The Legend: Kahless the Unforgettable
Within the bloody stained pages of Klingon history, there exist the deeds of great heroes with the greatest of them all being the story of Kahless the Unforgettable who forged the Klingon Empire sometime during Earth's 8th century. (VOY episode: "Day of Honor") One of the stories of the great warrior came about when his brother Morath told a lie. Kahless was determined to teach his brother a lesson for he had dishonored and shamed the family name for his act. Instead of fighting, Morath would flee across the valleys and the mountains to the edge of the sea, but Kahless pursued him tirelessly. At the shore, Kahless and his brother fought for twelve days and twelve nights until he repented of his crime. (TNG episodes: "New Ground", "Firstborn")
At some point, Morath betrayed his family by slaying his father. Kahless held his father's lifeless body in his arms and could not believe what his brother had done. Morath would take his father's sword and throw it into the sea as he believed that if he could not possess it then neither would Kahless. This would be the last time the two brothers would speak. Kahless would then look into the ocean where he wept for the sword and his father with the sea filling with nothing but his tears that flooded the shore. His people would beg him to stop, and Kahless did only to walk into the water in order to find the lost sword. He would search the murky depths of the ocean where he held his breath for three days and three nights until he eventually found his father's sword.
In this early history, Kahless was known to have visited the underworld in order to search for his father. At this point, he had invented a combat form known as Mok'bara. Teaching him this art, Kahless helped his father remember his body and returned to the land of the living. (TNG episode: "Birthright, Part II") One of Kahless' noted accomplishments was single-handedly fighting off an entire army at the Three Turn Bridge. (DS9 episode: "Let He Who Is Without Sin...") It was also said that he made use of an archaic three pronged bladed weapon that became the trefoil symbol of his House. (TOS video game: Klingon Academy)
In such times, the leaders of the Klingon people served without honor who were cold blooded individuals that crushed their people's warrior spirit and the worst of these tyrants being Molor, son of Marqagh. For nearly two decades Molor lived a high life while his subjects lived in languish with any dissenters who lost their lives. None were capable of standing against this cruel ruler that held an iron fist around the Klingon people. From this tyranny came a brave warrior that was Kahless who pledged that he would not stand the tyrants injustice anymore and would rather die than live under Molor's rule. (TNG episode: "Firstborn") He promised a brand new glorious empire which was rooted in the principles of honor. He attracted a great many warriors, including the leaders of the Hand of Flame, three honorable masters each of whom were skilled in a single different but equal form of combat. Kahless would take his newly trained army and march them on to Molor's capital where they were ready for battle in order to gain their freedom. (TNG video game: Klingon Honor Guard) Another one of Kahless' companions was a person called Amar who died to help secure the new future for his race. (VOY novel: Full Circle)
At some point in his travels, Kahless is said to have been cared for by the beggars Krak and Grak. He is also said to have overthrown the powerful House of Bronal. (ST episode: "Klingon Fable: The Legend of Gorath")
Among the legends comes the story of when Kahless was condemned to die by the hands of Molor who had been greatly angered by his attempts at inciting a rebellion against him. The night before the scheduled execution, Kahless asked that he be allowed to say his farewells to the moon and the stars as he knew that in Gre'thor he would never see such sights again. Kahless promised that he would come back and for this, Molor granted his last wish as he understood what he meant. The next day, Kahless returned at dawn where he was put to death. (TNG episode: "Birthright, Part II") When the Klingon Empire was forming, Kahless took the symbol of his House and bequethed it to the developing Empire as one of his lasting legecies to his people. This became known as the Heart of Virtue and became a prevalent concept within the warrior culture of the Klingon race. (TOS video game: Klingon Academy)
- This would contradict other aspects of the legends surrounding him unless he was saved by his comrades with the story being told to signify how Kahless kept his word.
