Chapter Eight - conclusion

Secrets part two

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“Perhaps. Who can know for sure?” Galen coughed, and drank. His voice was a croak. “You’re not happy, Faunos. You’ve not been happy in years now.”

He might have denied it, but the words would have been far from truth, and Galen knew him too well to believe lies. Faunos set down the gem and passed his hands over his hair, where the ropes of pearls suspended between the diadem’s wings stirred in their gold settings, and the lapis lazuli was warm across his brow.

“The truth? I’m lonely,” he said simply, honestly. “How could I not be? My father's things remind me that I had kin. They might still live somewhere, wondering what's become of me. But those times will never come again, and there’s no changing what is.”

“Not tonight,” Galen said softly, “but the future is an open book, boy. Not even the oracles know what will be in a year, ten years, a hundred. They cast the bones, read the runes, and speak in riddles to conceal the fact they’re guessing at the meaning of glimpses they’ve stolen through the curtains of time.” He paused and smiled sadly. “I know what you want.”

“Do you?” Faunos wondered how Galen could possibly know.

He gave a rasping laugh. “I’m a eunuch, not a corpse! I had lovers, when I was young. I know what it's like to be ravenous for companionship, to long for a warm body, a boy or girl who’ll lie down beside you in the night, take your loving and offer love in return. You’ve never had this, I know. It's natural that you should desire it … but I’m still sick with fear when I think on it. And yet look at you now. Look at you! Ripe with young manhood, beautiful as your father was, and hungry for everything you can’t have. Well, not safely.”

“I’d come back,” Faunos whispered. “All I want is a night, Galen, just one night in the gypsy camps. I hear their music, I can smell their spice, their joss, on the wind. I see their lights, where the boats are pulled up on the beach. It isn’t far. You don’t hear them? Wild music and laughter.”

“Oh, I hear them,” Galen admitted. “I know when you go out at night. You lie on the sand and watch the stars … and you wish to all the gods that you’d been born a common man. Don’t you?”

“Yes.” Faunos looked down at himself, along the fair, slender limbs that wore his father’s jewelry so well. He was tall and lean, his muscles were hard. He was a man grown, in every way, and he needed what any man needed. He looked up into Galen’s dark eyes and shook his head. The words escaped him, and Galen did not press for them.

He had set the plate of cold fish on the fire to warm for supper, which meant he was better, ready to eat. Faunos watched him finish the food, drink a little wine, and then Galen settled to sleep again, as if he knew --

As if he knew Faunos had to go out. Faunos was sure he did, just as certainly as they both knew the danger. Hands trembling just a little, he took off the ancient jewelry, piece by piece, and set it back into the silk and goatskin.

The Eye of Helios still shimmered as he set it back into its pouch. The box closed, locked, over it, but his palms continued to feel the vibration, the warmth, right through the wood, though it was locked away from light and heat. Fear haunted him as he thrust the box into its sack with the most precious books.

The danger was not only to himself, and he knew it. He would never talk, no matter the tortures and trickery -- and Galen had described them to him in merciless detail. A few survivors had limped out of Vayal, found innocent of supposed crimes and released. They told terrible stories of a dark place, confinement, pain, fear, wyrd herbs and the face of an inquisitor that soon took on the aspect of demon, goblin.

Faunos would never divulge to the witchfinder or the inquisitor where to find Galen or the books, or the Eye of Helios. Like so many others, he would perish before spoke. But his very silence meant he would die in the vaults beneath Vayal, and on that night the light of ancient Zeheft would be extinguished.

The shepherd’s house was silent, but for the crackle from the brazier, the whisper of a breeze beneath the eaves, the endless murmur of the sea, the old man's steady breathing. Faunos stood at the door for a long time, watching his old teacher sleep while guilt tormented him like an open wound.

He should stay. He should pick up his books and study – think of the future, both his own and that of Zeheft.

And yet when his feet took him to the corner where he had dumped their bags, he did not resist. His hands picked up a cloak, swung it about his shoulders and clasped the brooch. The pure instinct of the young animal guided him, and he followed, for what might have been the first time in his life.

The cause for which he worked and studied was not his own. It was Galen’s, and Faunos had not the heart to tell him it was lost, and had been lost for a generation. Zeheft was gone. The gods had destroyed it, like Nefti and Kush -- in their eyes, the Zeheftimen were no more worthy than their cousins had been, despite the heritage of Diomedas in which they took such pride.

It would surely be better, he thought, to get away from Vayal and Zeheft. Better to ship out with the wandering people and keep going, seek a new home in Jaymaca, or with the Keltoi, where no one knew or cared what the kings of Zeheft had ever looked like, or what Power they had ever wielded.

