Tola

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Not to be confused with Toland Cash.

Tola the Nightmare Knight is an NPC in Arknights. He is one of the deuteragonists of Near Light.

Background

As one of the surviving Nightzmoras, Tola is proud of his direct bloodline from the Khagan and has been indulged in the glorious past of the Khesigs and the nomadic empire. He despises modern civilizations, thinking that they have taken away the true nature of the Kuranta race when they once roamed across the endless steppes. On the other hand, his extreme way of venerating the Khesigs cause others to see him as nothing more than a delusional, sociopathic man.[1]

After losing his parents and tribe back in Sargon, Tola embarked his "Khaganquest," a coming-of-age tradition among some Nightzmoras in which a person must go through an endless journey across Terra. For decades, he had been wandering around the wilderness and other settlements not only to search for his kin, but also to find his battleground where he could fulfil his goal in life.[2]

During his stay in Kazimierz, Tola took part in the famed Kazimierz Major to search for worthy opponents. His battle skills and mysterious background attracted both the media and the Knights' Association, and his illusory Arts in which he could summon phantasmal mirages of the Kheshigs (which Mob likens to summoning the spirits of his ancestors) and releasing a black fog to strike fear into his foes also earned him the title "Nightmare Knight". However, Tola has never accepted knighthood or such title, nor does he acknowledge that he is a competitive knight. He even hates the very system he is participating, thinking that Kazimierz's capitalism has weakened the Kurantas.[1]

Story

Near Light

Tola first appears in Marcin's bar while he is searching for his distant blood kin Batbayar (better known as Vogelweide). His arrival is met with immediate hostility as the gang sees him more of a madman seeking fight. Nevertheless, Tola tells the old knight his intention as well as asking for challenge with the Radiant Knight, whom he believes is the true Pegasus. After he is disappointed for not seeing Margaret's presence, he leaves the bar and tells the rest that Kazimierz was nothing more than a bunch of corrupted knights.[1]

Seeing that Tola has been wandering around the capital for a long time despite having an unofficial knighthood, Vogelweide quietly follows him until the old knight decides to meet him face to face. It is from here Vogelweide learns that the young Nightzmora is following his ancient tradition. When he asks his intention for staying in Kawalerielki, Tola replies that he is here to "conquer" the metal giant so that no only he could fulfil his tradition but also to walk up the spirits of the Kurantas.[2]

Tola's stubbornness of refusing sponsorship or even knighthood has gradually become a threat to the General Chamber of Commerce. With that said, the K.G.C.C. dispatches the Corrupted and Withered Knights to kill him, but the Nightzmora easily defeats them and also breaks each of their arms as a warning before handing them to Toland.[3] During the total blackout of Kawalerielki, he is also preyed by the Armorless Union led by Monique. Even though Tola is able to rival her and her squad, the fight is interrupted with the arrival of the Silverlance Pegasi at the capital.[4]

Tola's match with Margaret arouses excitement to both the audience and the campaign knights who are eager to watch a fight between a Nightzmora and a Pegasus. The fight is indeed a breathtaking one in which both unleash their true talents to defeat their opponents. When Tola uses his illusory Arts, the Major's judges immediately disqualify him for violating Articles III and VII; his Arts not only affects Margaret, but also the audience and the referees. However, the Nightzmora ignores it and continues the battle with Margaret, but Dikaiopolis the Blood Knight immediately interferes and Tola is forced to accept the verdict.[5]

The incident causes Tola to be really unsatisfied. Wanting to have another round with Margaret, he approaches Maria and threatens to bring her sister out or else he would kill her. However, Maria refuses as Margaret needed time to rest. At the same time, Vogelweide arrives for the rescue to stop Tola's madness, and a fight inevitably breaks off between the trio. Vogelweide tries to snap the young Nightzmora from his delusions by giving him a simple question:

Tell me, where is your Khagan? Where is the Kheshig's banner? Where are their tents?

However, Tola refuses, thinking that Vogelweide is too old to understand the Khesigs' glory. But when he sees Maria's determination as well as her Pegasian "golden blood," Tola stands down, admires her character and then leaves. But before that, he proclaims that his fight with Margaret is only halted temporarily.[6]

On the day of his match with the Blood Knight, the two questions about what they are fighting for. The Minoan responds that he is fighting for his own survival despite others treating him as a hero. At the same time, he asks Tola the very question Vogelweide gives to the young Nightzmora earlier:

Where is your Khagan now? Bring him to me!

With that said, Tola reminisces his past before proudly proclaiming that:

The Khagan is wherever the tip of my blade points. I—am my own Khagan!
Tola summoning a "nightmare horde" after declaring that he is, and will always be, his own Khagan

Tola's Arts floods the arena with black fog while summoning a horde of Kheshig mirages to swarm Dikaiopolis. While the Blood Knight is amazed by his will and horror, he continues charging forward, taking a heavy blow from Tola but using his weapon and Arts to disarm the Nightmare Knight and disperse the mirages. After a long struggle, Dikaiopolis strikes Tola with a severe blow, but the latter miraculously remains standing and prepares to resume fighting despite his injuries. The Blood Knight requests that the judges call the match before Tola's frenzy ends up endangering his own life, and they oblige, resulting in a technical knockout (TKO) victory for Dikaiopolis with the Infected rejoicing on the outcome.[7]

Even though Tola has lost the match, he is already satisfied by everything he learned in Kazimierz. After a talk with Vogelwiede, he resolves to make the Northland his final battleground, the place where the Khagan disappeared a thousand years ago.[8] After Margaret's victory over Dikiaopolis, Tola even sounds his horn out of respect for the remaining true knights of Kazimierz.[9]

In the aftermath, Ioleta Russell the Grand Knight meets Tola personally where she explains the origin of the "Khaganquest." She also admires that the legendary Khagan has a living descendant. Although the Grand Knight welcomes Tola for coming back to Kazimierz after finishing his tradition, Tola refuses, stating that what the Grand Knight does to stop the corruption of Kazimierz's knights is futile (and pointing out that one of the Khagan's greatest achievements is dethroning the "pedantic Elders"). In the end, he proclaims that his endless journey has only just begun.

Somewhere in the future, some Ursine border guards find Tola's horn in the tundra at the Northland. And to their horror, they even hear sounds of war drums and spot a mysterious "horde" charging towards the border of Terra's civilization, yet only manage to find a single trail of footprints. While these hint that an adult Tola is ready for his grand conquest, whether he manages to survive remains unknown.[10]

References