Karsa Orlong was a young warrior of the Uryd tribe of the Teblor. He was just into his eightieth year when he set out from his village. Given the long lifespan of the Teblor he was still considered a youngster.
- "His tribe made few distinctions. There was kin, and those who were not kin were the enemy."
- ―Leoman of the Flails explaining Karsa Orlong's behavior as a young warrior
Karsa and his former cellmate Leoman of the Flails went into the Holy Desert Raraku and became warriors in the Raraku Apocalypse. Now known as Toblakai, Karsa became a bodyguard to Sha'ik Elder and then her successor Sha'ik Reborn.
- "Tortured spirits writhe in this bastard's shadow—every man, woman and child that he's killed. Tell me, Toblakai, did those children beg to live?"
- ―Heboric challenging Karsa Orlong about his past
Leaving the Teblor LandsEdit
His grandfather, Pahlk Orlong, was a famed warrior who had, centuries before, gone into the lowlands from the Laederon Plateau and slain many "children", as the Teblor called lowlanders. Karsa grew up on these stories, and believed that was how a true Teblor warrior was to behave. Karsa's father, Synyg, did not approve of this mindset, for he knew Pahlk's exploits to be lies and twistings of the truth. However, no one else knew this, and so Karsa organized a raid in honor of both his grandfather and his god, Urugal the Woven.
In 1159 BS, Karsa took the role of Warleader and left home with his comrades Bairoth Gild and Delum Thord to raid through Sunyd and Rathyd lands and finally, to arrive at the same place where Pahlk had had his escapades. Along the way, his group encountered and freed the Forkrul Assail known as Calm. Calm attacked Karsa, seeing the influence of the Teblor gods on him, but Karsa was barely injured, as Delum Thord defended him and received severe brain damage in the attempt, becoming reduced to a child-like state. Upon reaching the lowlands, Karsa and his party found a small, fortified town instead of the farm his grandfather had raided. During the attack on this town, Delum Thord was killed and Bairoth Gild and Karsa were both captured. Bairoth was slain and Karsa was soon after sold into slavery, and lost his faith in his gods.
After weeks of being chained to a wagon bed for transport to the sea, Karsa and his companion, Torvald Nom, found freedom in the fragment of Kurald Emurlahn known as the Nascent. During their time in this realm, Karsa and Torvald boarded the Silanda, and slew the Tiste Edur on board. They met up with other survivors from the slaving ship that had been wrecked in the Nascent, and returned to the normal world with them, arriving just off the shore of Seven Cities, near Ehrlitan.
Karsa and Torvald Nom left the slavers behind on the shore, and encountered the supposedly-dead Napan Urko, who called himself Keeper and dabbled in archaeology. They later left for Ehrlitan and were soon re-enslaved by the very same slaver, Silgar. The group was captured by Malazan forces after their arrival in Ehrlitan, Silgar claiming Karsa as a slave he had recaptured. Both Silgar and Karsa were then imprisoned, and Karsa wound up with a tattoo on his face marking him as an escaped slave. Karsa and his cellmate later escaped, and fled into the Pan'potsun Odhan.
Later on Karsa learned of his true racial identity as a Thelomen Toblakai, from whom the Teblor people were descended.
Some of Karsa and Leoman's time in Raraku was described in Deadhouse Gates.
Travels in the Jhag OdhanEdit
On his way to the Jhag Odhan, on the advice of the ghost of Delum Thord, he decided to travel through the warren of Tellann. He found an imprisoned Jaghut named Aramala in a tower in this realm, and freed her, in return getting advice on how to find a Jhag horse and also learning about who she was and how she had been captured, something that might have pertained to his own questions regarding the nature of the Teblor gods.
Along his journey, he encountered and fought Icarium, the Jhag known as the Slayer of the Ten Thousand, and Karsa's ironwood sword was destroyed. Neither Icarium nor Karsa were slain, as both were knocked unconscious (Icarium by Karsa, Karsa by Mappo) in the clash.
Shortly thereafter, Karsa Orlong finally met his gods in the Jhag Odhan, who turned out to be T'lan Imass which were shattered in battle millennia earlier. They revealed to him that he was not just their pawn in their plans to regain physical form, but Karsa had also been made into the Knight of Chains. In a Tellann-infused sacred cavern, the seven Unbound T'lan Imass helped Karsa Orlong create an unbreakable sword of stone, into which the souls of Delum Thord and Bairoth Gild went, infusing it with bloodthirst. Karsa, now rearmed and faced with manifestations he could attack, shrugged off the facade of doing as the Unbound told him, and drove six of them off, further destroying the seventh, 'Siballe the Unfound. On his way out, he ran into the Tiste Edur warrior Trull Sengar and his T'lan Imass companion, Onrack. Karsa was not in a mood to kill them, and so the pair luckily survived.
