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Gavin Zosimus was an Apicartan nobleman. He ruled as Lord of Tyr from 171 to 177 AYZ. By his first wife Melissa, he fathered the future queen Laura Stirling, and by his second wife Beatrice, the knight Balian Zosimus. He is the maternal grandfather of King Richard Stirling and Princess Eleanor Stirling.

A member of the Cult of Vormund, Gavin worked to protect fellow believers, distribute copies of the Mandorlin, and contributed religious writings on the history of the cult.

During the War of Succession, he sided with Claudius after the prince promised to end persecution of Vormundists and to seek peace with the Exekians. Aldous took his betrayal personally, having been under the impression that Gavin was no longer tied to the Vormundists. He deliberately sought Gavin out during the Battle of Kirk's Bluff, and it is believed he personally slew the lord during combat.

Appearance/Personality

Gavin is of average height and build, with wavy brown hair and deep-set dark eyes. He has a "kind" face, generally mild in its expressions and regular of features. He wears his age well.

Because of the baggage inherent in his legendary surname, he has always been very aware of the vultures and parasites which are drawn to his family's wealth and prestige. To counteract this, he endeavors to appear stoic and withdrawn at first impression. This of course is a defensive measure; he is afraid of being used and deceived by the few people he dares to put his faith in.

Unusually, Gavin has very high empathy. This ability to feel for others has led to him developing a strong sense of morality and a strict adherence to a set of principles. He tries to be a mediator in conflicts, as he is able to easily see both sides of an issue. But his strong sensitivity to pain and suffering will rapidly erode his emotional endurance, eventually leading to a breakdown.

His strongest motivation is his love for his family, particularly his children, and he will stop at nothing to protect and provide for them. His intense devotion is obvious to his enemies and can be easily exploited.

His cynicism isn't nearly as bad as it was in his youth, but it remains part of his nature. He is quick to pronounce failure and give up. His defeatist attitude has proven to be his greatest enemy, one which he has wrestled with all his life.

In conversation he is always polite and courteous, but as a result he sometimes comes across as boring and stuffy. He is eloquent and a man of letters, but laments that he frequently has nothing to say.

Biography

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A young Gavin with Grandmother Joan and his mother Sibylla.

Childhood

Born in 140 AYZ, Gavin was the second son of Lord Hugh Zosimus and Lady Sibylla Andronikos, the presiding noble house in the city of Tyr. He was preceded by his brother Stephen, who was about two years older. Also living with the family was Hugh's widowed mother, Joan Zosimus, whom the children affectionately called "Grandmother Joan".

The Zosimus family was well known for their great wealth, gained from the vastly successful Tyran trade. Gavin was raised in the lap of luxury, living a sheltered life at the family estate, Isidore. With Stephen as the heir to the family fortune, he was not raised to handle the responsibilities of inheriting his father's wealth.
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Gavin and his brother Stephen as boys. Note the difference in size.

Gavin's relationship with Stephen was friendly, marked by the usual sibling rivalry and mischief. The only time their relationship experienced significant strain was when, in a strange turn of events, Gavin hit his growth spurt early while his brother proved a late bloomer. For a period lasting about a year, observers who didn't know the birth order of the boys often mistakenly believed Gavin was the elder of the two, and other children mocked and bullied Stephen for being a "manlet". The disparity in size between them smoothed out eventually, and Stephen grew to be much taller than his brother in the end.

When Gavin was ten years old, his father committed suicide by drowning. Gavin was deeply affected by his death, sinking into a deep depression. When he emerged from this period of intense melancholy, he was a changed person. Gone was the boy who teased his brother and played harmless pranks. In his place was a cynical young man with nothing but contempt for the world.

Early Adulthood

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Gavin and Melissa.

As his tempestuous teenage years ticked by, the grown-up Gavin remained a pessimist prone to callous and selfish behavior. He stayed busy to avoid dwelling on the things that bothered him, and considered most people to be unworthy of his friendship or love.

