Chapter Seven - conclusion

The Prophecy - part two

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But the fall of the runes was taken as a sign from Helios himself, that Zeheft must be destroyed, and the priests of Vayal cried aloud, singing prayers of thanks to the god.

The oracle from Ilios was an old woman, blind, crippled, so ancient, she seemed no more than skin, bone and iron will. Her words were etched so deeply into history, even Soran knew them.

One will be born into the cosmos of men,
One will be born here, and never again,
And all of Vayal will see doom in his face,
Will fall at his feet, beseeching his grace
For mercy unearned, the boon o’ the Three.
But Vayal shall drown in the deeps of the sea.

For generations, philosophers, priests, mystics and even mathematicians had fretted over the old woman’s exact meaning. Every word was dissected, and every letter examined for the significance of its numerology. They were wasting their time, Soran was sure.

The meaning was so plain, he had understood it when he had first heard it, at the age of five, and no nuance of it had changed in the twenty years since. One would be born, she said, actually born of the body of a woman, real and alive in the world of living, mortal men. Not a godling, then, nor a god.

The gender was specific: every soul in the Empire would see their downfall in his face. A mortal young man would be birthed – and again the oracle was specific. One will be born right here in this place, by which she could only mean the central island of the Atlantan peoples, either in Vayal itself, or in Zeheft, or in the hills and forests beteween. A day would come when the people of Vayal would fall down at the feet of this young man, whose grace blinded and stunned them, but their pleas were for naught; the Three ignored every prayer and Vayal would follow Zeheft, Kush and Nefti into the ocean.

To Soran it made perfect, terrible sense. He had learned the rhyme by heart and recited it like a mantra through his youth, while he was taught the skills of the hunter. The witchfinder. Those skills were honed by masters from every part of the empire, for upon Soran’s wide shoulders rode the future of Vayal.

So the One would be born here, but if he were winkled out early enough, if he never came to manhood, nor discovered the grace of the Zehefti witchboy in whose body and blood had been born the power of Diomedas –

Then Vayal would never see its own doom in his face, for the power would never have matured in him. If he never loomed large and terrifying over the Empire, if the people never threw themselves at his feet in abject surrender, then – as generations of priests and philosophers had argued – the prophecy would have been undone. The death of Vayal could be averted. The Three would not turn away.

Soran found the argument deeply disturbing, but his brothers in the temple – five eunuchs whose lives were as indulgent, as hedonistic as Azhtoc’s, whose wealth was incalculable, and whose concubines were the most succulent Soran had ever seen – swore the matter was too esoteric for any mere hunter, or a soldier, to comprehend. Even the witchfinder. He should go about the holy work for which he had been trained all his life, and leave them to interpret the wisdom of the god

The Three would cast their gaze where they chose, Soran thought. They were fickle, capricious, mercurial. Though he burned joss before their statues, mumbled prayers to them like everyone else, when the bell called the whole city to devotions, he had never trusted the gods.

Helios, the Sun, Hurucan, the Winds, and Peseden, the Ocean, were half-brothers, sons of the great Gaya, who was the world itself. The father of Helios was Pyros, the element of fire. The sire of Hurucan was beautiful, winged Aeolus, who embodied the spirit of air, and a chance mating between Gaya and Nepte, the great monster who ruled the ocean depths, produced Peseden. They had other, lesser siblings without number. Volcos, the son of Pyros and the angel Ezebel, so hideous that he never showed himself by the daylight, and raged in the earth, making it shake and burn. And Mayat, the fair, cloud-borne daughter of Gaya and Aeolus, who was the beloved of Hurucan, but who spurned him, making him so furious, he vented his wrath on the earth. And Mahtoc, the last-born son of Helios and the mortal woman Pelas – half human, half divine scorned by his brothers and vengeful in his rage ... Mahtoc was the god of all wars.

The gods, demigods, angels, demons and spirits were so numerous, Soran could forget the lesser deities. But the Three great gods personified the glory of the earth, ocean and sky and were impossible to ignore. And if they possessed any shred of compassion between them, Soran had never seen it.

He knelt before their statues because their power held him in awe, not because he loved them. He pleaded for their grace when all seemed lost, not because he believed they cared a fig for what befell men, but because he knew they were vain, and would smile upon those who ingratiated the most gracefully.

The Whispering Well marked the place where the Iliosians’ oracle cast the elkhorn runes. Sitting there, waiting while the horse rested and drank, Soran felt a shiver that had nothing to do with the chill of the night. It was time, fate, destiny, he felt moving and shifting around him, as if the threads of time’s tangled skeins brushed his skin like a breeze he could almost smell. The shiver was deep as the marrow in his bones, but what it meant, Soran could not guess. He set the question from his mind – it would surely keep for a night, and this night was his own.

The water gypsies’ camp was far below, down the steep, winding trails on the south side of the island. In the distance their fires glittered like stars cast down on the dunes, and he would hear their music before long, smell the spicy aromas of their food.

Many times, he had wished he were one of those gypsies. A hundred times, he had entertained the fantasy of casting off whatever marked him out as Vayalish, or the witchfinder, or a son of Azhtoc, and vanishing over the horizon with them.

His father called them mongrels, and it was true – there was not a man among the gypsies who had a single strain of blood inside him. They were Incari, Keltoi, Agyptian, Nubiye, Zeftimen, Jaymacan. They were of every people from every corner of the earth, living and prospering as kin and comrades, while the people of Vayal stagnated and suffocated in a crypt of their own making.

The gypsy ships were all like Priolas’s battered but worthy old Incaria. Soran knew enough of the seaman’s trade as well as the hunter’s to never want for work or pay. He would be recognized among these people, of course, until he was three or four horizons distant. Then he would change ships, strike out again with a crew out from far archipelago of Ilios, where his face was just only of a handsome young man out in search of a fortune.

The longing to go sometimes ached in Soran’s gut, and only duty took him back to Vayal. He was Azhtoc’s heir, the witchfinder, whom they looked to, to defy the oracle’s wyrd rhyme, and the One, and the day when the gods turned deaf ears on the glory of Vayal and let her drown along with the rats.

The horse lifted his nose from the pail of water by the well, and Soran gathered the reins. He touched his heels to the racer’s sleek sides and spoke to him to urge him on. He was hungry, and not merely for food. Down in the water gypsies’ camp waited a young freeman with desire in his eyes and a fire in his belly, who hungered for a wild night; and Soran would give it to him.

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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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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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