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Entry 1:
When I took on the role of Chieftain of Thirsk, when I accepted the beautiful Svenja Snow-Song as my advisor, and then my bride, I never imagined how quickly my life would change.

I went to the isle of Solstheim for some much needed rest, and found it in the mead-soaked halls of Thirsk. But when I met Svenja, my sweet Svenja, I became entangled in an epic story the likes of which I had only read about in fables and childrens' tales.

Svenja told me of the fateful night when a hideous creature known as the Uderfrykte attacked the mead hall, killing rampantly, leaving her the only survivor. The creature was slain by a champion, and Thirsk had its new chieftain, but it wasn't long before they moved on to some new challenge, some new adventure.

And that's where I entered the tale. Svenja Snow-Song, with her ice-blue eyes and flaxon hair, gained my love. Soon after, I became her husband...and the mead hall's new chieftain. In truth, I had never been happier. But Svenja, my dear wife, existed in quiet misery, constantly haunted by the memory of the Uderfrykte, and the damage it had wrought on the mead hall, and the people she had loved. Night after night, my dear woke up screaming, her face etched in horror and a single word issuing from her lips -- "Uderfrykte!"

I feared for my wife's sanity and happiness, but it was she who found a solution to her problem. As a warrior, she told me, she must confront her fear. She must defeat it. The Uderfrykte was dead, yes, but where did it come from? Was it unique? Would more of the creatures come, and wreak havoc once again? Would I, her loving husband, be killed? And so she corresponded with explorers and researchers all across Tamriel, until she found the answer she had been looking for. The Uderfrykte was in fact NOT unique, but the offspring of an ancient Uderfrykte Matron. In order to end the nightmares, in order to prevent any more destruction, we would need to hunt down and kill the Uderfrykte Matron, no matter where or how.

Entry 2:
By Ysmir, we've been searching. And searching. And searching some more. But finally it came -- the lucky break we had been hoping for. The creature has been spotted by a shepherd in the remote highlands of Skyrim!

Entry 3:
We found its trail and tracked it for days, crossing the border into the Imperial Province. Here in the frigid mountains, we met with a local hunter who tried to warn us away from the area, citing an old legend about a deadly creature known as the Horror of Dive Rock -- a monster credited with the slaying of over a dozen people, and just as much cattle. Could this creature be the very Uderfrykte Matron we seek? Perhaps, unlike its child on Solstheim, the Matron moves from location to location, and its this mobility that has thus far prevented its killing or capture?

Entry 4:
we have made camp at Dive Rock, reportedly the highest natural observation point in all of Cyrodiil. From here we can see for miles! So we'll keep watch, night and day. We're close, so very close. Svenja and I can feel it in our very bones. Indeed, Svenja has always been particularly in tune with such things, and is convinced the Uderfrykte Matron is close.

Entry 5:
Svenja has grown tired of my constant writing, but this journal will serve as a record of our travels and defeat against the Uderfrykte. She's staring at me angrily, impatiently, right now as I write, but this entry is too important -- finally, on this third day of watching, we've spotted it -- the Uderfrykte Matron! It is unlike anything we have ever lain eyes on, a giant, troll-like beast that seems to waver and shimmer in the cold -- like the feral form of winter itself! We're off now to trudge down the mountain, weapons in hand, and give the Horror of Dive Rock its due!

Entry 6:
Failure and horror! We engaged the monster with all the force we could muster, but it was a travesty beyond comprehension. Svenja... My beautiful Svenja! My dear wife was killed instantly, consumed by the beast nearly whole! And though it shames me now to write these words, I could think of nothing more at the time than escape. I took flight, returning here to our camp on Dive Rock, to collect my thoughts and nerve.

I haven't much time. After this quick entry I will march out and meet the Uderfrykte Matron once more -- it is sure to track me back to this campsite anyway, so our confrontation is inevitable. Can I even hope to defeat this monstrosity? One thing is certain -- Svenja and I came hastily, unprepared. My steel axe? Useless. My dear wife's Frostwyrm Bow? Completely ineffective (and swallowed whole, still in Svenja's hand...).

The beast appears to be a creature of the cold, and is likely nearly completely resistant to it. I would attack with fire if I had any on hand. But there is no time. No time to travel to a mages guild and procure an enchanted blade, or hire the services of a sorceror. My steel axe will have to do. And so I return to battle now, and hope beyond hope that I may slay the wretched monster that has brought so much grief to so many people. And if not, I take comfort in knowing I will soon rejoin my beautiful bride in the gilded halls of Sovngarde.

If someone is reading this hastily written journal, I am likely dead, and pray to Ysmir that you have had more luck against the creature than I.

Agnar the Unwavering,
Chieftain of Thirsk

Dearest Father,

I know it's always been your dream to travel to Cyrodiil, to climb the lofty mountains and reach the peak known as Dive Rock, and gaze down at the full beauty of the Imperial Province.

but I beseech you -- be careful! We've both heard the tales of the creature known as the Horror of Dive Rock. But in truth, what concerns me most is your lack of...grace. Oh father, you know it pains me to say it, but you're clumsy! You always have been! You can't walk up a flight of stairs without crashing down to the bottom at least once -- how can you possibly hope to scale a mountain range?

Please, father, I beg of you, call off your expedition! I fear the worst.

Your loving daughter,


I know you don't believe me. I know you think I'm just some stupid kid who doesn't know what she's talking about. But the truth is the truth -- you ARE my father.

One night with a scullery maid is all it takes. Or maybe your father deserted you, too, and never taught you the basic lessons of life? Anyway, the past is long forgotten. What matters now is that you come to terms with the truth. I am your daughter, and I will join the Arena as a combatant.

Maybe someday, when I'm Grand Champion, you'll see that we have the same blood, the same tenacity. Until then day comes, I'll train every moment of every day. All I want, all I ever wanted, was to make you proud.
Your loving daughter,
Biography of Queen Barenziah
by Stern Gamboge, Imperial Scribe

ate in the Second Era, a girl-child, Barenziah, was born to the rulers of the kingdom of Mournhold in what is now the Imperial Province of Morrowind. She was reared in all the luxury and security befitting a royal Dark Elven child until she reached five years of age. At that time, His Excellency Tiber Septim I, the first Emperor of Tamriel, demanded that the decadent rulers of Morrowind yield to him and institute imperial reforms. Trusting to their vaunted magic, the Dark Elves impudently refused until Tiber Septim's army was on the borders. An Armistice was hastily signed by the now-eager Dunmer, but not before there were several battles, one of which laid waste to Mournhold, now called Almalexia.

Little Princess Barenziah and her nurse were found among the wreckage. The Imperial General Symmachus, himself a Dark Elf, suggested to Tiber Septim that the child might someday be valuable, and she was therefore placed with a loyal supporter who had recently retired from the Imperial Army.

Sven Advensen had been granted the title of Count upon his retirement; his fiefdom, Darkmoor, was a small town in central Skyrim. Count Sven and his wife reared the princess as their own daughter, seeing to it that she was educated appropriately-and more importantly, that the imperial virtues of obedience, discretion, loyalty, and piety were instilled in the child. In short, she was made fit to take her place as a member of the new ruling class of Morrowind.

The girl Barenziah grew in beauty, grace, and intelligence. She was sweet-tempered, a joy to her adoptive parents and their five young sons, who loved her as their elder sister. Other than her appearance, she differed from young girls of her class only in that she had a strong empathy for the woods and fields, and was wont to escape her household duties to wander there at times.

Barenziah was happy and content until her sixteenth year, when a wicked orphan stable-boy, whom she had befriended out of pity, told her he had overheard a conspiracy between her guardian, Count Sven, and a Redguard visitor to sell her as a concubine in Rihad, as no Nord or Breton would marry her on account of her black skin, and no Dark Elf would have her because of her foreign upbringing.

"Whatever shall I do?" the poor girl said, weeping and trembling, for she had been brought up in innocence and trust, and it never occurred to her that her friend the stable-boy would lie to her.

The wicked boy, who was called Straw, said that she must run away if she valued her virtue, but that he would come with her as her protector. Sorrowfully, Barenziah agreed to this plan; and that very night, she disguised herself as a boy and the pair escaped to the nearby city of Whiterun. After a few days there, they managed to get jobs as guards for a disreputable merchant caravan. The caravan was heading east by side roads in a mendacious attempt to elude the lawful tolls charged on the imperial highways. Thus the pair eluded pursuit until they reached the city of Rifton, where they ceased their travels for a time. They felt safe in Rifton, close as it was to the Morrowind border so that Dark Elves were enough of a common sight.


Biography of Queen Barenziah, Vol 2
by Stern Gamboge, Imperial Scribe

he first volume of this series told the story of Barenziah's origin-heiress to the throne of Mournhold until her father rebelled against His Excellency Tiber Septim I and brought ruin to the province of Morrowind. Thanks largely to the benevolence of the Emperor, the child Barenziah was not destroyed with her parents, but reared by Count Sven of Darkmoor, a loyal Imperial trustee. She grew up into a beautiful and pious child, trustful of her guardian's care. This trust, however, was exploited by a wicked orphan stable boy at Count Sven's estate, who with lies and fabrications tricked her into fleeing Darkmoor with him when she turned sixteen. After many adventures on the road, they settled in Rifton, a Skyrim city near the Morrowind borders.

The stable boy, Straw, was not altogether evil. He loved Barenziah in his own selfish fashion, and deception was the only way he could think of that would cement possession of her. She, of course, felt only friendship toward him, but he was hopeful that she would gradually change her mind. He wanted to buy a small farm and settle down into a comfortable marriage, but at the time his earnings were barely enough to feed and shelter them.

After only a short time in Rifton, Straw fell in with a bold, villainous Khajiit thief named Therris, who proposed that they rob the Imperial Commandant's house in the central part of the city. Therris said that he had a client, a traitor to the Empire, who would pay well for any information they could gather there. Barenziah happened to overhear this plan and was appalled. She stole away from their rooms and walked the streets of Rifton in desperation, torn between her loyalty to the Empire and her love for her friends.

In the end, loyalty to the Empire prevailed over personal friendship, and she approached the Commandant's house, revealed her true identity, and warned him of her friends' plan. The Commandant listened to her tale, praised her courage, and assured her that no harm would come to her. He was none other than General Symmachus, who had been scouring the countryside in search of her since her disappearance, and had just arrived in Rifton, hot in pursuit. He took her into his custody, and informed her that, far from being sent away to be sold, she was to be reinstated as the Queen of Mournhold as soon as she turned eighteen. Until that time, she was to live with the Septim family in the newly built Imperial City, where she would learn something of government and be presented at the Imperial Court.

At the Imperial City, Barenziah befriended the Emperor Tiber Septim during the middle years of his reign. Tiber's children, particularly his eldest son and heir Pelagius, came to love her as a sister. The ballads of the day praised her beauty, chastity, wit, and learning. On her eighteenth birthday, the entire Imperial City turned out to watch her farewell procession preliminary to her return to her native land. Sorrowful as they were at her departure, all knew that she was ready for her glorious destiny as sovereign of the kingdom of Mournhold.

Biography of Queen Barenziah, Vol 3
by Stern Gamboge, Imperial Scribe

n the second volume of this series, it was told how Barenziah was kindly welcomed to the newly constructed Imperial City by the Emperor Tiber Septim and his family, who treated her like a long-lost daughter during her almost one-year stay. After several happy months there learning her duties as vassal queen under the Empire, the Imperial General Symmachus escorted her to Mournhold where she took up her duties as Queen of her people under his wise guidance. Gradually they came to love one another and were married and crowned in a splendid ceremony at which the Emperor himself officiated.

After several hundred years of marriage, a son, Helseth, was born to the royal couple amid celebration and joyous prayer. Although it was not publicly known at the time, it was shortly before this blessed event that the Staff of Chaos had been stolen from its hiding place deep in the Mournhold mines by a clever, enigmatic bard known only as the Nightingale.

