Chapter Seventeen - conclusion

History part four

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“Their children were conceived in the sanctum, in the wyrd light of the crystals, and each one was special. One was blind, but gifted with the second sight. She was the first true oracle. One never spoke a word, but could hear the thoughts of birds and animals. Another could conjure fire out of the air and caress it like a kitten. And another … the seventh of Aeson’s many sons … was Diomedas. And the true Power was born in him.

“And so it began. The dawn of the Old Kingdom was the span of Diomedas’s mortal years, and he lived long indeed. In the many centuries of his life, Zeheft grew up out of the age of stone knives and bone clubs. The time of the Ice passed, the world grew green, the wild horses returned, and the seaeagles charted the path for our navigators from one island to another.

“The seaeagle has always been sacred to us for this reason. It showed us the way to the Keltoi shores and Jaymaca.” Faunos turned and slipped his wrap to show his birthmark. “I suppose I was blessed indeed, to carry the mark. I never thought anything of it, but I suppose Galen would have told me that my father, and his father, back to Diomedas, have all carried the same mark. Is it folklore, that a witchboy might carry this mark?” He sighed. “Zeheft grew beyond your imagination in the time of my fathers. The foci were taken into the wilds, because in our hands they magnify the Power --

“They were used to build cities, change the course of rivers, move mountains, lay bare the richest veins of gold, smelt platinum, tame animals … subdue enemies.” Faunos shook his head slowly. “But never, even when Zeheft was at its most grand, did we forget the prophecy that had been made before it all began.

“It was in the time of Aeson, before Diomedas was conceived. The shaman Elak had meditated on the foci for weeks and was close to death. Before he died, a younger shaman took him on the journey into the higher realms, where the tree of the world touches the stars, so he could know the path, and his folk would know he was soon coming to join them.

“When they returned, the two shamans called for the chief and chieftains of the People, and told what they had seen. Fields of gold, days of glory, skies of thunder, greatness for Zeheft such as none had ever dreamed … and doom, the fall into darkness, in days of sorrow when the oceans will drink down the lands of the Atlantan, and all the world will be water.”

Faunos stood and looked into Soran’s troubled face. “They were your ancestors as well as mine. Did you not know? The Atlantan were one People, in the days of Diomedas. All the rest came later, when the glory days were long past and petty men began to squabble over what scraps remained.” He shrugged eloquently. “It’s a sad story, and not over yet. It ends with the fall of Vayal. Zeheft is gone already -- and I?

“I’m the last. Faunos Phinneas Aeson. My people scattered on the tides when the soldiers of Vayal came to ‘root out the evil.’ The generations of my family have dispersed so far, no one knows where they are. My father died soon after my mother, and she died birthing me.” He held out his arms and looked down at himself. “The seventh son … the One, am I? The possessed One, who must be destroyed to make your world a fit place for decent men to live in.”

“My gods,” Soran murmured. “This was the half-truth they told, to make me into the hunter. Our histories say the wicked fled in shame before the righteous soldiers of Vayal, and the cleansing bannished the evil of ancient rites, ancient practices.” He took a long breath. “They made me into a murderer, didn’t they?” His eyes brooded on Faunos. “I see nothing evil about you. You understand, don’t you, boy? It was the task appointed to me when I was born. It was not my choosing -- the work was never sport to me, and I … have sickened of it.”

Faunos smiled sadly. “Oh, I understand. You’re alive, Soran, when you know by now, I could have made an end of you.” He gestured at the bags. “And now I’m leaving, as soon as I’ve buckled down those bags.”

“Where?” Soran whispered.

“I’m hardly likely to tell you.” Faunos gave him a reproachful look. “I’ll hide. Find a place to study, somewhere on the Keltoi shore or in Jaymaca. You don’t have to fret about me any longer. I’ll not be back, Soran. Tell this to your father, and perhaps he'll be merciful toward Zeheftimen who return to these shores.

“I hope I can teach myself, in Galen’s absence, learn to control the Power well enough to eventually live a normal live.” He stooped and pulled the straps tight on one of the bags. “I have the history of my ancestors here -- the lives and deeds of my fathers and yours. You know, Galen told me, just before he died, he had a dream when he was young.

“He dreamed of having a ship and searching the face of Gaya for the other foci, and I would have the Power to use them. He would find them, in the temple and the tomb, and when I grew to manhood I would return to Zeheft and hold back the sea, rebuilt our glory.”

Astonishment sharpened Soran’s voice. “Is any of that possible?”

“Possible?” Faunos echoed. “With the three foci in the hands of a Zehefti enchanter, very little is beyond the realms of the possible. Ask me if the other two stones still exist, and where they are! Those are very different questions. No one knows where they are, not now. Only legends remain, and it’s too far too dangerous to be worth the hunt.”

“And Vayal will be like Zeheft,” Soran added, “in a year or three. Even in my city, people are daring to whisper this, though it’s the scourger for them, or the headsman, if they’re heard.” He gave Faunos a hard look. “I think the priests fear you because of what you know, as well as what you are. They dread the Power, but it’s more than that. Yours is the older line, your fathers were great kings while mine were still fighting in the ranks ... or mending fishing nets!” He swallowed. “Let me go.”

