Chapter Thirteen - conclusion

Games part two

[page back]

It might have been the sheer annoyance of knowing Druyus was watching him, salivating and indulging himself in lascivious thoughts, but fatigue fled from Soran’s limbs. The court had been reset as he stepped back onto it, and since he had lost the ball to a tackle just before play was halted for a water break, the team from the fleet commanded the prime positions.

The fine white sand had been raked and patted down to a perfect surface, and the quadrants were remarked clearly. The three wearing the colors of the palace were in the outer rings; the three in fleet green were in the inner rings, positioned far better for an assault on the hoop.

But by now Soran knew their strengths, their weaknesses, and knowledge was a powerful ally. The fleet players depended too heavily on the tall, copper-skinned Incari with the hooked nose and the heavy bronze earrings. He was the tallest, though not the quickest, nor the strongest, and his skill was astonishing.

The quickest was also the smallest of the them -- the little Aegyptian who would dive in like a ferret and claim the ball with amazing hands. Then he would pass it to the big, broad-shouldered youth from Mycenos, the one who reminded Soran of the “catcher” in a bull-dancing troupe.

Of them all, the bull-dancer was the dangerous one. He had the agility to take a shot at the hoop himself, and also the strength to hold the others off while the tall Incari ran into position, as close under the hoop as may be. Then it would be a quick pass between them -- which they had practiced until they could have done it in their sleep -- and as often as not the ball would drop neatly through the hoop.

They were all tired now, streaming with sweat, breathing heavily and coughing. The court master was poised like a gargoyle above the hoop, ball in both hands, ready to drop it on the mark, dead-center in the court.

Soran was poorly positioned for a shot at the hoop, but this was not his intention. He grumbled audibly, let the other team think he was furious at being in the outer rings, but the truth was far from this. Only a few old, seasoned ex-players in the crowd might guess what he was doing, and from the tail of his eye he saw a rush of gambling. Coins changed hands fast as spectators wagered on their intuition -- and on Soran’s skills.

In discreet hand signals he told his teammates: fumble it, let it go. Their eyes widened; they looked so thoroughly confused, he repeated the signals. Then the conch shell blew, the ball dropped, and Soran had no more time to think.

His limbs were on automatic, and he let his body make the play while his mind hung in a curious suspension. The ball bounced low -- it was weighted to feel and behave like a severed human head -- and when the Aegyptian ferret went for it, no one stopped him.

At that moment Soran had run the other way, not toward the ball but toward the tall Incari, who was hurrying into the prime place to take his shot at the hoop. With his peripheral vision, Soran watched the Aegyptian pass the ball to the bull-dancer from Mycenos. He hugged it jealously against his chest and turned his burly shoulders to the legionaries, to fend off their tackles.

They followed instructions to the letter, and made none, and the ball slammed out of the bull-dancer’s hands into the waiting palms of the Incari. Did the man know Soran was half a pace behind him as he made the catch? Soran was sure he did, for he pivoted the wrong way to make an odd, awkward throw, as if he expected Soran to snatch the ball out of midair.

Halfway through the graceful pivot, Soran’s full weight barreled into the Incari’s hips, bowling him off his feet.

The one factor Soran could not control was where the ball would go as the Incari fell. Would he take it down with him, and they would wrestle for it? Would be drop it, and the Aegyptian would come in for it again? Would it pop out of his hands and fly, and if so, where?

As Soran hurled into him, the Incari grunted as if he had been punched. He was trying to take the ball down with him, but the fall was awkward, graceless. He went down on the point of his shoulder, and only the thick, yielding sand surface of the court spared the bone from breaking. He let out of roar of pain, and in the moment of blind shock he dropped the ball.

Soran got a hand to it and scooped it up against his belly before the Aegyptian was close enough to touch it, or him. He was up fast, and shifted it into his right hand, since the Aegyptian was on his left. The bull-dancer was coming in fast with enough muscle to wrestle for it, but before either man got close to him, Soran leaped and dropped the ball through the hoop.

The crowd erupted. Coins had been changing hands for an hour, and every cheer was echoed by a groan. Soran rested now, palms on his knees, as the conch shell blew again. Court stewards ran in, and gold mantles were thrown around the palace team.

There was no reaction from the litter where Mahanmec Azhtoc sat -- or was it Helios walking abroad today, wearing the priest-king’s flesh, his bones? Did Helios relish the struggle, man against man, on the ball court? Soran was sure of only one thing: he had never been fortunate enough to see the god in his father. Doubtless there were times when Helios descended into him, but Soran had never been present.

One gold-taloned hand extended from the gauzy drapes, not to salute the players but to take a cup of wine from the concubine who was serving him. The other concubine was in the litter, unseen amid the gauze drapes, more than likely full-throated for the priest-king’s delight, or taking that certain ride which could fetch a new, squalling infant voice to the nursery.

More sons for the bloodline, more daughters for the marriage brokers to hawk around the periphery of the Empire. Scores of treaties strengthened the outer defenses while the beating heart of the Atlantan continued to rot. The lands of the Keltoi, the Iberiye, the Vanir, were growing stronger while Volcos and Hurucan tore the New Kingdom apart. Soran understood none of it, though he wondered if Azhtoc’s people -- priests, princes and commoners alike -- were paying the price for some sin.

For the destruction of Zeheft? The thought was inevitable.

Deliberately, he pulled his spine straight, furled the mantle about his shoulders, and gave the litter a stiff bow, a salute. Druyus was there, drinking Azhtoc’s wine, ingratiating himself as always. For the priest, Soran had only a hard-eyed glare, and Druyus had the grace to drop to his knees.

While the crowd was occupied, counting its winnings, bemoaning its losses in the shade of the gaudy, rainbow-hued parasols, Soran stalked off the court. He snatched off the sweat-sodden loincloth and sashes, dropped them behind him, and listened to the roar as souvenir hunters grabbed for them.

For the moment he was done with them, nobility, priests, princes, siblings and all. And he was especially done with Azhtoc. In the lengthening shadows of afternoon he headed to the pool, and dove into the emerald green coolness, as if the water would strip the blaze of anger from his gut as it chilled his skin. He had only one consuming thought: where in Hados was Baobo, with news of that damned Zeheftiman?

Turn page to Chapter Fourteen...

Return to Chapter Twelve

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.

Aricia's Gay Book Shoppe

Aricia's Gay Book Shoppe
Every title hand picked, many of them already reviewed AG's Gay Book Blog -- hundreds of books and movies spanning a couple of decades, celebrating gay publishing and filmmaking!


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...

The commercial break:

The NARC novels are now at Amazon!

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.

Locations of visitors to this page