Eight years after Helseth's birth, Barenziah bore a daughter, Morgiah, named after Symmachus' mother, and the royal couple's joy seemed complete. Alas, shortly after that, relations with the Empire mysteriously deteriorated, leading to much civil unrest in Mournhold. After fruitless investigations and attempts at reconciliation, in despair Barenziah took her young children and travelled to the Imperial City herself to seek the ear of then Emperor Uriel Septim VII. Symmachus remained in Mournhold to deal with the grumbling peasants and annoyed nobility, and do what he could to stave off an impending insurrection.

During her audience with the Emperor, Barenziah, through her magical arts, came to realize to her horror and dismay that the so-called Emperor was an impostor, none other than the bard Nightingale who had stolen the Staff of Chaos. Exercising great self-control she concealed this realization from him. That evening, news came that Symmachus had fallen in battle with the revolting peasants of Mournhold, and that the kingdom had been taken over by the rebels. Barenziah, at this point, did not know where to seek help, or from whom.

The gods, that fateful night, were evidently looking out for her as if in redress of her loss. King Eadwyre of High Rock, an old friend of Uriel Septim and Symmachus, came by on a social call. He comforted her, pledged his friendship-and furthermore, confirmed her suspicions that the Emperor was indeed a fraud, and none other than Jagar Tharn, the Imperial Battlemage, and one of the Nightingale's many alter egos. Tharn had supposedly retired into seclusion from public work and installed his assistant, Ria Silmane, in his stead. The hapless assistant was later put to death under mysterious circumstances-supposedly a plot implicating her had been uncovered, and she had been summarily executed. However, her ghost had appeared to Eadwyre in a dream and revealed to him that the true Emperor had been kidnapped by Tharn and imprisoned in an alternate dimension. Tharn had then used the Staff of Chaos to kill her when she attempted to warn the Elder Council of his nefarious plot.

Together, Eadwyre and Barenziah plotted to gain the false Emperor's confidence. Meanwhile, another friend of Ria's, known only as the Champion, who apparently possessed great, albeit then untapped, potential, was incarcerated at the Imperial Dungeons. However, she had access to his dreams, and she told him to bide his time until she could devise a plan that would effect his escape. Then he could begin on his mission to unmask the impostor.

Barenziah continued to charm, and eventually befriended, the ersatz Emperor. By contriving to read his secret diary, she learned that he had broken the Staff of Chaos into eight pieces and hidden them in far-flung locations scattered across Tamriel. She managed to obtain a copy of the key to Ria's friend's cell and bribed a guard to leave it there as if by accident. Their Champion, whose name was unknown even to Barenziah and Eadwyre, made his escape through a shift gate Ria had opened in an obscure corner of the Imperial Dungeons using her already failing powers. The Champion was free at last, and almost immediately went to work.

It took Barenziah several more months to learn the hiding places of all eight Staff pieces through snatches of overheard conversation and rare glances at Tharn's diary. Once she had the vital information, however -- which she communicated to Ria forthwith, who in turn passed it on to the Champion-she and Eadwyre lost no time. They fled to Wayrest, his ancestral kingdom in the province of High Rock, where they managed to fend off the sporadic efforts of Tharn's henchmen to haul them back to the Imperial City, or at the very least obtain revenge. Tharn, whatever else might be said of him, was no one's fool-save perhaps Barenziah's -- and he concentrated most of his efforts toward tracking down and destroying the Champion.

As all now know, the courageous, indefatigable, and forever nameless Champion was successful in reuniting the eight sundered pieces of the Staff of Chaos. With it, he destroyed Tharn and rescued the true Emperor, Uriel Septim VII. Following what has come to be known as the Restoration, a grand state memorial service was held for Symmachus at the Imperial City, befitting the man who had served the Septim Dynasty for so long and so well.

Barenziah and good King Eadwyre had come to care deeply for one another during their trials and adventures, and were married in the same year shortly after their flight from the Imperial City. Her two children from her previous marriage with Symmachus remained with her, and a regent was appointed to rule Mournhold in her absence.

Up to the present time, Queen Barenziah has been in Wayrest with Prince Helseth and Princess Morgiah. She plans to return to Mournhold after Eadwyre's death. Since he was already elderly when they wed, she knows that that event, alas, could not be far off as the Elves reckon time. Until then, she shares in the government of the kingdom of Wayrest with her husband, and seems glad and content with her finally quiet, and happily unremarkable, life.

Biography of Queen Barenziah, Vol 3
by Stern Gamboge, Imperial Scribe

n the second volume of this series, it was told how Barenziah was kindly welcomed to the newly constructed Imperial City by the Emperor Tiber Septim and his family, who treated her like a long-lost daughter during her almost one-year stay. After several happy months there learning her duties as vassal queen under the Empire, the Imperial General Symmachus escorted her to Mournhold where she took up her duties as Queen of her people under his wise guidance. Gradually they came to love one another and were married and crowned in a splendid ceremony at which the Emperor himself officiated.

After several hundred years of marriage, a son, Helseth, was born to the royal couple amid celebration and joyous prayer. Although it was not publicly known at the time, it was shortly before this blessed event that the Staff of Chaos had been stolen from its hiding place deep in the Mournhold mines by a clever, enigmatic bard known only as the Nightingale.

Eight years after Helseth's birth, Barenziah bore a daughter, Morgiah, named after Symmachus' mother, and the royal couple's joy seemed complete. Alas, shortly after that, relations with the Empire mysteriously deteriorated, leading to much civil unrest in Mournhold. After fruitless investigations and attempts at reconciliation, in despair Barenziah took her young children and travelled to the Imperial City herself to seek the ear of then Emperor Uriel Septim VII. Symmachus remained in Mournhold to deal with the grumbling peasants and annoyed nobility, and do what he could to stave off an impending insurrection.

During her audience with the Emperor, Barenziah, through her magical arts, came to realize to her horror and dismay that the so-called Emperor was an impostor, none other than the bard Nightingale who had stolen the Staff of Chaos. Exercising great self-control she concealed this realization from him. That evening, news came that Symmachus had fallen in battle with the revolting peasants of Mournhold, and that the kingdom had been taken over by the rebels. Barenziah, at this point, did not know where to seek help, or from whom.

The gods, that fateful night, were evidently looking out for her as if in redress of her loss. King Eadwyre of High Rock, an old friend of Uriel Septim and Symmachus, came by on a social call. He comforted her, pledged his friendship-and furthermore, confirmed her suspicions that the Emperor was indeed a fraud, and none other than Jagar Tharn, the Imperial Battlemage, and one of the Nightingale's many alter egos. Tharn had supposedly retired into seclusion from public work and installed his assistant, Ria Silmane, in his stead. The hapless assistant was later put to death under mysterious circumstances-supposedly a plot implicating her had been uncovered, and she had been summarily executed. However, her ghost had appeared to Eadwyre in a dream and revealed to him that the true Emperor had been kidnapped by Tharn and imprisoned in an alternate dimension. Tharn had then used the Staff of Chaos to kill her when she attempted to warn the Elder Council of his nefarious plot.

Together, Eadwyre and Barenziah plotted to gain the false Emperor's confidence. Meanwhile, another friend of Ria's, known only as the Champion, who apparently possessed great, albeit then untapped, potential, was incarcerated at the Imperial Dungeons. However, she had access to his dreams, and she told him to bide his time until she could devise a plan that would effect his escape. Then he could begin on his mission to unmask the impostor.

Barenziah continued to charm, and eventually befriended, the ersatz Emperor. By contriving to read his secret diary, she learned that he had broken the Staff of Chaos into eight pieces and hidden them in far-flung locations scattered across Tamriel. She managed to obtain a copy of the key to Ria's friend's cell and bribed a guard to leave it there as if by accident. Their Champion, whose name was unknown even to Barenziah and Eadwyre, made his escape through a shift gate Ria had opened in an obscure corner of the Imperial Dungeons using her already failing powers. The Champion was free at last, and almost immediately went to work.

It took Barenziah several more months to learn the hiding places of all eight Staff pieces through snatches of overheard conversation and rare glances at Tharn's diary. Once she had the vital information, however -- which she communicated to Ria forthwith, who in turn passed it on to the Champion-she and Eadwyre lost no time. They fled to Wayrest, his ancestral kingdom in the province of High Rock, where they managed to fend off the sporadic efforts of Tharn's henchmen to haul them back to the Imperial City, or at the very least obtain revenge. Tharn, whatever else might be said of him, was no one's fool-save perhaps Barenziah's -- and he concentrated most of his efforts toward tracking down and destroying the Champion.

As all now know, the courageous, indefatigable, and forever nameless Champion was successful in reuniting the eight sundered pieces of the Staff of Chaos. With it, he destroyed Tharn and rescued the true Emperor, Uriel Septim VII. Following what has come to be known as the Restoration, a grand state memorial service was held for Symmachus at the Imperial City, befitting the man who had served the Septim Dynasty for so long and so well.

Barenziah and good King Eadwyre had come to care deeply for one another during their trials and adventures, and were married in the same year shortly after their flight from the Imperial City. Her two children from her previous marriage with Symmachus remained with her, and a regent was appointed to rule Mournhold in her absence.

Up to the present time, Queen Barenziah has been in Wayrest with Prince Helseth and Princess Morgiah. She plans to return to Mournhold after Eadwyre's death. Since he was already elderly when they wed, she knows that that event, alas, could not be far off as the Elves reckon time. Until then, she shares in the government of the kingdom of Wayrest with her husband, and seems glad and content with her finally quiet, and happily unremarkable, life.

A Brief History of the Empire
Part One
by Stronach k'Thojj III
Imperial Historian

efore the rule of Tiber Septim, all Tamriel was in chaos. The poet Tracizis called that period of continuous unrest "days and nights of blood and venom." The kings were a petty lot of grasping tyrants, who fought Tiber's attempts to bring order to the land. But they were as disorganized as they were dissolute, and the strong hand of Septim brought peace forcibly to Tamriel. The year was 2E 896. The following year, the Emperor declared the beginning of a new Era-thus began the Third Era, Year Aught.

For thirty-eight years, the Emperor Tiber reigned supreme. It was a lawful, pious, and glorious age, when justice was known to one and all, from serf to sovereign. On Tiber's death, it rained for an entire fortnight as if the land of Tamriel itself was weeping.

The Emperor's grandson, Pelagius, came to the throne. Though his reign was short, he was as strong and resolute as his father had been, and Tamriel could have enjoyed a continuation of the Golden Age. Alas, an unknown enemy of the Septim Family hired that accursed organization of cutthroats, the Dark Brotherhood, to kill the Emperor Pelagius I as he knelt at prayer at the Temple of the One in the Imperial City. Pelagius I's reign lasted less than three years.

Pelagius had no living children, so the Crown Imperial passed to his first cousin, the daughter of Tiber's brother Agnorith. Kintyra, former Queen of Silvenar, assumed the throne as Kintyra I. Her reign was blessed with prosperity and good harvests, and she herself was an avid patroness of art, music, and dance.

Kintyra's son was crowned after her death, the first Emperor of Tamriel to use the imperial name Uriel. Uriel I was the great lawmaker of the Septim Dynasty, and a promoter of independent organizations and guilds. Under his kind but firm hand, the Fighters Guild and the Mages Guild increased in prominence throughout Tamriel. His son and successor Uriel II reigned for eighteen years, from the death of Uriel I in 3E64 to Pelagius II's accession in 3E82. Tragically, the rule of Uriel II was cursed with blights, plagues, and insurrections. The tenderness he inherited from his father did not serve Tamriel well, and little justice was done.

Pelagius II inherited not only the throne from his father, but the debt from the latter's poor financial and judicial management. Pelagius dismissed all of the Elder Council, and allowed only those willing to pay great sums to resume their seats. He encouraged similar acts among his vassals, the kings of Tamriel, and by the end of his seventeen year reign, Tamriel had returned to prosperity. His critics, however, have suggested that any advisor possessed of wisdom but not of gold had been summarily ousted by Pelagius. This may have led to some of the troubles his son Antiochus faced when he in turn became Emperor.

