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"A damned legend, the finest killer the Claw ever had--and lost."
―Pearl[src]

Kalam Mekhar was an assassin, originally from Seven Cities,[5] who had been among the Claw's best before a falling out.[6] He was black-skinned and described as moving effortlessly despite his girth.[7] Other descriptions noted him as being tall and broad shouldered, big and almost bearlike in appearance,[8] but in possession of a certain grace. He had dark eyes.[8]

Kalam spoke with a north Seven Cities accent, melodic and round[8] and had a deep, smooth laugh.[9] According to Quick Ben, when Kalam spoke in a certain low tone, he was at his most dangerous.[10]

The second part of his name signified that Kalam was a member of the Mekhar tribe which used to live towards the west of Aren.[11]

He and Quick had a habit of speaking in tandem.[12][13] Their friendship had begun long before both men became Bridgeburners. According to Salk Elan, during his early pre-Imperial days in Karashimesh, Kalam had had another partner named Porthal K'nastra.[14]

As a former member of the Claw, Kalam possessed an advanced inner discipline of mind and body. He could staunch his own bleeding wounds with his thoughts alone. He could also decrease his body temperature to a level indiscernible from cobble or stone to prevent detection by those with enhanced sight.[15]

In Gardens of the MoonEdit

Kalam half cloak

Interpretation of Kalam Mekhar by Yapattack

Kalam was Corporal of the 9th Squad of the Bridgeburners under Sergeant Whiskeyjack.[16] After the battle at Pale, Kalam was present when Quick Ben shifted the soul of Hairlock into a puppet - Tattersail thought that the soldier looked like someone who had come to like killing.[8]

Kalam pulled some strings and ascertained that someone high up in the Empire had the Bridgeburners marked.[17]

Whiskeyjack thought of Kalam as the ninth squad's killer.[18] Whenever Sorry was close to him, Kalam would slip a knife into his palm.[19]

Kalam admitted to Tattersail of being afraid when they were waiting for Hairlock who might be tracked by Hounds of Shadow. Her admission of having been sat on a pillow for the last two hours made both of them laugh.[20]

Kalam and his squad were sent on deployment to Darujhistan. They were airlifted by Moranth Quorl to the northern shore of Lake Azur. Before crossing the Lake via fishing boat supplied by the Moranth, Whiskeyjack told them that he had changed the official plan as that would get them all killed. He divided the squad into two teams, one to be led by Kalam, the other one by the Sergeant himself. With Kalam were Quick Ben and Sorry. Kalam told Whiskeyjack that he was concerned about morale in the squad as well as the forthcoming crossing. Quick Ben arrived and told Whiskeyjack and Kalam about a meeting he just had with Hairlock and a plan he had come up with. This left the sergeant and Kalam looking shaken. Kalam and Quick Ben's amusement at the others getting the boat ready was cut short when Whiskeyjack told them to help.[21]

Tattersail was of the opinion that the way Kalam and Quick Ben were trying to take the responsibility from Whiskeyjack's shoulders was their way of expressing their love for the Sergeant.[22]

Quick ben and kalam by dejan delic

Interpretation of Quick Ben and Kalam's encounter with the Night Hunters in Darujhistan by dejan-delic

Kalam and Quick persuaded Whiskeyjack that they would be better off with Sorry on the Sergeant's team[23] and continued their mission of making contact with the local thieves and assassins without her.[24] The task of offering a contract to them proved difficult as the Guild had gone to ground following the recent attacks of which Kalam and Quick were unaware.[25] In their closest attempt at a meeting, the pair were ambushed by a dozen Tiste Andii night-hunters. Kalam was able to incapacitate two, Jekaral and Boruld, but was himself severely wounded and barely escaped with his life.[26]

Kalam guarded Quick's body when the latter journeyed to the Shadow Realm[27] and shared the mage's joy at the success of the venture.[28]

On the night of the Gedderone Fête, Kalam and the other Bridgeburners posed as guards at Lady Simtal's estate. There they finally made contact with Vorcan Radok, Mistress of the Assassins' Guild. Kalam successfully negotiated a contract with Vorcan to eliminate the mages of the city's T'orrud Cabal, the city's true rulers.[29]

After the gathering was attacked by the Jaghut Tyrant Raest, Fiddler and Hedge raced away to set off their charges, but were stopped in their tracks by the appearance of the demon Lord of Galayn. The delay saved the city as it gave time for Quick Ben and Kalam to stop the plan that would have unknowingly touched off the city's enormous gas reserves.[30][31]

