The Tale of Khaska and Dhezga

A story of the Mawkhavi Maha'i, recorded by Sir Kieran Harthen in his “On the Cultures of Gallidus”, published in DT52.867 in Hammerdine.

In the West, they say that improper preparation and softness born of prosperity unbefitting the army of the High Queen caused Jevereshk to sue for peace in the last great war of the Maha'i. In the East, they say it was the terror of Gtarrei and the worthlessness of Jevereshk’s deserts that caused Gtarrei to allow peace to befall. Among the Mawkhavi, there is a different tale.

Many generations ago, a fence of horns, the matron of the Mawkhavi was beset by a terrible pregnancy. When the time came for the birth, it was discovered that is was not one child she carried, but twins, identical in appearance and both walking upon leaving the womb. The birth cost the mother her life, for their horns were already sharp, but not before she named them: Khaska, of silver, and Dhezga, of gold.

And Khaska and Dhezga grew strong and tall, with high necks and solid hooves, and surpassed all the warriors of their clan and tribe in fortitude and strength and skill. Knowing that they could bring repute to their tribe, they resolved to seek their fortunes and their adoptions elsewhere. Exchanging the kveza , they parted, Khaska going west and Dhezga going east.

Khaska journeyed through the desert westward, where he has many adventures I will not recount now, and arrived at Jevereshk the Silver, where through his prowess he was accepted as a favored consort to the High Queen and made captain of the guard.

Dhezga journeyed through the savannah eastward, where he had many adventures I will not recount now, and arrived at Gtarrei the Golden, where through his prowess he was accepted as a favored consort to the Queen and made captain of the guard.

Now in that time the slavers were coming against Gtarrei in force, and the High Queen of Jevereshk, to her shame, was slow to answer their call. But Dhezga with the strength of his arm drove them off to great accolades, vowing vengeance against the negligence of Jevereshk.

And thus it was that the High Queen of Jevereshk heard of Gtarrei’s revolt and, to restore her pride, declared war, and Khaska led out at the front of the army, vowing vengeance against the insolence of Gtarrei.

For a year and two years the war raged, and many died on both sides, with neither magecraft or swordsmanship able to break the dreadful stalemate.

And thus it was that the commanders of the opposing armies issued the challenge of gebar ksha to his opponent, a duel to the death without armor or clothing and with only a sword for a weapon, as was custom; and whosoever would triumph in the duel would decide the terms of the other’s surrender.

In the morning as the sun broke over the ridges of the Mile-Wide Chasm, the armies took their places facing each other and sent their champions forward. Now, neither champion could see the other clearly in the hot, swirling air until they met, and neither army could see the other army’s champion with clarity.

And so it was that when Khaska met Dhezga in the Mile-Wide Chasm each knew the other. Khaska gave Dhezga the kveza and Dhezga gave Khaska the kveza in turn, as was custom, and they stood in the gesture for a long time. The armies supposed they were conversing, though about what they knew not. Then, breaking their embrace and lifting their swords on high, they smote off each other’s heads in a single stroke. Neither army knew what they ought to do with both champions felled, so they left the battlefield in peace. The Mawkhavi in either army remained behind, however, and bore their dead back to their matron. It is said that the eyes of both were wet when their bodies were recovered, even after standing in the heat of noonday.

Thus it is that today the Mile-Wide Chasm is the border of Jevereshk and Gtarrei, why the Mawkhavi are split between the two nations, and why in old times the saying went about that the peace of the Mawkhavi is treason. This byword has generally been forgotten, however, and what remains is the saying that dishonor and peace are brothers. Among the Mawkhavi, however, the saying often goes that honor and war are brothers sworn to death.