This all changed when he met Melissa, a beautiful and charming woman who worked in the gardens at Isidore. Initially reluctant to pursue her, she won him over and he began to seek his mother's approval of their marriage.

But Stephen died suddenly, having been struck by lightning, and Gavin became his family's sole heir. At that point Melissa was already pregnant with his child. Unwilling to abandon her and unprepared to assume the responsibilities of running the family business, Gavin eloped with Melissa, fleeing to the west.
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Gavin upon arriving at the cave.

Gradually they ran out of money and were reduced to poverty and homelessness. Stranded in Rhinehart, they slept on a street corner with rags as blankets. One day they overheard Vormund preaching and approached him. Upon learning of their unfortunate circumstances, Vormund agreed at once to take them under his wing.

Gavin and Melissa converted to Vormundism and lived in the caves of Arza Kell with Vormund's other disciples. The young lord befriended the Exekian Kemet, a bond which would prove vital to their survival.
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Gavin at the cremation of his mother's body.

Just Another Believer

Gavin and Melissa traveled with Vormund and his other followers to Bodai, where their preaching drew a great deal of attention. However, the local authorities were unenthusiastic about the cult's presence and ordered their expulsion from the city a month after their arrival. It couldn't have happened at a more inopportune time - Melissa had gone into labor.

The followers of Vormund were thrown out just before nightfall, including a prospective disciple named Rowan Renard, who was adamant he get to meet the prophet. Rowan told them his mother Hester was a midwife who lived only a couple of miles away, and they set out for her house. Before they reached her, Melissa gave birth to a daughter, Laura, on the side of the road. Rowan facilitated the birth and hurried them on to his mother's house.

Upon their arrival, Hester tended to Melissa, whose condition worsened. She died that night of hemorrhaging. Gavin was distraught and blamed Rowan for her death.

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Gavin in the library at his family estate.

Changing Fortunes

Grieving, Gavin took Laura and Melissa's body to Arza Kell. He stayed long enough to bury his wife, but was forced to leave not long after when he heard his mother had fallen ill. He left Laura in the care of Kemet and Clara Richter and went to Tyr, hoping to reconcile with his mother and reclaim his birthright.

In Isidore, he lied to his dying mother, claiming that his child by Melissa had died with her. This was done in hopes of bypassing Lady Sibylla's wrath, as well as the laws of inheritance regarding illegitimate children; Gavin fully intended to take Laura back and make her his official daughter by any means necessary.

Sibylla did change her will before her death, leaving everything to Gavin. However, once she died the state intervened in the proceedings, claiming they were concerned that Gavin had fallen under the influence of an Almas. The court ruled to split the inheritance between Gavin and his cousin Lucan, who was pronounced the new Lord of Tyr.

Gavin was soon after approached by an agent of the Temple, who threatened to persecute him if he didn't do what they wanted. Gavin went along with their plans, believing he could manipulate the situation to his benefit and protect those he cared about.
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A more mature Gavin on the white cliffs of Tyr.

Disbanding of the Cult

Before he could return to Arza Kell to collect his daughter, Rowan arrived with a blind child, Vincent, in tow. Rowan explained that Vormund, Drusus Rolfe, and Ethan had been arrested following the murder of Sophie Rolfe. Gavin agreed to take in Vincent as his ward and set about locating the others.

Learning that Vormund was being put on trial for heresy by the Temple, Gavin, Rowan, and Gavin's manservant Faulkner observed the court proceedings. The heresy trial was held under the Temple's jurisdiction and led by Selca Ducani, an Inquisitor. Shortly after the first day of the trial, they heard the news that Vormund had died in his cell.

Fearing for the lives of their friends and family at Arza Kell, Rowan, Faulkner, and Gavin rode to the caverns. Prior to the journey, Gavin was approached by Selca, who demanded that he bring him to the Mandorlin. Gavin convinced him that the Mandorlin was not located at Arza Kell and that they were only going there to retrieve Laura, but Selca ultimately double-crossed him and, taking the identity of Faulkner, he followed them to the mountains.

