Thevarou's Rendition of Tawru


The Tragedy of Tawru

Tawru, of the Khimmak clan of the Tova tribe, was born in the Niktean Wastes, east of Jevereshk and north of the River Maakhin, and even in his childhood he showed signs of greatness. His valor and courage went unquestioned, as did his skill with the scimitar and the arts of war. War, however, was not his sole preoccupation, and his justice and wisdom increased in the same measure. The songs say his eye was fierce and his rage inescapable, but that it could be turned away by acquiescence, and he would not harm those that honored their oaths to lay down their weapons. Upon his coming of age, the matriarch of the Khimmak clan decided that he would be sent to Jevereshk to be further trained, and to seek adoption into one of the High Clans. As had been intended, Tawru was adopted by the Nem Rujdha clan, relations to the High Queen, who were renowned for their prowess and were consecrated as the guardians of Jevereshk and the Nem Sethri royal house. As chosen consort of the matriarch of Nem Rujdha, he fathered five children, two sons and three daughters. His fame and place in the lays of the Maha'i was assured when he, alone, sallied to battle a young dragon that had decided to threaten a village near Jevereshk and, slashing with his scimitar, smote and killed it; and thus was he called Tawru Khimmak Tova Nem Rujdha Khatil Tineen, the latter meaning Dragon’s Bane, and he wore its hide as his armor from that day forward.

It was this that gave rise to the thought in the mind of the High Queen of Jevereshk to send a champion to represent the Maha'i as an emissary to the Knights of the Silver Dragons, who, as Tawru had, were ridding the world of its chromatic dragons and bringing stability and prosperity to the cities under their influence. Until then, amongst the ranks of the knights were represented most of the races of Jenoa that were not allied with evil, and the dragon orbs were being assigned to their first masters. Tawru’s fame had then begun to spread beyond the Wastes, and the High Queen chose him as the emissary who would begin to bridge the gap between the Maha'i and the other races of Jenoa. She and Tawru also hoped that an alliance with an organization such as the Knights could earn them repute in the eyes of Gtarrei and win them back for Jevereshk and the ways of truth over heresy and sectarianism.

Tawru journeyed to Hammerdine, to which the High Queen had sent a missive, requesting that the Knights consider this, the best of the Maha'i, for admission into their order. As the chapter in Hammerdine had no jurisdiction over the acceptance and naming of new knights, they forwarded the High Queen’s request to the Council at the Fortress of Vigilance, and after receiving a rapid response, sent Tawru to meet the Council. There they evaluated his skills and found that he could easily compete with any of the best of the Knights, those who in swordmanship, magicworking, and dedication to the triumph of Good; however, for reasons they would not specify, they granted him entrance at a much lower rank, and returned him to Hammerdine, where he was assigned to work. Far from being the shining emissary of the Maha'i to the world, he felt that he had been relegated to the perceived backwaters of the world, to a place where he would have little influence or opportunity. The High Queen was also displeased and protested, but the no acceptable explanation was presented, and the decision was not rescinded.

For two years did Tawru serve and seldom was given honor by his fellows. Many times did he suggest a course of action, only to have another receive the credit for the plan were it not ignored altogether. As he had the chance to travel, he began to hear of troubling rumors of the Hornheads from the South (for such did the others call the Maha'i in those times) being captured and sold into slavery on the eastern coast of Gallidus and the west of Thanor, where neither Hammerdine nor Tleros, nor Jevereshk or Gtarrei, could restrain them, and spoke of his concern to the Knights in Hammerdine; they dismissed it as being outside their bounds to work against issues so far away from their bases of operations. Tawru countered that they had gotten involved in Hammerdine, and the more clever knights thought on that while the more foolish ones knew one hundred reasons why they should not interfere.

