Without further ado:
I’ve been reminding myself that, in 14 days alone with no obligations to get me out of bed like work or classes, it will be very easy to let myself slip into an unhealthy sleep schedule. I keep telling myself that I need to force myself to be diurnal and face mornings.
Well, today I was not so successful. I woke up at 9:00 – not too bad, still thoroughly morning-time – and decided I didn’t wanna be awake, so I rolled back over and didn’t reemerge until 11:40.
(Tonight I will be good! It’s nearly 9:30 now; I will be in bed by 10:30 and force myself out of bed by 8:00. That is my goal this week; get myself on a 10:30-8:00 sleep schedule. Stay tuned for whether my resolve or weak willpower prevail).
I had my juice and breakfast, my coffee, and watched some TV (which I feel increasingly sheepish to admit) as I segued directly from coffee to lunch. After lunch I forced myself to put on some real clothes, and then I started to read some … wait for it … Welsh folklore!
How shocking, right?
I’m close to finishing this book, though, and then I’ll just have to compile my notes and then I’ll be able to actually worldbuild. Exciting!
I’m a little worried, though, because I’ve got a very clear idea for how that’s going to go, but then I’ve got to actually plot for the series … and I have exactly zero ideas for conflict. None. Zip. Nada.
I’m hopeful that, as everything involving Dwyn has, I’ll one day just be struck with a strong idea and my series-arc will just sort of fall into place. We’ll see.
The one thing is I just don’t want to force it, because the beauty of writing with Dwyn is the flow everything takes on, and a forced idea will destroy that easy flow and then I’ll have no choice but to riot.
But one thing at a time. First, finish reading John Rhys.
After I finished my chapter (no small feat, really) I sent my Christmas list to my sister, because it is literally never too early to be Christmas shopping. Then my mommy called me, I double checked that no more profs have posted textbooks I need, I started a puzzle, and then my buddy called me and we talked for a long long time.
That takes us into evening, where I just spent my last little bit of time writing something! You’ll never guess what world it’s set it – really, never.
Okay, yeah, but it’s actually not Dwyn this time, it’s Govan and Usille. And even then, it’s not really that much Govan and Usille, because the bulk of it is a myth I made up based on the content of my Rhys chapter today. (‘Twas all about the folklore surrounding wells in Wales, which, while fun to say, is also a bizarrely rich subset of Welsh folklore).
Anyway, here it is:
Govan knew all the best stories and songs; that was common knowledge through all of Pentref o Gwenith. For years children had crowded in the doorway of his smithy with pleas to hear a tale or a tune, and, for all that Govan had a good nature, they were often ushered away by the blacksmith by virtue of his having work to do.
But sometimes – and usually if the eager listeners came in pairs or triplets – he would let them sit on little stools around the smithy, out of the way of the hot forge and steaming quench-pot and would spin them tales of the lands surrounding them.
It was one of the things Usille had most come to love about her human companion, now the father of her child. She’d got in the habit, when she’d see the children traipsing to the smithy that adjoined their cottage, to standing outside the window to listen along.
Since the birth of Dwynwen – speaking of whom, just now gave an indignant little cry before shifting her sleeping head into a more comfortable position in the crook of her mother’s arm – Usille had even caught herself humming little snatches of human songs she’d learned from Govan.
Govan had not worked for a few days after Dwyn was born, but they needed to eat, and so he’d gone back out to the smithy today. As a result, Usille saw two little boys and a lass crowd in through the door. They didn’t come back out, so Govan must have let them stay today; Usille looked down at her sleeping baby and stepped outside into the mild end-of-summer air, taking up her position next to the window.
“Now, you all must promise me you’ll get right on back home when I’m done,” Govan was saying with mock severity. He was met with eager agreement. “And I’ll only tell you the one, and I’ve got to get back to my work!” He was once again met with easy assentation from his audience.
“Now, what should we tell you today, hm?” As he mused, Usille heard the quiet creak of his bellows as he stoked the fire in his forge. “Ah, I know. Have you ever heard tell of Marereda’s Well?”
“No,” came the reply.
“Ah, shame on your parents, then,” tsked Govan. “Marereda’s Well isn’t too far from here; perhaps as far as Pentref o Dinas, but to the east instead of the north. Anyway.
“Marereda’s Well is a mystical pool; so deep no one has ever found the bottom of it, perfectly round, and no wider than a large chimney. It never runs dry, yet never overflows, and no one seems to know what spring feeds it. It is in the middle of a level field, and it was all alone there until a wealthy man built his house nearby to it; though the well is always plentiful, and the water is safe to drink and use, the field will never bear any crops. It always remains barren, and the well in the middle of it all.
“No one knew of the pool until the rich man built his house there, for a large stone covered it. The rich man discovered the pool one day, out in a walk in his new field to decide what he should grow, when he tripped over the flag covering the well; he heaved it aside, with no small effort, and discovered the most cool and refreshing water underneath.
“He never could tell what made him do it, but he dove in to try and see how far it went. He swam as far as his breath could take him but could still see no sign of earth below it. He tried many times but could never find the bottom.
“When he emerged from the pool, he knew it was something sacred; he knew he must protect it. He put the flag-stone back over the opening and rushed home, eager to tell his family of his discovery. He knew it was otherworldly, and their family had been trusted to keep it safe.
“He returned to the pool with his wife, his three sons, and his daughter; all tried to swim to the bottom, but none could. It was the man’s daughter, Marereda, who discovered a strange pattern of little holes around the inside edge of the well, about and arms’ length deep. Like the pool, they seemed to go forever, and no one was sure of their purpose.