Another celebrated accomplishment at the dawn of the Klingon Empire was at the Great Hall at Qam-Chee when the city garrison fled before the onslaught from five hundred warriors who stormed the settlement. Only Kahless and the Lady Lukara stood their ground and their actions sparked the greatest romance in Klingon history. (DS9 episode: "Looking for par'Mach in All the Wrong Places") The two would eventually be married and were nearly killed by Molor's troops who attempted to slay the two warriors. (DS9 episode: "You Are Cordially Invited")
The battle that followed lasted for twenty days and twenty nights with many good warriors losing their lives in that glorious combat. However, the army of Kahless had the advantage by being trained in the arts from the honorable three high masters which resulted in their victory on the twentieth day. In order to survive, Molor fled the city to seek refuge in the nearby mountains. Kahless himself also left the battle where he journeyed to the Kri'stak Volcano where he forged the first Bat'leth from the molten lava with a lock of his hair by plunging it into the summit; the sword of honor. Cooling the metal from the waters of the nearby Lake Lusor, the weapon of the Klingon's people was made. (TNG episode: "Rightful Heir", DS9 episode: "The Way of the Warrior") With this new weapon, Kahless searched the mountains for Molor and the two battled at the highest point of the cliffs that surveyed the plains of Ghol qul. As the battle below continued, Kahless and Molor were locked in mortal combat who fought for the fate of Qo'noS itself. Finally, the battle ended and Kahless emerged the victor. Taking his bat'leth in his hand, Kahless looked towards the sky and unleashed a roar like thunder to Sto-vo-kor to let the Denziens know that a great many brave and honorable Klingon warriors were about to join their ranks. His howl was heard by the two armies below and the fighting stopped as they too took up the death cry. The tyranny of Molor had ended.
After the conflict, Kahless decreed that the honorable three continue to teach their skills to future generations as gratitude for their assistance in the battle against Molor. O'gat, Kollus, and To'Kar swore an oath of loyalty to Kahless and placed their D'k tagh knives on the ground; one by one. The resulting shape embodied strength, duty and sacrifice with Kahless drawing a circle around it which formed the symbol of k'roth ch'kor. This represented honor, the force that united all the Klingon people and became the symbol of the Kingon Empire. (TNG video game: Klingon Honor Guard)
Using the Sword of Kahless, the great warrior would go about many tasks such as the formation of the First Klingon Empire. He would use it to harvest his father's fields and carve a statue of his beloved, the Lady Lukara. (DS9 episode: "The Sword of Kahless") Other famous acts he accomplished included slaying the demonic Fek'lhri and skinning the Serpent of Xol. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens)
A noted story from long ago tells of a storm that was approaching the city of Quin'lat and where everyone took protection within the city walls except for one man who stood outside. Kahless spoke to him asking him what he was doing to which the man replied,"I am not afraid. I will not hide my face behind stone and mortar. I will stand before the wind and make it respect me." Rather than change the mind of the man, Kahless decided to honor his choice and sought refugee behind the walls. The next day, the storm had passed and the man had been killed to which Kahless stated that the wind does not respect a fool. (TNG episode: "Rightful Heir")
In the Eleventh Tome of Klavek, a story is told of Kahless' deed of when he entered into the afterlife in order to rescue his brother Morath from the Barge of the Dead and deliver him to Sto-vo-kor. The legends speak that Kahless would return to the land of the living with wounds that he suffered from in the netherworld. (VOY episode: "Barge of the Dead")
Sometime after being declared Emperor of his people, Kahless was involved in a great battle against the traitor Bardak Linron that lasted many days which became known as the Battle of Fom Kerdeth. A truce would be called with the traitors best general, Renarg, approaching the Emperor's tent with a list of demands. As Kahless went out to relieve himself, Renarg ignited explosives strapped to his body which killed a great score of warriors though the Emperor survived and ultimately lost the battle. (DS9 novel: Vengeance)
The last act of Kahless before he departed for Sto-vo-kor was giving The Story of the Promise where he prophecized to his people that he would one day return. Looking up at the sky, he pointed at a distant star and told his people that he would one day appear at that location. The decades that followed, the Clerics of Boreth would form a monastery at that location waiting for the day that the greatest warrior of the Empire would return. (TNG episode: "Rightful Heir")
The Man: Kahless, Son of Kanjis
The story of Kahless would be far different compared to the legends that the Klingon people speak of. His life began in the Heroic Age in Klingon history where he served as a warchief within the armies of Lord Molor. He would serve his master well and saved him on one occasion against outlaws. This life would forever change during his attempt at collecting 'taxes' from the village of M'iiriah whose inhabitants had no grain or livestock to give. Taking pity, Kahless left the village but Starad, son of Molor, attempted to burn the village down as part of his fathers orders. Kahless would stop the young warrior and fight him to the death. Kahless would owe his life to one of his warriors known as Morath for helping him in the battle. Starads death sealed Kahless' fate as a newly made outlaw.