It was at this juncture that Tleros determined to begin their campaign against Hammerdine and the Knights’ rising influence in Gallidus. They expelled the Knights that remained in their core cities, and their army proceeded to march against Hammerdine, which awaited unwary and not expecting the assault. Word came to the Knights from their outcast compatriots of Tleros’s hostility, and they quickly summoned together what forces they could from Gallidus that were friendly toward them. Tawru offered to call upon Jevereshk for aid, but the High Queen and her court, upon hearing about the slavery of their fellows, had made military aid to the Knights contingent upon their resolution to address the issue of Maha'i slavery, and the Knights continued adamant in their determination to leave that to Gtarrei and Clefthaven to resolve as they prepared for war against Tleros. For several days, Tawru remembered his oath to fealty and obedience to his superiors among the Knights and helped in their preparations for war, but he was torn. Freeing the slaves, who had been mostly from the Savannah, could work toward the delegitimization of Gtarrei’s usurpers and could lead to the reunification of their civilization with Jevereshk. Tleros would provide no large threat to Jevereshk; the far northern empire would be utterly uninterested in the uninhabitable Wastes, and the High Queen’s army could drive them away. To go to Clefthaven and free the slaves would be difficult and dangerous, and most certainly a blatant betrayal of the Knights’ will, but it would not be serving only a merely political interest, but would free others from despairing lives of hard labor, decay and ungracious death and allow them to come back to join their people, with true religion, right society, and dignity. If the Knights opposed that and were unwilling to attempt to negotiate peace with Tleros, Tawru decided, they had betrayed themselves to their own self-interest, and it was his obligation to honor the code to which he had sworn his allegiance. Thus, on the eve before battle, he took up his sword and his dragon armor and escaped into the night; on the morrow, the forces of Tleros were upon Hammerdine, and none could be spared to pursue Tawru, nor did any know, at first, where he had gone. It was that night, after a day of pitched battle, that they found his epistle in which he stated his intentions. However, the forces of Tleros laid siege to Hammerdine, and for a month they received not word or hint of Tawru.

Tawru approached Clefthaven on a bright afternoon and quickly came upon a host of Maha'i harvesting in a field under the lash. Leaping from his horse, he struck down the slavedriver and called out to the slaves to join him, saying that he was Tawru Khimmak Tova Nem Rujdha Khatil Tineen of Jevereshk and had come to free them on the orders of the Knights of the Silver Dragons (for he believed himself alone to be honoring the code truly). Having obtained what weapons they could, the slaves, with Tawru at their head, proceeded from farm to outlying farm, smiting down any driver that dared challenge them; and after one hundred had allied themselves to his banner, there was none that would dare resist with whip or scythe, and they spared those that stood down. Thus they progressed to the city and approached it from the southern road, which led directly to the quays, the slaver ships anchored there, and the markets where even then were auctions being held. Letting forth a mighty roar of rage, Tawru took a torch and threw it upon the first ship, and those that came behind him followed, until all the slavers’ ships in the harbor were alit and crackling with the sound and scent of burning and snapping sap. The quays themselves went up in smoke, and those who were at the auctions were smitten down if they did not render themselves to the mob. Soon, all of Clefthaven was in an uproar, and people cowered in their houses as the slaves were released. The guards of the governor provided little defense, and he who had abetted the trade found himself cut down by the sickle of his own slave.

After the violence had finished and dusk had set, Tawru called to his followers, directing the to proclaim throughout the city that all who laid down arms would be spared, and any who supported slavery would be stricken with the blade or exiled forever, and to show mercy and compassion to those whose kin had perished. The newly freed Maha'i, in awe over this stranger with their face and words, obeyed his orders, and though it would take years for the terror of that night to be overcome, the healing began no later than that night itself. Tawru also said that he would take them away from this place, to a bright place of honor and glory where they could prosper, and they knew not where this would be. Then he appointed a temporary governor in his stead and left with a contingent of those who wished to see this mythical place and would not wait, heading toward Jevereshk.

The road was unbarred, and upon his arrival he appeared before the High Queen and relayed his deeds, which were repeated in awed tones by those who had accompanied him. They were all accepted as subjects of the High Queen and given a charter to found their own clans and cities, on land to the west of Jevereshk, when they returned with the other thousands that had been freed. Thus rejoicing, Tawru and his band set out to return to Clefthaven along the same road.