Slightly later on, Karsa met Cynnigig, a Jaghut, and his sister Phyrlis, who helped Karsa obtain the Jhag horse he set out to collect in the first place. Karsa then turned around and rode back into the Holy Desert.
Upon arriving back in the Oasis at the time of the final battle in which the Army of the Apocalypse was crushed, Karsa proceeded to kill several members of the camp with whom he had issues, though he could not find all of his targets. While running around the camp, Karsa encountered two of the Hounds of Darkness, known as Deragoth, who had returned to life, and butchered them with frightening ease. He tied the Hounds' heads to his horse, and sped off into the desert at dawn. When he encountered the Malazan forces, he pronounced that they were no longer his sworn enemy. At least one soldier felt relieved by this (quite arrogant) declaration.
Karsa then set off, vowing to return home and claim the army the Unbound T'lan Imass had set aside for him and use that force to raise his people from the level to which they had sunk.
Karsa, then on his way back to his people, encountered the witch Samar Dev in the Ugarat Odhan. She had broken her foot in an accident and was in danger of dying from thirst. Karsa requested that Samar Dev accompany him to Ugarat, her home city, as he needed supplies and wanted to remain beneath notice. Although Karsa attacked a few guards and did some plain speaking, Samar Dev persuaded the authorities to leave him alone. It helped that he was already notorious in the area for his exploits as Sha'ik's bodyguard.
Being told that a Malazan garrison was holding out in nearby Ladro Keep, Karsa chose to go and talk to them. He found a K'Chain Nah'ruk and killed it after a ferocious fight. However, the locals were still suspicious of him and Karsa decided to leave with Samar Dev.
After a long journey they met a Tiste Edur fleet that was scouting the world to collect champions for their Emperor, Rhulad Sengar, King of the High House Chains. The Toblakai decided to accompany them for two reasons: one, to prove his might against the seemingly unkillable Emperor and two, because he discovered that Icarium Lifestealer was going to challenge Rhulad, too.
Arriving in Letheras accompanied by Samar Dev, Karsa caused quite a stir by throwing a few guards when they annoyed him. Encountering Lifestealer in the city, he chose not to fight him because he discovered that Icarium had Toblakai blood in his veins. There, while waiting to fight the Emperor, he fought a Seguleh, and defeated her. He also met Ublala Pung and asked him to collect all Ublala knew who had Tarthenal blood, who would become his army.
Finally, Karsa met Rhulad Sengar and managed to create a blood ritual that created a portal that brought him into The Crippled God's realm. There, he killed Rhulad's spirit. Refusing to take the cursed sword that made Rhulad immortal, Karsa left the realm thanks to a portal of fire that had suddenly appeared.
The portal returned him to the continent Genabackis where he met up with Samar Dev and the man known as Traveller with whom he began a friendship. Travelling together, they arrived in Darujhistan where Karsa witnessed the clash between Anomander Rake and Traveller, ending with the former's death.
Despite being deeply humbled by the duel, the Toblakai once again proved his might by stopping the newly awakened Hounds of Light from taking Rake's sword, Dragnipur. He was aided by the Knight of Death and, lastly, by his daughters. The two girls were the result of the rape of a mother and her daughter which Karsa had committed when setting out on his original quest.
Whilst in Darujhistan, Karsa Orlong at last persuaded Samar Dev to invite him into her bed. He made a brief appearance in the streets of Darujhistan outside the temple of Fener. As Gesler and Stormy called on the boar god to manifest at the Spire, Karsa entered Fener's temple and destroyed one of the god's tusks enshrined there. The artifact's destruction resulted in Fener's death. Having manifested in the clouds above the Spire, the Ascendant's blood rained down on the combatants of the Battle of the Spire, returning life to the T'lan Imass and Jaghut warriors present, so that their races would continue to walk the world.
Notes and ReferencesEdit
- ↑ House of Chains, Chapter 25, UK MMPB p.966
- ↑ House of Chains, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB
- ↑ House of Chains, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB
- ↑ Deadhouse Gates, Dramatis Personae, UK MMPB p.19
- ↑ Deadhouse Gates, Chapter 15
- ↑ House of Chains, Chapter 1, UK MMPB p.32
- ↑ House of Chains, Chapter 7, UK MMPB p.351/352
- ↑ House of Chains, Chapter 14
- ↑ House of Chains, Chapter 17
- ↑ Reaper's Gale, Chapter 11
- ↑ Reaper's Gale, Chapter 24