He and his band of outlaws would travel for many miles until they reached the keep of Lord Vathraq and decided to secretly drink from the river. There they found a group of naked Klingon women which Kahless attempted to calm. He would gain the favor of one of them, Kellein daughter of Lord Vathraq who provided refugee to Kahless and his band as well as food for the night. Kahless attempted to explain that his band had no intention of attacking the tyrant Molor but they did not believe him and Kahless abandoned attempting to explain it. He would journey outside the keep where he was attacked by Kellein and the two had a night of passion where they decided to be mated the next time Kahless returned during the time of the Growing. He would wear a Jinaq amulet till the time would come.
Kahless would continue to evade Molor's army and on one occasion had to escape into the mountains from Molor who led the army himself this time. Morath would lead Kahless and the band to safety through a secret passage through the cold snow covered mountain. They would return to Vathraq's Keep during the Growing but only found the dead to greet them. Molor had sent his army and slaughtered the inhabitants, including Kahless' beloved Kellein.
In grief, Kahless would abandon the band of outlaws and attempted to run from his woes. To him, there was nothing left to live for and he simply wished to join his lover in death. However, this was not to be for not far behind him was his comrade Morath who he grappled for six days and six nights. This would continue until Kahless' mount collapsed from exhaustion and Kahless begged Morath to allow him to end his life. Morath refused, stating that Kahless would have to pay with his life dedicated to being the outlaw who would bring Molor down. Kahless finally relented and agreed to the task. Thus, the beginning of the legend would be born.
Kahless' army would grow from other outlaws who would spread his message that he would end Molor's tyranny once and for all. Among those he encountered was Edronh who Kahless met earlier and this time, had lost his son,Rannuf to one of Molors raids. Kahless would battle another one of Molors army which was led by the tyrants other son, Yatron. The two would battle with Kahless being the victor and robbing Molor another one of his sons but not before being wounded by one of the soldiers of the tyrants defeated army. Kahless urged his warriors forward to take the initiative after defeating the enemy armies leader before he collapsed from his wounds. He would next face a dream where he entered the afterlife and met Kellein who told him to go to the Kris'tak Volcano with a lock of his hair and forge a sword at Lake Lusor which would be the legend of the first Bat'leth. Kellein would disappear from the dream but not before urging Kahless to continue the battle against Molor. The son of Kanjis would next be visited by the recently deceased Rannuf who told him that his father, Edronh, would betray him for the old warrior was weary of battle after his son's death and believed that it would end once Kahless was killed.
When Kahless awoke, he was being tended by a healer known as Bandac and surrounded by his closest warriors. He demanded to know where Edronh was and Morath led him to the place the chief said his warriors would rest. However, when arriving at the region, they found nothing and Kahless' vision had come true. He told some of his warriors to appear as they were sleeping but remained armed while the rest would take hidden positions to engage in a flanking action against Molors coming army. The attack would be a success and Edronh would be dealt with by Morath. Another victory was achieved by Kahless' army.
At the end of the battle, Kahless would demand a blacksmith be brought to him. He also stated that he wanted a hundred of the slain enemy warriors swords for the task. Though distorted by the myth that would happen in latter years, this was how the first bat'leth would be made. He would equip some of his best warriors with these bladed weapons.
