Chapter Fifteen - continued

Mysterypart two

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He remembered scents. Lilac, jasmine, bergamot -- these were the scents of the drowned lands, the kingdoms which had already been lost to the sea. The scents of Vayal were spruce, frankincense, rose, and the fragrances preferred by the water gypsies were heavier, sweeter. He was absolutely certain, the scents of the drowned lands had not been in his nostrils before he goaded Faunos into a haze of heat and desire.

There was more: a shifting in the air, as if a breeze blew gently in an enclosed space where, moments before, no breeze had stirred. And a drunken sensation, Soran remembered, groaning, as if his body had been lifted up, as if Faunos were feather light.

He swore quietly as he settled his weapons. What a fool he had been. If he were one bit less obsessed with possessing the Keltoi -- Zeheftiman! -- he would have seen what was happening, and recognized the truth. These were the manifestations of the Power of Diomedas.

He should have known in a moment what Faunos was, what he was trying to hide, why he was afraid. Why he ran like a thief, the moment Soran surrendered to Morpheos.

When one of Faunos’s still tender years was imbued with the Curse of Diomedas, he could not hope to control the energy of the old, high magic. It would be his master, consume him, and if it did not run away and burn him to a cinder, he would be lucky.

What Soran knew of these things was only what he had learned at the feet of tutor priests not so different from Druyus. A regiment of them passed through his life between his fifth birthday and his twentieth. Some taught him weapons and combat; some, strategy and military history. He learned geography, languages, the rudiments of alchemy and astrology, the art and guile of the bedchamber.

His own teacher, eight years ago, was an old, fat eunuch called Ptolmeys, who was the kindest man Soran had ever known. He was an Aegyptian who taught with compassion, and he wept for the people of Zeheft, the scions of the House of Diomedas, even while he taught Soran what he must known for the survival of the Empire. It was Ptolmeys who knew how to read the elkhorn runes, and had spent a lifetime interpreting the prophecy.

The One whom the runes foretold would be far more powerful than any witchboy Soran had ever encountered. He would be the true seventh son of the seventh son, in the line that went back, unbroken, to the great sorcerer himself. He would be like a twin brother of Diomedas -- as if the old sovereign of Zeheft had been reborn into the world of men.

In his possession, guarded as if it were the most precious gift the gods ever bestowed upon mortals -- and in fact, it was -- he would have one of the three foci, a great blue crystal in which danced the fires of eternity itself. It was known to the ancients as the Eye of Helios, and as he spoke of it Ptolmeys grew hushed.

The Aegyptian had never seen any of the three crystals, but he knew what they were. Each was a lens, a focus, for the unimaginable energies generated by the body of the One -- not any witchboy, but the true seventh son.

Soran groaned as he bound his hair with twists of copper wire. Hados and Helios, where was my mind? Is Faunos the One? Where were my wits when I was with him? I should have known! I saw everything … and nothing. Was I bewitched after all?

Those who feared the power -- like Ptolmeys, like Druyus and Baobo, and even Azhtoc -- would tell him, his wits had been stolen out of his head. They had been ripped away; and where was his mind now? The youth who called himself Faunos had it, and if the superstition were true, he kept it in a box made of obsidian and lead, locked with a gold key. Azhtoc, Druyus and Baobo would have been so certain the box existed, the Atlantan Legion would already have begun combing the islands for it, and any youth who even had the faintest look of Fauos would rue the day he was born.

Yet Soran doubted. The evidence of his own eyes made a mockery of the accusations. He had chosen Faunos from the whole gypsy company, long before Faunos had even seen him; and then the chore of seduction was demanding. Soran recalled struggling to hold his passion on a tight rein, shaking with frustrated urgency while he wooed the response he wanted out of Faunos, as if the Zeheftiman were determined to defy him. Aphrataya never had a more willing, diligent servant than himself, and he took a pride in the service.

Several times, Faunos begged to be let go, and if Soran had only agreed, he would have seen no more of him. Almost an hour, and almost every skill Soran had ever learned were invested in him, to usher the virgin to the sublime moment where he begged to be sundered. Soran was sweated, exhausted, his eyes clouded, his wits fuddled with effort, before Faunos began to heave like ocean swells and whimper with wanting. Aphrataya touched him them -- the goddess touched them both, and the union was ecstatic.

None of it made sense. If Faunos had bewitched him, Soran was sure he would recall a scene of easy, silken seduction, where his pleasure was vast and his efforts were minimal; and he would not have woken alone. In fact -- and he took a long deep breath as he reasoned this -- if Faunos had enchanted him, he would have followed the witchboy like a lamb, and perhaps by now he would be on a ship headed out across the Empire, not knowing where he was, perhaps not even remembering his own name. In the thrall of such enchantment, he might spend his whole youth in joyful slavery, calling himself the most blessed soul who ever breathed.

One thought had haunted him for years, and he indulged it now as he strode out of his apartment and took the shortest way through the labyrinth of the temple, to the stableyards. If the witchboys were so powerful, why had none of Vayal’s witchfinders ever been enchanted, or turned to stone, blinded or struck dead?

The truth was, no witchfinder had ever suffered this fate, though generations of priests warned of it, and worse. According to Ptolmeys, Soran must take care never to let the witchboy look him in the eye; he must never allow the evil creature to lay both palms upon him, and must stop the demon from speaking, before the words of Power could be uttered.

And when the last hunt was done, when he had found and cornered the One, he must not only blind or blindfold him, bind him hand and foot, and silence him -- if he saw a great shimmering crystal in the creature’s hand, then he must flee. The witchfinder of Vayal must take to his heels and run away, send for any other witchfinder, sorcerer or high priest on the island, and begin the hunt again. For when the witchboy had the focus, the Eye of Helios, in his left hand, his Power was too terrible to be described.

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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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