Chapter Seventeen - continued2

History part three

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“It matters nothing, what you believe.” Faunos petted the stone as if it were a kitten. “Soon enough the Empire of the Atlantan will be drunk to the deeps of the ocean, and your people with it. Nothing can stop it, not now. Your great father cannot stand against the sea … there’s no Power in him, not one drop of the blood of Diomedas, nothing to save you.” He lifted the stone to his lips. “Once, the Power existed, but no longer.”

The butterfly sword fell out of Soran’s nerveless fingers. The clatter returned Faunos to the present with a start, and he picked it up, tried its weight. It was light, elegant. Soran’s eyes widened as he worked his wrist around to try it.

“Will you kill me with my own sword?”

“I should, rightly, but …” Faunos smiled tiredly. “My father bred no killers, my teachers never taught me the bloody lessons you’ve learned.” He tossed the sword away, beyond the hearth, well out of Soran’s each, even if Soran could move -- which he could not. “If I had a taste for vengeance, I’d have that beautiful head off your shoulders! Galen would tell me to do it. How many of my friends and cousins have you killed, or caused to be killed?

“But I know Helios assigned you to the task … you were bred for it through countless generations, and then trained to believe what you believe, do what you do, since you were too young to think for yourself. None of what has befallen my kind is your fault, though yours was the hand that swung the sword. You were a tool in the hands of the Fates. What, now -- shall I take the sword and go after them? Three women who live in an ice cave beyond the sight of mortals? I can think of easier ways to throw my life away.” He turned back to Soran, came closer and touched his face with light fingertips, explored the features he had come to cherish. “Why do you hate me?”

“Hate?” Soran echoed. “You have no idea what I feel. Hate is the least of it. You burn inside me like a fire, as if Volcos touched me there.” He paused, licked his lips. “I could swear I feel a weight of chain binding me. What have you done to me?”

“Nothing that won’t fade like shadows in the light of Helios,” Faunos said softly. “I’ve done nothing to earn your hate. I never lifted a hand against you. You asked for my body and I gave it to you. If I were the abomination, the incubus that you believe, I’d have bled the life and soul out of you and left a husk behind, dried-out as Vanir mummy.”

“I don’t believe that … I never did. Release me,” Soran rasped.

“Release you -- and let you pass me into the arms of Hados?” Faunos’s head shook slowly. Grief and humor mingled, acid hot, burning. His eyes were bright with tears while he barked an odd chuckle. “I’m not such a fool! And it seems I’m not done living. Not quite yet.”

Soran’s eyes followed him as he stepped away. “I never wanted to hurt you.”

“Yet, here you are.” Faunos watched him over the curve if the crystal. “It wasn’t lust or love that brought you here. It was duty, fear, superstition. If you hadn’t met me, mounted and mated me, in the gypsies’ camp, you’d have raced here to shackle me and take me to Vayal. Only the fact you’ve sampled the pleasures of my body makes you reluctant to deliver me to the priest … so you offer me the alternative of a kind, easy death. As if I should be grateful to surrender everything for your cause, your faith.”

“I’ve thought of nothing but you since last night,” Soran growled. “I’ve wanted you every moment since …” He swallowed hard. “Sweet Hados! Give me back my voice, Faunos. Let me speak out for myself.”

Faunos hesitated a moment longer, and then relengted. He concentrated on Soran’s gullet and felt it, like the clench of a fist, then felt it relax. Soran took a gulp of air and coughed repeatedly. “Don’t try to beguile me with words,” Faunos warned. “I’m well educated, Galen made sure of that. I can recognize the guile and trickery of a slick argument, and I’ll make none of it.”

“You could have killed me,” Soran said hoarsely, “without laying a hand on me. Couldn’t you?” Faunos answered only with a nod. “And did not,” Soran added. “I came to show you every mercy I have left to give. You understand, for me to let you live would be such treason, I’d be in the vaults myself.”

