Chapter Fourteen - conclusion

Fear part three

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As swiftly as it overcame him, the Power dwindled to nothing, leaving Faunos confused, cold and shaking. Blood was running from a gash on his shoulder and his ribs were bruised. He felt them out, searching for cracks, but the damage was not as bad as be had first feared. He would be blue in the morning, but Galen knew the herbs to treat bruises.

His cloak lay in tatters at his feet, and as he stooped for it he gave the carter a contrite look. “My apologies, driver. It was my fault -- I didn’t see you there. If you get the blacksmith, I’m sure the wagon could be mended in an hour, and I can pay.”

But neither driver nor physician was listening, and the carter was wide eyed with dread. He pointed, and was stepping back, eyes still covered with his hand, while he summoned his voice to roar. “Witchboy. Zehefti witchboy! See the mark? Don't you see tee the mark on his hip? Gods save us all.”

Faunos had not realized his wrap was torn. He twisted to look down at himself. What mark? Did the man mean his birthmark? It was no more than a brown patch he had carried since he was born. Galen had never mentioned it. “Please,” he began, tugging the wrap straight, retying the linen, “it was just an accident. I meant nothing by it -- it’s not so bad. I’ll heal, and your wagon can be mended.”

But the driver was backing away now, stumbling in his haste to put distance between them, and Faunos was shocked when he snatched a stone up out of the lane. “Don’t you come near me, by Hados. Keep away from me, Zehefti vermin! Erean, don’t -- don’t look him in the eyes! You know what he is. He’ll have the wits out of your head and turn your belly into a nest of maggots, if you look him in the eyes!”

The rock hit Faunos squarely in the chest and drew fresh blood. Winded, he staggered back against the wall and turned to the pysician, but even Ereas had a stone in his hand now. Faunos was wise enough to know when the time had come to run.

They believed the old folklore. He could scarcely credit that grown men would believe the old tales of the Zeheftimen in whom the Power was born. Those of Diomedas’s line were supposed to be able to enchant people at a glance, kill with a glare, turn them into stone with a word in some arcane language.

“It’s not what you think,” he said breathlessly, but he was already moving when the physician drew back his arm and launched the rock. With the agility of a dancer, Faunos sidestepped this one and measured the distance between himself and the stable.

The thought was in his mind that he could take the donkey, escape over the hill and get Galen out of the ruins before either the contagion or the burning caught them both. But Ereas had cupped his hands to his mouth now, adding his voice to the driver’s. They were bawling for neighbors, craftsmen, anyone.

A crowd would be gathering in moments. Fear would swiftly turn it into a mob, and Faunos spun away from the men. Their shouts haunted him as he took to his heels and ran. The ribs and shoulder hurt badly while he made his way back to the hill trail, and he swore lividly by most of the gods he could remember.

He wished the wrath of Hurucan upon them as he heard the physician. “Get the soldiers,” Ereas was shouting. “Take my good horse -- who’s the fastest rider? Get up the highroad into Vayal, get the soldiers. Get the damned witchfinder here, this is his job, not ours!”

The witchfinder? An image of Soranchele Izamal-xiu Ulkan haunted Faunos then, and he banished it from his mind like a bad dream. This was not what he wanted to recall in the years ahead, when he remembered the one night the pitiless gods were going to allow him as a lover. The hand of fate seemed to be set dead against him, and anger ripped along his nerve fibers, white-hot and consuming.

The shoulder and ribs were a constant torment, but fear and fury were the spurs he needed to send him up the hill almost as fast as he had come down, and he thought he had never run so swiftly. His feet barely seemed to touch the ground, as if the Power were still coursing through him. By the time he reached the top a little of the pain had begun to fade, and the wounds were no longer bleeding.

From the crest of the ridge, among the olive trees and sprawling vines, he had a view back over the valley and its village in one direction, and out over the ruins in the other. The field of rubble simmered and festered in the late afternoon sun. Flocks of crows, ravens and vultures had gathered, as if they were coming in from every part of the Empire, and Faunos’s heart beat at his ribs.

His options were few. He must get Galen out of there. They had to be gone by midnight, or when the soldiers came it would soon be capture, or the fire. With the tattered remnants of faith he turned to the westering sun, which blazed over the broken bones of Zeheft.

“Helios,” he prayed, “great father Helios, great mother Gaya, grant me the strength to do what I must.”

Two posts today: don't miss Thus Spake Iridan...

Chapter Fifteen begins tomorrow...

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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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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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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