Antiochus was certainly one of the more flamboyant members of the usually austere Septim Family. He had numerous mistresses and nearly as many wives, and was renowned for the grandeur of his dress and his high good humor. Unfortunately, his reign was rife with civil war, surpassing even that of his grandfather Uriel II. The War of the Isle in 3E110, twelve years after Antiochus assumed the throne, nearly took the province of Summurset Isle away from Tamriel. The united alliance of the kings of Summurset and Antiochus only managed to defeat King Orghum of the island-kingdom of Pyandonea due to a freak storm. Legend credits the Psijic Order of the Isle of Artaeum with the sorcery behind the tempest.

The story of Kintyra II, heiress to her father Antiochus' throne, is certainly one of the saddest tales in imperial history. Her first cousin Uriel, son of Queen Potema of Solitude, accused Kintyra of being a bastard, alluding to the infamous decadence of the Imperial City during her father's reign. When this accusation failed to stop her coronation, Uriel bought the support of several disgruntled kings of High Rock, Skyrim, and Morrowind, and with Queen Potema's assistance, he coordinated three attacks on the Septim Empire.

The first attack occurred in the Iliac Bay region, which separates High Rock and Hammerfell. Kintyra's entourage was massacred and the Empress taken captive. For two years, Kintyra II languished in an Imperial prison believed to be somewhere in Glenpoint or Glenmoril before she was slain in her cell under mysterious circumstances. The second attack was on a series of Imperial garrisons along the coastal Morrowind islands. The Empress' consort Kontin Arynx fell defending the forts. The third and final attack was a siege of the Imperial City itself, occurring after the Elder Council had split up the army to attack western High Rock and eastern Morrowind. The weakened government had little defence against Uriel's determined aggression, and capitulated after only a fortnight of resistance. Uriel took the throne that same evening and proclaimed himself Uriel III, Emperor of Tamriel. The year was 3E 121. Thus began the War of the Red Diamond, described in Volume II of this series.
A Brief History of the Empire
Part Two
by Stronach k'Thojj III
Imperial Historian

olume I of this series described in brief the lives of the first eight Emperors of the Septim Dynasty, beginning with the glorious Tiber Septim and ending with his great, great, great, great, grandniece Kintyra II. Kintyra's murder in Glenpoint while in captivity is considered by some to be the end of the pure strain of Septim blood in the imperial family. Certainly it marks the end of something significant.

Uriel III not only proclaimed himself Emperor of Tamriel, but also Uriel Septim III, taking the eminent surname as a title. In truth, his surname was Mantiarco from his father's line. In time, Uriel III was deposed and his crimes reviled, but the tradition of taking the name Septim as a title for the Emperor of Tamriel did not die with him.

For six years, the War of the Red Diamond (which takes its name from the Septim Family's famous badge) tore the Empire apart. The combatants were the three surviving children of Pelagius II-Potema, Cephorus, and Magnus-and their various offspring. Potema, of course, supported her son Uriel III, and had the combined support of all of Skyrim and northern Morrowind. With the efforts of Cephorus and Magnus, however, the province of High Rock turned coat. The provinces of Hammerfell, Summurset Isle, Valenwood, Elsweyr, and Black Marsh were divided in their loyalty, but most kings supported Cephorus and Magnus.

In 3E127, Uriel III was captured at the Battle of Ichidag in Hammerfell. En route to his trial in the Imperial City, a mob overtook his prisoner's carriage and burned him alive within it. His captor and uncle continued on to the Imperial City, and by common acclaim was proclaimed Cephorus I, Emperor of Tamriel.

Cephorus' reign was marked by nothing but war. By all accounts, he was a kind and intelligent man, but what Tamriel needed was a great warrior -- and he, fortunately, was that. It took an additional ten years of constant warfare for him to defeat his sister Potema. The so-called Wolf Queen of Solitude who died in the siege of her city-state in the year 137. Cephorus survived his sister by only three years. He never had time during the war years to marry, so it was his brother, the fourth child of Pelagius II, who assumed the throne.

The Emperor Magnus was already elderly when he took up the imperial diadem, and the business of punishing the traitorous kings of the War of the Red Diamond drained much of his remaining strength. Legend accuses Magnus' son and heir Pelagius III of patricide, but that seems highly unlikely-for no other reason than that Pelagius was King of Solitude following the death of Potema, and seldom visited the Imperial City.

Pelagius III, sometimes called Pelagius the Mad, was proclaimed Emperor in the 145th year of the Third Era. Almost from the start, his eccentricities of behaviour were noted at court. He embarrassed dignitaries, offended his vassal kings, and on one occasion marked the end of an imperial grand ball by attempting to hang himself. His long-suffering wife was finally awarded the Regency of Tamriel, and Pelagius III was sent to a series of healing institutions and asylums until his death in 3E153 at the age of thirty-four.

The Empress Regent of Tamriel was proclaimed Empress Katariah I upon the death of her husband. Some who do not mark the end of the Septim bloodline with the death of Kintyra II consider the ascendancy of this Dark Elf woman the true mark of its decline. Her defenders, on the other hand, assert that though Katariah was not descended from Tiber, the son she had with Pelagius was, so the imperial chain did continue. Despite racist assertions to the contrary, Katariah's forty-six-year reign was one of the most celebrated in Tamriel's history. Uncomfortable in the Imperial City, Katariah travelled extensively throughout the Empire such as no Emperor ever had since Tiber's day. She repaired much of the damage that previous emperor's broken alliances and bungled diplomacy created. The people of Tamriel came to love their Empress far more than the nobility did. Katariah's death in a minor skirmish in Black Marsh is a favorite subject of conspiracy minded historians. The Sage Montalius' discovery, for instance, of a disenfranchised branch of the Septim Family and their involvement with the skirmish was a revelation indeed.

When Cassynder assumed the throne upon the death of his mother, he was already middle-aged. Only half Elven, he aged like a Breton. In fact, he had left the rule of Wayrest to his half-brother Uriel due to poor health. Nevertheless, as the only true blood relation of Pelagius and thus Tiber, he was pressed into accepting the throne. To no one's surprise, the Emperor Cassynder's reign did not last long. In two years he joined his predecessors in eternal slumber.

Uriel Lariat, Cassynder's half-brother, and the child of Katariah I and her Imperial consort Gallivere Lariat (after the death of Pelagius III), left the kingdom of Wayrest to reign as Uriel IV. Legally, Uriel IV was a Septim: Cassynder had adopted him into the royal family when he had become King of Wayrest. Nevertheless, to the Council and the people of Tamriel, he was a bastard child of Katariah. Uriel did not possess the dynamism of his mother, and his long forty-three-year reign was a hotbed of sedition.

Uriel IV's story is told in the third volume of this series.
A Brief History of the Empire
Part Three
by Stronach k'Thojj III
Imperial Historian

he first volume of this series told in brief the story of the succession of the first eight Emperors of the Septim Dynasty, from Tiber I to Kintyra II. The second volume described the War of the Red Diamond and the six Emperors that followed its aftermath, from Uriel III to Cassynder I. At the end of that volume, it was described how the Emperor Cassynder's half-brother Uriel IV assumed the throne of the Empire of Tamriel.

It will be recalled that Uriel IV was not a Septim by birth. His mother, though she reigned as Empress for many years, was a Dark Elf married to a true Septim Emperor, Pelagius III. Uriel's father was actually Katariah I's consort after Pelagius' death, a Breton nobleman named Gallivere Lariat. Before taking the throne of Empire, Cassynder I had ruled the kingdom of Wayrest, but poor health had forced him to retire. Cassynder had no children, so he legally adopted his half-brother Uriel and abdicated the kingdom. Seven years later, Cassynder inherited the Empire at the death of his mother. Three years after that, Uriel once again found himself the recipient of Cassynder's inheritance.

Uriel IV's reign was a long and difficult one. Despite being a legally adopted member of the Septim Family, and despite the Lariat Family's high position -- indeed, they were distant cousins of the Septims -- few of the Elder Council could be persuaded to accept him fully as a blood descendant of Tiber. The Council had assumed much responsibility during Katariah I's long reign and Cassynder I's short one, and a strong-willed "alien" monarch like Uriel IV found it impossible to command their unswerving fealty. Time and again the Council and Emperor were at odds, and time and again the Council won the battles. Since the days of Pelagius II, the Elder Council had consisted of the wealthiest men and women in the Empire, and the power they wielded was conclusive.

The Council's last victory over Uriel IV was posthumous. Andorak, Uriel IV's son, was disinherited by vote of Council, and a cousin more closely related to the original Septim line was proclaimed Cephorus II in 3E247. For the first nine years of Cephorus II's reign, those loyal to Andorak battled the Imperial forces. In an act that the Sage Eraintine called "Tiber Septim's heart beating no more," the Council granted Andorak the High Rock kingdom of Shornhelm to end the war, and Andorak's descendants still rule there.

By and large, Cephorus II had foes that demanded more of his attention than Andorak. "From out of a cimmerian nightmare," in the words of Eraintine, a man who called himself the Camoran Usurper led an army of Daedra and undead warriors on a rampage through Valenwood, conquering kingdom after kingdom. Few could resist his onslaughts, and as month turned to bloody month in the year 3E249, even fewer tried. Cephorus II sent more and more mercenaries into Hammerfell to stop the Usurper's northward march, but they were bribed or slaughtered and raised as undead.

The story of the Camoran Usurper deserves a book of its own. (It is recommended that the reader find Palaux Illthre's The Fall of the Usurper for more detail.) In short, however, the destruction of the forces of the Usurper had little do with the efforts of the Emperor. The result was a great regional victory and an increase in hostility toward the seemingly inefficacious Empire.

Uriel V, Cephorus II's son and successor, swivelled opinion back toward the latent power of the Empire. Turning the attention of Tamriel away from internal strife, Uriel V embarked on a series of invasions beginning almost from the moment he took the throne in 3E268. Uriel V conquered Roscrea in 271, Cathnoquey in 276, Yneslea in 279, and Esroniet in 284. In 3E288, he embarked on his most ambitious enterprise, the invasion of the continent kingdom of Akavir. This ultimately proved a failure, for two years later Uriel V was killed in Akavir on the battlefield of Ionith. Nevertheless, Uriel V holds a reputation second only to Tiber as one of the two great Warrior Emperors of Tamriel.

The last four Emperors, beginning with Uriel V's infant son, are described in the fourth and final volume of this series.
A Brief History of the Empire
Part Four
by Stronach k'Thojj III
Imperial Historian

he first book of this series described, in brief, the first eight Emperors of the Septim Dynasty beginning with Tiber I. The second volume described the War of the Red Diamond and the six Emperors who followed. The third volume described the troubles of the next three Emperors-the frustrated Uriel IV, the ineffectual Cephorus II, and the heroic Uriel V.

On Uriel V's death across the sea in distant, hostile Akavir, Uriel VI was but five years old. In fact, Uriel VI was born only shortly before his father left for Akavir. Uriel V's only other progeny, by a morganatic alliance, were the twins Morihatha and Eloisa, who had been born a month after Uriel V left. Uriel VI was crowned in the 290th year of the Third Era. The Imperial Consort Thonica, as the boy's mother, was given a restricted Regency until Uriel VI reached his majority. The Elder Council retained the real power, as they had ever since the days of Katariah I.

The Council so enjoyed its unlimited and unrestricted freedom to promulgate laws (and generate profits) that Uriel VI was not given full license to rule until 307, when he was already 22 years old. He had been slowly assuming positions of responsibility for years, but both the Council and his mother, who enjoyed even her limited Regency, were loath to hand over the reins. By the time he came to the throne, the mechanisms of government gave him little power except for that of the imperial veto.

This power, however, he regularly and vigorously exercised. By 313, Uriel VI could boast with conviction that he truly did rule Tamriel. He utilized defunct spy networks and guard units to bully and coerce the difficult members of the Elder Council. His half-sister Morihatha was (not surprisingly) his staunchest ally, especially after her marriage to Baron Ulfe Gersen of Winterhold brought her considerable wealth and influence. As the Sage Ugaridge said, "Uriel V conquered Esroniet, but Uriel VI conquered the Elder Council."