However, as they had been in Jevereshk, the Knights had driven back the siege on Hammerdine and defeated the armies of Tleros. Following Tawru’s letter, they sent a mission to Clefthaven, where they found the Freed Maha'i rebuilding the ruined city and speaking of their savior, Tawru Dragon’s Bane, with immense reverence. Shocked at Tawru’s audacity to use their name in this act, the Knights rapidly consulted upon what course of action they should take. Lest they be unfavorably viewed of the new leadership of Clefthaven – either for not condemning the slave trade, or for having dissent in their ranks, or for denigrating their savior – they chose to feign their complicity in the act. They persuaded Hammerdine to issue a charter for a new government at Clefthaven based on the model of Hammerdine’s (a democracy). Clefthaven was renamed Laishtek, and as a new capital of the state of Gemsharia, it was placed under Hammerdine’s authority. The Freed Maha'i thanked them sincerely for their generosity and accepted the charter.

It was on the road between Laishtek and Jevereshk that the chief of the Knightsfrom Hammerdine, atop his red dragon, encountered Tawru and his little band, the latter unarmed, riding toward Laishtek and rejoicing in their chance to join their fellows in the Wastes. Tawru immediately called for his friends to retreat to safety; he would face the Knights alone. And from a distance they watched him fight valiantly as the dragonriders attacked him in sword battle. One he disabled, two, flashing his scimitar in the glaring sun and crying aloud the songs of Teresh and Markus; then the chief called upon his dragon, fearing, and commanded it to dispatch Tawru. That it did with the swipe of a giant claw and a clamp of its teeth, and Tawru Dragon’s Bane met his doom from a dragon and lay motionless and bloodied, limp, on the beaten soil of the road. The Knights departed, but the squadron of Hammerdinic soldiers that had accompanied them loaded his battered body onto a horse and followed the dragonriders back to Hammerdine.

While some of Tawru’s companions went back to Jevereshk to deliver the news, some continued to Laishtek, where they found their friends unwilling to leave their city to travel to some strange, far-off desert. One followed the dragons to Hammerdine and saw, from a ways off, the body of Tawru hanging from the sidepost of the east gate of the city, black with blood and the fallen feathers of crows that had been picking at his flesh, a warning, said the people, of traitors; and most said that it warned of the inevitable treachery of the Hornheads. She fled back to Jevereshk and related the story, in tears, of what she had seen, and the High Queen was wroth as never before; she sent a messenger demanding the body of Jevereshk’s champion. The Knights knew not of the soldiers' actions until they saw the body dangling in the morning light. They firmly reprimanded the soldiers for their vigilantism, but the Hammerdines refused to take Tawru's body down, claiming that his oath to them, and his breaking thereof, required that they exhibit the punishment for such treachery. Neither the Knights or the Hammerdines did not desire war from the south as well as the north, but neither did the two parties realize that war might well have been threatened for this affront.

It was providential for the Knights and Hammerdine that, shortly after hearing the news of their father’s death and desecration, Tawru's five children counseled together and resolved to recover it. Departing from Jevereshk the next day, they arrived at Hammerdine in the dark of night. The gate was closed and the body still hanging, and they shot the one guard that spotted them. They discovered with great dismay that half of one of his horns had been broken off, and they knew not where to look to find it; they let the body down and before daybreak had left for their home. A great lamentation then arose for Tawru all throughout the Wastes, and it even reached unto Gtarrei, where it was taken as a symbol of the inherent evil of the Knights: so had they killed Markus before Tawru, as the Order of Faris Attineen says, and so will they do when the gods favor the Maha'i with their incarnate presence. The epics and the lays sung of Tawru were now turned to tragedies, and the sorrow only increased when they heard that Clefthaven was now under Hammerdine’s rule, and the inhabitants thereof, far from the glory and righteousness of Jevereshk, would dwindle in the unbelief of humans’ worship and lax morality: Tawru’s heroism appeared to have been in vain. In honor of the fallen hero, his daughters were given their own clan and given crowns and authority, under the new name Nem Tawru. When the High Queen died, it was Tawru’s first daughter that was selected to succeed her, and until this day the queens are the descendants of Tawru and bear his name. And still is the quest of Tawru’s Horn pursued by young Maha'i knights, but none have found it, and it is believed that the chief Knight, whose dragon slew Tawru, took the horn unto himself.

And thus began the long enmity between Jevereshk and the Knights of the Silver Dragons, from this story that the former remembers bitterly and the later has nearly forgotten.

In Codex III-Chapter 1, Khaska discovered Likran Treewind's Final Confession, which sheds additional light on the legend of Tawru.