Druss (1166–1226) was a fierce Drenai warrior and hero who fought in many wars, wielding his trademark battle-axe Snaga. His skill in battle earned him a fearsome reputation throughout the world, and he was known by many titles.
Birth of a Legend
Druss was the son of Bress and Alithae, a jewellery maker and his wife. Bress's father, Bardan, was an evil warrior and, when Druss was just a babe, some men recognised Bress as Bardan's son and attacked them. Druss's mother was killed by a horse and Bress fled with his infant son. They moved to Drenan, Dros Delnoch, Mashrapur, Lentria and figure. Three years later he took Druss to live in a small settlement in the Skoda mountains near the Vagria border of Drenai. Druss was fifteen when they moved there.
Druss helped the villagers by felling trees, once saving the life of a child named Kiris who had climbed a tree he was felling. While growing up there Druss met Rowena, a girl who he fell in love with and married. The day after his marriage, after Alarin spoke slightingly of his new bride, he fought with Alarin and broke his jaw. Bress and Rowena rebuked him for his temper. A few days later, Druss was in the woods felling trees when raiders attacked their settlement, killing many villagers and taking Rowena as a slave. Druss killed six of the raiders who entered the woods, but when he ran to the village he found the rest of the raiders gone and his father dying. With Bress's last words he told Druss to take the axe Snaga and find Rowena.
As he was making ready to leave, Druss encountered the hunter Shadak who was following the raiders. The two decided to join forces in their pursuit, and they rested at the settlement with Tailia, the only other survivor. Druss laid the bodies of the villagers in the meeting hall and burned it. He then set out with Shadak and Tailia, however the woman decided a better plan would be to ride by herself to Padia in order to get Drenai soldiers. Druss and Shadak went alone to the raiders' camp by the Tigren, and took out two sentries. Druss waited while Shadak freed the women and went to face the raiders' leader Harib Ka. When Rowena was not among the women, Druss attacked the camp by himself, scaring the horses and slaying many men. He had the Tanner's daughters shoot arrows from the woods, and Shadak joined in the fighting. After nineteen raiders were killed and the rest fled, Druss executed Harib Ka, and found out that Rowena had been taken to Mashrapur by Collan. Shadak left to take the rest of the women to Padia, telling Druss to seek out his friend Sieben before going to Mashrapur.
Druss travelled 20 miles south to a town where he found Sieben conning people with a game of find the emerald. He won the emerald from him and told him he needed his help - however Sieben was short with Druss, who left in anger and went into the nearest tavern. Sieben followed him in and they talked more about Druss's quest, but Druss then insulted Sieben who left. Druss ordered Lentrian Red from the barmaid Sashan, and after drinking two quarts became drunk. He left the tavern where three of Harib Ka's raiders, including Rafin and Zhak, attacked him. Sieben helped him fend off the attackers and then took him to his house.
The next morning Druss woke, and Sashan brought his axe and armour from the tavern. He washed himself and set off with Sieben, who agreed to help him find Rowena. On the way they encountered a Source Priest, who told Druss that he would become a legend and die in 43 years time. Druss ignored his prophecies and the two travelled on, arriving in Mashrapur and booking a room at the Tree of Bone Inn. The first night they wandered into the city, and split up when Druss went to Thieves Row on the wharf. He was confronted by three thieves but knocked one of them away and continued into the Blind Corsair tavern. When inside, Old Thom mistook him for a fighter and showed him the contest that was being held. Druss saw Borcha, one of Collan's men, and asked to fight him in the contest. Druss fought well against Borcha, surviving a turn of the sandglass, and winning 100 silver pieces. His fight impressed the Ventrian Bodasen, who stitched his wounds and accompanied him back to his inn with Old Thom. That night Sieben suggested they move rooms, as men came to kill them as they slept.
The next morning Bodasen came, telling Druss that he had talked to Collan who had agreed to give Rowena back to him. Druss went to the docks, unarmed, but on the way Old Thom warned him that Collan had men waiting to kill him. Druss went anyway, and Collan told him Rowena had been sold to Kabuchek, a Ventrian noble, who was sailing away. Druss charged Collan's men unarmed while Sieben attacked, disguised as a beggar. Collan and his men fled, but Druss was stabbed in the back and hit with a crossbow bolt. Shadak, who had travelled to Mashrapur, killed Collan and joined them, helping to get Druss to a surgeon for his wounds.
