Chapter Eleven - conclusion

A Bargain by the Jackal Throne part four

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“You may leave,” Azhtoc said icily. “I shall be watching the games. Take pains on my behalf.”

Which meant that anything other than victory would rouse his vengeful streak, Soran knew, and there could be real danger for Faunos here. Azhtoc could have him indentured to the temple, for sheer spite. Faunos might be initiated before Helios, just another shave-pate eunuch, in a week. Even if Soran won this afternoon, Azhtoc might still seize Faunos on a whim.

As Soran walked backwards from the chamber, spine bent, eyes downcast, hands crossed over his breast, he swallowed his own rage and made a pledge to both Faunos and himself. Baobo would find him, but Faunos would be kept separate, well away from the gilded vulture who perched on the Jackal Throne. Azhtoc’s fancy was almost always for women, the more ripe and round the better; and Soran would make sure he was amply diverted.

The morning was already warm when he strode out to the ball courts. He had not played in weeks, and if he intended to win in the afternoon, he needed to practice. His skills were lifelong, they needed only honing, and for years Soran had known that he did his best thinking when he was moving.

He could keep Faunos out of the palace altogether. The idea appealed to him greatly. He might take one of the white-columned villas on the hills overlooking the bay, install Lydias as the house master and trust the lad to hire a dozen servants and bondsmen to keep the villa and grounds. No doubt Faunos would appreciate being out of the palace, and for the first time in many years, Lydias would be able to spend the day on his feet rather than his knees and his belly, showing the proper respect to his betters.

The game was played with a leather ball exactly the size, shape and weight of a man’s head. In the days of Azhtoc’s grandsire, it would have been a man’s head – that of an enemy, a criminal, a traitor or blasphemer. The ball was wrestled for, tossed between the three members of a team, and lobbed through a hoop set into the crown of a column, high above Soran’s own head.

Five boys from the Legion came out to practice with him, but he knew they were making it easy. Not one of them dared bruise him, or steal the ball, or get in his way when he aimed a throw at the hoop. In the games this afternoon it would be very different – he could be gashed and gouged, even his bones might be broken. Soran relished the challenge.

His body shone with sweat before he was done. In the gathering heat of late morning he padded barefoot, naked, into the courtyard below the south vestibule and dove into the pool. Even the water reminded him of Faunos, who had smelt like the ocean.

The wanting to have him, possess him – not merely his body, but his passion, his soul – was an ache Soran could not set aside. If Faunos had not stolen away like a thief, it might have been him working up a sweat, practicing in the ball court. And then love would have been made in the rushes at the water’s edge.

“One day,” Soran swore as he broke surface and sculled on his back, the length of the pool. He was already waiting to hear from Baobo. How far could the Zehefti youth get in the few hours before dawn? Soldiers would have been on every wharf for hours by now, asking for him by name, describing him, looking out for any beautiful young man with a cape of bright Keltoi red hair. “And you’ll be mine,” Soran murmured drowsily, pillowing his head on his folded arms to rest.

He opened his eyes wide to the morning sun, and Helios flooded them with tears inspired by the brilliance and glory of the god. The games would be a pleasure – he needed the release of movement, effort, honest sweat. He would win, and not because his opponents would hand victory to him.

Every man on the court knew he would bear a merciless flogging if he tried to curry favor, and Soran would be given no quarter. He would win because he was the best. He was the best in the games. The best witchfinder in the New Kingdom. The best lover in the city of Vayal.

Complacent, content, he dove out into the water once more and began to swim strongly for the joy of working his body hard.

Two posts today:

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.

Aricia's Gay Book Shoppe

Aricia's Gay Book Shoppe
Every title hand picked, many of them already reviewed AG's Gay Book Blog -- hundreds of books and movies spanning a couple of decades, celebrating gay publishing and filmmaking!


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

Soon you'll be able to order prints, treeshirts, mugs, mousepads and a lot more, featuring this artwork and manufactured in the US by

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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The NARC novels are now at Amazon!

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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