When the Bridgeburners broke off from the Malazan Empire to join High Fist Dujek Onearm's mutinous forces, Kalam did not go with them. Instead, he and Fiddler announced that they would escort Apsalar back to her home in Itko Kan but would rejoin the others if they could.[32] They left on a tradecraft making for Dhavran and onboard that ship, Kalam witnessed Crokus Younghand throwing Oponn's coin into Lake Azur.[33]

In Deadhouse GatesEdit

Mekhar by slaine69

Mekhar by slaine69

Kalam, Fiddler,Crokus and Apsalar had taken passage as crew on a Blue Moranth trader from Genabackis to the imperial port of Karakarang. They then travelled on the Tano pilgrim route from Karakarang across the Talgai Mountains down to Rutu Jelba, all the time trying to keep a low profile. Sailing along the Ehrlitan coast, Kalam poked fun at Fiddler who was suffering from seasickness.[34]

Kalam acquired the Book of Dryjhna from the spy Mebra in Ehrlitan and set off on his own for Raraku to bring the holy book to the seeress Sha'ik, and touch off the Whirlwind rebellion.[35] Although Fiddler argued that this was a betrayal of their fellow soldiers, he was resigned to the fact that Kalam's "old blood calls" and the rebellion would "add another crack in Laseen's crumbling control."[36]

Kalam delivered the book, but unbeknownst to him he had been followed by Lostara Yil and the Red Blades who assassinated Sha'ik before she could complete her ritual.[37] Ignorant of these events, Kalam headed south towards Aren in order to book passage on a ship to the Imperial capital. Fiddler and the others would follow by the original route.

Kalam mekhar by slaine69

Interpretation of Kalam Mekhar by slaine69

Along the way he rescued a Malazan soldier and his family from bandits pursuing them after the fall of the Orbal garrison to the rebellion. Keneb, his wife, Selv, their children, and Selv's sister, Minala, then joined Kalam on his journey.[38] During this time, a strong attraction developed between Minala and the assassin. When the group stumbled upon a rebel camp where Korbolo Dom had crucified thirteen hundred Malazan children, Kalam used up one of Quick Ben's 'gifts' which opened a passage into the Imperial Warren.[39] Kalam and Keneb's family members then travelled through the Imperial Warren with the goal of getting to Aren in less than the three months that it would take to reach them by travelling overland.[40]

It had transpired that Kalam's intention was to seek out the Azath House Tremorlor and use its gate to travel instantaneously and undetected to the Deadhouse in Malaz City.[41] From there it would be a short trip to Unta where he hoped to assassinate the Empress in revenge for the attacks on the Bridgeburners. Quick Ben would serve as Shaved Knuckle in the Hole through an ensorcelled rock that Kalam could use to summon the mage once they were in the halls of the palace.[42][43] The company of a formerly possessed fishergirl with the skills of an immortal assassin would only improve their chances.[44] After the Empress' death, Quick Ben and Kalam "had someone in mind" to succeed her.[45]

Upon arriving in Aren, Kalam only said good-by to Minala who was unhappy about his abrupt departure. Kalam told her to keep his stallion. Through intermediaries, the assassin had been offered a place aboard the Ragstopper by a man called Salk Elan,[46] who claimed to be a merchant and fellow ally of Mebra, but revealed himself to be something more when he helped the assassin repel an attack by pirates.[47][48]

A voyage that should have taken days seemed to last for weeks. Kalam was forced to use up the ensorcelled stone given to him by Quick Ben as a communication tool of last resort. The mage determined that Kalam and the ship were prisoners of a Mockra mage before their link was severed.[49] The ship finally made port at Malaz City (not Unta) where Salk Elan revealed himself to be a Claw by the name of Pearl. He paralyzed the assassin with his mind magic, before stabbing him in the side and tossing him overboard.[50]

Kalam by Simon Underwood

Interpretation of Kalam by Simoon Underwood

The wounded Kalam made his way to shore where he was hunted in the streets of Malaz City by several Hands of the Claw. But the assassin turned the game around on the Claws, ambushing and killing three full Hands. When the Claw finally ran him to ground, he was saved by Minala who had followed him[51][52] all the way from Aren on another ship along with Kalam's stallion.[53][54]

Kalam ultimately confronted the Empress in Mock's Hold, or at least a projection of her using a rotting corpse as a vessel. But when the Empress explained the truth about Dujek's rebellion and the events on Genabackis, the assassin abandoned the idea of killing her. Kalam was soon reunited with Fiddler, Apsalar, and Crokus who had successfully travelled to Malaz City through the Deadhouse. Then Shadowthrone brought Kalam and Minala into Shadow to serve as the surrogate mother and father for thirteen hundred children brought into their custody by the demon Apt.[55]

In Memories of IceEdit

While performing a reading of the Deck of Dragons near Pale, the Bridgeburner mage, Spindle, drew the Assassin's card of High House Shadow. It took a moment for him to recognise Kalam's face on the card. This gave him and the other Bridgeburners an insight into Kalam and Fiddler's true mission.[56]

