For Part One: http://wp.me/p2VCul-kr
For Part Two: http://wp.me/p2VCul-lz
Gwyneth grew up in the city, the child of an Irish mother and a Welsh father who’d moved to London for work. Strongly glamoured by her mother to appear completely human, her parents believed their pale child to be a partial albino because of her pale, pale colouring and light violet eyes. Her Welsh grandmother was steeped in folklore and called her “my changeling granddaughter,” even before Gwyn knew what ‘changeling’ meant. And it was she who whispered Gwyn’s truename into her ear when Gwyn was fifteen and her granny was on her deathbed. “Never say it,” she said. “Never say it to anyone, and telling you now means you won’t have a chance to ask me constantly how I know it. Keep it safe, and tell no one. All your power is inside that name.” An hour later, Granny was dead, and Gwyneth was looking up the name on the Internet, to find out what it meant. “Eirianwen. Shining One.”
Not surprisingly Gwyneth excelled in university and earned her BA with honours. She gained her MA and PhD in a combination programme and was a qualified lecturer at twenty-one. But her life wasn’t all studies and books and writing and teaching; she did have hobbies. She loved fantasy books and live roleplaying: she even went through a goth phase.
Her big passion was live action roleplaying, though she enjoyed a few lost weekends in Dublin as well.
Gwyneth spent a good part of the summer when she was in university attending LARP events, and the summer after she completed her first term as a university lecturer was no different: she and three friends went to three events that summer, culminating in Shining Lands, a huge LARP gathering for many different groups that played in the universe her game was set in. She and her friends had an amazing time, there was an Elf Clan Conclave, a big battle, bardic circles to die for, and of course epic amounts of drinking. During Shining Lands 2012, Gwyn actually had an encounter with a boy, her friend Richard. She and Richard had known one another for a few years; they’d met when they were both on the same MA course. But Gwyn was never interested in romantic relationships while in university: she’d seen too many people lose their academic focus and wasn’t going to be one of those people. However, that summer, she and Richard had gone out a couple of times in London, and at Shining Lands, they finally kissed.
On the long drive home from Lincolnshire to London, Gwyn and Richard sat in the back seat with their friend Emma, holding hands and talking, while Fenella and Kevin were up front with Fen driving. Gwyn was showing off her new boots, and Richard was trying to convince her that his new knife was cooler than her new boots. They were involved in a spirited but completely friendly argument about this when Fen merged the car onto the M11 and a lorry came out of nowhere and broadsided her parents’ estate wagon. It turned upside down, there was lots of blood, and nobody spoke for a while. Richard managed to get the door open and get out of the car, but he kept shouting at Gwyn not to move. Gwyn told him he was crazy: cars always blow up when they turn over– she’d seen all those American films. When she got out, she noticed there was blood all over her Elf Clan bracers. She looked down to find Richard’s new knife stuck in her gut. She started to laugh and shout at him for shanking her, but she passed out instead.
And found herself on the bank of a river, heavy with the scents of rushes and reeds, the chirpings of frogs, and a sound…the sound of oars as a boat pulled up alongside the tiny pier near where she sat, peacefully, on the unmarred ground.
“Well met, Gwyneth,” said a voice, a voice full of promise. “Looks like you’re in a bit of trouble, back where you’ve come from. How would you like to leave all that behind?”
Gwyn frowned as she looked down at her belly, where there was no blood and no knife. “What happened?” she asked.
“No questions,” said the Boatman. “Not knowing is one of the things you’ll have to get used to. But listen: I can offer you a different life from the one you might be about to lose back on that road in 2012.”
Gwyn listened to the Boatman’s offer, although later she would find the details fuzzy. Without much thought, she agreed, since she was happier without a knife in her gut. And so, he ferried her across the river, and Gwyneth arrived in the settlement of Jasper Cove, where she immediately looked for a tavern– because that’s what you always do in a fantasy story.