Chapter Twenty-one - conclusion

The Winds of Chance part five

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“I didn’t say you had -- I said, you must find them.” Soran reached around and dealt a swift, smarting slap to one luscious buttock. “Get out your books and read. What -- you need a taskmaster?” He chuckled richly. “Do I put you over my knee, to make you study?”

Faunos sprang away from him. “You do not! I might not come of age for five years, but I’m no willful, disobedient brat! I’ll study when I have the time and the need.”

“Then pull out your books,” Soran said, amused. “I’ll bring your breakfast, arrange for your bathing water, fresh linen … do you want a bodyslave?”

“Do I -- what?” Faunos was bemused. “I can take care of myself. And I don’t need anyone to wait on me -- I’ll get my own breakfast!”

“You’ll be too busy, pulling out your books.” Soran stood, caught him by the shoulders and looked him up and down in the bright morning sunlight. “You’re the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and if you’ve enchanted my eyes, so be it. I want you for my own, lifelong, and in a month from now, or a year, you’ll believe it.” He drew his lips across Faunos’s forehead. “You’ve no need to hide what you are, not from me. I know everything, and I love you in spite of it … or because of it. So get out your books, little one, while I fetch you something to eat.” He stepped away toward the door, and paused. “Priolas and Senmet are going to need a course, after Thebes. You have a few days to tease the first clue out of those books, but since you don’t know where to start, you’ve no time to waste. Fish or eggs?”

“For what?” Faunos was working on the knots in his hair again.

“For breakfast. Fish or eggs.”

As Soran watched, he stooped to pull one of the goatskin bags from under the bunk, and teased out the laces. Even now, Soran’s skin rose in a prickle of gooseflesh as he watched the fine, slender hand dive into the bag. If the Eye of Helios were there --

But when Faunos withdrew his hand he held only an ivory comb, and he sat on the end of the bunk to work on his hair. Dark eyes watched Soran warily, but Soran saw much more in the Zeheftiman’s face. For the first time since they met, he saw hope. A little of the weariness had lifted from Faunos’s shoulders, as if someone had relieved him of a punishing burden.

“And that’s another thing.” Soran glared at the bunk. “That isn’t large enough for two, and this cabin isn’t big enough for rats to raise a litter. Get your things together. We’re moving to something bigger, with more air, better light, and space for two, one of whom is a student who’s going to need room to study.”

Faunos frowned at him. “Soran … don’t make a fool of me. If this is all a trick, it’s cruel.”

“And if it’s all true, the gods answered your prayers,” Soran added. “Have faith, Faunos. Helios has a bad reputation for being the destroyer, but without his light there’s no heat, no life. The world would soon be ice and darkness. If you spoke to him, or to Mayat, or Naxos, is it so impossible for the gods and your great ancestors to whisper into the ears of the three old women who weave the fate of the world on a loom the size of the Cosmos?” He smiled at the confounded and yet ridiculously optimistic look on Faunos’s face. “You asked for safety, life … a guardian, perhaps. They gave you what you wanted. And besides,” he added pragmatically, “if I’m duping you, your friend Afris will have the head off my shoulders, and all this crew will do -- Senmet included! -- is feed my body to the sharks and deny I was ever aboard. I doubt Priolas could stop them, even if he wanted to. And he wouldn't want to.” He gestured at the goatskin which remained under the bed. “Get out the books, and console yourself … a prince of Vayal who should one day have worn the double crown is waiting on you.”

With that he stepped out, leaving Faunos so astounded and outraged, for once in his young life he was speechless. Soran indulged himself in a chuckle as he climbed back to the deck, following the sound of Priolas’s voice.

He and Senmet were standing in the stern, in the shade of the steering oar, and both men wore cautious, pensive faces. Soran already knew Priolas’s thoughts, but he had never worked closely with Senmet. Priolas's cousin was much less predictable.

Senmet’s neck was raw and black with the newly cauterized wound, and he would wear a scar there as long as he lived. Every time he touched it or saw his reflection, he would think of Faunos and feel the weight of debt. The first words out of his mouth were angry.

“You’ll bring a fleet of warships after us,” he accused as Soran approached. “We’ll be paraded on the dock in Vayal, and your father will be standing in the dawn sun with our hearts raw and bleeding in both hands!”

“Senni, for godsakes,” Priolas remonstrated. “There’s no ship behind us.”

“By the time Azhtoc and Druyus reason what happened,” Soran added, “we’ll be long gone from Thebes, with no living soul in possession of our course.”

“What course?” Senmet’s eyes narrowed on him.

But Soran could only shrug. “Give Faunos time to search the books. I saw something like them, in the Library. The myths, the histories -- it’s all there, and he can read languages that look like gibberish to you and me. “Trust him. And trust me, Senmet,” Soran added, “the way Priolas does.”

