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Kilava Onass was a renegade Imass Bonecaster[1] of the Tarad clan of the Logros T'lan Imass, a Soletaken, and the sister of Onos T'oolan. She had served clan chieftain Kig Aven in the heart of the First Empire, but had refused to participate in the Ritual of Tellann, and so did not share the state of undeath like the rest of her people.[2][3]

She was a dark, short, and lithe woman[4] with long, black hair, a wide heart-shaped face, thick broad cheekbones, and an "almost brutal brow ridge".[5][6][7] Her sensuous, almond-shaped eyes were the colour of amber and she wore the fur of a panther across her shoulders. Her smile "transformed her bold features into a thing of beauty",[7] although the panther-like canines were chilling.[8] She had the bowed legs of an Imass.[8]

As a Soletaken, she took the form of a sleek blue-black coloured panther more than twice the length of a man. On all fours, her eyes were nearly level to those of a man.[7]

Her heart was filled with loss, and she wept every night with the sun's setting as if it were ritually demanded of her. She sang songs to the night sky that would send the ay howling with voices of mourning and grief.[9]

In Gardens of the Moon[]

While on their mission to free Raest, Tool told Adjunct Lorn that Kilava had been lost to the Logros clan since long before they had been awakened by Emperor Kellanved.[10]

In Memories of Ice[]

Almost 300,000 years before Burn's Sleep and shortly after the death of her own child, Kilava attempted to save two Jaghut children from the death at the hands of Kron Imass Bonecaster Pran Chole by making a deal with their mother.[11] To hide them, she placed their bodies inside the torn Warren at Morn, mistaking the gate leading to it for a gate to Omtose Phellack and safety. She was confronted there by a horrified Pran Chole who informed her she had inadvertently freed the K'Chain Che'Malle matron held captive within, and condemned the children to eternal torment. He challenged her to take their place, but she declined.[12]

Pran Chole also invited her to the First Gathering for the Ritual of Tellann, but she declined this as well. Then he recognised her as the Defier who had slaughtered her clan. Kilava claimed this act freed herself and her brother Tool, and was one she celebrated and he cursed.[13]

In 1164 BS, Toc the Younger saw Kilava in a dream, appearing as a black panther which slew four undead K'ell Hunters that had mortally wounded Treach, the Tiger of Summer. She then sembled into a living Imass woman and stood before the dying Ascendant and spoke of how he had raged when her people had destroyed the First Empire and slain his kind. But Treach no longer felt any animosity. Kilava noted that an Elder God had plans for him and she suspected he would not find himself at Hood's Gate upon death.[7]

When Toc was awake, the shoulder-high panther appeared before him and sembled into Kilava. She visited with Toc, the mortal Ay Baaljagg, and her brother, Tool.

Kilava: "Hello, brother."
Tool: "Sister."
Kilava: "You've not aged well."
―Kilava visiting with Onos T'oolan[src]

She greeted her brother warmly, but warned that an Elder God was manipulating them for some unknown purpose. As she departed, Tool invited her to the Second Gathering, but she declined saying her ancient crime would not be undone. But she hoped to one day mend the bonds with her brother.[14]

Later, Kilava journeyed to Coral just as the Battle of Black Coral was beginning against the forces of the Pannion Seer.[15] During the fighting in the Seer's keep, she saved her brother's life after he was defeated in a duel by the Seguleh, Mok. She slammed into Mok in her panther form, knocking him unconscious before he could land the fatal blow. Outraged that a mortal had defeated the First Sword of the Logros, only Tool's intervention stopped her from killing the Seguleh. Joined by Lanas Tog, Tool once again invited his sister to come to the Second Gathering with him. But Kilava angrily declined saying she sought the Seer. Tool requested she seek him out after she had found her redemption. Before continuing her search, Kilava found Baaljagg standing over the body of her brother's friend, Toc. The Bonecaster opened a gate to the Warren of Tellann to send the Ay after its mate.[16]

She found the Seer amidst the fighting on the keep's roof and approached him in her panther form bent on vengeance for her brother's friend. The Bridgeburner Mage, Quick Ben, warned her off before whisking the Seer away by Warren to safety in Morn. But Kilava followed after them, knocking away Ganoes Paran before halting uncertainly when Paran transformed into his Hound form. Quick Ben made a deal with Kilava and the Seer, who was revealed to be the young Jaghut boy Kilava had once mistakenly imprisoned in the Rent. The Seer would cast the soul of the K'Chain Che'Malle Matron back into the Rent to free his younger sister. Kilava would receive some sense of redemption, her ancient error corrected. The Seer apologised for killing Toc, but said he was not yet ready to forgive Kilava. Neither was she ready to forgive him for killing Toc. When Quick Ben brought the children to a sanctuary in Burn's Realm, Kilava agreed to the Witch of Tennes' request not to reveal the presence of the unveiled Omtose Phellack there to her people. Kilava departed saying she had now begun her own path to redemption.[17]

Returning to the Malazan world, she sought out her brother who was once again mortal after the Second Gathering. Together they travelled to the Barghast Range to seek a quarry to replace her brother's flint sword.[18]