Demon in the Axe
Shadak helped Sieben rent a house in Mashrapur, and hired Calvar Syn the surgeon to tend to him. His wounds became infected and he didn't wake for four days, but on the advice of the Old Woman he laid Druss's axe Snaga in his hands, which helped him wake up. Druss spent two months recovering, after which Old Thom suggested he get work felling trees. He went to the Overseer and told him he could organise the work better than the current charge-hand Togrin, who Druss beat up. Druss stayed on site while he worked for five days, on the sixth day Togrin asked him for work, which he agreed to before walking back to his house. That night Borcha came to his house, offering to train Druss for a fighting tournament in one month. Druss agreed.
Over the next month Druss worked clearing the land, and training for the tournament with Borcha in the evenings. He trained Togrin as his apprentice at work and finished the clearing behind schedule, getting a bonus of 10 raq from the Overseer. He refused a promotion to better work, as a ship was leaving for Ventria soon after. Druss entered the fighting competition in Visha and won, beating the favourite Grassin. He settled his debts with the prize money, then secured passage aboard The Thunderchild with Bodasen. He bade farewell to Shadak, Sieben and Borcha, but shortly after they set sailed Sieben jumped aboard, as he was being pursued by the minister Madek's men for cuckolding him. Druss threw Kelva the swordsman overboard to make room for Sieben.
During the journey, Druss and Sieben met Eskodas the bowman. After another archer killed a dolphin, the ship was hit by strong storms. Druss saved both Eskodas and Sieben from being swept overboard, but when the storm abated Bodasen had lost 27 of his men. When they were 4 days from Ventria, they were cornered by The Darkwind trireme, captained by Earin Shad, and two more vessels, one of which was captained by Reda. Druss commanded his captain Milus Bar to sail towards the Darkwind, smashing its oars. Druss then led the remaining warriors in a charge onto the Darkwind's decks, slaying many corsairs and forcing the rest to lay down their arms. Bodasen slew Earin Shad, and the sorcerer Gamara tried to kill Druss with flames, which were deflected by the demon in Druss's axe Snaga. As they left the ship, Patek the giant leapt after Druss to fight him, but Druss knocked him out. They sailed on, escaping the other two corsair vessels.
Bodasen questioned Patek, and agreed to grant him freedom, making Druss swear not to kill him. Then Bodasen explained to Druss that Earin Shad had attacked Kabuchek's ship and thrown all the passengers, including Rowena, to the sharks. Druss was heartbroken. They arrived at Capalis, and Sieben asked he wanted to return to Drenai, but Druss said he wished to kill the Naashanites who had hired the corsairs who killed Rowena. They disembarked and Bodasen introduced them to Gorben, the new Ventrian Emperor. As they had not signed up to fight for Ventria, Bodasen showed them to a deserted inn on Vine Street. From there they explored the town, reaching the shrine of Pashtar Sen. They met a priest there who offered to find Rowena in the afterlife - as he tried, Druss spoke to her, telling her he was in Ventria, but she was cut off. The priest was confused, claiming he had not spoken to the dead.
Druss tried to grasp at the horn of Pashtar Sen in order to raise Rowena from the dead, but it was only an illusion. Instead he went to the city walls and fought with the Ventrians against the Nashaanite besiegers. He fought off four of their assaults, before retiring to the barracks with Oliquar who explained the rules of the Nashaanite engagement. Druss returned to his tavern that night, and spoke with Sieben about the war.
Over the next few weeks Druss fought with the Ventrian warriors, gaining favour with them as he helped them hold the city of Capalis. As the situation reached breaking point, Druss told Bodasen of a plan to attack the leader of the enemy, Shabag, to cause a distraction and allow the siege towers to be burned. As he was about to leave, Gorben arrived and took charge of the plan, but instead of burning the siege towers after Shabag was captured he instead spoke to the enemy, many of which were Ventrians. He persuaded them they were fighting for the wrong side and had them kill the Naashanites who were among them. The siege was broken and Shabag took his own life.
After the victory at Capalis, Gorben reformed his Immortals, a regiment of his best fighters. Druss fought with Gorben, earning the nickname Deathwalker. They retook seven of the Ventrian cities, including Ectanis and Gurunur, two of them after Druss beat Naashanite champions, including Cuerl at Ectanis, in single combat. At the seventh conquered city, only a few hundred Nashaanites remained, and Druss had to fight his rising battle lust not to charge in and slay them all, instead letting them surrender. After the battle he felt empty, and wandered to Spice Street where he was confronted by the priest from Capalis. The priest told him that Rowena was still alive, that she and Kabuchek survived the sharks and corsairs. He also told him that his axe contained a powerful demon that was possessing him and causing him to lust after battle. Druss dismissed that as nonsense, but watched as the axe almost killed the priest and seared his hand.
