Chapter Seventeen


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The bags were still too heavy, and for the third time Faunos went through them, weeding out what he could leave behind. They must be light enough for him to carry them and run a good distance, or they could be the death of him. Working by the light of three lamps, and keenly aware of the passage of time, he unpacked and repacked yet again.

In the end, he would be carrying little more than the books, his father’s jewelry, a few spare garments, and the purse Galen had hidden inside his old cassocks. The pigskin bag was much heavier than Faunos would have expected, and he sat down for a moment to open it. Gold and silver gleamed from within, and he swore softly.

The old man must have been hoarding. “Was this your legacy to me?” Faunos whispered to the shadows. “If I’m frugal, I can live for a year on this much.”

He stashed the purse with his own spare cloaks and wraps, checked that his father’s jewelry was safe, and tried the weight of the bags again. They were never going to be light, but he was sure he could carry them now, and he had stooped to buckle them down when a faint rattle of gravel outside the cottage made his hackles rise.

The rush of the ocean made it difficult to hear small sounds, and until that split second he had heard nothing. Grief had dulled his wits and he cursed himself as he fumbled for the dirk. It was halfway out of the sheath when he saw a man’s shape step into the doorway, outlined against the moonlight. The hilts of a pair of short butterfly swords filled both his hands.

He knew the voice, and groaned soundlessly. “Leave it in the sheath, boy,” Soran said quietly. “I said leave it, and be still!”

“Witchfinder,” Faunos whispered. “You found me.”

“It wasn’t hard.” Soran’s tone was low and silken, arousing a shiver in Faunos. “You know why I’m here.”

“To deliver me to your priests.” Faunos stepped back against the wall. His heart was racing. “To be tortured and killed, just as you’ve tortured and murdered so many of my kind, I might be the last.”

The witchfinder stepped into the yellow lamplight. It gleamed on the swords, dazzling Faunos. “You don’t deny what you are.”

“Would it do me any good?” Faunos heard the bitterness in his own voice. “You’ve already decided I’m guilty. It’s written in your face.”

“So make me disbelieve,” Soran said, inviting, challenging, though the tips of the swords did not drop by an inch. “Convince me you’re not the witchboy I’ve been told you are. Speak wisely, now: this is not a luxury I’ve extended to many others.”

Faunos held up a hand to block the lamplight and see the man’s face clearly -- and, oh yes, was beautiful, with the long-boned, elegant features of his people, the honey-copper skin and raven hair. “I’ll not let you mock me. If you’re going to kill me, get on with it … for I won’t be going back to Vayal with you either. That’s not the way I’m going to die.”

Without even realizing what he had done, he gestured toward the lamps and their flames burned brighter, higher, for better light so that he could see Soran’ s face clearly. He could not know how the lamps lit witchfires in the Keltoi green-gold eyes, made them shimmer, until Soran could not look at him. The witchfinder turned away slightly, and Faunos made a derisive sound.

“So you believe the old tales too, do you?” he demanded bitterly. “You think I can murder you at a glance, turn you to stone, or boil your insides with a thought?” He covered his face with both hands and fell to his knees beside the bags which still stood open in the corner beyond the cold hearth. “What have I come to? You might as well kill me, witchfinder, since there’s nothing else for me, and no place.”

The prince of Vayal did not move, but by now his eyes had adjusted to the light. He had become aware of the rude interior of the cottage, and the dead. “Your friend passed over,” he observed with a gesture at the still shape in the bed. “It wasn’t a ruse, then. You did go to the town for a physician.”

“You think I’m a liar?” Faunos demanded.

“I know you’re a witchboy,” Soran corrected in a murmur.

“I was born Zehefti, may the gods forgive me for it.” Faunos rubbed his face hard, forcing his thoughts to order. “My fathers were kings as surely as were yours, and all my life, you’ve punished me for that. I’ve done nothing to hurt you and your kind, but you’d torture me to death for the sport of it. If I let you.”

“If you let me?” Soran echoed, and looked him over thoughtfully, feature by feature, from head to foot. “You want me to believe you have no magic? Look at you! See yourself through my eyes. If you’re even half mortal, you can be no nearer to common man than that.”

Faunos blinked up at him. “What rubbish is this? You know my pedigree well enough. My father was a scion of the House of Diomedas. My mother was a Keltoi princess. Me? I’m the last of them … and you’ll make sure I die in the vaults under Vayal.”

“No.” Soran’s voice was rough with some emotion, but Faunos could not tell what it was “I came here to kill you, quick and clean, not to take you to the torture.”

“So.” Faunos looked away. “You came here for murder.”

“Execution.” Soran said quietly.

The lamps flared, bright and high, as anger blossomed in Faunos’s belly. “Only criminals are executed. Damn you -- of what crime do you accuse me?”

“You’re a Zehefti witchboy, self-confessed, ” Soran said in the same quiet voice, rough with feeling. “What would you have me do with you?”

The anger crystallized; the lamps brightened again. “I’ve told you, I was born so,” Faunos said icily. “I neither chose this life nor desire it. I’ve lived it because -- because …” Because Galen insisted, because he would never let Faunos forget who he was, and what. Because of duty. Weariness replaced the swift anger in his gut, and Faunos slumped back, head on his folded forarms. “Ah, get it over with. My guardian is dead, I’m the last of my line. You’ll hunt no more after me, and Vayal will be unchallenged. Isn’t that what you want?”

He closed his eyes, and part of him was waiting for the blow to fall. The part of him that had swum deep in the harbor in the early hours of the morning would have welcomed it. But Soran made no move on him, and as Faunos waited he became aware of the open bags at his side. The larger of the bags, which contained his father’s jewelry and the Eye of Helios, was well within reach.

He had never finished packing it properly, and if Soran had only known, the great diamond was sitting just under the goatskin in the top of the bag. He was certain he could get a hand to it, if only the witchfinder were distracted.

Turn page to Chapter Seventeen part two

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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The art appearing on this site, illustrating elements of this novel, is by Jade, my cover artist from DreamCraft.

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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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