They searched the caverns, but initially found no trace of Kemet, Clara, or Laura. Selca then revealed his trickery and forced Gavin to give up the Mandorlin manuscript, which he then destroyed. While Rowan attacked him, Selca left them alive, honoring his half of the deal.

Kemet, Clara, and Laura were safe, but Gavin was overwhelmed by guilt and terrified of the Temple's power and influence. Camping for the night in the caverns, Gavin submitted to Kemet's dreamwalking, admitting his betrayal of Vormund's legacy to his old friend. He parted ways with the others, returning home to Isidore with his daughter.
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Gavin in Isidore. A servant, Cordelia, stands in the background.

Enemy of Humanity

Over the next three years, Gavin used his wealth to help others suffering from persecution at the hands of the Temple. He bribed the jailers in Zemar into arranging Drusus' early release. Meeting with the ranger outside the prison, he found Drusus a bitter, angry shell of the man he had once been. Drusus suggested they take arms against the king, but Gavin refused, driving a wedge between the two friends.

Gavin continued to live at Isidore, where his "extravagant" spending was often criticized by Lucan. To make some money and keep Vormund's memory alive, he purchased a printing press and began writing under a pseudonym. Penning a biography of Vormund, he also secretly printed and distributed copies of the Mandorlin. He was forced to close down this venture as persecution of Vormundists increased under the reign of King Tristan.

His remaining funds were then turned toward bribing politicians, clergymen, and others in hopes of improving the situations of fellow believers, but despite his best efforts the situation in Apicarta only worsened. Those who followed Vormund or espoused his teachings were deemed "enemies of humanity" and a threat to society. While Gavin's wealth and privileged birth meant he was safe, he witnessed the imprisonment, torture, and "re-education" of fellow Vormundists who were not so lucky.

In 168, Lucan began pressuring the bankrupt Gavin to find himself a wealthy bride and produce the next generation of the Zosimus family. Gavin agreed to marry Beatrice Ormond, whom he had known since childhood. Beatrice was a young widow with a daughter, Melanie, by her previous husband; she and Gavin later had a son together, Balian.

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Gavin Zosimus kneels before Tristan Stirling.

Incorruptible

The persecution of Vormundists gradually decreased but never completely went away; thus, Gavin kept his religion out of the public eye but raised his children within the faith. Over the next few years he slowly gained the favor of King Tristan, who believed Gavin to be incorruptible as well as indispensable. But his quiet, continued support of fellow Vormundists made Gavin many enemies.

Assassination of the King and War of Succession

In 178, Tristan invited all the lords and ladies of his kingdom to an annual celebration. While they were feasting, Tristan was shot by a hidden assailant. Gavin chased after the assassin, who was revealed to be none other than Drusus Rolfe. Stunned, Gavin was unable to stop Drusus from killing himself to avoid capture. Tristan later died of his wounds.
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Gavin bids Beatrice a final goodbye before leaving to join Claudius' forces.

Due to his relationship to the assassin, Gavin and his family came under suspicion. He was forced to prove himself to the new king, Tristan's eldest son Aldous.

During the proceedings, Prince Claudius, Aldous' younger brother, approached Gavin on the issue of challenging Aldous' right to the throne. Claudius and Gavin both agreed that Aldous was dangerous, citing his reputation for aggression and bloodlust and his calls for the total annihilation of the Exekians.

In the War of Succession, Gavin sided with Claudius Stirling. After bidding goodbye to his family, Gavin joined the rebel army. He was slain during the pivotal Battle at Kirk's Bluff.

Trivia

Gavin was named after Gavin de Granville, a character in the de Granville series by K.M. Grant.

The name Zosimus means "viable" or "most likely to survive".

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