In House of Chains[]

Onrack T'emlava reminisced about the time when he and Kilava had been mortal lovers shortly before the Imass had invoked the Ritual of Tellann. He had captured an image of his love on a cave wall, an act which was considered a great crime, as depictions of people were forbidden among the Imass. Onrack was to be banished for his deed before the call came for all the Imass to take part in the Ritual. On the night before the Ritual, Kilava killed all of her own kin before being driven off by her brother, Onos T'oolan. That night, an unknown woman came to Onrack's cave and made love to him in the darkness. Afterwards, Onrack had found himself covered in a dried powder which he first took to be his paint, but later thought to be the dried blood of Kilava's kin. Kilava then disappeared, defying the call of the Ritual.[19]

Onrack now thought that by painting her likeness in a sacred cave he had made Kilava immortal, thus preventing her from joining the Ritual with the rest of the Imass. He told Trull Sengar that he felt that the death of her kin which followed and her leaving their clan was all the result of his misdeed.[20]

Spoiler warning: The following section contains significant plot details about Kilava Onass.

It was later revealed that Onrack's mate had been so angered by the betrayal of his love for Kilava that she convinced the clan to banish her, although not before Kilava had killed her kin and left on her own. Onrack's mate continued to be consumed by rage even after her own body was broken and entombed in disgrace by her clan. She grew in power, eventually becoming known as the Whirlwind Goddess, and sought to scour the world of Kilava and Onrack's human beget (see Author Comments below).[21]

Significant plot details end here.

In Reaper's Gale[]

Kilava was with Tool and his wife Hetan when they and their army of White Face Barghast left the warren of Tellann in the aftermath of the Battle of Q'uson Tapi. Tool meant to slay anyone who had survived the conflict--the Awl who had betrayed his friend Toc Anaster and the Letherii who had killed him and his Grey Swords months earlier. But Tool was misinformed and instead witnessed Toc die at Q'uson Tapi just as the Barghast arrived. He was too stricken by grief to lead the Barghast into battle and passed command to Kilava. The Bonecaster was doubtful the Barghast would follow her, but Hetan assured her that their terror of her would ensure their obedience.[22]

While they observed the lopsided slaughter, Kilava and Hetan inspected the corpse of the Awl leader, Redmask. Kilava observed that his mask had been fashioned from the skin of K'Chain Che'Malle Matron's throat. But when they removed the mask they found not the face of an Awl, but a Letherii. They decided they must have been mistaken over the corpse's identity.[23]

Afterwards, Kilava made haste to the Refugium where she had long ago hidden Ulshun Pral, the son she had secretly borne after her night with Onrack. Onrack defended Ulshun Pral from Silchas Ruin before the Gates of Starvald Demelain having just become aware he protected his own son. Ruin knocked Onrack aside unconscious before grabbing Ulshun Pral by the throat to claim the Finnest of Scabandari he carried. Kilava did not actively attack; instead, she warned Ruin that she would not hesitate to kill him if he injured her son, and remarked that the only reason why the Tiste Andii was still alive was because Onrack had survived the fight. Ruin took his prize and released Ulshun.[24]

In the aftermath of the clash, Kilava revealed to Onrack that it had been her indeed, who shared a night with him in his cell after his crime millennia ago and that whilst others considered his act forbidden and horrendous, she thought of it as a gift, as it gave her their son Ulshun Pral. The two reconciled, calling each other husband and wife. When Onrack learned his friend Trull Sengar had died in Letheras, she made ready to join him on his journey to meet with Trull's wife, Seren Pedac.[25][26]

In Dust of Dreams[]

Ryadd Eleis mentioned her as the person who had convinced a small number of Imass to defy the calls for the Ritual. These Imass then came to live in the Refugium.[citation needed] (Information needed)

In The Crippled God[]

Gruntl and Kilava by Sarinjin

She was the lady Gruntle was having dreams about. Later, Kilava fought Gruntle at the gate to Starvald Demelain in a savage battle and emerged barely victorious and heavily injured, awed by the Mortal Sword's power and determination.

In Assail[]

Kilava appeared in Assail to warn the mixed human-Jaghut blood natives there of the murderous rampage of the Kerluhm T'lan Imass. She kept in contact with Silverfox, who pursued the rogue Imass, but always radiated disapproval.[27]

Spoiler warning: The following section contains significant plot details about Kilava Onass.

Once the Kerluhm were pacified in the Salt Mountains, Kilava convinced Silverfox to fulfill her duty to the Crimson Guard, who were also present. It was revealed that Kilava had been present at the vow that created the Crimson Guard because it had drawn on the same power of Tellann that had created the T'lan Imass. The Guard were, in essence, a tribe of T'lan Imass. Silverfox welcomed them. It was also revealed that Kilava had a familiar relationship with Fisher kel Tath.[28]

Significant plot details end here.

Author comments[]

Steven Erikson has clarified that the Whirlwind Goddess' vow to seek vengeance against the human children who were Kilava and Onrack's beget does not refer specifically to blood relatives but to the younger race that inherited the Imass' world.[29]

Notes and references[]