Expedition to the Northland


In Search of Yantra
By John Zurn

ISBN: 978-1-84991-111-5
Published: 2010
Pages: 199
Key Themes: ficton, sci-fi, adventure, mystery



In this sci-fi fantasy novel, the author tells the story of the Northland, a mystical world in crisis. Once a magical realm of love and service, the inhabitants of this realm have abandoned their sacred heritage and embraced the world of the machine. As their intuitive awareness now fades into memory, selfishness and destruction expand. This descent into the lower mind has also created catastrophic energy surges that have spread throughout the Northland threatening its very existence. Their only hope is Baben, the Cosmic Being, and his fellow expedition members. They must solve the mystery of the magnetic disturbances and save their world. Their quest must rely on Mother World and their own latent abilities if they are to save the Northland and themselves.

About the Author

Because of his lifelong struggle with a major mental illness, the author has relied on his writing to express frustration and direct his creative intelligence. This essential source of inspiration has helped satisfy his need to express his ideas while sidestepping the recurring traps of delusions and emotional extremes. In conjunction with medications, meditation, and other coping skills, Zurn’s writing is now greatly improved, and his art is both thought provoking and entertaining. During the last two years, he has also begun to share his writing and his mental illness experiences in a wide variety of settings. This has been made possible by the help and encouragement he has received from Chipmunka Publishing and NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) of DuPage County, Illinois. John Zurn was born in 1954 and lives with his wife, Donna, in Geneva Illinois. He received an M.A. in English from Western Illinois University in 1982.

Book Extract

Arjan Gabriel was an intellectual and socialite. His formal education was impressive and his strength of will and self-confidence were admired or envied by all. Tall and handsome with black wavy hair, his boyish charm and keen wit were welcome additions at board meetings, social gatherings, and sporting events.

But Arjan’s physical appearance and lively sense of humor hid other more closely held aspects of his character. Deep within his soul, he was an explorer, a pilgrim. His secret dreams included voyages to foreign shores and trekking through ancient valleys. While his infatuation with self-importance was still active, his desire to act on his adventurous impulse was surging. Finally, he found his opportunity. With an unexpected inheritance, he suddenly received, Arjan left the only life he had ever known and journeyed north to the tiny border town called Leosa.

As soon as he arrived, Arjan checked into a rundown inn called Victory Gardens. He paid with gold coins and immediately attracted the attention of other patrons drinking at the bar. Realizing his mistake, Arjan hurried up the stairs to his room and lay down on the rickety bed. Through the wall, he could hear murmuring voices. As he carefully rested his ear against the wall, he could vaguely hear two men describing plans for an expedition. As he continued to listen intently, he recognized the Yantran Empire as their destination. Arjan was stunned as he plumped back down on the wobbly bed. The realization that the greatest civilization in history might actually exist was too fantastic to be true. Naturally, he had heard the stories as a child and read fragments of ancient texts at the university, but Arjan presumed them to be symbolic or imaginative only. It was at that precise moment that he decided to find out the truth for himself. With plenty of gold and a measure of hope, he made plans to search for the ancient empire.

But Arjan was also a practical man and knew his limitations. Because he felt certain that Yantra was probably isolated and also inaccessible, he concluded, almost immediately, that he needed to employ a guide who could lead his expedition. Fortunately, after spending almost no time and energy in his search, he discovered the best guide for miles around was Radhana, a local sage and tracker. She was well known throughout the southern regions for her honesty, tenacity, and skill. She also possessed the patience of a midwife and the wisdom of an elder. Some men saw her short stature and slight frame as sources of vulnerability, but Radhana was equal to any frontiersman, and her courage could make a wicked man tremble. Still, behind her toughness, Radhana projected a sense of goodness and compassion that enveloped all those drawn to her.

Arjan sought out Radhana at the livery stable where she was often found negotiating trekking deals. When he found her, he introduced himself and discussed his intention of searching for the Yantran nation. Surprisingly, Radhana agreed to accompany him as a guide, yet only after a long moment of reflection. Radhana then left the stable, and returned a few moments later, carrying a long professionally painted scroll. She carefully placed it on a table and then, as she slowly unrolled it, a multicolored map became visible. Arjan listened carefully as Radhana described the painted images before them. “The Yantran Empire,” she began, “is older than time. Its indigenous people have always been peaceful and kind, but are also fiercely protective of their homeland. According to the ancient texts, countries that have discovered these lands and attempted to conquer them, have either been utterly destroyed or completely assimilated. For us, however, the most difficult tasks will involve the country’s geography.”

“Well I am determined,” Arjan replied enthusiastically. “This desire to find Yantra has been my dream since I was a boy. I seriously doubt that a few mountains or rivers will hold me back!” “Before you continue,” Radhana interjected coolly, “Let me show you some of the problems we will certainly encounter along the way.” “Sure, I want to know,” Arjan replied confidently.

“The Yantran Empire,” Radhana continued, “has formidable natural boundaries in every direction that frustrate the curious and protect it from invasion. To the north the Himnet Mountain Range pushes high above the clouds and is buried under glacial ice for most of the year. Bordering Yantra to the east is the Florena Forest which is so dark, deep, and dense, that it is said, to be impenetrable. To the south, the Purple Desert extends for hundreds of miles, and the power of its crystals and plants cause madness to all who attempt a crossing. Finally, the Western Region is surrounded by the mighty Atlas Ocean whose thrashing waves and invisible cross-currents sink vessels of even the mightiest navy.” “I see what you mean,” Arjan replied more respectfully. “I knew there would be obstacles, but I had no idea they would be so imposing. But I still want to find Yantra. Surely, there must be some shortcuts in places.” “Shortcut!” Radhana answered sharply. “Were you even listening to me? There are no easy, well marked trails to Yantra! Every trail, in every direction, has risks, dangers, and hardships. Beyond the geographical barriers, the Florena Forest might be defended by the Yantran mystics who still practice the ancient traditions of remote viewing. High in the Himnet Mountains, the Triclops guardians protect their northern frontier by simply seeing the whole mountain range and valley below with a single sweeping glance. In the Purple Desert, the very rocks and plants wither the heart and unravel the mind after only a single day has passed in its wastelands.” “But the Atlas Ocean is by far the most intimidating,” Radhana went on. “Only in the last week of summer when the ocean levels decline can ships approach the shore. Because of this natural phenomenon, the western coast is heavily fortified by hoards of Yantran householders who patrol the shoreline during that single vulnerable time. So, you see, Arjan, success on our quest is far from assured.” “I see that now,” Arjan admitted, “but I’m still willing to try; with your help, of course.”

“Agreed,” Radhana responded. “Why don’t you rest for the night and I’ll gather supplies.” Arjan nodded and retired to his room behind the village post office. He liked the sound of the word “quest.” It provided a sense of mission and importance to their plans. Although he now had doubts based on Radhana’s assessment of their situation, her caution itself suggested remarkable knowledge and noteworthy prudence. As Arjan drifted off into a deep sleep, he was more realistic about the journey but still self-confident about its success.

Radhana, however, was less inclined to share Arjan’s complete faith in her abilities. After she had purchased supplies from the general store, she prepared to enter the woods to seek out her old friend Baben. Almost all her knowledge of Yantra had come specifically from his experiences. In fact, she so wished to counsel with him; she secretly slipped into the forest behind Leosa in the early morning hours, when the village streets were deserted. As she walked through the forest, the old master sensed her presence long before she actually found his campfire.

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This product was added to our catalog on Wednesday 17 March, 2010.