Chapter Sixteen - conclusion

Passing part two

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How long he wept, he did not know, but the moon was bright as a carriage lamp over the bay when he returned to reality, and the sky was peacock blue and green, with the brightest stars glittering strongly. Sunset was gone, and the hearth was dark once more.

Galen was cold by now, and Faunos moved like a man five times his years as he stood and fumbled to light a second lamp. He had lost track of the time. The soldiers would be arriving from Vayal soon -- there was no time, no space to grieve properly when the ruins would be a sea of fire. He must get out, and quickly.

He drank a goatskin dry, sat on the doorstep and watched the ocean until his head began to clear. Selene rode higher, her divine light cold and pure on the immense diamond. He held up his wrist and looked through the stone, at the moon. He felt the Power flow through it and pulse inside him -- it was in his head like half-formed dreams, in his belly life half-woken passion that could explode into ravenous lust, if he allowed it.

Entranced by the pure white moonlight as it fell through the crystal into his half-closed eyes, he breathed deeply and slowly, and for once let it grow. He had performed this exercise only twice, and both times under Galen’s supervision. He knew how his body would shiver with the Power, and tonight he did not try so shut it out.

His eyes fell to the ground before his feet, and he smiled faintly as he saw the pebbles there rolling toward him. Several bobbed up into the air, weightless as feathers in the breeze. He held out his hand and they came to him, danced around his fingers as long as he could concentrate on them. He could make them march in file and cavort like revelers performing the quadrille. Pahrys could do this with tiny sparklets of fire, but Galen had always warned Faunos against trying to be clever with live flame. With the focus on his wrist, fire was easy to conjure, difficult to contain and be rid of. Just once, Galen had let him burn his fingers, and learn the hard way to take care.

Tonight, Faunos no longer cared about the risk. As he thought of Pahrys’s laughing eyes, how his older cousin would entertain a crowd that gathered in the marketplace -- gather up the coppers they threw and then vanish into the shadows with a handsome one, or two -- he saw the first fireflies wink into being among the cavorting pebbles.

Heat seared his palm. He guarded himself with a shield of ice that crystallized out of the air at his whim. Now, he only had to concentrate. Stones and flames wove about each other like dancers at the midsummer bonfires, and he swayed with their rhythm, entranced, making them hurl faster, faster --

The screech of a night bird broke his concentration and the stones fell, the fireflies flickered into nothingness, the ice shattered into a thousand minute snowflakes. Faunos brushed them off his palm. With a soft curse he stood, and turned toward the bird.

It was a raven, perching on the eaves above the door, watching him as if it waited for him to make some decision. Thousands of them had come in with the kites, hawks, vultures, to pick over the ruins. He left the Power begin to throb through him again, and held out his left hand toward the bird. His fingers glowed faintly, as if they were gloved in captive moonlight.

Caught in thrall, the raven came to him, perched on his forearm and fluffed its oily feathers as if his touch was its delight. He petted it for some time, and at last released it. A look of astonishment was on its face as it flapped away into the darkness.

“All of this is for nothing, Galen,” he whispered to the night. “Zeheft is only a memory, it can’t return any more than you can. And as for me? If I don’t run while I can, they’ll either burn me with the old city or the witchfinder will be here, looking for me.” His teeth closed on his lip and his brow furrowed. “I know the townspeople saw where I ran. How could they fail to see? They're stupid and cruel, not blind. If they sent someone after me, even as far as the top of the hill, they’ll know where I am, more or less … there’s only one cottage standing here, and you can see the roof from the old olive grove.”

And they would have sent someone for the soldiers, he knew. Nothing was more certain. The witchfinder only had to find his way to the town in the valley, speak to the drink seller, the physician or the carter, and he could he here --

“He could be here soon,” Faunos said to the empty house.

He stooped to draw the skins and furs up over Galen’s still face. For a moment he wondered if he should bury the old man, but the fires would find him soon enough, and fire was the right way for a man’s flesh and bones to return to the earth. By midnight, all of Zeheft would be an ocean of flame -- Galen would burn on the last funeral pyre of the Old Kingdom, and there was, Faunos decided, a great poignancy in this.

Everything he and Galen had owned was packed in the bags stacked in the corner, and it must be pared down to what could be carried by one pair of shoulders. The books, his father’s sword, the purse of silver and gold coins Galen had guarded to jealously; several cloaks and wraps, two pairs of sandals, whetstones, knives, a writing box, a magnifying lens, a handglass, cosmetics, medicinal salves and tinctures.

It was difficult, painful, to set aside things which embodied a lifetime of memories. Faunos knew he was wasting time as he sat with Galen’s belongings in his lap, trying to fathom how to take much more than he should. There was what he needed, and what he wanted, and instinct told him to be ruthless.

Everything he actually needed was set aside, and he placed the remainder of Galen’s things beside the body. He folded the old teacher’s hands on his chest and placed his dirk beneath them. His favorite writing stylus, the fork he liked best, his cup, his plate and kerchiefs -- all these, Faunos tucked into the bedding.

He lifted the sheepskins to look one final time into his guardian’s face, and blinked away painful, useless tears. “I’ll find the water gypsies,” he promised. “You know how they come and go with every tide. I'll be safe. I’ll work passage into the outer islands, and then I’ll get another ship … to the Keltoi shore, I think.

“You taught me enough of the language to get by, there -- and if I keep my mouth shut, I’ll look so much like one of them, no one should notice me. I’ll find a place away from people, and study. The full five years, Galen. My word upon it. It'll be a hermitage for me, no lovers, no idleness, no despair -- I’ll study as if you were there behind me, looking over my shoulder. And on the eve of my coming of age I’ll lift a cup of wine to your memory, and the memory of Zeheft, and get very drunk in your honor.”

The pledge would have made Galen chuckle, and Faunos liked to believe he heard that sound like a whisper in the cottage’s dark corners. He touched Galen’s face in farewell, and in a single moment the memories of his lifetime rolled through him like the tide. Days and hours he had not thought of in years fled before his eyes, sweet and painful at once.

Then the sheepskins settled back into place. He tucked them in, as if he were making the old man comfortable for a long, long sleep, and returned to the bags. By the stars, it was already almost midnight, and part of him had begun to listen for soldiers, scent the air for smoke.

For the moment he heard nothing, but when the moment arrived, it would be too late for flight. He would either watch the pyre blaze up from the gypsy beaches, or he would not be leaving at all.

With a blistering curse that would have made Galen frown in disapproval, he applied himself to the bags.

Turn page to The Eyes of The Oracle...

Return to Chapter Fifteen...

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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