Kahless would next lead his army against the citadel of Molor himself in Qa'yarin.
(more to come)
The Final Reflection: Kahless epetai Riskadh
- This section is written from a real-world perspective.
Written nearly a decade before Kahless was even mentioned in Star Trek: The Next Generation, the novel The Final Reflection portrayed a much more modern (but equally revered) version of Kahless. In TFR, Kahless lived much more recently, after the Klingons had warp drive and wars with the Romulans. Commanding a fleet in battle with the Romulans, Emperor Kahless became "He Who is Not Forgotten" after his ship was badly damaged and he had his hand strapped to his command chair, so that no one could say he fled it, or that another had commanded his ship at its end. The crew could then be evacuated to other ships, since Kahless had taken on all of the ship's destiny (and died gloriously in battle). Thus the Klingon exclamation "Kahless' hand!"
- "Kahless' hand!" has also been used in the Star Trek: IKS Gorkon series. Presumably there is an alternate origin for the saying that is compatible with Kahless as portrayed in TNG and subsequent novels.
According to the FASA RPG timeline, Kahless became the first sole Emperor on reference stardate -1/9001 and with the newly-developed warp drive launched an empire in the stars. The first Klingon-Romulan war began on stardate 0/0002.01, and Kahless died winning the final battle of that war on stardate 0/0306.15. (FASA RPG module: The Klingons, 2nd Edition)
The greatest legacy that Kahless bestowed upon his people was the development of the warrior's code of honor, by which all Klingons live their lives. (Decipher RPG module: Aliens) Kahless' teachings of honor are believed to be the key that held the Klingon people together and prevented them from falling into self destructive wars such as those experienced by the Pa'uyk. (TNG novel: Infiltrator) It was also known that Kahless himself oten used stealth against a superior enemy and it was considered an entirely honorable tactic. (DS9 novel: The Courageous)
Some stories of Kahless became known to the Federation not long after first contact between the two cultures. However, given the acrimonious relations between the two, the Federation's understanding of this figure remained extremely limited and flawed, until the peacemaking efforts leading up to the Khitomer Conference. During an encounter with the Excalbian Yarnek, who wished to study the human ideas of good and evil, Captain James T. Kirk and Commander Spock were forced to confront a being presented as, "Kahless the Unforgettable." However, as this Kahless was created only from Kirk's knowledge, he manifested as a QuchHa' Klingon, and exhibited no sense of Klingon honor. (TOS episode: "The Savage Curtain") Years later, Kirk related this experience to Klingon Captain Koloth, who taught him about the Klingon view of Kahless. (TOS novel: In the Name of Honor)
|Emperors of the Klingon Empire|
|Primary universe||Kahless I • Kaldon • Sompek • Reclaw I • Reclaw II • Budlesh • Yorq • Skolar • Yorlak • Mur'Eq • K'Trelan • Kligrok • Kahrl • Todokh • Koth • Krokh the Weak • Grannoch • Kahless IV • Kahless II • J'mpok|
|Kelvin timeline||Chang • Thaal Sinestro|
- "Destroying an Empire to win a war is no victory. And ending a battle to save an Empire is no defeat."
- "A leader is judged not by the length of his reign but by the decisions he makes."
- "There is no victory without combat."
- "Great men do not seek power, they have power thrust upon them."
- "A terrible secret cannot be kept."
- "The battle is never over as long as one of the enemy yet lives."
- "Glory comes from unexpected sources."
- "Opportunity is the partner of every warrior, if only he is wise enough to meet it."
- "The patient warrior is rewarded."
- "Even the most prepared and cunning warrior may die."
- "Darkness will fall. Enemies will circle us 'round and 'round, their swords as numerous as the trees of the forest. But we will not yield. We wear faces of fire."
- "It is easier to defend oneself with two hands than one."
- "When one's emperor commands, no sacrifice is too terrible, no price too great."
- "Watch your back. Friends may become enemies in less time than it takes to draw a dagger."