“Impressed by her discovery, Marereda’s father tasked her with the task of keeping the well. Only she could draw water from it, for their use and to water their livestock. Over time, the family began to notice they never fell ill since they began drinking the well-water, and their cows produced the best milk in the whole county.
“Only Marereda was allowed to remove and replace the flag-stone, and it was very important, the rich man insisted, that the stone always remain over the opening of the well. The family also kept it secret, not wishing the blessing of the well to be mussed by an outsider who didn’t understand its importance.
“For a long time, Marereda did this task very diligently and seriously. But, as with so many young folk, she was one day distracted by love; in a nearby town she met the son of a farmer, a young man about her age who was the prettiest lad Marereda thought she’d ever seen; they began to court, and it was soon they fell head-over-ears in love with one another.”
Dwyn made a hungry cry, and Usille, who’d been thoroughly distracted by the story, looked down to see she’d woken.
“Shh, shh,” she said, and popped her finger in the infant’s mouth for her to soothe herself on. Inside, Govan continued:
“In this haze of love, Marereda told her fellow of the well on her father’s property. He wished to see it; at first, she resisted, but soon they stole to the well in the dead of night and she uncovered it. Then he wanted to drink of it; again, Marereda hesitated, but gave in to the wish. Then he wished to swim to the bottom; to this, Marereda resisted the most, but like all the other requests, she relented, led by her heart rather than her head.
“Her lover dove into the pool and quickly disappeared under it. In the field, by the water that reflected the moon, Marereda waited for him to return.
“Soon she was anxious; she was worried he’d drowned. She would not only lose her love, she feared, but taint the blessing the well brought on her family.
“Quickly, Marereda dove in after him and swam down, down, down. In the deep darkness she found his hand, and then his arm, and pulled him quickly to the surface. He was okay, but chilled, and in a hurry spurred by fear for his well-being and fear of their discovery by the well, Marereda led him home swiftly.
“In her haste, she forgot to replace the flag-stone that covered the well. The task trusted to her. As she walked with her fellow back to his home, the water of the well bubbled over and followed her where she walked. She didn’t notice until it rose to just under her knee, and when she turned she saw a pool spreading out across all the land she’d covered so far. The water was cold and harsh, and – ”
Dwynwen was no longer accepting her mother’s finger as a substitute for a feeding, and began to cry in earnest, indignant as well as hungry. Usille’s hushing made no difference, so she had to return to the house and feed the baby.
When she went back out, Govan was through the story and the children had gone home, and it was with disappointment that Usille returned to the cottage.
Govan noticed something wrong when he returned to the cottage that evening, done with the day’s work.
“Nghariad,” he said, tweaking her chin. “What’s your sadness?”
“Just tired. Our daughter hates to let me have a moment’s peace,” Usille lied, reluctant to admit her eavesdropping on children’s tales.
Govan took the wee child in his arms, stroking her face gently with his finger and smiling. “That is true – she likens her mother this way. But I’m not so swayable to your Twylyth lies anymore, nghariad, what’s your moodishness?”
Usille smiled reluctantly. “She tore me away from your story earlier. Marereda’s Well.”
“Ah! Where was I?”
“The water was following them.”
“Oh, you left at the best part. You’d like to hear the rest?”
“Good, good. Well:
“Marereda remembered with great grief she’d forgotten the flag-stone, and this must be the punishment. She’d broken the secret and forgotten her duty, and this was the result. She stood, unmoving, because the water would go no farther than she stood and she could not drown the town.
“As she stood, a fearful creature – a dark giant, some member of the Twylyth Teg unknown to Marereda – came from the direction of the well.
“‘You have forgotten your duty,’ it said, and it frightened Marereda terribly. ‘You have put the love of a mortal over the trust of us, and doomed your whole town.’
“‘Please,’ Marereda said. ‘I’ll do anything to make amends; what must I do?’
“The terrible giant thought and said, ‘If this boy, who you have made more important than guarding our passage, can swim through the flood and replace the stone, your town will be spared and you may resume your guard of the well.’”
“Marereda looked to her fellow, pleading, and he nodded. He kissed her once and dove into the waters, and as he did, the terrible giant vanished. Marereda dared not move for fear of the floodwaters advancing, so she stood in the icy water – waiting.
“As the night passed, Marereda thought she noticed the waters receding; and, as the sun crested the hill beside her, she saw the water hardly wetted the bottoms of her feet. She walked back to the well and saw the stone replaced, and, from then on, never forgot her duty to the otherworld. That is why it is called Marereda’s Well.”
Usille was quiet. “What of her lover, then? Her fellow?”
Govan shrugged, bouncing Dwyn gently. “No one is sure. Some say he was whisked to the otherworld upon completing his task, the well a portal, the price of Marereda being distracted from her duty by his love.
“I prefer the happier alternative, though; some say he stood atop the stone, waiting for his love, and they lived forever in a secret place nearby, guardians of the well together. Some say you can still see them, just as the sun is rising, walking together from the covered well.”
As he spoke, Govan looked down at his daughter’s face, and Usille smiled at the sight.
“I like that version better, too,” was all she said.
I do hope you liked it. I don’t know if it’s interesting to anyone but me, since I just read the bit about wells in Wales (it really doesn’t get old to say), but I had fun writing it. Making up mythology is a fun game, I highly recommend it.
That’s really been my whole day so far. I intend to wind down with maybe a little more Rhys-reading (it’s a mission at this point) and maybe just a spot of television to round out the day, but then I will be in bed by 10:30! I am resolved to it.
See you tomorrow. Let’s see if I can’t drum up some more fiction for you then, too; that’d be exciting, wouldn’t it?
Then again, I also didn’t step even a toe outside today, so I might also need to go for a walk. That seems like a good idea.