searching for the phantom wound.
“What is it?” I breathed, my heart still pounding as if it had never pumped before. “I had a nightmare about you.”
He sat up, his body shaking, and I pulled the blanket up over his shoulders as tremors wracked him. He gripped the cover with one hand and took mine in his other. It was not a fit, I knew, but an icy chill stole over me. “I had a vision.”
“It was you, was it not?” I forced the words out, even though they pained me to say them. “Trapped? Tortured?”
He nodded. I could bear it no longer, and flung myself into him, burying my face in his chest. He hesitated, but then his arms came around me, and I nearly gasped from relief, from knowing he was with me, warm and alive and safe.
“What does it mean?” I moaned.
“It is the future we see.”
I tilted my chin up to look at him, and he stared down into my face, one brow arched as if puzzling over a new plant he’d found while scavenging. “How is it that we see it together, raven? How is it that we are connected?”
“I love you.” The words, so sacred and yet sounding so simple, tumbled out. I did not care. Here in the dark, where there was no one else, the rest of the world seemed frozen, unimportant, and far, far away. Blaise, sleeping in the next room, was forgotten. I did not think of my grandfather and his plot to find me a husband, or of his threats to kill any man that stood in the way of that.
Only this moment between us mattered. Myrddin had to know that I thought of nothing but him, sought naught but his presence, heard only his voice with the pounding of my heart. It was bold and brash and dangerous, it was everything I wanted to be, my own true self, and I knew he understood that.
“I know,” he whispered. “And you should not.”
He tried to pull his hand away, yet I clung to it, my voice hardening. “Why do you say that? You are everything to me.”
“You speak of love, Gwendydd, and yet you have told me countless times how you long not for a husband, but for freedom.”
“You are my freedom. Do you not see? You, who have taught me healing and storytelling and magick. . .so many things. You are right—I did not know what I longed for until I met you, and then I understood.” I lifted my hand, daring to touch his cheek, and he allowed it. “This must be love, for it to seep so deeply into me, into my very soul.”
Softness settled into his gaze as he stared at me. “You are a poet, raven.” He teased, I knew, to turn the subject, but I would not be abashed.
“It frightened me, Myrddin. The dream. I cannot bear to be without you, or to have you hurt.”
“And yet there is no way to stop it, if it is my fate.” He gathered me against him and pushed us both up to our feet, shaking the blanket from his shoulders. He guided me toward the door but did not pull away, and I savored his closeness. “Come. You must go back to your chambers. If Brychan finds you here, or if someone sees us and informs him, he will kill us both.”
We shuffled in silence along the corridors, slipping past the sleepy guards undetected. When we came to my quarters, Myrddin placed his hands on my shoulders and looked at me sternly, as Betrys sometimes did when she preached her gospel of Jesus.
“Blaise has told me, Gwendydd, that unrest stirs in the land. The Cymry chieftains like your grandsire cannot quell it, and it will come to call here very soon. But these changes, all of them, no matter what they are, must unfold as they are meant to. We may never understand all that happens, but that is our challenge in life. And that includes whatever this vision may portend for me.”
I matched his seriousness with my own. “Whatever happens, we are meant to be together. I understand that much.”
His hand moved underneath my loosened hair, cupping the back of my head like a pillow, and his expression of wonder made me dizzy. “It is foolish and reckless, raven, but yes. I think I understand it as well.”
He left me standing there in a pool of moonlight, my mind spinning as the stars overhead, replaying his words over and over again to seal them permanently in my memory.
Rose Vanden Eynden has always believed in magic, which probably explains how she is able to be a writer as well as a wife, mother, medium, massage therapist, minister, and instructor. She resides in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, twin teenaged sons, and a dachshund named after Rudyard Kipling. In her spare (!) time, she enjoys performing in live theatre, watching films, reading, and walking in the woods. An avid believer in a balanced life, she meditates and eats chocolate daily.
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