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Last Goth King

Teja son of Tagila
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  • yakalskovich

Teja was the last king of the Ostrogoths. Historically, not much is known about him except that the already defeated Ostrogoths in Italy elected him their leader in 552 AD, he led them in their last stand against the Byzantine army on the flanks of Mount Vesuvius in the same year, and was killed there, together with much of what remained of the Ostrogoth forces.

However, he is one of the main characters of one of the most popular historical novels from late 19th century Germany, and in this, he is a deeply tragic character. Pale, dark-haired, deeply melancholic and pessimistic even at the height of the Ostrogoths' power in Italy, he only ever wears black and is not just an ethnic Goth, he is a truly Gothic character. From a slightly ironic point of view, you might even call him 'gothy' in the sense of the modern subculture. All his angst and woe stems from the fact that he accidentally killed the girl that he loved when he was very young. This key trauma has forever galled his enjoyment of life. However, he never talks about it.

There is something terribly Wagnerian about the character and his entire canon; as with Wagner's operas, the Nazis liked the book without actually understanding its underlying political message, which can be read as a wraning against imperialist hubris. Nowadays, the book is virtually unreadable due to its very stuffy and convoluted late 19th century style. If anybody wants to try, there is an English translation currently in print as well as the German text available at Projekt Gutenberg (DE) and referenced in the disclaimers. However, I strongly recommend anybody not to bother.

You can not, though, take such a cardboardy character quite serious more then 125 years after his canon was published. Teja might actually work in Milliways if I, as the mun, step away from him and play him with all the ballast and interpretation that the idea of a 'Goth' has accumulated in the decades since his canon was written. Melancholy, solitary, miserable and mopey, a man of few words and a reliable ally in endeavours that he, personally, does not believe in any more, a musician by gift and a soldier by fate, he sounds like a blueprint for many rather stereotypical characters that have appeared in many canons and, in fact, Milliways. I will not seriously present all that angst without a modicum of irony in the narrative.-

When Teja first appears in the first chapter of the novel, he is described as follows:

Truly, from the a man of highly remarkable appearance was approaching.

The full light of the torch fell on a ghostly pale visage that appeared almost devoid of blood; long, shiny black locks hung from the uncovered head like dark snakes, tumbling messily to his shoulders. High-arching black brows and long lashes shadowed melancholy dark eyes full of banked fire, a hooked nose descended sharply towards a finely cut mouth in a smoothly shaven face that was haggard with resigned suffering.

Figure and bearing were youthful still, but the soul seemed matured by pain long before its time.

He was wearing body armour and greaves of black iron, and in his right hand, a battle axe on a long, lance-like shaft was glittering. Briefly nodding his head, he greeted the others and stood behind the old man.
- Translated from the German original on-the-fly.

At the end of his canon, he is about 20 years older, but still looks much the same. He comes to Milliways from the very end of it, having just died in the battle on Mount Vesuvius, killing the (novel's purely fictional) arch-villain Cethegus in his last earthly endeavour. He is still wearing his armour; he is never seen not wearing armour all through his canon. He actually makes his own. Also, he has his small harp (which he dashed against the rocks and destroyed before his last battle) and has his long-shafted double-headed battle axe (even though that ended up in the volcano along with Cethegus' corpse). He knows that he's dead, that he died killing the arch-enemy, and that the last survivors of his people were spared by the victorious enemies, and got away -- so he didn't die in vain.

More physical details and general information:
  • Teja's armour is lorica segmentata, not shiny, but black, dulled on purpose. He always wears it, except when working in the forge. Compared to chainmail, that sort of armour is comparatively light to wear and easy to move in.
  • Teja's axe approximately looks like this; it has a long shaft and two equal blades.
  • Teja's royal or Tyrian purple cloak isn't 'purple' as we'd know it, but a sort of shimmering black-red colour.
  • Teja's name isn't pronounced anything like the Spanish word for 'roofing tile' which is spelled the same. Teja's name is pronounced 'TAY-yah'. Alternative spellings are Teia or Teias.

More rumination about Teja:

Teja is from 'A Struggle For Rome' by Felix Dahn, and is in the public domain since copyright expired in the early 1960s. His entire canon can be found at the German version of Project Gutenberg. The entire historical sources from which Felix Dahn constructed his fictional hero are here, written up by Felix Dahn himself.
He appears here solely for the purpose of role-playing in milliways_bar, from which no profit whatsoever is being made. The player behind the sockpuppet is yakalskovich.

[[On tiny!tags: Teja doesn't need a tiny tag; he has his own proper tag: teja!]]