Chapter Twenty-one continued

The Winds of Chance part two

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As he spoke, he drew a long, deliberate caress about Faunos’s body, cherishing every sensitive place, neglecting nothing, until Faunos could barely breathe and the linen wrap he wore was stretched taut. Soran rested his palm on the hard warmth there, and leaned down to kiss both the gold-ringed nipples.

“I dishonor myself with lust,” Faunos said hoarsely. “My own flesh betrays me.”

“Your mortal flesh has more sense than your mind and heart will admit,” Soran argued. “It knows what it wants, and has no hesitation about saying so, in its own way. You can’t lie to me, Faunos, not when your body says so eloquently, ‘touch me, hold me, mate me and love me.’”

The Zehefti youth blinked up at him, dark eyed and feverish. “Is this why you’re here? A hundred courtesans in the palace and temple won’t do, you have to have me again? You risked everything you were, everything you had, to be with a witchboy again?”

A self-mocking smile lifted one corner of Soran’s wide mouth. “Yes … and no. Yes, it was desire that set my feet on this particular hunting trail! And then, no … much more brought me out past the Myrmidae.”

“I don’t understand.” Faunos sagged back into the bunk and closed his eyes. “You speak in riddles -- you’re as bad as the damned oracles. Worse, because you have the power of plain speech and won’t use it.”

Soran permitted a chuckle, and perched on the edge of the bunk. “How odd you should say that.” Faunos peered at him through slitted eyes. Soran caressed him, his breast, his belly, and said quietly, “I did as you bade me.”

“You did …? Faunos echoed, as if he could not recall what he had said to Soran that night.

The caressing hands were most likely making his thoughts rush apart, Soran knew. Gratified, he redoubled his efforts. He liked Faunos this way, a little flushed, dark eyed with desire, breathing heavily and struggling manfully to keep his mind on the subject.

“I went to the Temple of Mayat,” he said softly. “I knew you’d gone out on a ship, though I didn’t know which. A little weasel called Keffek was eager to betray you for a coin tossed into the sand. It was just blind luck you chose this ship. You couldn’t possibly have known the Quezelus and the Incari run together like sisters. Or that Priolas and Senmet are second or third cousins, related through the aunts and nieces of so many clans, no one is sure of the lineage any longer.” He leaned down again and kissed Faunos’s throat. “And I did as you bade me. I spoke to Iridan.”

The strange green eyes were open to slits. Faunos’s voice was soft and husky. “You challenged the Oracle to tell you if I had lied to you. And Iridan told you -- what? I had said nothing but truth.”

The gold rings in Faunos’s nipples seduced Soran’s tongue. “What do you wear here, when you dare to display your valuables?”

“Soran!” Faunos insisted. “Speak plainly, for godsakes!”

He gave the gold rings a final tug with careful teeth, and sat up. “I did speak plainly. You’ll wear your valuables for me. When you’ve been seen in my company, no one will dare touch your things, nor insult you with word or gesture. And yes, Iridan told me -- in the most infuriating riddles, mind you! -- about the Power, the foci, the past, the future. Your part in it and, perhaps, mine.” He took his hands away and let Faunos think. The dark Zehefti eyes, so like Keltoi eyes, cleared a little as he watched. “Iridan believes you have the Power to hold back the sea. To deny Hurucan and Peseden. He wouldn’t answer clearly, no matter how I framed a question, but I’m sure he doesn’t know where the Eye of Mayat and the Eye of Hados are.”

Faunos took a deep breath, held it, let it out slowly. “No one does, not in centuries.”

“Yes.” Soran laid one finger on the lush young lips to silence him. “Iridan told me to study. Learn. I took him at his word, and broke into the Library.”

“You -- what?” Faunos was shocked.

“A priest-scribe died to keep secret my presence there,” Soran said grimly. “I sent him out of this life without pain or fear, but still, I took his life. Druyus and Azhtoc know by now that someone broke into the Library, but not who it was, nor what was read. Soon enough they’ll know their precious witchfinder is missing, and thereafter … well, it won’t take them long to reason who was in the Library.”

“Your neck is in a noose,” Faunos said quietly. “You might not be able to talk your way out of the trouble you’ve brought on yourself.”

The observation was as keen as it was simple. Soran smiled faintly at him, toying absently with the gold rings, which made Faunos whimper and curse. “I’ve no desire to go back. Well, not empty handed, at least. There’s nothing to be done for Vayal. What did you call it? The kingdom of crabs and turtles. My home will be drowned, and my people will be extinct, if they don’t have the sense to get out and run, while they can. Like the Zeheftimen.” He shook his head slowly. “I can do nothing for Vayal while fools like Azhtoc and Druyus hold the reins. But --” He frowned deeply at Faunos, stooped to kiss his throat and mouth. “I read part of a book. It might be something like one of your own books. A history of Zeheft, its magic, its greatness … its doom. I learned … things. Truths.” His voice fell away to a whisper. “I never knew any of this, Faunos. I swear on my life, I didn’t.”

“I believe you.” Moved, touched, Faunos spoke gently. “They made you what you are -- or were. The witchfinder. But I don’t see the amulet on your breast this morning. Have you set aside your swords?”

“No. I’ll bear arms again,” Soran admitted, “but not for Vayal. At least, not for Azhtoc and the rest of them. If I pick up a sword again, it’ll be to keep you safe.”

He traced the shape of Faunos’s mouth, and smiled when the soft lips parted, and his finger was taken between Faunos’s teeth, held there, caressed by the boy’s tongue. Soran swung one leg over him, straddled his flat belly and gave Faunos the favors of both his hands, until Faunos moaned woundedly.

“You’re the last alive who commands the Power, as far as anyone knows,” Soran murmured. “The future for Vayal, as well as Zeheft, lies in your hands. There’s no one else.” He settled on Faunos, heavy on him, matched shoulder for shoulder and hip for hip, and kissed his mouth hard. Memories of the gypsy camp overwhelmed him, and he wanted Faunos’s arms around him, if only he dared cut the bonds and release him. “I didn’t come here to hunt you, or hurt you,” he said against the witchboy’s soft, open mouth. “Be sure of this. Trust me, and I’ll release you.”

“You could have killed me a hundred times over,” Faunos whispered. “Since I’m still alive, I’d better have a little faith. Let me go.”

Soran lifted his head. “I don’t know how to make you trust me, save like this.” For a moment he let Faunos feel his full, considerable weight, and sank his teeth into the boy’s neck at the place where it curved into his shoulder. Her bit down hard enough to leave a bruise like a brand of ownership, but not to break the skin. Faunos gave a sharp yelp, but before he had registered pain, let alone fear, Soran kissed what he had bruised, licked the brand to soothe, and said against the boy’s ear, “I’ll never hurt you.”

“Let me go,” Faunos said brokenly. “I’m a freeman, no less than yourself.”

“A prince, no less than myself,” Soran added. He had slip-tied the straps, and one tug released Faunos’s hands, a second, his feet. He might have made some jest about Faunos being free to take vengeance, but the slender arms went about him at once. Faunos tangled his hands in the cloak of Soran’s hair, pulled his head down and kissed him, long, deep, slow.

Fingertips massaged Soran’s scalp, finding tender places, sensitive places, making him tingle with reaction from head to foot and cry out onto Faunos’s mouth. The fingers on his scalp might have been discovering his body’s most intimate secrets.

He shivered as he found himself hard as iron, and for a moment lifted his head from the witchboy’s mouth.“What are you doing to me?”

Turn page to Chapter Twenty-one contined...

Return to Chapter Twenty...

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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!

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