Chapter Six - conclusion

GALEN part two

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The old eyes peered at him, bright and hard as a raven’s. “Not if they had the sense they were born with.” Galen pulled up the sheepskins, punched the cushions, and made himself comfortable. “They’ll get no succor there, and no shelter save the dungeon.”

The Inner Capital, the very heart of the New Kingdom and the empire, lay over the dolphin-backed swell of the island. It was not so far away – a fast horse could run it in less than an hour – but Faunos has not seen the spires and towers of Vayal in years.

He remembered it well, but even when he had been much younger, going there was filled with danger. He was born with the look of the Zehefti witchboys, some strangeness about the eyes, a curve to the mouth, which would always betray him. By the time he was fourteen or fifteen summers old, it would have taken little to set tongues wagging, and send a witchfinder after him.

He was ten years old, the first time Galen took him into Vayal. The old teacher insisted that he must know the city just a little, or it would be the enemy that defeated him on the day when necessity took him there. Faunos could not imaging what catastrophe would ever take him to the city, but he bowed to Galen’s experience and was wide eyed as he saw the great gold spires streaming blue and scarlet pennants, the fountains and courtyards, canals and temples, the villas and palaces of the rich. No other land possessed anything like it. Vayal was magnificence as he could not have imagined it before.

That day he stood barefoot in the dust and strong white sunlight at the roadside, and watched the pomp and splendor as a parade went by. He counted almost a hundred chariots, each dressed in gold and scarlet to honor Helios and, in the same moment, to mark the blooding of the priest-king’s seventh son.

The tradition of the seventh son was purely ceremonial in Vayal – it rank hollowly, like an empty wine jar, since no magic was passed on, and only rank was inherited. Still, the parade astonished Faunos. He might have curled his lip, knowing no Power had been born in this male child of Azhtoc, there was no reason for him to be celebrated as a seventh son of a seventh son. But the gold was blinding in the sun, the blare of trumpets was overwhelming, and Soranchele Izamal-xiu Ulkan had killed his leopard.

The animal’s skin had been stretched and cured. It hung like a cloak about the boy’s shoulders, and he wore it proudly. He was fifteen, and already those shoulders were broad, the legs long and muscular, the arms round with youth, strength. Three of his brothers were officers, placed highly in the priest-king’s armies; three more were high priests who rarely stepped out of the shadowed recesses of the temple of Helios.

But this youth, whose raven hair shone blue-black in the sun, and whose blue eyes coolly surveyed the crowd that had gathered to catch a glimpse of him – this boy would one day wear the double crown. Faunos marked him well, for his rank, his stature, and his rare beauty. He caught one long glimpse of the young man's face, and never forgot it.

Beside the youth in the chariot, only a little taller, rode his father, a figure shrouded in gauze, silk, cloth of gold, that concealed his face and form from commoners. To look upon the face of the embodiment of Helios was death, for all but a handful of his kin and comrades. Mahanmec Azhtoc could only have been proud of the boy, Faunos thought, and more than likely the great king recalled the day of his own feasting.

The ritual was reserved for the seventh sons, whose courage was proved in the forest, in blood. With the skin of the leopard about his shoulders, the heir to Vayal was permitted to wear his swords in public. That day, Soran also carried a pair of hunting javelins, and a double-curved Incari bow for which the quiver lay against his back.

“See his face, know him, remember him well,” Galen had said in a voice betraying as much sadness as anger. “This beautiful youth, with the gold-painted eyes and the pearls roped into his hair, will be the sovereign of Vayal through all the long years of your survival, when I’m gone to dust. It’s not Azhtoc you must dread, it’s this one, who is not even a man yet. This one, this Soranchele Izamal-xiu Ulkan, will receive the honors that should have been your own, Faunos Phinneas Aeson. When his father lies on the funeral pyre, Helios will reach down and possess the blood and bones of this seventh son. All of Vayal will prostrate at his feet. All the Empire of the Atantan will seek his glory and cower in his shadow.”

The words haunted Faunos for years, yet the same day he and Galen returned to hiding and isolation. They were on a galley bound for Incaria before the sun set, deliberately keeping away from the people of Zeheft and Vayal alike, out of dread. So easily could the boy be recognized either as his father’s son, or as the witchboy he was. Either way, a glance of recognition would be his doom.

For fifteen years Galen had kept them on the move between the islands, always running, always hiding, from Ilios to Kush to Nefti and Incaria. They were running out of places to hide, Faunos thought bleakly. The outlands were fast vanishing, storm by storm, and with every tantrum of Volcos, who made the earth shake in his rage.

At last they had returned to Zeheft because nowhere else was safe. Ilios was rank with contagion. Incaria was bustling with Imperial warships. They could have shipped out with a trading galley headed east into the wild, dark lands of the Keltoi, who were Faunos’s mother’s people, but the tribes were savage, unknowable. Many eastbound galleys never returned. They might have headed west into the mystery of Jaymaca, but the same was true, and the ocean was violent there at this time of the year, when Hurucan was always furious.

Faunos stirred, restless, hungry, ill at ease. Wanting air, he returned to the door. From the corner of the cottage he could almost see the lights of the water gypsies’ camp, and he could hear their music in wafts, when the wind blew strongly.

Part of him feared the gypsies, for he had never spent long enough with people to know their ways and wiles; but the greater part of him longed to be with them. He glanced back at Galen, but the old eunuch was dozing again. His skin was cool, his cheeks pale. The water jug was full and the brazier burned brightly.

With a soft curse, Faunos settled on the doorstep, arms wrapped around his knees, and listened to the songs of sea and wind.

Return to Chapter Six...

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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!

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