Quest or Quests?

The title of my debut novel implies that the story is comprised of one single quest, a Herculean task undertaken by thirteen men collectively as a group. While this may be true, I hope my readers also discern that there are individual journeys being undertaken by each man as they trek toward the Northern Mountains in search of the Medallion.

Let’s start with Silex, the man chosen to lead the thirteen on their quest. Throughout the story, it is obvious that Silex struggles with his role. He often second-guesses himself and tends to put too much weight on his own shoulders. Silex is also prone to overthinking his decisions, always following his head and never listening to his heart.

He ultimately regrets allowing Cedrus, Nomis, and Cidivus to enter the mysterious cavern as they cross the Tenebrae. He ignores his instincts regarding the Colubri, a mistake that nearly costs him his life, along with those of Ferox and Tonitrus. His trust of Lilith almost causes the quest to implode as the thirteen become trapped in her web. Shortly after that, Silex reaches an all-time low as he finds himself unable to navigate his men through the Labyrinth of Secrets and locate the object of their search.

It is Gobius who serves as a source of strength for Silex throughout the quest, always encouraging him and offering helpful advice. When the thirteen return to Mavinor and Silex learns that his father has died, Gobius comes to comfort him at Namon’s grave, telling Silex that he has now completed his journey by finally arriving at the emotional realm. By leading the thirteen on the quest and coming to terms with his father’s unexpected demise, Silex completes arguably the most arduous odyssey of them all.

The dynamic between Tonitrus and Cedrus offers a fascinating look into how individual journeys can be intertwined. Tonitrus—initially opposed to Cedrus’ inclusion among the thirteen—takes it upon himself to use the quest as an opportunity to train his younger brother and make a man out of him. Cedrus on the other hand is attempting to prove his brother wrong by showing him that he already is a man, one capable of taking care of himself and playing a pivotal role in the quest.

Things start off slow for Cedrus. He is chided by the members of the group for nearly launching a stone from one of the hidden catapults they find in the Tenebrae. He is lambasted by Tonitrus for venturing into the mysterious cavern, only to exit the dark doorway in a daze and unable to explain what had happened inside. This causes Tonitrus to take him aside and issue a stern warning that he will never let Cedrus out of his sights again during the quest.

Though Cedrus fights bravely in the battles with the Cyporsks and the Strya, his older brother still has to come to his rescue on several occasions. It isn’t until they encounter the Caurio on their return to Mavinor that Cedrus gets an opportunity to redeem himself and save his brother’s life. It is this moment of triumph that makes him realize he has finally arrived and earned a newfound respect from his older brother. The voyage for Cedrus is completed when Gobius awards him his insignia shortly after his coronation as King of Mavinor.

Yet another example of individual journeys being intertwined is the relationship between Cantos and Sceptrus. Cantos is a man of great faith, a scribe with more knowledge of The Scrolls than anyone in the entire kingdom of Mavinor. Though he shuns the idea of being a guide for the thirteen when Onestus summons him, he ultimately acquiesces to the king’s wishes and accepts the role. As the thirteen ride through the Tenebrae into the lands beyond—The Author’s Garden, Mizar, the forest kingdom of the Strya, the Mortuus Valley, and the Northern Mountains—Cantos sees the stories he knows all too well come to life before his very eyes. Though he didn’t necessarily need to see in order to believe, his experiences only serve to strengthen his faith even more.

This is in total contrast to Sceptrus, a doubter who wants to believe but simply can’t get beyond his skepticism. Cantos befriends him during the quest and takes the time to discuss the content of The Scrolls as well as the nature of faith and spirituality. Cantos even goes so far as to reveal his dark past as a tax collector who once cheated people out of their wealth. It is this conversation that marks a turning point for Sceptrus, who is also not very proud of his past. Once he learns that even a sinner can repent and believe, it gives him hope and ultimately leads to his conversion once the quest is complete.

Thaddeus, Nomis, and Alphaeus also forge ties during the quest, something that results in a mentorship of sorts as the valiant warrior takes the two young men under his wing. Nomis and Alphaeus were the two least likely men to be chosen, even less likely than young Cedrus. Thus they are determined to show that they can be more of an asset than a liability.

Thaddeus admires their spirit, and takes it upon himself to look out for them throughout the sojourn toward the Northern Mountains. Along the way they demonstrate their willingness to help in any way possible by tending to the ponies that haul their supplies after departing Mizar. But only after the final battle with the Strya is their value to the quest realized. For it is Nomis and Alphaeus who sacrifice their lives to save Thaddeus, who in turn later sacrifices his own life so the others can escape with the Medallion. Without these unselfish acts, the quest could never have succeeded.

Still others deal with their own inner struggles even as they trudge forward with the group as a whole. Sick and tired of being confined within the walls of Mizar, Minstro stows away with the thirteen in search of adventure. Though he finds it, he gets more than he bargained for when he is captured by the Strya, forcing his comrades to risk their lives in a rescue mission. Viewed by some as more of a hindrance than a help, he then sets out to prove his worth, ultimately succeeding in this task by freeing them from the clutches of Lilith.

Gobius—arguably the most unselfish and humble of them all—is forced to embrace fate when Silex presents him with the Medallion. At this point, Gobius is not aware of who he really is. He is not conscious of the fact that he is the one and only son of The Author, destined to be a great king and succeed Onestus as ruler of Mavinor. But he is quickly thrust into that role and presented with the task of ensuring that the Medallion makes it back safely to Mavinor. When they arrive back home and Onestus tells Gobius that he always knew he would be the one to succeed him, the fisherman comes to realize his destiny and promises the king that he will follow in his footsteps and be a good and just ruler for the people of Mavinor.

Even Cidivus walks a unique path throughout the quest, though his is much more ominous than the others. He wishes to claim the throne for himself, and has no use for religious faith and morality of any kind. Cidivus seems to come around somewhat after they enter the labyrinth, surprising the others with his new attitude toward them and the quest. He even comes to the rescue when Gobius is nearly killed by one of the Strya. But his bitterness ultimately wins out, as he privately loathes Gobius’ coronation and begrudgingly accepts an invitation to join the new king’s royal guard, recognizing it as his only opportunity for advancement.

It is my hope that anyone who reads The Quest of the Thirteen can identify with a specific character and root for him as he strives to fulfill his own individual task apart from the others. Next time I will write a deeply personal blog post about the inspiration for the characters of Silex and Ferox, and how Silex’s individual journey was merely a reflection of my own.

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