A conversation between Whiskeyjack and Dujek revealed that Quick Ben had never been serious in the attempt to assassinate Empress Laseen. Aware of the true motivations behind her actions, he nevertheless sent Kalam against her because only a face to face meeting with the Empress would have convinced the former Claw that she was not their enemy.[57]

After the Battle of Black Coral, Quick Ben and Ganoes Paran visited the tomb of the Bridgeburners within the throne room of Moon's Spawn. Quick Ben left a pebble behind in case he and Kalam wanted to visit later.[58]

In House of ChainsEdit

According to a comment made by Cotillion, Kalam and Minala were now married.[59] The thirteen hundred rescued children who they had been tending in the Shadow Realm had been trained to become the Company of Shadow.[60]

After leaving the Shadow Realm and setting out for Raraku, Kalam came upon Irriz and his Seven Cities renegades, staking out the ancient cliff-side fortress of B'ridys where Malazan soldiers of the Second Company of the Ashok Regiment under the command of Sergeant Cord had taken refuge (Captain Kindly and Lieutenant Pores having disappeared previously while exploring the fortress). Along with the girl, Sinn, and an Azalan demon, Kalam eliminated almost all (some five hundred) of the rebel warriors - taking Irriz, alone, prisoner.[61]

Kalam reclaimed his old title of Clawleader of a Hand of Claw assassins to pull rank on Sergeant Cord. Kalam then accidentally released an ancient demon from the bottom of a well in the B'ridys Fortress.[62]

In The BonehuntersEdit

An assassin returns to malaz by slaine69

An assassin returns to Malaz City, Interpretation by Slaine69

Kalam vs claw by dejan delic

Kalam vs Claw Interpretation by Dejan Delic

Kalam accompanied Adjunct Tavore and her aide, T'amber, to Mock's Hold in Malaz City, Malaz Island,[63][64] where they met with Empress Laseen and discovered that she had re-instated the ex-renegade, Korbolo Dom, as High Fist and had also appointed Mallick Rel to her inner circle.[65] The Empress having betrayed Tavore, Kalam and the two women were left to battle for their lives in a harrowing chase back to the Froth Wolf (Tavore's flagship - which was located in the Malaz City harbour[66] along with the Adjunct's fleet and the Malazan 14th Army and allies), while being ambushed/pursued by many Hands - i.e., groups of five - of Claw assassins under the leadership of Pearl.[67]

Kalam decided to try buying Tavore and T'amber some time by leading some of the Claw Hands away from the two women. Kalam sent the Adjunct and T'amber to follow the bank of the south branch of the Malaz River to the city harbour, while he, himself, continued to the rooftops of the Mouse Quarter[68] where he had a final showdown on the roof of an abandoned, derelict tenement with Pearl and two Hands of Claws. After slaying all but Pearl and one Claw assassin, Kalam was ultimately shot down from behind by Pearl with a quarrel (which with Pearl had specifically chosen to kill Kalam) poisoned with Kartoolian spider venom and was left to die in extended agony.[69]

Shadowthrone found Kalam (still barely alive) and delivered him to the Malaz City Azath, the Deadhouse.[70]

In The Crippled GodEdit

A considerable time later, Kalam was awakened in the "Deadhouse" in Malaz City by Quick Ben and Minala.[71] They then journeyed to Kolanse (located along the far eastern coast of the continent of Lether) via Warren to take part, at the side of Ganoes Paran, in the final war surrounding the Crippled God.

Kalam teamed up with Quick Ben to help the the brother and sister, Ganoes and Tavore Paran, in their fight against the Forkrul Assail in the northern part of Kolanse. Kalam and Quick Ben used their combined skills to assassinate the Forkrul Assail, both on and off the battlefield. Kalam and Quick Ben then reunited with Fiddler and Hedge and their Marine/Heavy infantry detachment (which was guarding the Crippled God's body) in the ultimate battle between the Bonehunters (and their allies) against the Forkrul Assail (and their allies).[72]

HistoryEdit

Assassin by slaine69

Interpretation of Kalam as assassin by Slaine69

Kalam had once served as a member of the Claw.[73] Apsalar, drawing on her memories from her possession by Cotillion, related that Kalam had been a Falah'dan's Dagger and that after the Malazan invasion the Claw gave him command of a Hand.[74] He was a master assassin.

