Chapter Four

The Heritage of Zeheft

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Sunset had been scarlet, purple and charcoal, violent colors filled with the wrath of the gods, and yet as the storm front passed on into the west, the fury of Hurucan seemed to abate with it. The night was soft, cool, suddenly calm. Faunos was grateful for the respite. In the grudging shelter of the cave above the sea, he stood by the fire till he was dry, wrapped his hips in fresh linen, wrapped on a silk cloak, and swung Galen’s bags over both shoulders.

The old man was exhausted, and though he denied it, Faunos was sure he was sickening. He had been soaked and cold to the bone for too long. One of his years was too frail to shrug off the rigors of such a day without cost. Galen had been old when Faunos was born; he told stories of Faunos’s grandparents as well as his parents -- of Phaia, whose hair was red-gold, whose eyes were green and bright with the witchfires of her Keltoi blood, and of Mykenos, whose hair was raven black, and whose skin was bronze, like the generations of his forefathers.

And Faunos was a true child of them both. They knew the magicks, ancient and strange. Phaia bore eight children, two by two, and only the last twins were daughters. Of the many sons of Mykenos, Faunos was the seventh born, just two hours before the last of his brothers. He knew all their names, but he had never seen them, and he believed he never would.

The eldest had already passed over out of life. They had made the Last Journey, into the west where Elysios had opened her gates to welcome them. They joined so many of the young men of Zeheft who had perished in the storms, and in the vaults below Vayal. All those who had even a spark of the power had been hunted without pause or mercy, until one remained.

The seventh son of Mykenos -- who was the seventh son of Parhys, and so back down the line to Diomedas himself -- gave his arm to Galen to help him up the path that scaled the cliff. The way was better suited to goats than to men, and Galen had not been agile in years. His eyes were dark, lately, with the foreshadow of doom, but when Faunos asked what he knew, what he saw in the flickering embers of the fire, he would not speak.

Instead, he brought out the old books, so ancient and precious that he would have given his life to protect them, and the lessons began again. Everything Faunos knew about the Old Kingdom came from those books, and from Galen’s teaching. For hours they sat by the hearth in the evenings, and Galen would talk -- rambling with an old man’s willful memory -- of the last great days of Zeheft, which he remembered from the very first seasons of his own life.

The fighting was over by then, but the city had not been touched. Battles were kept well away from Great Mother Zeheft, as if the priest-king of Vayal feared the older gods of the Zeheftimen. The hills along the spine of the long, dolphin-shaped island were blood soaked, haunted by the souls of men and women who had died there in the ten generations of struggle.

Vayal had always envied Zeheft, for its wisdom, its wealth and its power. In days gone by, Zehefti lawmakers had wrought the foundations on which the empire stood; Zehefti priests communed with Helios and Bast, Horus and Artemis, in temples that were older than time. And Zehefti kings, imbued with the power of lost ages, sat on the Jaguar Throne, from which the empire had always been ruled.

All gone. Those times lived on only in the memories of people like Galen, who clung tenaciously to life, too stubborn to let it go. Galen had one last charge, before he was free to pass through the great, shimmering gates of Elysios. He would shepherd Faunos to manhood, fetch him to the eve when he came of age, when his education was complete, his body was mature, and the power of his forefathers was fully under his command.

Even now, the power commanded Faunos -- and the boy was the first to admit it. Great fear, pain, dread, shock, and great pleasure, all stirred the power into an inferno beyond his control. He was twenty years old now, and he had just begun to glimpse how the power could be made do do as he desired. Five more years of Galen’s training, and he would have mastered its secrets.

Five years? As they clambered up to the path along the clifftop, Faunos frowned worriedly at the old man. Galen was wheezing as if he would not live another five minutes. He sank down on the sodden grass there to catch his breath, and peered out into the steel-gray twilight. The ocean was still leaden, heaving, like the contents of a cauldron. The wind was cool, but the stars were bright and the air smelt so fresh, sharp, as it never did when the wind was idle.

No more rain would fall. Faunos was in no great hurry to get to the shepherd’s hut on that account, but the sooner he could get Galen settled and fed, the better he would like it. Galen must rest, sleep, get warm and recover. He must recover.

Turn page to The Heritage of Zeheft part two...

Return to The Oracle: Thus Spake Iridan

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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