Chapter Nine - conclusion

THE HAND OF FATE part four
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[Fair warning: the steamy scene continues.
The following text involves sensuality of the male persuasion.
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“What of it?” Soran bent his head and tasted the luscious mouth again. “It’s the task Helios gave me, and I wouldn't have chosen it. I had no right of choice, unlike yourself tonight, with me! Forget what the god made me, it means nothing, not here, not now. Only one things matters. Choose me, and let me show you what pleasure is all about, before some temple sinks its claws into you.”

The silvergold eyes looked up at him, half-closed against the lamplight. Green sparklets danced in them, and Soran checked in surprise. Few people indeed showed the green sparklets, and only ever the Zeheftimen who were related through the old royal line to the ancient Keltoi. This one had more than a little Keltoi blood in his veins; the heritage was written in every line of his body as well as his complexion and the cloak of his hair.

But Faunos’s head was shaking slowly. “You’re the witchfinder,” he spat the word, “the scion of Imperial Vayal who stalked into this camp and appointed me to this, without even asking me. You’ll surely have me, since I place a high value on my liberty, not to mention my life! I’ll be able to say a prince made away with my virginity; you’ll say you went out on the night of your coming of age, drank ale and plowed a freeman.”

Anger crackled through Soran’s chest. For one moment he was angry enough to do it, take what he wanted and walk away. He caught Faunos’s arms, threw him over and tossed him down on his belly. Faunos lay still, and Soran glared at him, seeing every detail, from the wide, still-bony shoulders to the mark on his left buttock -- a birthmark in the shape of a sea eagle with upswept wings. It drew the eye to the incurvation of his hip, and Soran touched it lightly.

Still Faunos did not move, challenging him mutely, and Soran wondered how a man’s surrender could he so damned insulting. He had never seen a more beautiful form -- the palace and temple boasted a hundred like him, the most gorgeous from every part of the world; but none was more beautiful, more prideful, and Soran was keenly aware of rejection. Desire dwindled like a neglected hearth.

Bruised, angry, he snatched up the cloak and wrap and dumped them over Faunos’s legs. “Get dressed. Get out of here. At least my reputation will hold together if you walk out without a mark on you. I’ve never been accused of rough-handling my companions. It’s never been necessary for me to take what I needed, nor even ask for it a second time. You wound me, Zeheftiman. You could be flogged for far less than you’ve done tonight.”

Faunos rolled over and hugged the cloak against him. “Damnit, I offered you exactly what you wanted.” Sulky, defiant, truculent.

“You offered me nothing,” Soran snapped. “You must find me ugly as a baboon’s rump.” He dragged both hands through his hair and turned his back on Faunos. The wine jug was full, and he poured a deep cup.

For a long time, as he drank it, the young man was silent; and then Faunos said quietly, “No, not ugly. You’re very beautiful, my lord prince. I’ve seen you before -- just once, many years ago. I was ten years old. My teacher brought me to see Vayal. You’d just killed your leopard. I watched the chariots go by. I thought you were the most beautiful boy … and now you’re a man grown, and no less beautiful.”

Soran spun toward him, spilling the wine. “Then why reject me? That damned Zehefti pride!”

“You’re the witchfinder,” Faunos murmured. "Witchtaker."

“And unless you’re a witchboy of the line of damned Diomedas himself,” Soran spat, “what does it matter? It’s the task the god gave me, boy, just the work they trained me for before I was old enough to know properly what I was doing, or why I was doing it.” More perplexed and frustrated than ever, he glared at Faunos. “Do you fear me, is that it? Do you dread me, because you have the green fireflies in your eyes, and you know I've seen them? They give you the look of Diomedas’s sons, but I’m not quite the fool you take me for. Those eyes are also born in the Keltoi, boys and girls alike. I’ve seen more Keltoi cat’s eyes than you have! Is this why you fear me?” Faunos did not answer, and Soran rasped a sigh. “Oh, just get dressed and leave. “I told you to get out of here.”

Faunos sat up and toyed with the cloak and wrap. “I meant no disrespect.”

“Liar. There was insult in every line of your back when you turned it to me,” Soran snorted. “What, you creature, you want to make amends now? Does it occur to you at last that I would make a bad enemy?” Faunos’s face was shuttered, like a mask. “All right,” Soran said in an ominously soft tone. “If I gave you leave to go, you’re no prisoner here. In fact, you never were. Not being a prisoner, you have the right to choose.” He drank deeply and turned his shoulder to Faunos with a dismissive gesture. “Go or stay, freeman. Do what you will. I no longer care.”

It was a profound untruth, but Faunos would not know it. The wine scorched Soran’s throat as he drank it to the dregs. For longer than a minute he waited for Faunos to move or speak, but the Zehefti did neither. In all his life, Soran had never seen anything so beautiful, nor half so vastly infuriating. No man save his father and brothers had ever faced him down and denied him any slightest whim. No other man would have dared argue with him.

And then Faunos stood, reached out and laid one palm on Soran’s breast. A chill prickled through the witchfinder from the soles of his feet to his scalp.

“If I have the freeman’s right to choose,” Faunos said, soft, husky, “I choose to stay.”

Again, sheer disbelief overwhelmed Soran, but this time a thread of mad humor wound through it. He threw the cup down and took Faunos by both shoulders. “You infuriating little -- I should have known. They breed them more arrogant in the backstreets of Zeheft than in the palaces of Vayal. Take care, for one day it’ll cost you dearly … but not tonight. Not at my hands.” He held Faunos at arm’s length and looked him up and down with fat satisfaction. “All right, then, since you choose to stay. Come here, Zehefti virgin. Come to me and learn a few things about love.”

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

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

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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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