Kalam mekhar by luztheren

Kalam Mekhar by Luztheren

As recounted in detail during a conversation between Whiskeyjack and Anomander Rake, Kalam played a key role in the journey across the Raraku desert that forged the Bridgeburners. During a Seven Cities rebellion that had originated in Aren, one of the Seven Holy Protectors was struck down and his rebellious mage cadre fled for Raraku. Whiskeyjack's cobbled together squad was ordered to pursue and given Kalam, a recent Claw recruit and local, as guide.[75]

Kalam brought Whiskeyjack and his soldiers across the Raraku desert in pursuit of the twelve mages. The mages succumbed one by one until only the last one, Ben Adaephon, was left. When they caught up with him, he told Whiskeyjack and his soldiers that "Raraku, sir, has burned the bridges of their pasts, one and all – it’s all gone." Kalam was flushed out as a traitor who had been helping Quick Ben all along. Nevertheless, despite orders to the contrary, Whiskeyjack allowed the two to join his squad, letting Quick Ben live knowing that this was in contravention of the Emperor's order, while Kalam joined the squad knowing he would face Surly and the Claw's wrath if they found out.[76]

QuotesEdit

Kalam Sculpt by Corporal Nobbs

Kalam digital sculpture by Corporal Nobbs

"Again and again, we cling to the foolish belief that simple solutions exist."
―Kalam Mekhar, explaining why he walked away instead of assassinating a high level target[src]
"I am sorry, Kalam Mekhar. But you… I cannot accept… your existence. I cannot…"
―Pearl after shooting Kalam with a poisoned quarrel[src]

Fan art gallery Edit

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. House of Chains, Chapter 6, US TPB p.207
  2. The Crippled God, Chapter 18, US HC p.503
  3. The Bonehunters, Chapter 14, UK MMPB p.686
  4. Orb Sceptre Throne, Chapter 11, UK MMPB p.447
  5. Gardens of the Moon, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.xii
  6. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 20, US HC p.411
  7. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.55
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 2, UK MMPB p.80
  9. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.153
  10. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 12, UK MMPB p.401
  11. The Bonehunters, Chapter 14, UK MMPB p.686
  12. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK HB p.130/131 (example)
  13. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.155
  14. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 17, UK HB p.735
  15. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 22, US HC p.551
  16. Gardens of the Moon, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.xii
  17. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.103
  18. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 3, UK MMPB p.106
  19. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.133
  20. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 4, UK MMPB p.153
  21. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 8, UK MMPB p.258/264-266
  22. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 9, UK MMPB p.298
  23. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 11, UK MMPB p.363
  24. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 11, UK MMPB p.374
  25. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 11, UK MMPB p.379
  26. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 13, US HC p.297-303
  27. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 11, UK MMPB p.380/381/383/384
  28. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 12, UK MMPB p.401
  29. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 22, US HC p.450-451
  30. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 22, US HC p.459
  31. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 23, US HC p.468
  32. Gardens of the Moon, Chapter 24, US HC p.481
  33. Gardens of the Moon, Epilogue, UK MMPB p.701/702
  34. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.53-59
  35. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 2, US HC p.68-71
  36. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 3, US HC p.92
  37. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 5, US HC p.131-136
  38. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 9, US HC p.227-228/230-240
  39. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.299-301
  40. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 12, US HC p.331-337
  41. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 8, US HC p.225
  42. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1, US HC p.46
  43. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.301
  44. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 3, US HC p.93
  45. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 11, US HC p.300
  46. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 13, US HC p.363-367
  47. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US HC p.391
  48. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 17, US HC p.453/456-460/461-465
  49. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 19, US HC p.493-494
  50. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 20, US HC p.536-538
  51. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 13, US HC p.368-369
  52. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15, US HC p.395-396
  53. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 22, US HC p.553-554
  54. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 23, US HC p.569-572
  55. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 23, US HC p.573-576/577-580/582-583/584
  56. Memories of Ice, Chapter 5, US SFBC p.179
  57. Memories of Ice, Chapter 21, US SFBC p.770
  58. Memories of Ice, Chapter 25, US SFBC p.987
  59. House of Chains, Chapter 6, US TPB p.207
  60. House of Chains, Chapter 6, US TPB p.206
  61. House of Chains, Chapter 9, US TPB p.272/273-284
  62. House of Chains, Chapter 12, US HC p.350/351-353
  63. The Bonehunters, Chapter 22, US HC p.697
  64. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.713-714
  65. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.722-723
  66. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.727/731/732/735-739/741/745-747/749
  67. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.739-740/741
  68. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.749
  69. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.751-753
  70. The Bonehunters, Chapter 23, US HC p.769-770
  71. The Crippled God, Chapter 18, UK HB p.505-509
  72. The Crippled God, Chapter 24, US HC p.875-876/883-884
  73. Gardens of the Moon, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p. xii
  74. Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.63
  75. Memories of Ice, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.299-300
  76. Memories of Ice, Chapter 8, US SFBC p.300-306
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