When Uriel VI fell off a horse and could not be resuscitated by the finest Imperial healers, his beloved sister Morihatha took up the imperial tiara. At 25 years of age, she had been described by (admittedly self-serving) diplomats as the most beautiful creature in all of Tamriel. She was certainly well-learned, vivacious, athletic, and a well-practised politician. She brought the Archmagister of Skyrim to the Imperial City and created the second Imperial Battlemage since the days of Tiber Septim.

Morihatha finished the job her brother had begun, and made the Imperial Province a true government under the Empress (and later, the Emperor). Outside the Imperial Province, however, the Empire had been slowly disintegrating. Open revolutions and civil wars had raged unchallenged since the days of her grandfather Cephorus II. Carefully coordinating her counterattacks, Morihatha slowly claimed back her rebellious vassals, always avoiding overextending herself.

Though Morihatha's military campaigns were remarkably successful, her deliberate pace often frustrated the Council. One Councilman, an Argonian who took the Colovian name of Thoricles Romus, furious at her refusal to send troops to his troubled Black Marsh, is commonly believed to have hired the assassins who claimed her life in 3E 339. Romus was summarily tried and executed, though he protested his innocence to the last.

Morihatha had no surviving children, and Eloisa had died of a fever four years before. Eloisa's 25-year-old son Pelagius was thus crowned Pelagius IV. Pelagius IV continued his aunt's work, slowly bringing back under his wing the radical and refractory kingdoms, duchies, and baronies of the Empire. He exercised Morihatha's poise and circumspect pace in his endeavours-but alas, he did not attain her success. The kingdoms had been free of constraint for so long that even a benign Imperial presence was considered odious. Nevertheless, when Pelagius died after a notably stable and prosperous twenty-nine-year reign, Tamriel was closer to unity than it had been since the days of Uriel I.

Our current Emperor, His Awesome and Terrible Majesty, Uriel Septim VII, son of Pelagius IV, has the diligence of his great-aunt Morihatha, the political skill of his great-uncle Uriel VI, and the military prowess of his great grand-uncle Uriel V. For twenty-one years he reigned and brought justice and order to Tamriel. In the year 3E389, however, his Imperial Battlemage, Jagar Tharn, betrayed him.

Uriel VII was imprisoned in a dimension of Tharn's creation, and Tharn used his sorcery of illusion to assume the Emperor's aspect. For the next ten years, Tharn abused imperial privilege but did not continue Uriel VII's schedule of reconquest. It is not yet entirely known what Tharn's goals and personal accomplishments were during the ten years he masqueraded as his liege lord. In 3E399, an enigmatic Champion defeated the Battlemage in the dungeons of the Imperial Palace and freed Uriel VII from his other-dimensional jail.

Since his emancipation, Uriel Septim VII has worked diligently to renew the battles that would reunite Tamriel. Tharn's interference broke the momentum, it is true -- but the years since then have proven that there is hope of the Golden Age of Tiber Septim's rule glorifying Tamriel once again.
Imperial Charter of the Guild of Mages

I. Purpose

The Guild of Mages provides benefits to scholars of magic and established laws regarding the proper use of magic. The Guild is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and distribution of magical knowledge with an emphasis on ensuring that all citizens of Tamriel benefit from this knowledge.

II. Authority

The Guild of Mages was established on Summerset Isle in the year 230 of the Second Era by Vanus Galerion and Rilis XII. It was later confirmed by the "Guilds Act" of Potentate Versidue-Shaie.

III. Rules and Procedures

Crimes against fellow members of the Guild are treated with the harshest discipline. Whether a member may regain their status in the Guild is determined by the Arch-Mage.

ADDENDUM: Effective 3E 431, any guild member commiting a crime against the guild is to be suspended immediately. The suspension may be lifted at the discretion of the Steward of the Council of Mages. Any guild member receiving multiple suspensions may, at the determination of the council, be summarily and permanently dismissed from the guild.

IV. Membership Requirements

The Guild of Mages only accepts candidates of keen intelligence and dominant will. Candidates must exhibit mastery in the great schools of magic: Destruction, Alteration, Illusion, and Mysticism. Candidates must also display practical knowledge of enchantments and alchemical processes.

V. Applications for Membership

Candidates must present themselves to the Steward of the Guild Hall for examination and approval.

ADDENDUM: Effective 3E 431, as per Arch-Mage Traven, all candidates for membership in the Guild of Mages must be approved by all presiding Guild Hall stewards, with said approval submitted in writing to the Council of Mages in a timely manner.

ADDENDUM: Effective 3E 431, as per Council mandate, sale of spells in the Imperial Province is to be re-distributed across guild halls. The following halls are to be responsible for each School of Magic:

Alteration: Cheydinhal
Conjuration: Chorrol
Destruction: Skingrad
Illusion: Bravil
Mysticism: Leyawiin
Restoration: Anvil
weet Dibella, Lady of Love! Bless us and our Children!
My name is Alessia Ottus, and I'd like to tell you all about Anvil.

The seat of Anvil County is by the sea, and at first glance, is very pretty, but when you examine it closely, turns out to be quite unpleasant. The water views are charming, but on the docks and in the harbor district outside of town you will find many sailors and tramps and dirty persons of little worth. Castle Anvil is clean and well- ordered, and within the town walls, some houses are bright and cheerful, but others are derelict and abandoned, or shabby and neglected, with plaster fallen in patches from the stonework, and lunatics and drunkards may be encountered everywhere.

* Castle Anvil *
The ruler of Anvil is Countess Millona Umbranox. Her husband, Corvus Umbranox, disappeared many years ago, and most persons would agree that Her Ladyship is better off without him, for he was a light and frivolous person, and given to loose and riotous behavior likely to promote scandal. The Countess herself is a righteous and godly woman, and an excellent ruler, well-loved by the people. If only she could compel her Town Guard to drive the seamen, low-lifes, loafers, and thieves from Anvil's streets, Anvil might be a more tolerable place to live.

* Districts of Anvil *
Consider the five districts of Anvil. Castle Anvil lies outside the town walls, south of town, overlooking the harbor, and is reached by gate from Chapelgate. Within the town walls are three districts: Chapelgate in the east, Westgate in the west, and Guildgate between Chapelgate and Westgate. Harborside lies outside the town walls, south of town, and is reached by gate from Westgate district.

* Chapelgate *
A more beautiful chapel may not be seen in all Cyrodiil. A quiet garden for meditation with a fine statue of Dibella lies between the chapel and the town wall, and across from the chapel is a lovely garden and covered arcade where worshippers are protected from the elements. Regretably, the people of Anvil seem little inclined to appreciate these advantages, and are seldom seen worshipping in the chapel. Whether this is the fault of the primate, who is a vain and shallow woman, or the Countess, who does little to encourage regular chapel worship by her example, I am unable to judge.

* Guildgate *
The most prosperous part of Anvil is entered by Guildgate, or Main Gate, or North Gate. Here side by side may be seen the handsomest and ugliest of Anvil buildings. The guilds are kept clean and in good repair, and both Mages Guild and Fighters Guild are unusually ambitious and industrious by Cyrodiil's common standard. The head of the Mages Guild, Carahil, is a scholar of good reputation and an outspoken enemy of necromancy, summoning, and the dark arts. The Fighters Guild here is well-staffed and active, and shows no sign of the fecklessness and poor morale of chapters elsewhere in Cyrodiil. However, next to the Mages Guild is a ruin, long boarded-up and abandoned, and an prominent eyesore.

* Westgate *
This is the residential district of Anvil. The houses here are shabby and ill-kept. The people are untidy and dull, with the exception of Anvil's famous citizen, the Argonian authoress, Quillweave, who produces wretched books celebrating the misadventures and schemes of the lower and criminal classes. This person does her race no favor by confirming the prejudices of many who consider Argonians to be ungodly, dishonest, and worthless, and little better than beasts.

* Harborside *
The docks are rotten and in ill-repair, and all manner of smells issue forth from the holds of ships and ramshackled warehouses. Shiftless persons gather here to bask in the sun, gossip, chatter, and plot how to beg or steal gold for wine and ale. Here a good woman named Mirabelle Monet runs a house for homeless sailors, but, I'm sorry to say, her mistaken tender-heartedness and charity only encourages malingering and drunkenness. Instead, she should urge these wicked and idle men to improve themselves through industry and the teachings of the Nine. There is, however, a very appealing lighthouse south of the harbor, from which one may contemplate a distant and less-disagreeable view of Anvil's castle, town and its harbor setting.

May the Nine guard and guide you!

ara, Mother Mild! Make us hale and hearty! My name is Alessia Ottus, and I'd like to tell you all about Bravil.

Bravil is the dark grate of the sewer drain where foul and unappetising debris collects. It is the poorest and dirtiest of Cyrodiil's towns, the oldest and shabbiest, the most plagued by criminals, drunkards, and skooma-eaters, and most popular with beastfolk and other foreigners. All Bravil lacks is a coven of Daedra worshippers to make it the perfect pit of villainy... and many rumors suggest that even more evil and depraved worships are practiced in secret by Bravil's wicked heathens.

This town is gray, grim, and depressing. The climate is damp and the atmosphere foul because of the fetid channels of the Larsius River that serve as Bravil's sewers, and because of the rank swamps of the lowland margins of the Niben Bay, where insects and diseases breed in abundance.

The architecture of the town is remarkable for its unequalled ugliness and disorder. The houses, shops, and guilds are built from cracked and splintered timbers soft from rot and green with mold and mildew. It is a pity that they do not fall down, for they might be rebuilt in a more pleasing manner, but rather they continue to grow on top of one another like mounded middens, reaching lofty heights of three and four stories. Beggars and thieves lounge indolently on balconies overhanging the streets and dump their refuse directly upon the unfortunate passers-by. Whole families live in teetering shacks on the tops of the buildings in unimaginable squalor.

Bravil's people are dirty and dishonest. They live little better than goblins in caves, squatting in filthy, tumbledown shacks. The town citizens are divided into two classes: the smugglers, skooma-eaters, bandits, thieves, and murderers, and the wretched beggars and fools that these criminals prey upon.

Bravil is ruled by crimelords, and the town guard lives in the pockets of the skooma kingpins. You will not be surprised to find there are many Argonians and Khajiit in this miserable place, since Elsweyr and Black Marsh are close by, but you may be surprised to find many Orcs here. However, beastfolk are comfortable in the company of other beastfolk, as are thieves and brutes naturally drawn to the company of one another.

Bravil is not organized into orderly districts. However, some landmarks may serve to orient the unfortunate visitor. The castle is approached by rickety bridges over the river to the east. The chapel is to the west. The shops and guilds are arranged in a line with their backs to the east wall and the channels of the river. Between the chapel and the shops and guilds are Bravil's ramshackle slums and tenements.

The castle is the only sturdy, stone-built dwelling in Bravil. It is nowhere as dirty and ill-furnished as the timber shacks of the people, but it is still little better than the houses of the poorest paupers in Anvil or the Imperial City. Count Regulus Terentius, from a respectable family, once a noted tournament champion, is now widely recognized by his people as a drunken wastrel and ne'er-do-well. And his son, Gellius Terentius, is a strutting peacock who cultivates the society of crimelords and skooma-eaters.

The chapel stonework is in poor repair and covered with mold and mildew. The graveyard is surrounded by a ramshackle, unpainted wooden fence, and the graves are untidy and neglected. The primate is a good servant of Mara, but she is unequal to the task of driving sin and wickedness from this Nine-forsaken town. The priestess is wise and well-liked by those few who visit the chapel, but most people never pass once through the chapel's doors, except to beg and steal.

The inns are a disgrace. It is common to step over prostrate drunks and through pools of sick upon entering, and idlers, gamblers, and pickpockets swarm in the darkness and prey upon unwary travelers. A visitor foolish enough to sleep in these places should expect to be murdered in his bed.

The guilds, by contrast, are relatively clean, dry, and quiet, and one forced by necessity to spend a night in Bravil might be justified in joining the Fighters Guild or the Mages Guild, despite their savage and godless ways, simply to be assured of a safe place to sleep.