Now, Faunos looked long and hard at him, and the lamps flared higher. “You’ll make me kill you. I don’t want to hurt you, but if I release you, you’ll only pursue me, leave me no choice. If you force my hand, you know what I can do.” He stooped to fasten the other bag. “I’m going to put you on the floor by the hearth, and you’ll sleep for a little. Not long -- your soldiers are coming to burn the ruins, very soon, and you must be well away before then. But you’ll sleep long enough for me to have gone.”

“For godsakes, don’t,” Soran said hoarsely.

He was still paralysed as Faunos lifted him -- as if he weighted nothing, the way he had manhandled the wagon, in the street. With the Eye of Helios in his palm, it was so easy. With great care, he made sure no part of the crystal touched Soran, for it would burn him like a brand. Not even Galen could handle it, and Galen had known its tricks, its ways. The stone would have Soran bare to the bone in seconds, though he might not have known it.

“You handle me as if I were a child,” Soran growled. “Why did you not carry your guardian out this way?”

Faunos had just set him down on his back, and gave him a dark look. “I have the Eye of Helios in my hand, as I pick you up. You think I can use it in public, among your people, and not be seen, known for what I am? Galen made me swear on my life -- literally -- that I’d never take it outside the safety of our own walls, not for anything under heaven. Not even his life. I swore this to him three years ago, and he was right. I can’t control the Power, I don’t claim to be able to. Not yet. I could have carried Galen for a little space, as I just handled you, but the Power gets away from me, like a wild horse. In half an hour, less, any fool from Vayal, much less a soldier, would have known at a glance what I am, and we’d both have been dead.”

Soran groaned, an expression of frustration, as Faunos shoved a sheepskin under his head. “Don’t make me sleep.” Faunos shook his head grimly. “Then will you at least tell me of Vayal,” he asked. “Before you leave, like a rat deserting a ship on its way to the bottom of the ocean, tell me what will be the future of Vayal.”

But Faunos was done talking. “I don’t see the future,” he said sharply. “Go and ask your oracle, it’s what he’s there for. Iridan endures, in the sanctum behind the Temple of Mayat. He was a priest and scribe, long ago. When’s the last time you spoke to him?” He arched one brow at Soran. “Do you know what they did to him? I can see you have no idea.

“A bastard priest-king, one of your glorious ancestors, caught his soul in an enchanter’s net, and they’ve held it captive ever since,” Faunos heard the acid tone in his own voice and did not care to sweeten it. “Oh yes, your priests use what paltry little enchantment they know, when it suits them -- when it benefits them! If you want to know your future, ask Iridan. But he’ll tell you what I’ve already told you. Your kingdom will be a world of fishes. When’s the last time you even set foot in the Temple of Mayat?”

“Too long,” Soran murmured. “Damn, damn.”

At last Faunos sighed and let go the anger. “Hush now. Things are as they will be. It’s for the gods to decide, not us. We’re puppets, dancing to their tunes, if we could only hear the music.” He bent and touched his lips to Soran’s brow. “You were gentle when I needed it, and I’ll always be grateful.”

“You were so beautiful, I thought I’d lost my mind,” Soran confessed. “You were everything I wanted, and I still do. Everything I can never have.” Even now, he could not move so much as a finger, but his eyes entreated. “If I’ll never see you again, at least kiss me before you make me sleep.”

“This much, I can give you.” Faunos knelt at his side, splayed both hands over Soran’s breast and laid his mouth on witchfinder’s.

The kiss was hard, deep, searching, for a long time. Before it was done, there was no part of Soran’s mouth he did not know, no twist and curl of his tongue that was unfamiliar. His hands had charted every curve of Soran’s hard breast and belly, and his voice was husky, breathless, when he moved away.

“You’ll sleep now, for long enough. You’ll wake before there’s danger,” he promised.

“No,” Soran begged. “For the love of Helios, don’t.”

“You must sleep,” Faunos told him. “I can’t have you knowing where I’ve gone. I don’t want you coming after me. Gods damn you -- don’t make me hurt you.”

One light palm rested on Soran’s forehead, and Faunos closed his own eyes. He thought of rest, of the sleep he wanted, needed, himself, more than anything. With a soft groan he felt the desire for oblivion flood from his own body into Soran’s, and take root there.

Soran fought the onset of sleep as hard as he had ever fought a mortal enemy, but Faunos knew how impossible he would find the struggle. His eyes were too heavy for him to keep them open, and his thoughts would thicken, like honeycombs in winter.

Hearing would be the last sense to succumb, Faunos knew. Soran could certainly hear him as he picked up the bags, slung them over both his shoulders. He paused for a moment beside the cold, still body of his guardian, but everything he could have said to Galen had been said long ago. The old man would only have told him to get out, put miles between this cottage and himself, while he could.

With an ice-cold sense of finality, Faunus stepped out of the shepherd’s hut and hurried away.

Paralysed and blind, the witchfinder was as deathly still as Galen, but Faunos knew the truth. Only Soran’s body was frozen. His mind was a whirl of dark, blazing dreams of lust, fear, despair, and a love that might have been.

Turn page to Visions...

Return to Chapter Sixteen...

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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