“The seventh son of Mahanmec Azhtoc? I doubt it.” Faunos actually laughed. He was at the door now, looking out over the bay. “It all comes to nothing in the end. You, me, Zeheft, Vayal, the glory of old, the anguish of the present … life, death. In the end, we all go to feed the crabs and the turtles, as it was prophesied, long before Diomedas walked this earth.”

“I know only one prophecy,” Soran said cautiously. “The prophecy of the One … and I’m very much afraid, I think the Iliosians’ old wise woman who cast the elkhorn runes was talking about you.”

Surprise made Faunos turn back to him. “You don’t even know your own histories?” Soran’s eyes brooded on him, disturbing him. “All this ruin, all this decay, the doom of the Atlantan, was foretold when the Old Kingdom was no more than three bricks stacked on top of each other! You don’t know this?”

The prince of Vayal wore a sullen look. “Obviously you do. I know only what I was taught by sodded old teachers and vile priests. The Library is locked, barred and guarded like the treasure vault. Questions will only get a man flogged within an inch of his life -- yes, even a son of Azhtoc! And since the Library is locked, what else is there? Oh, I can read the language of my own people well enough, which might surprise you. But I haven’t glimpsed the books since I was ten years old.”

Astonishment had surrendered to a grave kind of pity, and Faunos clasped his shoulder lightly. “I’m sorry. I really am. I didn’t know. They’ve shut the people of Vayal off from knowledge? How do you know where you come from, who you are, where you’re going?” He traced the lines of Soran’s nose and lips. “I have some books, written in the elder tongues, which I can read. It was first thing Galen taught me. He would say, ‘If you can’t read, you can’t learn.’ I can tell you what I know, if you’re interested to hear it.”

For a moment it seemed Soran would refuse, but at last he rasped, “Then tell me. And mind what you say, for I’ll know if you’re spinning me tales!”

“I’m no liar,” Faunos said curtly, withdrawing the caressing hand from Soran’s face. “I can offer you no proof, save what is written in the books, and since you can’t read them, you can only choose to believe me or not. But you call your teachers sodded and your priests vile, so you can have little respect for anything they taught you. What would you know, Soran?”

He took a long breath and held it, let it out slowly, and his eyes were closed as he said, “Tell me this prophecy, which was made before Zeheft rose to greatness. Tell me about the Eye of Helios. And the Power … can you hear the thoughts in my head?”

“No.” Faunos sat by the hearth, watching him in the lamplight. “The Power is difficult to control. When I’m older, wiser, I’ll be able to use it properly. I know a few tricks -- Galen was just beginning to teach me. The true Power is born in the seventh son, whether we want it or not … and I don’t. I can’t imagine than my father, or his father, would have wanted it.

“Twenty years, we study and learn, lest it consume us. Without care and knowledge, even we, scions of Diomedas, would burned to ashes, just as this jewel would burn the hands from your wrists, if you tried to hold it, as I can hold it. And I’m the last.” He looked down at the crystal, watched the shimmer of blue fire sprites within it. “Gemstone, crystal, diamond … no one knows what this is, but the oldest writings say the three foci fell to earth one night when a fire burned up the sky.

“It was the time of the Ice. An old shaman called Ellak, lame and blind, was the only one who dared go out and investigate, at the place where the fire touched down like a bolt of lightning. Not much life was left in him, and he gave what he had. He died soon after, of a sickness no one could recognize, much less cure; but he brought back the three foci, and they were set into long-tooth ivory in the deepest sanctum. Chiefs and shamans went there to pray to the sky gods, and suffer visions.

“Many generations passed before the great chief, Aeson, came to lead the People, and his son was Diomedas himself. Aeson was the child of a line of shamans, and more devout than his fathers had been -- more gifted than them, also. He spent months and years in the sanctum, meditating on the foci. He wed a shaman’s daughter who loved the spirits of sky and night and fire as much as he loved them himself.

Turn page to Chapter Seventeen conclusion...

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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