The Chaos Warrior
For the next few years Druss continued fighting for Ventria, with Sieben writing his deeds into great poems and legends that spread throughout the world. One such deed was his heroic holding of the pass of Kishtay, stopping a Legion of Naashanite troops long enough for Gorben to send reinforcements. A year after the capture of Ectanis, Druss left Sieben at the city and went to the occupied city of Resha in search of Rowena. He found Kabuchek's house deserted, and followed him to the Naashanite city of Pieropolis, where he lost him. Druss then returned to Resha and for four months worked for a builder to save enough money to journey back south. At some point Druss was in the mountains when he was set upon by Naashanites - he fell off a cliff edge and lost his axe Snaga in the river.
While in a village four days east of Lania, the priest from Capalis found Druss and told him that the axe was now being used for evil by a mad warlord named Cajivak. The priest said he would give Druss Rowena's location if he recovered the axe. Druss then travelled to Lania where he went to the All but One tavern, where he was set upon by thieves. He dealt with them, and met the bladesman Varsava. Varsava told him he was attempting to rescue the son of a nobleman who had been kidnapped by Cajivak. Druss said he would help Varsava, and the two set out over the mountains to Cajivak's city. On the way they passed Ruwaq the Tinker and his grand-daughter Dulina being tormented by outlaws. Druss fought them and rescued them, with Varsava killing two with his blades. However he said Druss acted too recklessly and he no longer wanted to rescue the boy with him - they set up camp in a cave that night, planning to part ways. However Cajivak's men discovered their camp, and though Varsava escaped with Ruwaq and Dulina, Druss attempted to fight the men and was taken prisoner.
Druss was taken to Cajivak's castle where he was beaten mercilessly. He was kept in a cell and kept awake with beatings, at first fighting back but soon losing the strength. He was then put into a tiny windowless cell and starved for months. One day Rowena entered his dreams and told him to be strong; that night a man brought him a lamp and food and told him not to give up hope. The man returned the next night with more food, telling him to exercise in the cell to build his strength. He did so for a few more months while the man returned every day, giving him ointment for his wounds and telling him words of encouragement. One day he told the man not to return the next night; instead, Druss didn't take the jailer's food and water, pretending to be dead. The jailer returned with two guards to investigate, and Druss overcame them and locked them in his cell.
He then made his way through the castle, and on the second floor met the man who had helped him. He was led to a room and given more food, and the man explained that the Goddess Pahtai had told him to help Druss. The man then directed Druss to Cajivak's throne room, where the warrior was being entertained by Sieben, who had come to the castle to rescue his friend. Druss threw Cajivak out of his throne and retrieved Snaga, but put down the axe to challenge Cajivak to unarmed combat. Cajivak withstood Druss's beating and grabbed Snaga, but Druss took out his knee and took the axe back. He beheaded the warrior, and all the men let him take Cajivak's throne, held in fear of Eskodas who was waiting on the upper balcony with his bow. Sieben brought Druss a goblet of wine, and the victor told the men that they had no leader now, and if they wished to fight him they would die.
Druss, Sieben and Eskodas then travelled to Lania and rested for two weeks. They then journeyed east through the mountains for another two weeks, before making camp two days from Resha. There the priest of Pashtar Sen returned, telling Druss that Rowena was living in Resha and was married to Michanek, the Naashanite Emperor's champion. He also said that Rowena had lost her memory. Druss then marched to Resha and met Oliquar and the rest of the immortals, who were besieging the city. Druss told them his intentions to scale the walls and retrieve his wife. However, when he learned that Michanek was a valiant and good man, and that Rowena loved him, he became unsure of what to do.
That night Druss was summoned to meet with Gorben, and Bodasen who had been wounded in combat. As they talked and feasted, their campfire suddenly burst into life, and the great demonic bear Kalith rose from the flames, sent by the Naashanite Anindais to kill Gorben. The demon slew many of Gorben's men, but Druss faced it with Snaga and killed the beast, sending it back into the Pit.
The next day Druss did not join Gorben's armies as they took the city of Resha by force. They killed all the soldiers resisting them until only Michanek was left, and Druss accompanied Gorben to see his last moments. Michanek challenged Druss to a duel, but he was badly wounded from battle and fell to his knees. Druss lifted him onto a marble bench and had Gorben's Immortals salute him. With his dying breath he told Druss to take care of Rowena. Druss then ran to Michanek's house, where the eunuch Pudri told him that Rowena had taken poison to kill herself. The priest of Pashtar Sen was with her when Druss found her, and he summoned the surgeon Salitar to help save her life. He gave her a potion but she remained on the brink of death. Druss stayed with her for three days.
