Chapter Eight


[page back]

The jewelry was so old, the pieces seemed fragile in Faunos’s fingers. He always handled them with care, even with reverence, if only because he knew that the last man to wear them was Mykenos Peleas Memnon. His father.

They were kept in a silk bag which lay inside a leather sack, padded on all side with goatskin. The sack lay in a box of black wood inlaid with mother of pearl worked in the spiraling designs of the House of Diomedas, so like the Keltoi magic signs. When he was twelve years old, he was allowed to handle them for the first time. When he was sixteen, he was allowed to put them on, and since then Faunos had found a great delight, a great solace, in wearing his father’s jewelry.

When he was unhappy, lonely, despairing of the future, he would put on the diadem, the collar, bracelets and rings. He would hook the heavy pendants into his lobes and nipples, and soon the gold would grow warm against his skin. As it did, a great peace would suffuse him, as if it grew out of the ancient metal, pearls and jewels.

He was sure he could almost feel the presence of his father when he wore these things, but he had never said any of this to Galen. It might have been too fanciful, and Faunos was still much too unsure of his own abilities to know if it were just the flight of his own imagination. But he could surely sense his forefathers gathered about him when he wore the jewelry which had once graced the limbs of Diomedas himself.

In the shifting yellow light of the fire, the soft, old gold gleamed. He had replenished the brazier before he opened the bags, and as always Galen watched without comment as he put on the jewelry. Faunos tipped back his head, waited for the peace to infuse him, and at last opened one of the few books he had salvaged.

He set his back against the wall, where the firelight was bright enough to read, but his eyes were blind to the characters. “I know the way back to the cave,” he said absently. “At low tide, tomorrow, I’ll fetch out the rest of the books.”

Galen answered with a grunt, and reached for the water jug. His voice was husky, and he coughed too often for Faunos’s liking. “Work with all the care you possess, and leave it no later than this next low tide.” He shook his head in exasperation. “Volcos has set his hand against us, and I don’t know why. What did the Zeheftimen ever do to anger him?” He looked at Faunos with eyes grown dark with misgivings. “I’ve felt the rock shifting under my spine three times, four times, since we’ve been here in this pitiful hut.”

“So have I,” Faunos admitted. “But it’s settling. Volcos’s anger is spent, at least for a while.”

“I hope it is.” Galen drank again and lapsed back into grumbling speculation. “Does the sea rise with the ire of Peseden, or does the earth itself settle ever deeper into its embrace?” He shook his head distractedly. “I’m sure I don’t know, but if we don’t move swiftly it's certain the books will be gone.”

“Tomorrow,” Faunos promised. “If we let them lie there any longer, they’ll only rot.”

“And if they do,” Galen warned, “you’ll be copying them word for word till your hand cramps and falls off your wrist! These old eyes aren’t up to the task, not now … and you couldn’t ask a marketplace scribe to do the work. Good gods! It’d get the both of us flayed alive.”

The remark made Faunos smile, but it was far from a joke. The Zehefti books still existed only because their guardians had been vigilant. They were never allowed to be damp, or too cold, or too hot. This had been the task appointed to Galen and his brethren – all of them teachers in the service of the ancient royal house of Diomedas; all of them lay brothers of the temple of Helios, whose desire for family, children, had been sublimated to the survival of Zeheft. They were indentured to the scribes as boys, and when the time came, gelded and either initiated as teachers or ordained as priests. Galen had grown old in the service; he would die in it.

People like Galen – men, women and eunuchs alike – had protected the fragile line of kings since the wars, but diligence, courage and sacrifice were not enough. Every generation brought fewer young men like Faunos. A day would come when there were none, and as far as Faunos knew, he might already be the last.

Many times he had asked Galen, were there others like himself, and where were they? The old man would not answer, and at last Faunos stopped asking. Galen could not tell what he did not know. And perhaps he would not tell because he did know, and the truth was too dire to be spoken.