The shops are no worse than any other feature of Bravil, and you may be more safe in them from assault or murder on account of the prodigious provisions merchants must take to protect themselves from thieves.

If you are forced by circumstances to visit Bravil, you will very soon wish to leave, and you will wish to watch your back as you leave, to be sure you are not followed by parades of bandits and assassins.

Honor the Nine in prayer!

ather Talos, protect us all! My name is Alessia Ottus, and I'd like to tell you all about Bruma.

Bruma is understood to be a Nibenese county, but in truth it is more Nord than Nibenese, on account of its close proximity to the Skyrim border, and on account of the terrible cold and discomfort of its location high in the Jerall Mountains. Bruma is always cold and covered with snow, with braziers kept burning in every quarter to prevent the citizens from freezing to death. Everything is built in wood, since trees are so plentiful in the forests of the Jeralls, and even rich men live here in dark, dirty wooden huts. It is little wonder that Nords are such drunken heathen savages, for life is impossible in such a climate, and one might be tempted to drink into insensibility or sell one's soul to just to find sanctuary from the bitter cold and relentless wind.

Castle Bruma is cold and drafty, carelessly decorated, and dark with soot from the perpetually burning braziers. The smell of smoke and cinders is overpowering. The high ceilings are grand, but impossible to heat, and one is never able to get warm. The ancient layers of soot and filth encrusting the stonework makes it difficult to appreciate the exceptional stonecarving. Except in its stonework and grand scale, the castle is like the log huts of the people -- cold, dark, drafty, and dirty.

Countess Narina Carvain is a Nibenean Heartlander, a dutiful chapelgoer, and a respected ruler, though she is a cunning and ruthless negotiator, and has a reputation for sharp-dealing and treachery. Administration of the county is efficient and well-ordered, and a well- trained and aggressive town watch under command of a hard-nosed Nord captain insures that thieves and beggars are not very troublesome, though Nords are famous for drunkenness and rioting.

Access to the castle is through a gate west from the town into a courtyard. The shops, inns, guilds are located in the north, either on the western terrace near the castle gate, or below the terrace, north of the chapel. The chapel is the central feature of southern Bruma, with houses ranged along the inside of the walls along the east and south. The streets are cramped and barren, since few trees and plants can survive the cold, but the town is compact and quickly explored.

Bruma's Nibenean citizens faithfully observe chapel Sundas rituals, but the lower classes are unregenerate followers of the heathen Nord gods, and they keep to their own secret superstitions and uncivilized practices.

You will not be surprised to find you can purchase good quality weapons and armor here, for Nord smiths are famous for the quality of their wares. But you should not expect to be able to purchase books here, for Nords are ignorant and not fond of reading. The Fighters and Mages Guilds are poor and short-staffed, for no one wants to be posted to such a gray and cold land, but at least the Mages Guild is kept good and warm (though I shrink from imagining what infernal engines are employed to produce and preserve that heat).

May the Nine bless and save you!

rkay, bless my body and soul! My name is Alessia Ottus, and I'd like to tell you all about Cheydinhal.

The first impression of the visitor to Cheydinhal is of broad green parklands, graceful willows along the banks of the Corbolo, neatly groomed gardens and flowering shrubs. Cheydinhal looks prosperous, with clean, well-trimmed houses and neat stonework, ornamented with striking designs in glass, metal, and wood.

But what lurks beneath this pleasing appearance? Crime! Scandal! Corruption!

Cheydinhal is divided into three districts. To the north, on a hill, is the courtyard and inner keep of Castle Cheydinhal. A road runs east-west below the castle from East Gate to West Gate. The Corbolo River runs roughly north-south from this road, dividing southern Cheydinhal into two districts, Chapel in the east, and Market in the west. In Market District lie all the shops, inns, and guildhalls. In Chapel District are the Chapel itself and Cheydinhal's residences. Bridges span the Corbolo in the north and south, with the south bridges connecting upon a pretty little island park in the middle of the river.

Though Cheydinhal lies in the Nibenean East, its culture is shaped by the Dark Elf immigrants who emigrated here in the past half century from Morrowind. Many of these immigrants were fleeing Morrowind's rigid society and heathen Temple theocracy. In Cyrodiil they hoped to find the stimulating commercial atmosphere inspired by Zenithar's patronage.

One of these immigrants is now Count Cheydinhal. Andel Indarys was of House Hlaalu in Morrowind, but he came to Cheydinhal searching for greater opportunity. His sudden rise into the highest ranks of Cyrodilic nobility is hard to explain, and most old families of Cyrodiil rightly regard him as a presumptuous upstart. However, the discovery of the Count's wife, Lady Llathasa Indarys, badly battered and dead at the foot of the County Hall stairs immediately attracted scandal, and rumors of the Count's dissipation, rages and infidelities suggest a darker mystery behind her death.

The Chapel of Arkay in Cheydinhal is poorly attended. The Count sets a poor example; he never sets foot inside the chapel. But perhaps it is from fear of divine judgement that he avoids placing himself under the eyes of the Nine! Cheydinhal's primate, priest, and healer are goodly people, and staunch professors of the faith, but the most honored and respected of the chapel's clerics is Errandil, the Living Saint of Arkay, a tireless crusader against the wicked practice of necromantic sorcery in the Mages Guild and the Imperial Battle College.

Both of Cheydinhal's inns appear respectable from the outside, but the Newlands Inn is owned by a wicked, profane Dark Elf ruffian, and the Cheydinhal Bridge Inn is owned by a dignified, devout Imperial matron, so I am sure you know which place will serve you good, reasonable food, and which will provide you with a safe, clean bed where you are unlikely to be murdered for your purse. The owner-proprietor of Cheydinhal's bookstore is Mach-Na, an Argonian, and a ruder, more disagreeable creature I have never met. Nonetheless, his selection of books is excellent, and his prices reasonable.

The poorest of Cheydinhal's residences are bright and clean, with well-groomed grounds, and the citizens think it no inconvenience when you step in to admire their furniture and appointments (provided you do this at a decent hour!). However, be warned! Many of these residents seem respectable to all appearances, but no sooner do they open their mouths than they reveal themselves to be evil brutes, shocking and rude, and more likely to murder you and bury you in their basements as to speak a civil word to you. That many of these rough, unpleasant people are Orcs should be no surprise to you.

However, you will not wish to miss the house of Cheydinhal's most notable citizen, the celebrated painter, Rythe Lythandas. He is often hard at work in his studio, and not to be disturbed, but his wife is gracious and hospitable, and may be persuaded to show you those of his paintings which hang on his own walls.

Follow the Nine to Glory!

raise Stendarr, the Nine, and all the Saints! My name is Alessia Ottus, and I'd like to tell you all about the town of Chorrol.
* Castle Chorrol *
Chorrol is the county seat of County Chorrol, and is ruled by Countess Arriana Valga, a very proper woman, and mother of the beautiful and virtuous Alessia Caro, Countess of Leyawiin.

Countess Arriana is a devout and righteous follower of Akatosh, and sets a fine example for her people by her devotions in the Chapel of Stendarr. Her husband, Count Charus Valga, was a staunch Defender of the Faith and follower of Stendarr, and his death in battle against the heathen Nord clansmen of Skyrim was greatly lamented by his people. Alessia Caro has been a good husband to Count Marius of Leyawiin, and a dutiful daughter, and she is often seen visiting Chorrol and her saintly mother.

I am also pleased to report that the castle mage is a righteous and goodly servant of the Nine (unlike so many wizards who neglect the Chapel and the Faith). Chanel offers magical training for those eager to smite the ungodly, and it would be much better to go to her than to some wicked Mages Guild hedgewizard.

The Countess holds court every day in the fine Great Hall (except on Sundas, of course). She has a very fine herald and steward, and the castle is neat and well-ordered. It also has a strong dungeon jail for evildoers, though I'm sorry to say that the guards are often lax in their duties, and fail to arrest and lock up the various beggars and thieves and gamblers and cheats who idle in the streets.
* Districts of Chorrol *
There are five main districts of Chorrol. When you enter the gate, you find yourself in Fountain Gate, before the fine pool and statue of the Saint of Sancre Tor, in memory of all who died in that great battle. Around the fountain are the two inns, the general store and the smith. One street leads east to the Castle, one north to Great Oak Place, one west to Chapel Street and West Chorrol. Chapel Street leads west to the Chapel, past the book store, and thence to the crude shacks gathered around the well of West Chorrol. Around Great Oak Place are the Mages Guild and Fighters Guild, and many fine houses.
* The Chapel of Stendarr *
The Chapel of Stendarr is beautiful, and perfect for a traveler's mediations and prayer. Every Sundas morning you will find the best citizens gathered with their good countess for worship. You may be surprised to learn that not all people of Chorrol follow the model of their countess, for many are very idle and careless in their devotions. This is certainly the responsibility of the Fighters Guild and the Mages Guild, whose members fail to set a good example for Chorrol's citizens. The elderly priestess of the Chapel, Orag gra-Bagrol, is a kindly, righteous soul, and it would be far better to purchase your spells from her than from the godless heathens of the Mages Guild.
* Chorrol's Guilds *
The Fighters Guild's members, though led by the excellent and honorable Vilena Donton, are dirty and uncouth in their speech, and often to be found lazing about in their chapter house, or wandering the town and engaging in loose talk. How much better it would be if they improved their characters by regular attendance at the Chapel of Stendarr. Their excellent smith is an exception, being often seen at her devotions at the chapel.

The members of the Chorrol Mages Guild are for the most part shiftless scholars and students who spend their time reading, quarreling, and brewing foul concotions. They are well-spoken and well-educated, but what good is such learning if they fail to improve their souls by penitence and prayer? You may purchase spells and potions from these persons, but it will only encourage them in their irreverent amusements and wicked idleness.
* Goods and Services *
The proprietor of Northern Goods and Trade, Seed-Neeus, is an Argonian, but unlike so many of her countrymen, she is clever, honest, and well-spoken. Isn't that remarkable? She is so acccomplished that she offers training in the mercantile arts, but you will not purchase goods from her cheaply.

I am told by those who know that the smith of Fire and Steel, Rasheda the Redguard, is a very fine craftsman, who offers training in her craft, and she is always to be found at Sundas chapel worship, but she is fresh and disrespectful, and her manners and dress leave something to be desired.

Renoit's Books is fairly clean, and has a wide selection of books, but would you believe that I found not a single copy of 'Ten Commands of the Nine Divines', nor have I ever seen the proprietress in the Chapel of Stendarr?

There are only two places where you may purchase food and lodging. One is proper and clean, frequented by decent citizens. The other is rude and dirty, and a meeting place for drunkards, thieves, and Orcs. The one is run by a well-dressed, dignified, and proper matron. The other is run by a careless young woman. The one is called the 'Oak and Crosier'. The other is called 'The Grey Mare'. I'm sure you know which one to visit if you want a clean and safe bed.

* Notable Citizens of Chorrol *
Casta Scribonia, the author, lives in Chorrol. She is a well-educated and well- traveled woman, but she writes books which I cannot recommend, for they are full of romance and gossip and other offensive and wasteful indulgences, and their heroes do not present to our children the proper models of virtue, duty, honor, and reverence that all followers of the Nine Divines must love and hold in our hearts.

* Shameful Features of Chorrol *
You will often see townsfolk gathered in mischief and loose talk around the Great Oak near the Fighters and Mages Guilds. One man, very sly, named Honditar, knows all about the surrounding lands, and he offers to teach skills for a fee, but one nevers sees him in the chapel, and one suspects that he is given to profanity, strong drink, and brawling.

There are many thieves and murderers in Chorrol. They even secretly teach their crafts for fees in their homes, and where is the Chorrol Guard? Nowhere to be seen, I'm sorry to say.

The beggars in Chorrol are dirty, but they are free of disease, cheerful, and polite. You may give a coin to one to ease your soul, but it does little to improve a beggar, for it will soon be squandered on gambling, strong spirits, and other mischief.
Nine gods and nine blessings!

raise Akatosh! Bless the Empire and All Its People!
My name is Alessia Ottus, and I'd like to tell you all about the Imperial City.