The priest returned and told Druss that she was in the Valley of the Dead, and if they had a sorcerer they could send him after her. Druss told the priest that he would venture to the Valley and bring Rowena back himself. Druss died so that he might walk the path of the dead - on the way he was tempted by a woman leading him off the path, but he resisted. He passed an old man who was tempted by her. He passed many other people on the road, before a man in a brown robe directed him to the Fourth Gateway. There he met Brother Domitori, who showed him the path behind the hill to the Valley of the Dead.
He entered the Valley and encountered the Old Woman, who he asked for the location of his wife. She agreed to show him if he promised to give her his axe. She showed him to a rope bridge over a gorge and a river of fire. He crossed the bridge, but in the middle was Bardan, his grandfather, wielding his axe. He fought Bardan, knocking the axe from his hands, and pushing him off the bridge. Then the demon rose from the axe, and told him to use the axe against their next foe - the giant bear demon Kalith, waiting at the end of the bridge. Druss drew the axe, and the bloodlust ran through him, but he overcame it and threw the axe into the fiery river. It was destroyed, and the demon revealed itself to be Rowena. He took her away from the Valley of Death and awoke, to find the Old Woman beside his bed. She told him the demon had been exorcised from his axe.
The Legend of Deathwalker
Later in Druss life, after rescuing Rowenna and moving into the mountains, he attempts to find peace and live out his life but the years and war and the effects of Snaga have taken away his power to be a peaceful man and he often finds himself Restless. He receives a message from the King of the Gothir to come and fight for him against the Nadir. Druss accepts and regretfully leaves Rowenna to fight again. He slaughters droves of Nadir in the war and earns the name 'Deathwalker' and he is seen as the 'Nadir Bane'.
Later he competes in the fellowship games, a set of games between each nations best to strengthen bonds of friendship between the nations. Druss defeated the Drenai champion before the games and takes his place. He defeats the Vagrian champion and mets Klay, a fellow champion. Druss is attacked by men hired by the king of the Gothir because he failed to lose the games for him as a prophecy indicated that he needed to. Druss survives the attack but Klay is wounded with a poisoned bolt from the attackers. Druss hears of a legend that in the Nadir lands there are magic gems that can heal any wound.
Druss and Sieben prepare to travel to the temple, they are attacked by Nadir warriors that has lost their clan and become Notus, they find a body of a women that had been tortured before her death and still has metal needles in her body, Sieben removes. The duo eventually arrive at the temple and met Talisman and Nosta Khan - A Nadir Shaman - and they agree to defend the temple against the Gothir army that is on the march against the Nadir and the temple. Talisman gathers warriors from several tribes and clans, this is strictly against their beliefs but obey and accept Talisman's leadership. The Gothir arrive and are attacked by the Nadir who constantly harrow them as they advance.
The Nadir are horrible outnumbered but they continue to fight on and eventually, Sieben discovers a way for them to help the ancient Nadir hero, Oshikai Demon-bane. Druss and Talisman enter a trance by the power of Nosta Khan, Druss and Talisman help Oshikai to hide his lost love whose spirit was captured by one of Oshikai's former friends who betrayed him.
Talisam finds that he doesn't have the strength or the will to survive and wakes up. Druss continues on through strength of will and spirit alone. He and Oshiaki both find the traitor and discover that he had become a giant demon, to reflect his spirt after he betrayed his friend. Druss and Oshiaki fight against the Demon and defeat it. Oshikai proclaims that he and Druss are brothers on the battlefield. They are able to rescue Oshikai's lover but she cannot travel to paradise with him. She begs him to go and that she will follow one day. Oshikai contemplates giving up paradise to be with her but goes anyway.
Druss awakes and they continue to fight against the Gothir, suddenly a lightning storm appears and it wipes out the Gothir forces. It is discovered that Oshikai's lover was a sorcerers and that she summoned the storm. Druss and Sieben return to the home where Klay was sent to heal. Druss and Sieben have the gems and prepared to save him but they discover that he died in the early days of their journey Druss is angered by this and Sieben discovers that Druss wanted to save him because 'he reminded him of someone else, that he never knew' meaning Michanek, Rowenna's other husband. Sieben cures the other people in the sick house and then travels back to Talisman and gives him the gems, making Talisman become the Uniter because the gems also give the Nadir their Uniter. Druss and Sieben return and Druss attempts to return to his quiet life, he swears no more war but Fate has other plans.
- The King Beyond the Gate
- The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend
- The Legend of Deathwalker
- White Wolf
- The Swords of Night and Day