“Priolas,” Senmet said acidly, “has it in him to be an idiot. I was picking him up and patching his knees before either of us first set foot on a deck.”

“And then I grew taller and broader than you,” Priolas said easily, “and started plucking you out of the troubles you’d get yourself into. Enough, Senni. There’s no imperial ship behind us, and the chance of an incredible fortune before us. You’ve seen what the witchboy can do, and I’ve seen the truth in my lord Soran’s face.”

“Truth?” Senment echoed.

“He’s in love,” Priolas said, amused. “His eyes say it, and his voice, when he speaks of the lad. And that,” he added philosophically, “is good enough for me.”

“Though neither of you have any slightest idea where we’re headed after Thebes,” Senmet grumbled.

Soran chuckled quietly as he leaned on the rail and looked out at the albatross skimming the water to the west. “I can’t give you a course,” he admitted, “but I can tell you we’ll be looking for a temple and a tomb. You know the legends! The Temple of Mayat, lost beneath the waves … somewhere. And the Tomb of Hellas, which was forgotten by history the moment it was sealed.”

With careful fingers Senmet explored the cauterized wound. “I know enough about the legends, but I always believed them to be tales told to children, for amusement.”

“No.” Priolas folded his big arms on his chest and frowned at Soran. “The temple and the tomb, the witchboys, the foci … Soran has breached the Library, seen the books. It’s all true, Senni, and knowing it can be the death of you.” He arched a brow at Senmet. “I see revolution in my lord’s eyes, as well as love. Am I wrong, Soran?”

The observation took Soran unawares, but he did not deny it. “If you mean I’d like to tear Azhtoc and Druyus out of palace and temple, throw Baobo to the victims in his own vaults, and have the truth about Zeheft on the lips of every man and woman in Vayal … then, yes, revolution is in the air.”

“I can smell it,” Senmet said darkly. “Priolas has told me a good deal, my lord. The Old Kingdom was toppled for the sake of greed, the witchboys were hunted down because the Power of Diomedas was the one thing that could bring back Zeheft’s golden days -- the prophecy foretells the One, and this lad of yours, who actually has one of the foci, seems to be that One. And as for me, I’ve standing here today because of him and his magic. So I have to believe.”

“There you have it,” Soran said thoughtfully. “There are older prophecies, Senmet. Before Zeheft was built, the ancients foretold the days when the oceans would drink the isles of the Atlantan, and how the scions of the House of Diomedas would be hunted to the brink of extinction.” He shook his head, still amazed by what he had learned. “I know Faunos better than he realizes. If he could, he would lift Zeheft out of the embrace of the sea, and what he can do for Zeheft, he can do for Vayal.” He stirred restlessly. “So, what say you, Senmet? Priolas has already taken my commission.”

“But I can’t speak for you, Senni, and won’t,” Priolas added. “Make your own decision, cousin. Is the Quezelus for hire?”

At last Senmet laughed, though the sound was harsh and it hurt him. He held his throat gingerly. “These ships are always for hire … especially when I’m imagining a temple filled with magic, a tomb full of gold.” He gave Soran his wrist. “We sail together, as always. What service would you have of me, first?”

“Breakfast,” Soran told him. “I promised the lad breakfast, and then a large cabin with good light and air, something suitable for two, both of whom were once princes among their people.”

“And are now fugitives, rankles and landless,” Priolas added. He dropped a hand on Soran’s shoulder. “Tell your boy to bring his bags over to the Incari. She’s bigger than the Quezelus, and I’ve a cabin that should suit you.”

“I’ll go and get him.” Soran clapped Priolas’s back. “I’m grateful.”

“Don’t be grateful,” Priolas said glibly. “Make us disgustingly rich.”

Several books were open on the bunk when Soran stepped back into the tiny cabin, and Faunos was leafing through another. He dropped both arms about Faunos from behind and kissed his ear. “Bring your bags. We’ll be on the Incari. Tonight you’ll wear your finery for me, show me what the heir to royal Zeheft looks like. Tomorrow you’ll begin teaching me to read this gibberish our forefathers called writing.” He was peering over Faunos’s shoulder at the books, and could make nothing of them.

“Heir to Zeheft,” Faunos echoed. “Witchboy.”

“Whom I love,” Soran added, and mocked himself with a sound of humor. “If I’d known, that night with the water gypsies, where this would end --”

“Nothing has ended.” Faunos set down the book, turned into his arms and offered his mouth for the plundering. “I’m sure Galen and Iridan would say it has barely begun.”

Turn page to Epilog...

Return to Chapter Twenty...

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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