* The Imperial City *
Who do you think lives in the Imperial City? Uriel Septim, Emperor of Tamriel, Defender of the Faith, and Descendant of the Sainted Tiber Septim, Lord Talos, the Holy God of State and Law in our Blessed Nine Divines. All know the emperor to be a good and holy man, for he may often be seen in the Temple of the One, making his devotions to the Nine Divines and the Communion of Saints.

And where does he live? In the Imperial Palace, in the center of the Imperial City, in the White Gold Tower which was built many ages ago by the godless, Daedra-loving Ayleids. How fine it is that the stones raised high by this ancient evil empire are now reconsecrated as a monument to Imperial justice and piety.
People who visit the Imperial Palace like to walk among the graves of saints and counts, battlemages and emperors, and gaze with wonder upon White Gold Tower, which can be seen from any place within the City.

The Elder Council Chamber here cannot be entered, and though you may marvel at their curious ancient armors, you will soon want be away from the rude and discourteous Imperial Guards.

* Imperial City Districts *
The Imperial City is divided into ten districts. At the center is the Imperial Palace. The other districts are grouped around the Palace. To the northwest is Elven Gardens, a pleasant residential district.

Continuing widdershins, the Talos District, an exclusive residential area, lies to the west. To the southwest is the Temple District, and beyond it, outside the walls, the filthy and bad-smelling Waterfront District. To the southeast lies the Arboretum, and beyond that, outside the walls, the infamous Arcane University of the Mages Guild. To the east is the notorious Arena District. And last, to the northeast of the Palace lies the Market District, where anything may be bought, and beyond the Market District, outside the city walls, the Imperial Prison.
* The Temple District *
I live in the Temple District of the Imperial City, and it is a very pretty place. You are welcome to visit me, my husband, and daughter when you come to worship at the Temple of the One. This district is very pretty, and only pleasant and well-bred persons live here, though, as in all parts of the city, beggars are a constant problem.
* The Arboretum *
In this beautiful garden you will find the famous Statues of the Nine Divines. In the center you will find the statue of Lord Talos, Emperor Tiber Septim. But is it right, that Talos should have this place of honor rather than Akatosh, king of gods? It is the scheming pride of the Elder Council, who sought favor with the sons of Talos, that is responsible for this shameful error.
* The Market District *
You will find crowds of people waiting outside the doors of the Office of Imperial Commerce to make their complaints about being cheated by some merchant. It is a very dirty place. Piles of crates lie around in untidy heaps, unwholesome toadstools and fungus grow in clumps, and the cobbles are slimy and encrusted with filth. If you may send your servant rather than visit yourself, it would be far better.
* Arcane University *
This place is unspeakably dirty and unkempt, no better than a slum. You will never find the students or wizards outside in the air, for they are squatting in their dark dungeons poring over profane texts and making crabbed scribbles on scrolls.

Within the Arch-Mage's Tower is hidden the Imperial Orrery, which the mages use to study the sky. Such fools! Why do they not look on the glory of Creation itself, and give praise to the Nine as they ought, rather than squat and peer at such a ridiculous and expensive machine?

The Mages are said to have a great library of precious books, but they jealously hoard them for themselves. This is no loss for the righteous, for these books are surely full of wicked nonsense.
* Imperial Waterfront *
This is a terrible place. It is not uncommon to stumble over the bodies of women and children who have been murdered here. There are no more wicked and godless men in Tamriel than merchants and sailors, and they gather here to plot and cheat citizens of their hard-earned gold. Gambling and slaving and skooma-sucking and even more depraved activities take place in warehouses and ships here. And where are the City Watch? Nowhere to be seen.
* Imperial Prison *
The prisons are very cruel and horrible, damp and dirty, with chains and pincers and manacles and instruments of torture on every hand. But did I find any prisoners in these cells? No! For the Watch is so lazy and careless that the cells are all empty!

There are guards everywhere in the Imperial City. They travel in groups, for even they are afraid of the cruel bandits and thieves that lurk everywhere in the City. I do not know why they do not throw the impertinent beggars into prison. Criminals are so bold as to introduce themselves to you on the street. One outlaw was so brazen as to boast that he had stolen his weapons and armor from the Imperial Prison. How careless and idle these Watchmen must be to allow this! They know no shame, for the wicked officers of the Watch are corrupt, and accept gold from the hands of the very people they are supposed to place behind bars.

* The Arena *
I will not tell you about this place, for you have no need to visit it. Only idle or foolish persons come here to throw their money away on games of chance, or to spill their own blood when they would better devote themselves to exterminating the armies of robbers and beggars that swarm in the streets.

May the Nine bless you and keep you!

enithar, bless all our labors! My name is Alessia Ottus, and I'd like to tell you all about Leyawiin.

Pinned between the savage and uncivilized provinces of Elsweyr and Black Marsh, and guarding the vital passage up the River Niven from Topal Bay to the Imperial City, Leyawiin is a mighty fortress, with tall stone walls and strong garrisons.

Leyawiin is a bright and cheerful, prosperous town in the midst of Blackwood's swampy wildernesses, with wide, bright streets, large, comfortable houses, half-timbered or painted stucco, many of which are colorful and not too dirty or weather-worn. There are trees and flowering shrubs everywhere, and peaceful plazas and ponds for quiet contemplation. Indeed, if it weren't for the raffish rabble of Argonian and Khajiit descent, Leyawiin would be a pleasant and safe place to visit.

Marius Caro is Count Leyawiin, and his recent bride, the lovely and cultivated Alessia Caro, is the daughter of the righteous and reliable Countess Arriana Valga of Chorrol. The Count and Countess are energetic supporters of Imperialization, and they work tirelessly to bring the traditional values of hard-working, chapel-going, and law-abiding Nibenese Heartland Imperial culture to this frontier outpost.

The town itself lies with tall curtain walls on the west bank of the Niben. To the east through two gates lies the inner keep and Castle Leyawiin, straddling the deep channels of the river. The Chapel of Zenithar lies in the northwest, near the West Gate. All the shops, inns, and guildhalls lie south of the chapel, in the western half of town, except for a fine bookstore and general trader north of the road traversing the town east-west from West Gate. The residential part of town runs along a single wide north-south boulevard, backed on the east by deep ponds created by impounding one of the meandering channels of the Niben.

The Chapel of Stendarr and the Count and Countess are partners in attempting to extend the benefits of heartland Nibenese culture to the benighted frontier populations of Blackwood and the Lower Niben. Trade and industry are strong in Leyawiin, thanks to the patronage of Zenithar, and notwithstanding the bandits troubling caravans and travellers along the Green Road through the recently annexed Trans-Niben.

Leyawiin boasts the finest collection of shops and tradesmen in Cyrodiil (outside of the Imperial City, of course). Even the craftsmen and trainers of the Fighters Guild and Mages Guild are of a higher order of quality. Worth special mention is Southern Books -- a bookstore owned by an Orc (!!!), always stocking multiple copies of 'A Children's Annuad', a religious book appropriate for those ignorant of the mysteries of the faith, and adapted to the meanest understanding.

Recently, a new competitor for the Fighters Guild, a mercenary hiring hall called 'The Blackwood Company', has commenced operations here in a striking new building. Despite being staffed almost exclusively by Khajiit and Argonians, the officers are polite, well-spoken, and deferential, and I'm told they aggressively compete with the Fighters Guild for price and service. (This is the Imperial way and pleasing to Zenithar -- to extend prosperity and security through enterprising commercial ventures.)

I'm sorry to say that not all Khajitt and Argonians in Leyawiin are as presentable and industrious as the members of the Black Comapany. Lizardmen and catfolk are to be seen in the streets at all hours, lounging and gossiping. If only these creatures would spend a little more time keeping themselves and their homes clean.

Praise the Nine and turn away from sin!

n Julianos, all justice and wisdom! My name is Alessia Ottus, and I'd like to tell you all about Skingrad.

Skingrad County is famous for its wines, tomatoes, and cheeses, and the town of Skingrad is one of the cleanest, safest, and most prosperous towns in Cyrodiil. Located in the heart of the West Weald highlands, Skingrad is the gem of Old Colovia, and a model of the Colovian virtues of independence, hardwork, and tough-mindedness.

Skingrad has three districts: the Castle, Hightown, and Chapel. A low road runs east-west under the walls and bridges of the upper town. The guilds and West Weald Inn are in the west of HighTown, while many shops and upper class residence are arranged along a street in the north. The southern half of the town includes the chapel at its east end, with Skingrad's other lodgings, the Two Sisters Inn, on a street in the center, with other residences, modest and mean, scattered through the rest of the district. Gates and bridges cross the low road to connect Hightown and Chapel in several places. Castle Skingrad is completely separate from the town, standing on a high prominence to the southeast. A road from the town's east gate leads from town to the castle.

Janus Hassildor, Count Skingrad, has ruled Skingrad for many years, and is known by reputation to be a powerful wizard. He is a very private man, and declined all requests for an interview, and he shamefully neglects his chapel devotions to the Nine. How are the people to learn public virtue if not from the model of their ruler? Nonetheless, he is widely honored and respected by his people, and Skingrad is a model of a well-run, orderly county. Crime, gambling, and public drunkeness are almost unknown, and its wines and cheeses command high prices all over Tamriel.

There are two inns in Skingrad. One, the Two Sisters Inn, is owned by two Orcs. I'm pleased to tell you that this inn is clean and well-ordered, and is troubled neither by riot nor public drunkenness. The other inn is run by a pleasant Imperial woman. Neither of these proprietors are to be seen in the Chapel of Julianos, so I am at a loss to tell you which one you should choose when seeking food or lodgings.

However, I am certain where you should go to purchase your sweet rolls -- to Salmo the Baker in Chapel District! They are delicious. As for where to sample the other tasty treats of Skingrad -- its cheeses and tomatoes -- I must leave that to your discretion. I am sure you are not interested in Skingrad's wines, for drinking leads to disorderliness, and disorderliness leads to sin.

The Mages Guild here is no better than it is in other places, but the Fighters Guild makes a specialty of goblin hunting, which is a great service to travelers in the West Weald. And I was shocked to discover that the town smith openly refers to himself as 'Agnete the Pickled'. Can you imagine being proud of such shameful behavior?

Keep the Nine in your heart!
Report of the Imperial
Commission on the
Disaster at Ionith

Lord Pottreid, Chairman

Part I: Preparations

The Emperor's plans for the invasion of Akavir were laid in the 270s, when he began the conquest of the small island kingdoms that lie between Tamriel and Akavir. With the fall of Black Harbor in Esroniet in 282, Uriel V was already looking ahead to the ultimate prize. He immediately ordered extensive renovations to the port, which would serve as the marshalling point for the invasion force and as the main supply source throughout the campaign. At this time he also began the construction of the many large, ocean-going transports that would be needed for the final crossing to Akavir, in which the Navy was previously deficient. Thus it can be seen that the Emperor's preparations for the invasion were laid well in advance, before even the conquest of Esroniet was complete, and was not a sudden whim as some have charged.

When Prince Bashomon yielded Esroniet to Imperial authority in 284, the Emperor's full attention could be devoted to planning for the Akaviri campaign. Naval expeditions were dispatched in 285 and 286 to scout the sea lanes and coastlands of Akavir; and various Imperial intelligence agents, both magical and mundane, were employed to gather information. On the basis of all this information, the kingdom of the Tsaesci, in the southwest of Akavir, was selected as the initial target for the invasion.

Meanwhile the Emperor was gathering his Expeditionary Force. A new Far East Fleet was created for the campaign, which for a time dwarfed the rest of the Navy; it is said to be the most powerful fleet ever assembled in the history of Tamriel. The Fifth, Seventh, Tenth, and Fourteenth Legions were selected for the initial landing, with the Ninth and Seventeenth to follow as reinforcements once the beachhead was secured. While this may seem to the layman a relatively small fraction of the Army's total manpower, it must be remembered that this Expeditionary Force would have to be maintained at the end of a long and tenuous supply line; in addition, the Emperor and the Army command believed that the invasion would not be strongly opposed, at least at first. Perhaps most crucially, the Navy had only enough heavy transport capacity to move four legions at a time.

