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He knows the feeling coursing through his veins and hammering in his breast. Faunos is young and untried, but Mykenos sired no fools. It is love that torments my sweet boy, and he has the wisdom to know it, though many a mortal will deny it to his dying breath. Men are vile and petty creatures whose vanity and stupidity is only outdone by their lust and greed.

Soranchele Izamal-xiu Ulkan is not the same, and Faunos has seen the world of difference in him. The blue eyes are filled with doubt, shadowed with pain, for he has seen and done too much of which he is ashamed. The longing and desperate need expressed in his face unnerve Faunos, and spur fear as much as grief.

Knowest thou not, fair boy, he is thy soulmate? Or is Faunos Phinneas Aeson also a coward, without even the courage to admit his own fault?

The Oracle grieves while the moon rides higher, and the last scion of Diomedas makes his way, for the final time, out of the ruins of all that was Zeheft. Blue-back darkness engulfs him, and from the safety of the clifftop he looks back across the shambles of the city. The witchfinder’s fine horse is tethered on the clifftop, dozing there. For a moment Faunos thinks to take the animal, and then passes by. The horse will be too easy to follow, and to recognize. Taking it would brand him a thief as well as a witchboy, and the penalties for thieving are harsh in Vayal.

Soldiers are at work among the ruins -- a caravan of asses and mules has labored for hours to fetch in every drop of oil on the island. While Faunos pauses to rest and watches, they pull out the pack animals and shout for peasants to come in. Midnight is an hour past, and they will work for another hour, carrying in kindling, tinder, firewood. Then flaming arrows will ignite the pyre of Zeheft, and it will burn for days.

Grief for all that is lost floods Faunos’s eyes with tears, and he turns his back on Zeheft. The bags are heavy over both his shoulders, but the weight comforts him. Soran will sleep for an hour and wake groggy, confused; he is in no danger. He should be out of the ruins in time to watch the archers light the pyre.

And Faunos has a long way to go. He is on the cliff trail, which was recently a street on the landward edge of the marketplace. The moonlight is bright enough for him to look down into the waters and recognize the sunken buildings. The last thing he sees it the Temple of Naxos, Queen of Heaven, where dolphins play in the light of Selena.

He murmurs to the goddess -- mumbled prayers to send him a ship that will take him out of these waters on the dawn tide. Does she listen? Do the gods ever listen to the pleas of mortals -- or even the immortals? Even Iridan does not speak with the gods, for what would he say to them? He, who was innocent and is held forever, caught in an enchanter’s net and able only to watch as the ages pass by.

My pleasure, now as always, is to watch young men, for they fetch back the sweeter memories of my own mate. He was the warrior, the soldier, much like sweet Soran, who sleeps now, and dreams of days that might have been, while Faunos makes the long and bitter march to the dunes where the water gypsies’ ships are beached.

The moon is setting, the stars are bright, as he plows through the sand, tired, weary, heartsore. The tide is almost fully in, the galleys are almost afloat. Two stand off, waiting to beach; one more is leaving after swift repairs and a night of trading and revels.

Iridan whispers in his ear.
Choose the galley with the high prow, whose figurehead -- arched over the stern to guard the vessel and her crew -- is Naxos in her serpent guise.

The Queen of Heaven soars over the face of the ocean in the form of a serpent woman with vast, feathered wings. In the outer realms she has another name, when she spreads those wings and flexes her eagle's talons. She becomes Quezelus -- human, god, woman, serpent and seaeagle at once. She is the daughter of Gaya and Hurucan, sister of Aphrataya and Apollonos, at home in all words, at rest everywhere, mistress of the cosmos.

The glow of false dawn has begun, and Faunos knows time is short. He quickens his pace and calls ahead to the camp riggers who are hauling their last goods aboard before the ship floats off completely.

The galley is one of the Incari designs, long and low, sleek as a leopard, broad and safe in the water. Twenty oars line each side of her, pulled not by slaves but by crewmen. The Incarimen are free traders with little use for slaves, whose labor cannot be trusted when the wind is capricious, the sea vengeful, and pirates haunt the horizon.

Faunos does not see the ratlike face of Keffek, the camp master who sold his pavilion for a night to Soran, for a silver coin. And nor should Faunos fret about the contemptible one, for Keffek’s ship is still out in the bay, and the man has no connection with the vessel that catches Faunos’s eye.

Still, Keffek sees the Zehefti boy at once -- recognizes him -- and like all his kind, he has a passion for one more piece of silver, one last flake of gold.

The men from the Incari galley named
Quezelus see nothing amiss in a Zeheftiman leaving these shores. Their kind have been fleeing for years, and in the last few days, with Hurucan and Volcos behind them, they have been leaving in droves. Faunos calls up to the deck, and Iridan sighs a little in satisfaction as the captain sends down two hooked lines -- one for the Zehefi boy’s bags, one for himself.

Agile, graceful, sure of his body and himself, Faunos rides the line up and swings over the side onto the deck. He lands lightly beside his precious bags, and only then notices how light the sky has become.

The false dawn is blooming, but the greater brightness does not come from the sky. He stands with the crew of this trading galley and gazes into the west, where Zeheft is burning.

They watch for long minutes while the city’s pyre brightens, but when the first choking waft of smoke drenches the deck, the galley’s captain summons all hands to work. In minutes the oars are manned. A drum beats to set the rhythm. Muscles flex, sinews strain, as the crewmen drag their vessel out into deeper water. There, the steersman throws over the massive oar in the stern. It bites into the water with a heavy sound of timber and ocean --

O, how does Iridan recall the wind and sharp salt spray, the creak of taut rope, the billow of canvas, the smell of tar and cured wood, as a ship leans into the wind. Such memories taunt and delight with their lure of freedom, and the sweet-sad recollections of love.

Helios sits bloated and red upon the horizon as the galley begins to run before the wind. The great sail is gold and ivory in the dawn light, and Faunos stands in the stern, under the likeness of the Queen of Heaven, and watches Zeheft vanish into the pall of its own pyre smoke.

He leaves behind all he has ever claimed as his own: the city of his fathers, the teacher who would have ushered him properly to manhood, and the lover he knows full well he cannot have. Ahead of him lie a number of familiar islands where he grew up, and others -- dark, strange, forbidding. Most are no more than names on the map, but soon enough they will be places with their own pleasures, their own dangers.

The air chills as the galley heads out across the bay, bound for ports unknown. Faunos draws a cloak about himself, sits by the rail with the precious bags between his feet, and with angry, rebellious eyes watches Helios rise.

Turn page to Chapter Eighteen...

Return to Chapter Seventeen...

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.

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...

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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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