Chapter Fifteen - conclusion

Mystery part three

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No witchboy had ever spoken words of Power to Soran. He had never seen the gestures of high magic. Several of the creatures had fought to get away; one injured him with a dirk. Another shot him. But aside from a few quite feeble acts with proved they had inherited some fragment of the Power, none had offered anything in the way of enchantment.

The last one he brought in called himself Pahrys, and could conjure fire, make it dance in his palms. Soran cornered him in the rambling shacks where Zeheft uncoiled itself into the orchards and fields. He captured the young man in a street filled with hot, white sunlight and onlookers, all of them Zehefti, who would not help him when he begged.

Pahrys fought, in his own way. He set alight to Soran’s cloak, which scorched the witchfinder’s forearms and legs, but as soon as Soran had him bound and wrapped in the same half-charred cloak, he was powerless. If he conjured fire then, he would only burn himself, and he wisely lay still over the shoulders of Soran’s horse. He had no other magic to fight with, and no physical weapon.

The memories were so sharp in Soran’s mind, they might have been etched with acid. He took them apart, grain by grain, as he strode toward the stable, and the closer he looked at the evidence of his eyes, his senses, the less faith he placed in the priests who had tutored him.

The passages were silent, empty, as night gathered over Vayal. He had believed he would make it out of the city unhindered, until a shape detached itself from the shadows. It bowed, and Druyus’s voice said,

“Baobo told me the news, my lord. Your Zeheftiman is a witchboy … of course, you knew this all along, did you not? Doubtlessly, it is the reason for the hunting that has occupied Baobo’s men since morning. I look forward to the Zehefti’s company.”

“His company?” Soran spat. “All you want is to get those rapacious hands of yours on something young and beautiful to be hurt, to be broken, for your amusement. You disgust me. Get out of my way.”

“Still,” Druyus said as he stepped aside, “He will come to me.”

If the Zeheftimen Baobo has found is the same individual,” Soran said curtly, “I shall stand by my duty and fetch him in.” He swung on the priest. “But you’ll not have this one to torture and murder, Druyus. You may question him for what secrets he knows, and that is all.”

“Before he is sentenced,” Druyus added with placating sweetness. “My lord. If the Zehefti tells his secrets, he will live, though the line of Diomedas ends with him, as is the law. Will you have the eunuch, my lord prince, after the ritual?”

Soran’s belly churned with fury. Druyus would never know how close he came to being separated from his head -- and yet he spoke only the truth. For a Zeheftiman who was proven, by evidence or confession, to be descended from the royal line of Diomedas, the sentence was death or gelding. The law of Vayal allowed for no possibility that the seed and the Power would be passed on. Faunos must also know this. How many brothers and cousins had he lost? Soran wondered as he glared at Druyus, how many of them had he fetched back to Vayal himself.

The last one, Pahrys, died swearing there were no more at all, but till the end Druyus had been convinced he was lying. Perhaps Faunos believed himself to be the last, and perhaps he was. Maybe the One had been spirited out of the Empire and was growing to manhood in the lands of the Keltoi, the Vanir, the Jaymacan. This would have been Soran’s solution to the challenge of the hunters, the witchfinders: run away, run far, fast, and don’t return.

“I’ll have the eunuch, when you’re all quite finished with him,” Soran said between clenched teeth, “and I’ll see the ritual is performed by the most gifted surgeon from Chios, even if I have to take the witchboy there myself, to have it done. I’ll not let him be hurt or humiliated in the process, damn you.”

“One admires your dedication, my lord,” Druyus purred.

He was mocking, needling, and Soran’s hand itched to lash out. “And as for the interrogation,” he snarled, “you won’t have him alone, Druyus. Not for one moment. There are ways to have the truth out of a man without bruising his skin or letting one drop of his blood. I know this as surely as you do, but you choose to forget it, and my father lets you.” His voice had the dangerous edge of broken glass.

The priest had the good sense to go down into a grovel at Soran’s feet. “My lord, forgive me. I only perform the task assigned to me, as do we all.”

“Get out of my way. I’ve no time for you and your stupidity.” Soran stepped around him and strode on toward the flicker of lamplight from the end of the passage.

He had already heard the stablemen’s gruff voices, and the high-pitched protests of a stallion who was notorious in the palace. Few men could handle him, and of those who could, fewer yet chose to. Soran did not like the horse, but he respected him. He had spirit, he had not yet surrendered to the will of men -- and he ran like the wind.

Selena had just showed her white face over the hills in the west as he stepped out into the torchlit courtyard. He was pulling on the leather gauntlets as the horse was led out, under the high potted palms. The night air was still, warm, fragrant; the sky was the color of a peacock fan.

The old stableman handed over the reins, dropped his head and clasped his hands politely. “Take care, my lord prince. The animal is in a fine temper tonight -- there’s a mare in heat in the stable and he doesn’t want to be parted from his heart’s desire.”

“Is this so?” Soran stroked the stallion’s long, bony nose. “Well, my boy, you have my most ardent sympathies, for this is an aggravation you and I share! Shall we run? Soonest out, soonest back … and then, perhaps we can both be reunited with our desires. Yes?

The horse tossed his head and snorted, and before he could begin to sidestep, Soran swung up into the saddle. He was no lightweight, and under his solid burden the animal was more tractable. He shortened the reins and turned the stallion’s head toward the west gate. Druyus was still watching, but Soran ignored the priest utterly, and urged the horse to bolt.

Turn page to Chapter Sixteen...

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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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