It should be noted here that the Commission does not find fault with the Emperor's preparations for the invasion. Based on the information available prior to the invasion, (which, while obviously deficient in hindsight, great effort had been made to accumulate), the Commission believes that the Emperor did not act recklessly or imprudently. Some have argued that the Expeditionary Force was too small. The Commission believes that on the contrary, even if shipping could have been found to transport and supply more legions (an impossibility without crippling the trade of the entire Empire), this would have merely added to the scale of the disaster; it would not have averted it. Neither could the rest of the Empire be denuded of legions; the memory of the Camoran Usurper was still fresh, and the Emperor believed (and this Commission agrees) that the security of the Empire precluded a larger concentration of military force outside of Tamriel. If anything, the Commission believes that the Expeditionary Force was too large. Despite the creation of two new legions during his reign (and the recreation of the Fifth), the loss of the Expeditionary Force left the Empire in a dangerously weak position relative to the provinces, as the current situation makes all too clear. This suggests that the invasion of Akavir was beyond the Empire's current strength; even if the Emperor could have fielded and maintained a larger force in Akavir, the Empire may have disintegrated behind him.

Part II: The Invasion of Akavir

The Expeditionary Force left Black Harbor on 23rd Rain's Hand, 288, and with fair weather landed in Akavir after six weeks at sea. The landing site was a small Tsaesci port at the mouth of a large river, chosen for its proximity to Tamriel as well as its location in a fertile river valley, giving easy access to the interior as well as good foraging for the army. All went well at first. The Tsaesci had abandoned the town when the Expeditionary Force approached, so they took possession of it and renamed it Septimia, the first colony of the new Imperial Province of Akavir. While the engineers fortified the town and expanded the port facilities to serve the Far East Fleet, the Emperor marched inland with two legions. The surrounding land was reported to be rich, well-watered fields, and meeting no resistance the army took the next city upriver, also abandoned. This was refounded as Ionith, and the Emperor established his headquarters there, being much larger than Septimia and better-located to dominate the surrounding countryside.

The Expeditionary Force had yet to meet any real resistance, although the legions were constantly shadowed by mounted enemy patrols which prevented any but large scouting parties from leaving the main body of the army. One thing the Emperor sorely lacked was cavalry, due to the limited space on the transport fleet, although for the time being the battlemages made up for this with magical reconnaissance.

The Emperor now sent out envoys to try to contact the Tsaesci king or whoever ruled this land, but his messengers never returned. In retrospect, the Commission believes that valuable time was wasted in this effort while the army was stalled at Ionith, which could have been better spent in advancing quickly while the enemy was still, apparently, surprised by the invasion. However, the Emperor believed at the time that the Tsaesci could be overawed by the Empire's power and he might win a province by negotiation with no need for serious fighting.

Meanwhile, the four legions were busy building a road between Septimia and Ionith, setting up fortified guard posts along the river, and fortifying both cities' defences, activities which would serve them well later. Due to their lack of cavalry, scouting was limited, and communication between the two cities constantly threatened by enemy raiders, with which the legions were still unable to come to grips.

The original plan had been to bring the two reinforcing legions across as soon as the initial landing had secured a port, but the fateful decision was now taken to delay their arrival and instead begin using the Fleet to transport colonists. The Emperor and the Council agreed that, due to the complete abandonment of the conquered area by its native population, colonists were needed to work the fields so that the Expeditionary Force would not have to rely entirely on the fleet for supplies. In addition, unrest had broken out in Yneslea, athwart the supply route to Akavir, and the Council believed the Ninth and Seventeenth legions would be better used in repacifying those territories and securing the Expeditionary Force's supply lines.

The civilian colonists and their supplies began arriving in Septimia in mid-Hearthfire, and they took over the preparation of the fields (which had been started by the legionnaires) for a spring crop. A number of cavalry mounts were also brought over at this time, and the raids on the two Imperial colonies subsequently fell off. Tsaesci emissaries also finally arrived in Ionith, purportedly to begin peace negotiations, and the Expeditionary Force settled in for what was expected to be a quiet winter.

At this time, the Council urged the Emperor to return to Tamriel with the Fleet, to deal with many pressing matters of the Empire while the army was in winter quarters, but the Emperor decided that it would be best to remain in Akavir. This turned out to be fortunate, because a large portion of the Fleet, including the Emperor's flagship, was destroyed by an early winter storm during the homeward voyage. The winter storm season of 288-289 was unusually prolonged and exceptionally severe, and prevented the Fleet from returning to Akavir as planned with additional supplies. This was reported to the Emperor via battlemage and it was agreed that the Expeditionary Force could survive on what supplies it had on hand until the spring.

Part III: The Destruction of the Expeditionary Force

The winter weather in Akavir was also much more severe than expected. Due to the supply problems and the addition of thousands of civilians, the Expeditionary Force was on tight rations. To make matters worse, the Tsaesci raiders returned in force and harried any foraging and scouting parties outside the walls of the two cities. Several watch forts on the road between Septimia and Ionith were captured during blizzards, and the rest had to be abandoned as untenable. As a result, communication between the two cities had to be conducted entirely by magical means, a continuing strain on the legions' battlemages.

On 5th Sun's Dawn, a large entourage of Tsaesci arrived at Ionith claiming to bring a peace offer from the Tsaesci king. That night, these treacherous envoys murdered the guards at one of the city gates and let in a strong party of their comrades who were waiting outside the city walls. Their clear intention was to assassinate the Emperor, foiled only by the vigilance and courage of troopers of the Tenth who were guarding his palace. Once the alarm was raised, the Tsaesci inside the city were hunted down and killed to the last man. Needless to say, this was the end of negotiations between the Emperor and the Tsaesci.

The arrival of spring only brought worse troubles. Instead of the expected spring rains, a hot dry wind began to blow from the east, continuing with varying strength through the entire summer. The crops failed, and even the river (which in the previous year had been navigable by small boats far upstream of Ionith) was completely dried up by Sun's Height. It is unknown if this was due to a previously unknown weather pattern unique to Akavir, or if the Tsaesci manipulated the weather through magical means. The Commission leans towards the former conclusion, as there is no direct evidence of the Tsaesci possessing such fearsome arcane power, but the latter possibility cannot be entirely ruled out.

Due to prolonged bad weather, the supply fleet was late in setting out from Black Harbor. It finally left port in early Second Seed, but was again severely mauled by storms and limped into Septimia eight weeks later much reduced. Because of the increasingly desperate supply situation in Akavir, the Emperor dispatched most of his Battlemage Corps with the fleet to assist it in weathering the storms which seemed likely to continue all summer. At this time, the Council urged the Emperor to abandon the invasion and to return to Tamriel with the Expeditionary Force, but he again refused, noting that the fleet was no longer large enough to transport all four legions at once. The Commission agrees that leaving one or more legions behind in Akavir to await the return of the fleet would have damaged Army morale. But the Commission also notes that the loss of one legion would have been preferable to the loss of the entire Expeditionary Force. It is the unanimous opinion of the Commission that this was the last point at which complete disaster might have been averted. Once the decision was made to send the fleet back for reinforcements and supplies, events proceeded to their inevitable conclusion.

From this point on, much less is known about what transpired in Akavir. With most of the battlemages assisting the fleet, communication between the Expeditionary Force and Tamriel was limited, especially as the situation in Akavir worsened and the remaining battlemages had their powers stretched to the limit attending to all the needs of the legions. However, it appears that the Tsaesci may also have been actively interfering with the mages in some unknown manner. Some of the mages in Akavir reported their powers being abnormally weak, and the mages of the War College in Cyrodiil (who were handling communications for the Council) reported problems linking up with their compatriots in Akavir, even between master and pupil of long training. The Commission urges that the War College make a particular study of the arcane powers of the Tsaesci, should the Empire ever come into conflict with Akavir again.

What is known is that the Emperor marched out of Ionith in mid-Sun's Height, leaving only small garrisons to hold the cities. He had learned that the Tsaesci were massing their forces on the other side of a mountain range to the north, and he intended to smash their army before it could gather full strength and capture their supplies (of which he was in desperate need). This rapid advance seems to have taken the Tsaesci by surprise, and the Expeditionary Force crossed the mountains and fell on their camp, routing the Tsaesci army and capturing its leader (a noble of some kind). But the Emperor was soon forced to retreat, and the legions suffered heavily on their retreat to Ionith. The Emperor now found himself besieged in Ionith, cut off from the small garrison at Septimia which was also besieged. By this time, it seems that the efforts of the few remaining battlemages were devoted entirely to creating water to keep the army alive, a skill not normally emphasized at the War College. The fleet had arrived safely back to Black Harbor, thanks to the Battlemage Corps, but all attempts to return to Akavir were frustrated by a series of ever more savage storms that battered Esroniet throughout the rest of 289.

The Council's last contact with the Emperor was in early Frostfall. By Evening Star, the Council was extremely worried about the situation in Akavir and ordered the fleet to sail regardless of the risk. Despite the continued storms, the fleet managed to press on to Akavir. Hope was raised when contact was made with the Emperor's battlemage, who reported that Ionith still held out. Plans were quickly laid for the Expeditionary Force to break out of Ionith and fall back on Septimia, where the fleet would meet them. This was the last direct contact with the Expeditionary Force. The fleet arrived in Septimia to find its garrison under savage assault from a large Tsaesci army. The battlemages with the fleet threw back the enemy long enough for the survivors to embark and the fleet to withdraw.

The few survivors of the Expeditionary Force who reached Septimia told how the Emperor had led the army out of Ionith by night two days earlier, succesfully breaking through the enemy lines but then being surrounded by overwhelming forces on the road to Septimia. They told of a heroic last stand by the Emperor and the Tenth Legion, which allowed a remnant of the Fourteenth to reach Septimia. Two survivors of the Tenth arrived in Septimia that night, having slipped through the enemy lines during their undisciplined victory celebration. These men confirmed having seen the Emperor die, cut down by enemy arrows as he rallied the Tenth's shield wall.

Part IV: Conclusion

The Commission believes that the invasion of Akavir was doomed from the start for several reasons, none of which could have been foreseen beforehand, unfortunately.

Despite extensive intelligence-gathering, the Expeditionary Force was clearly unprepared for the situation in Akavir. The unexpected weather which plagued the army and navy was particularly disastrous. Without the loss of a majority of the Far East Fleet during the campaign, the Expeditionary Force could have been withdrawn in 289. The weather also forced the Emperor to assign most of his Battlemage Corps to the fleet, leaving him without their valuable assistance during the fighting which soon followed. And of course the unexpected drought which struck Ionith during 289 dashed the hopes of supplying the army locally, and left the Expeditionary Force in an untenable situation when besieged in Ionith.

The Tsaesci were also much stronger than intelligence reports had suggested. Information on the size of the army the Tsaesci were eventually able to field against the Expeditionary Force is vague, as the only serious fighting took place after regular communications were cut off between the Emperor and the Council. Nevertheless, it seems likely that the Tsaesci outnumbered the Emperor's forces by several times, as they were able to force four crack legions into retreat and then keep them under siege for several months.

As was stated previously, the Commission declines to criticize the initial decision to invade Akavir. Based on what was known at the time, the plan seemed sound. It is only with the benefit of hindsight does it become obvious that the invasion had very little chance of success. Nevertheless, the Commission believes several valuable lessons can be taken from this disaster.

First, the Tsaesci may have extremely powerful arcane forces at their command. The possibility that they may have manipulated the weather across such a vast region seems incredible (and it should be noted that three Commissioners strongly objected to this paragraph even being included in this Report), but the Commission believes that this matter deserves urgent investigation. The potential danger is such that even the slight possibility must be taken seriously.

