Tarla was the daughter of Balarg, the weaver of Duthil in Cimmeria. She was the same age as Conan, the son of Mordec the blacksmith. Knowing that a joining of their houses would be advantageous, Balarg was seriously considering a marriage between Conan and Tarla.
When the Aquilonians invaded Cimmeria and occupied Duthil, Tarla caught the eye of Count Stercus, the local Aquilonian military commander and colonial governor. She led Stercus on to make Conan jealous, but did not seriously regard Stercus as a mate. Eventually the Aquilonian, who lost interest in all but the youngest girls, became impatient. He grabbed Tarla from the streets and took her to the forest to rape her. They were waylaid by Conan, who shot Stercus to death with an arrow.
While the two were returning to Duthil, they were waylaid by a pair of Bossonian archers. Tarla jumped in front of Conan and took the arrows aimed at him. Her dying words were "A life for a life, Conan. Make us free." Without the last three words, Conan would have charged into battle suicidally against the Bossonians. Instead, determined to honor Tarla's last request, Conan rallied the Cimmerian clans, who then drove all Aquilonians out of Cimmeria.