Cynon was a Welsh nobleman who served as a ealdorman in Glowecestrescire during the late 9th century. He was lauded for appeasing both the Christians of the former kingdom of Hwicce and the remaining pagans. At some point, Cynon passed the torch, creating fear and skepticism, with many believing war would spark without him. In the end, he began to adopt a syncretistic position between Druidism and Christianity, welcoming all kinds of pagans, from followers of the ancient Celtic religion to Nordic pagans.
Not much can be found about his past, except that Cynon used to be a devout Christian before his time as ealdorman. However, upon his first glance of the high priestess Modron, Cynon was enamored by her. When he became ealdorman after a Samhain festival, Cynon and Modron often worked together in the daily business within Glowecestre. Over time, both leaders grew close to one another and understood each other. Before long, Cynon was offered a part in a fertility ritual by Modron and he easily accepted. From their work and the ritual, Cynon and Modron built a union between the pagans and Christians of the shire as well as a legacy in their daughter, Gwenydd. Within Cynon's twenty years as ealdorman, Glowecestre was home to all as he took care of his family, which included the last ealdorman's daughter, Brigid.
A Tale of Wicker-Fire
At the end of his reign of ealdorman, Cynon readied himself for his final duties for the Samhain festival. However, his successor, Tewdwr, grew to resent and dislike the pagans, who were the target of his future decisions for the shire. Concerned, Cynon and Modron knew that the union and their daughter would be in danger if Tewdwr became ealdorman. Modron created a plan to kill Tewdwr and take the place as leader of the shire and Cynon agreed to help for his legacy. Their plan, however, included the arrival of the Viking shieldmaiden Eivor Varinsdottir of the Raven Clan. Due to Brigid's relationship to Ravensthorpe's blacksmith, Gunnar, Eivor was expected to come and whisk the lovers back to her home. To prepare, Cynon paid bandits, led by Gwilim, to abduct and kill Tewdwr as Cynon will frame Eivor for his apparent murder.
Upon Eivor's arrival, Gunnar introduced her to both Cynon and Tewdwr. Upon their first interaction, Cynon asked Eivor to guard and protect on his travel to pray, which she agreed. Cynon had to tend to other matters within his community as Eivor left. When night came, Cynon was spending time with Gwilim, who was pretending to be a monk, and Tewdwr, until Eivor came by to talk with Tewdwr. However, the night brought a drinking competition, which led to a conversation about the upcoming events. Cynon disclosed his role to be sacrificed in the Wicker Man for years of good harvest, as Tewdwr will take his place. Thus, for their roles, the group of four raised their drinks and toasted to both Tewdwr and Cynon. After the toast, Cynon left the group as Tewdwr, Eivor, and Gwilim drank the night away. Unknown to Eivor and Tewdwr, Gwilim dosed them with a heavy sleeping potion, which soon knocked them unconscious.
The next day, Eivor awoke to horror in Tewdwr's house, as Tewdwr was missing, his guard is dead, and the house was a mess, with Gwilim's pouch being found suspiciously. Leaving the house, Cynon approached and accused Eivor of killing Tewdwr and ruining the festivities. Wanting to plead her innocence, Eivor asked to show her case, but Cynon ordered her death. Now as a wanted woman, Eivor had to escape Cynon's men and prove her innocence. Finding and talking with Modron, Eivor was led to find Gwilim and understand what happened that night.
From her investigation and Modron's advice, Eivor traveled to Thieves' Warren to find Gwilim and discover what happened to Tewdwr. Inside the stronghold, Eivor heard Tewdwr and managed her way inside a hut, only to find Gwilim and Tewdwr. Confronting Gwilim, Eivor interrogated the bandit, who revealed that Cynon paid to have Tewdwr killed. Eivor asked why he was still alive and Gwilim admitted that the bandits liked having him around. Saving Tewdwr, Eivor left the bandit camp and brought him to Modron. Afterwards, Eivor headed back to Glowecestre to confront Cynon for his crimes.
Back in Glowecestre under the guise of the Mari Lwyd, Eivor interrogated the festival planners and found out that Cynon was guarded as he was locked inside St. Kenhelm's Church. However, Eivor found out that a irresponsible woman named Geva had the key. Thus, Eivor found her way inside the church, but could not see any form of Cynon inside. Looking around, Eivor noticed a wooden gate and broke it open. Eivor found a startled Cynon praying and confronted him about having Tewdwr take his place in the burning. However, Cynon rejected the notion and stated that Modron had been pulling the strings of Tewdwr's attempted murder. Cynon also revealed that Modron and him had a child, who Eivor figured out to be Gwenydd, and that their work and love resulted in the union between their religions and people.
Eivor, however, let Cynon know of Tewdwr's change of heart and how his plan worked in convincing Tewdwr to be a leader to all of the shire's people. Upon hearing this, Cynon told Eivor to save Tewdwr from Modron's ritual at her forest temple in Aelfwood as he tended to the festival's end. Upon deciding Cynon's fate, Eivor left to save Tewdwr from Modron.
Behind the scenes
- In "A Love Betrayed," Eivor has the choice of killing Cynon inside the church or letting him live to die in the Burning of the Wicker Man.