If this truth was, ‘There are no more like me,’ Faunos wondered, what then? If he were the last, then the Power would die out of the world with him, and Zeheft would be erased so utterly, it might never have been.

He sighed heavily, chin on his chest, watching the fire, and for the thousandth time spoke silently to Helios. What am I? What shall I be? What becomes of me, moldering along with a mound of books which are more valuable than I am? What becomes of me when my teacher is dead?

How old Galen looked tonight. He seemed twenty years older than he had been the morning before the storm and wind came to take Zeheft, and no matter what he said, he was sick. He needed rest, comfort, good food, and Faunos could provide none of these things tonight, which left him with a gnawing sense of inadequacy.

He should be working, he thought, like other young men of his age. He could be on a fishing boat, or in the shipyard, earning a day’s pay for a day’s labor. He could dance, where rich men’s sons from Vayal came to watch the Zehefti youths and toss coins, and some vanished into the shadows for an hour.

And when the day was done, no matter what work he did, he should be out, free to run and play with his fellows, tasting the best and worst of all life had to give while youth was on his side and the experience meant something.

The danger of following his heart inspired a shiver, yet Faunos embraced the longing. Galen had not quite forbidden him to go out, though he had lectured many times on the foolishness of it. If Faunos were recognized as a scion of the House of Diomedas, he could be arrested. If he should be jumped by bandits, he would certainly be robbed, and money was hard to come by. If he found himself lured by the houris in the gypsy camp, he could be seduced out of the money, and if his luck had really turned sour, he could wake up sick in a few days, groaning with the whore’s illnesses which were common in the wanderers’ camps.

But Faunos knew full well that what concerned Galen most was the fact he could not hope to conceal what he was. He was a scion of Diomedas – he was very different, and it showed. The blood of ancient kings was diluted by many generations of Keltoi and Incari seed, but in every seventh son it seemed the line was reborn anew.

Galen swore that Faunos was so much like his own father, they could had been twins, and Mykenos could have been the twin of his father; and so it went, back down the line of their ancestors, to Diomedas Xenos Achilles. And the heritage was not merely skin deep.

Unable to find the concentration to read, Faunos set down the book and went back to the box where his father’s jewelry was kept. He was keenly aware of Galen’s eyes on him as he lifted out the black silk pouch. It lay in his palm, warm, always warm, and always vibrating slightly, as if it had a life of its own.

It was called the Eye of Helios, and it belonged to Faunos on a level so profound, even now he was unable to explain it. No other hand could touch it. Galen himself, despite a lifetime’s study, could not bear to touch it. He handled it with a pair of wooden tongs, if he had to handle it at all. It was like a great blue diamond, the size of Faunos’s thumb, and the last human hand that could hold it without being burned black belonged to his father.

“You want a lesson?”

The old eunuch’s hoarse voice took him by surprise, and Faunos seemed to jerk awake from a trance. “Not really. I can’t concentrate,” he confessed. “I just … holding it makes me feel close to my father.”

“The Power is growing in you,” Galen said tiredly, and sighed. “You might wish it were not.”

“I do wish it were not! It could get me killed. One day, it think it will,” Faunos said thoughtfully, still gazing into the heart of the immense diamond, where a blue fire seemed to burn. “It’s alive, isn’t it? I’m sure it is.”

Turn page to Chapter Eight Conclusion...

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.

Aricia's Gay Book Shoppe

Aricia's Gay Book Shoppe
Every title hand picked, many of them already reviewed AG's Gay Book Blog -- hundreds of books and movies spanning a couple of decades, celebrating gay publishing and filmmaking!


The art appearing on this site, illustrating elements of this novel, is by Jade, my cover artist from DreamCraft.

Soon you'll be able to order prints, treeshirts, mugs, mousepads and a lot more, featuring this artwork and manufactured in the US by

The portfolio is still growing, and a gallery is online. Return to this page now and then to see new addition...

The commercial break:

The NARC novels are now at Amazon!

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.

Locations of visitors to this page