Without a sound, careful not to disturb Galen, Faunos thrust his feet into his sandals and laced them to his knees. He was bare, save for the fresh linen wrap he had tied about his hips an hour before. With a little luck he would pass for one of the wanderers.

Many of the water gypsies had the look of the Keltoi, like himself; many more had been born Zehefti, and had the same accent. He had been taken for an easterner more than once, and no harm came of it. Keltoi traders and mercenaries were common enough, scattered across the Empire.

With a soft curse he gathered the cloak and stepped out into the night air. From the headland above the ruins of the old town he could see the wanderers’ fires, and his heart quickened in a curious blend of anticipation and fear.

Turn page to Chapter Nine...

Return to Chapter Seven

About Legends...

This story has its roots in the 1980s. About the time I signed with GMP, I was kicking around the idea for a massive novel -- the problem being, I had no time to develop it. At the time, one of my "literary friends" was Lane Ingram, who passed away some years ago. When Lane volunteered to develop the narrative from my storyline, I was surprised and very agreeable; and a version of it was circulated on a small scale, to a very appreciative audience!

Lane had no aspirations to be a professional novelist, which meant writing was fun, and remained fun, while I did battle with "style" and "technique." And then one day Lane was gone, without leaving much of anything to mark the place in the world which had once bee occupied by an individual who was large in every sense of the word.

Let's change that. I'm bringing LEGENDS "to the screen" in a form which preserves as much of Lane's input as I possibly can, while at the same time properly developing it, bringing it up to full professional standard ... cutting and trimming, correcting the errant, though enthusiastic, amateur ... polishing it to the professional sparkle you've come to expect from Mel Keegan.

LEGENDS will be Lane's memorial. Here's to you, kiddo, wherever you are: enjoy.

Ebook screenreaders:

Downloading LEGENDS and reading from the computer screen? Join the club! Most people are stuck in the same situation ... and it's a right-royal pain. At this time, MK also is still trying to make the transition to one of the ebook screenreaders. The price of most of them is still high, but in the course of shopping around, Mel has found two that are coming under extremely close scrutiny. The Bebook and the Sony look like being the best deals at this time. In due course, we'll be reviewing them right here. Mel Keegan has decided it's going to be one of these two -- but they're very comparable, so ... take your pick. Either one would be perfect for reading LEGENDS, or other digital novels.

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Research Tales

A great deal of research for this novel was done, and subjects Atlantean most often begun with a study of the Trojan wars.

Why? Because the iLiad is one of the very oldest bodies of writing which is also extensive enough to be useful. The problem with the iLiad is -- unless you're fluent in Ancient Green (and who is?) you'll be working from the translations ... and the "disagreement" between them is counfounding for one who's not a Homerian scholar!

The solution? Track down a book that translates the translations -- gets them out of the rich, ripe, flowery language of poetry and into a solid historical context. And in this, MK lucked out. Such a book exists: The Trojan War by Barry Strauss. It reads like a novel, and if you wanted something to get your teeth into ... perhaps after watching the movie, Troy, or after reading Legends -- this is the book you've been looking for.

There's another very scholarly work, The Flood From Heaven by Eberhard Zanger, which "deciphers the evidence" and places Atlantis at Troy! Now, Legends is about five thousand miles from Zanger's work (literally -- due west!) but having said that, Zanger is to Plato what Strauss is to Homer, and the work was extremely helpful.

Now, working even further back through time, you want a "scholar" (and note the quotation marks on that word) who spent a lifetime researching (ouch!) Atlantis. And again, MK lucked out, because there is such a man. A very brilliant man by the name of Ignatius Donnelly, whose "pop-science" book, dating from 1882, is still in print today, in several editions! It's thorough, it's astonishing, and it makes ... quite a case for Atlantis. Not that anyone believes in such things. Right?

There are also some good documentaries on DVD, if this is altogether far too much reading!

And of course, if you want to get into the spirit of the thing (!) you can always put on Troy and let Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana and company provide the inspiration! Speaking of which, have you seen the director's cut? Highly recommended.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION: Legends is copyright 2009 by Mel Keegan. Please do download the whole novel, which is in HTML format, compatible with your screenreader, PC or Mac. However ... please don't gift it to your friends. Instead, give them the url of this page and recommend that they download it for themselves. The reason is simple: author's income is earned via the adverting on these pages. If they're not loaded, nothing is earned. MK has bills to pay too, and for your cooperation ... thank you kindly!

Note that Legends is NOT covered by the "Creative Commons." This work is the intellectual property of Mel Keegan. If you would like to use parts of it elsewhere, please contact MK via this blog.

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