Chapter Nine - continued2

THE HAND OF FATE part three

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“Don’t taunt me,” Faunos said, a low rasp.

“No?” Soran nodded. “Then I’ll thank you not to taunt me either. I’ve already been far more patient with you than your rank warrants. The skin of your back remains intact. Your neck and limbs are unfettered. You want more from me? You want the coin I offered?”

Faunos took a long deep breath and whispered something Soran could not rightly hear, though it sounded like, “Gods help me.”

“The gods brought you here,” Soran purred. “In fact, they brought you to me, and you know it well. Standing there dickering, you only defy the divine hand that delivered you to me.”

[Note: this chapter is about to fog up your reading glasses.
The following text involves sensuality of the male persuasion.
If you will be offended, simply refrain from scrolling down
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He swept a long caress about his own body from breast to root. “And you’re a blind man, if you can’t see I wanted you from the first moment I set eyes on you. The truth is before you, freeman. A prince of Vayal is burning for you -- what more do you want?”

With a groan, Faunos closed his eyes. “I can’t.”

Soran tipped back his head and let frustration, confusion and aggravation break over him like the tide and pass on. “Of course you can. Any man can -- it’s the same as the pleasures women enjoy without a second thought.” Faunos might have been a statue. “Is there something wrong with you?” Soran demanded. “Are your brains addled? Come here.” Still Faunos did not move, as if he could not. “I said, come here!” Exasperation sharpened Soran’s voice. Since he was twelve years old, he had never had such trouble with a concubine --

But this was no concubine, no courtesan indentured to the temple or palace. The Zehefti freeman stood in the middle of the pavilion as if he were paralyzed by indecision, and with a rasping sigh Soran went to him instead.

He smelt of the ocean, of hearthsmoke and joss, male and beautiful. Soran’s arms slid around him, tangled in his hair, and still Faunos was a statue. Soran’s teeth closed on the lobe of his ear, where the gold ring lay on his tongue, and at a tug he felt the answering shiver race through the Zeheftiman.

“Ah, so you’re alive after all,” he whispered against the ear. “I’d begun to wonder. Don’t you dare tell me you find me ugly. I’ve been with enough of your kind to know it’s not true, even if every courtesan in Vayal told me bushels of lies.”

“No, you’re not ugly,” Faunos admitted. And then, “My kind?”

“You’re a dancer,” Soran guessed as he buried his face in the ocean-scented hair. “Aren’t you? In the service of Selene, is it? Vowed to dance in the moonlight to the glory of the goddess and her great mother, the earth. Or have you taken vows in the service of Gaya herself?”

“If you say so,” Faunos muttered.

“Still stiff necked with Zehefti arrogance.” Soran’s hands had spanned his back and explored the length of his spine to the softness below. “It’ll get you soundly flogged one day, boy, but from the feel of this back, you’ve never yet felt the lash.”

Faunos snorted in reply, and slapped his own hands less than gently onto Soran’s back. “Nor have you. What would you know of the lash?”

“Only what I’ve seen and heard ... and I've seen too much.” Soran leaned back to look at him. “Let go the arrogance and anger, Faunos. They don’t become you. Be the dancer, like the young people I’ve admired for so long in the courtyards of your city.” He gave Faunos a crooked smile. “Were you one of them? Have I been with you before?”

“No. I – no,” Faunos said quickly.

Soran pulled him closer, reveling in the press of velvet skin, the heat of his body, and the hardness that betrayed him. Arrogance and anger were a façade, a mask. His body knew what it wanted, was ready to take what it desired. “No matter.” Soran drew his lips over one smooth cheek. He felt no prickle of beard stubble, which was typical of the Zeheftimen. This one would be much older before he became familiar with the razor. “How old are you, boy?”

“Twenty,” Faunos told him. His eyes were closed, and his hands had become talons on Soran’s back. “Old enough to know what you want of me.”

“And quite old enough to give it to me,” Soran added, teasing.

The silvergold eyes snapped open, gimlet sharp. “If I give you anything at all, it’ll be my choice, damn you.”

Surprise made Soran recoil. He almost let go the younger man, but not quite. “Are you telling me --” He could barely believe it himself. “Are you saying you don’t want me?”

“I didn’t say that,” Faunos muttered, sulky, sultry, magnificently beautiful.

“In fact, you haven’t said say anything,” Soran retorted. “What do you want?” He set his lips on one corner of Faunos’s mouth, flicked him there with his tongue. “Do you want me or not?”

The Zeheftiman could barely breathe. “Would it make a difference?”

Soran covered his mouth, ate him alive, while his hands slid down, and down again, and clenched into the taut buttocks to pull him closer. One atom at a time, he felt Faunos begin to respond, heard the groan deep in his chest and, at last, the flick of his tongue. Soran already knew he had won, and relished the victory. He lifted his head and looked into the odd feline eyes. Their color seemed to change with every shift of the light, now green, now gold, now blue.

“Well, well,” he murmured. “You like to kiss. Let’s see what else you like.”

Obviously filled with misgivings -- clearly wanting and denying it in equal measure -- Faunos allowed himself to be tipped back across the divan. It gave under his weight and his fists clenched into the bronze silk there. His eyes were all over Soran, devouring every part of him, lingering at his belly, and his breathing was harsh, fast.

“You’re afraid of me,” Soran observed, and this was something new. No courtesan or concubine had ever feared him, though some had been very new to these games, and others were duty bound, under the command of high priests.

“I fear nothing,” Faunos lied, and it was obviously a lie. “I’m a freeman. You’ll not violate me.”

“You believe a prince of Vayal would force you?” Soran went down on the divan beside him and began to pet his breast, where the fine gold rings shimmered in the lamplight. He tugged them lightly, and Faunos moaned as if he were wounded “You’ll want me,” Soran assured him. “Long before I sunder you, you’ll beg me to do it, this much I promise you.” The Zehftiman turned his face away and Soran allowed a rich chuckle. “Don’t say you don’t want me, for your own flesh calls it a lie. And you can’t be a virgin.”

“Can I not?” Faunos rasped. “Is it so impossible? There's a law against it, is there, a law made in Vayal?”

“Oh, for Helios’s sake!” Soran took his hands away and sat up. “Now you're going to tell me you’re some virgin acolyte! You’re for the temple, I assume. Being a Zeheftiman, since your city is a mound of rubble tonight, you’ll be going to the temple in Ilios or Incaria, and in a month from now you’ll have your head shaved and your balls lopped, and spend the rest of your life singing hymns to Mayat or Hurucan!”

“No,” Faunos said honestly. “Nothing so dramatic. I just --” He glared up at Soran with dark, accusing eyes. “I just wanted to choose my own lover for that. I’m no man’s whore.”

He was trying to get up, trying to leave, but Soran’s hands stopped him. He straddled the slender body, pinned him to the divan as if he had just won a wrestling bout. “So choose me. You’ll be able to say you gave your virginity to the seventh son of the priest-king of Vayal. Few dancers across the Empire could say this and have it be any less than an outrageous brag.”

“A son of Azhtoc,” Faunos whispered. Soran nodded. The blue-black cape of his hair fell forward to veil them both. “The witchfinder,” Faunos said softly.

Turn page to Chapter Nine conclusion

Return to Chapter Eight...

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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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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