Second, the Tsaesci appear to possess no navy to speak of. The Expeditionary Force was never threatened by sea, and the Far East Fleet fought nothing but the weather. Indeed, initial plans called for a portion of the Fleet to remain in Akavir for use in coastal operations, but in the event there were very few places where the large vessels of the Fleet could approach the land, due to the innumerable reefs, sandbars, islands, etc. that infested the coastal waters north and south from Septimia. Due to the utter lack of trees in the plain around Septimia and Ionith, the Expeditionary Force was unable to build smaller vessels which could have navigated the shallow coastal waters. Any future military expeditions against Akavir would do well to consider some way of bringing a means for inshore naval operations in order to exploit this clear advantage over the Tsaesci, an advantage that was sadly unexploited by the Expeditionary Force.

Third, much longer-term study needs to be made of Akavir before another invasion could even be contemplated. The information gathered over the four years prior to the invasion was extensive, but clearly inadequate. The weather conditions were completely unexpected; the Tsaesci much stronger than expected; and the attempted negotiations by the Emperor with the Tsaesci a disaster. Akavir proved alien beyond expectation, and the Commission believes any future attempt to invade Akavir should not be contemplated without much greater knowledge of the conditions, politics, and peoples of that continent than presently obtains.

Finally, the Commission unanimously concludes that given what we now know, any attempt to invade Akavir is folly, at least in the present state of the Empire. The Empire's legions are needed at home. One day, a peaceful, united Empire will return to Akavir and exact severe retribution for the disaster at Ionith and for our fallen Emperor. But that day is not now, nor in the foreseeable future.
BOOK:DESCBook2CommonBeggarPrinceWe look down upon the beggars of the Empire. These lost souls are the poor and wretched of the land. Every city has its beggars. Most are so poor they have only the clothes on their backs. They eat the scraps the rest of us throw out. We toss them a coin so that we don't have to think too long about their plight.

Imagine my surprise when I heard the tale of the Beggar Prince. I could not imagine what a Prince of Beggars would be. Here is the tale I heard. It takes place in the first age, when gods walked like men and daedra stalking the wilderness with impunity. It is a time before they were all confined to Oblivion.

There once was a man named Wheedle. Or maybe it was a woman. The story goes to great lengths to avoid declaring Wheedle's gender. Wheedle was the 13th child of a king in Valenwood. As such Wheedle was in no position to take the throne or even inherit much property or wealth.

Wheedle had left the palace to find independent fortune and glory. After many days of endless forest roads and tiny villages, Wheedle came upon a three men surrounding a beggar. The beggar was swaddled in rags from head to toe. No portion of the vagabond's body was visible. The men were intent on slaying the beggar.

With a cry of rage and indignation, Wheedle charged the men with sword drawn. Being simple townsfolk, armed only with pitchforks and scythes, they immediately fled from the armored figure with the shining sword.

"Many thanks for saving me," wheezed the beggar from beneath the heap of foul rags. Wheedle could barely stand the stench.

"What is your name, wretch?" Wheedle asked.

"I am Namira."

Unlike the townsfolk, Wheedle was well learned. That name meant nothing to them, but to Wheedle it was an opportunity.

"You are the Daedric lord!" Wheedle exclaimed. "Why did you allow those men to harass you? You could have slain them all with a whisper."

"I am please you recognized me," Namira rasped. "I am frequently reviled by townsfolk. It pleases me to be recognized for my attribute, if not for my name."

Wheedle knew that Namira was the Daedric lord of all thing gross and repulsive. Diseases such as leprosy and gangrene were her domain. Where others might have seen danger, Wheedle saw opportunity.

"Oh, great Namira, let me apprentice myself to you. I ask only that you grant me powers to make my fortune and forge a name for myself that will live through the ages."

"Nay. I make my way alone in the world. I have no need for an apprentice."

Namira shambled off down the road. Wheedle would not be put off. With a bound, Wheedle was at Namira's heel, pressing the case for an apprenticeship. For 33 days and nights, Wheedle kept up the debate. Namira said nothing, but Wheedle's voice was ceaseless. Finally, on the 33rd day, Wheedle was too hoarse to talk.

Namira looked back on the suddenly silent figure. Wheedle knelt in the mud at her feet, open hands raised in supplication.

"It would seem you have completed your apprenticeship to me after all," Namira declared. "I shall grant your request."

Wheedle was overjoyed.

"I grant you the power of disease. You may choose to be afflicted with any disease you choose, changing them at will, so long as it has visible symptoms. However, you must always bear at least one.

"I grant you the power of pity. You may evoke pity in anyone that sees you.

"Finally, I grant you the power of disregard. You may cause others to disregard your presence."

Wheedle was aghast. These were not boons from which a fortune could be made. They were curses, each awful in its own right, but together they were unthinkable.

"How am I to make my fortune and forge a name for myself with these terrible gifts?"

"As you begged at my feet for 33 days and 33 nights, so shall you now beg for your fortune in the cities of men. Your name will become legendary among the beggars of Tamriel. The story of Wheedle, the Prince of Beggars, shall be handed down throughout the generations.

It was as Namira predicted. Wheedle was an irresistible beggar. None could see the wretch without desperately wanting to toss a coin at the huddled form. However, Wheedle also discovered that the power of disregard gave great access to the secrets of the realms. People unknowingly said important things where Wheedle could hear them. Wheedle grew to know the comings and goings of every citizen in the city.

To this day, it is said that if you really want to know something, go ask the beggars. They have eyes and ears throughout the cities. They know all the little secrets of the daily lives of it's citizens.
The Book of Daedra

[These are excerpts from this lengthy tome, describing the nature of each of the Daedra.]

zura, whose sphere is dusk and dawn, the magic in-between realms of twilight, known as Moonshadow, Mother of the Rose, and Queen of the Night Sky.

oethiah, whose sphere is deceit and conspiracy, and the secret plots of murder, assassination, treason, and unlawful overthrow of authority.

lavicus Vile, whose sphere is the granting of power and wishes through ritual invocations and pact.

ermaeus Mora, whose sphere is scrying of the tides of Fate, of the past and future as read in the stars and heavens, and in whose dominion are the treasures of knowledge and memory.

ircine, whose sphere is the Hunt, the Sport of Daedra, the Great Game, the Chase, known as the Huntsman and the Father of Manbeasts.

alacath, whose sphere is the patronage of the spurned and ostracized, the keeper of the Sworn Oath, and the Bloody Curse.

ehrunes Dagon, whose sphere is Destruction, Change, Revolution, Energy, and Ambition.

ephala, whose sphere is obscured to mortals; known by the names Webspinner, Spinner, and Spider; whose only consistent theme seems to be interference in the affairs of mortals for her amusement.

eridia, whose sphere is obscured to mortals; who is associated with the energies of living things.

olag Bal, whose sphere is the domination and enslavement of mortals; whose desire is to harvest the souls of mortals and to bring mortals souls within his sway by spreading seeds of strife and discord in the mortal realms.

amira, whose sphere is the ancient Darkness; known as the Spirit Daedra, ruler of sundry dark and shadowy spirits; associated with spiders, insects, slugs, and other repulsive creatures which inspire mortals with an instinctive revulsion.

octurnal, whose sphere is the night and darkness; who is known as the Night Mistress.

eryite, whose sphere is the ordering of the lowest orders of Oblivion, known as the Taskmaster.

anguine, whose sphere is hedonistic revelry and debauchery, and passionate indulgences of darker natures.

heogorath, whose sphere is Madness, and whose motives are unknowable.

aernima, whose sphere is the realm of dreams and nightmares, and from whose realm issues forth evil omens.

[Especially marked for special interest under the heading "Malacath" you find a reference to SCOURGE, blessed by Malacath, and dedicated to the use of mortals. In short, the reference suggests that any Daedra attempting to invoke the weapon's powers will be expelled into the voidstreams of Oblivion.]

"Of the legendary artifacts of the Daedra, many are well known, like Azura's Star, and Sheogorath's Wabbajack. Others are less well known, like Scourge, Mackkan's Hammer, Bane of Daedra...."

"...yet though Malacath blessed Scourge to be potent against his Daedra kin, he thought not that it should fall into Daedric hands, then to serve as a tool for private war among caitiff and forsaken. Thus did Malacath curse the device such that, should any dark kin seek to invoke its powers, that a void should open and swallow that Daedra, and purge him into Oblivion's voidstreams, from thence to pathfind back to the Real and Unreal Worlds in the full order of time."


Darkest Darkness

In Morrowind, both worshippers and sorcerers summon lesser Daedra and bound Daedra as servants and instruments.

Most Daedric servants can be summoned by sorcerers only for very brief periods, within the most fragile and tenuous frameworks of command and binding. This fortunately limits their capacity for mischief, though in only a few minutes, most of these servants can do terrible harm to their summoners as well as their enemies.

Worshippers may bind other Daedric servants to this plane through rituals and pacts. Such arrangements result in the Daedric servant remaining on this plane indefinitely -- or at least until their bodily manifestations on this plane are destroyed, precipitating their supernatural essences back to Oblivion. Whenever Daedra are encountered at Daedric ruins or in tombs, they are almost invariably long-term visitors to our plane.

Likewise, lesser entities bound by their Daedra Lords into weapons and armor may be summoned for brief periods, or may persist indefinitely, so long as they are not destroyed and banished. The class of bound weapons and bound armors summoned by Temple followers and conjurors are examples of short-term bindings; Daedric artifacts like Mehrunes Razor and the Mask of Clavicus Vile are examples of long-term bindings.

The Tribunal Temple of Morrowind has incorporated the veneration of Daedra as lesser spirits subservient to the immortal Almsivi, the Triune godhead of Almalexia, Sotha Sil, and Vivec. These subordinate Daedra are divided into the Good Daedra and the Bad Daedra. The Good Daedra have willingly submitted to the authority of Almsivi; the Bad Daedra are rebels who defy Almsivi -- treacherous kin who are more often adversaries than allies.

The Good Daedra are Boethiah, Azura, and Mephala. The hunger is a powerful and violent lesser Daedra associated with Boethiah, Father of Plots -- a sinuous, long-limbed, long-tailed creature with a beast-skulled head, noted for its paralyzing touch and its ability to disintegrate weapons and armor. The winged twilight is a messenger of Azura, Goddess of Dusk and Dawn. Winged twilights resemble the feral harpies of the West, though the feminine aspects of the winged twilights are more ravishing, and their long, sharp, hooked tails are immeasurably more deadly. Spider Daedra are the servants of Mephala, taking the form of spider-humanoid centaurs, with a naked upper head, torso, and arms of human proportions, mounted on the eight legs and armored carapace of a giant spider. Unfortunately, these Daedra are so fierce and irrational that they cannot be trusted to heed the commands of the Spinner. As a consequence, few sorcerers are willing to either summon or bind such creatures in Morrowind.

The Bad Daedra are Mehrunes Dagon, Malacath, Sheogorath, and Molag Bal. Three lesser Daedra are associated with Mehrunes Dagon: the agile and pesky scamp, the ferocious and beast-like clannfear, and the noble and deadly dremora. The crocodile-headed humanoid Daedra called the daedroth is a servant of Molag Bal, while the giant but dim-witted ogrim is a servant of Malacath. Sheogorath's lesser Daedra, the golden saint, a half-clothed human female in appearance, is highly resistant to magic and a dangerous spellcaster.

Another type of lesser Daedra often encountered in Morrowind is the Atronach, or Elemental Daedra. Atronachs have no binding kinship or alignments with the Daedra Lords, serving one realm or another at whim, shifting sides according to seduction, compulsion, or opportunity.


The Eastern Provinces Impartially Considered

...and even if we overlook the dubious moral and legal justifications for hundreds of years of occupation of these two provinces, what economic or military benefits can we derive from Morrowind and Black Marsh?

Indeed, a few beneficiaries of Imperial monopolies in the provinces do profit from exploitation of their wealth and resources. But does the Empire as a whole benefit? Hardly. The vast machineries of the Imperial bureaucracies cost far more to maintain than can be recovered in duties and taxes. And the cost of establishing and maintaining the garrisons of the Imperial legion in the far-flung wilderness posts of these provinces would be cost-effective only if there were evidence of a military threat from the East. But no such evidence exists. No army of Morrowind or Black Marsh has ever threatened the security of any other Imperial province, let alone the security of Cyrodiil itself.

In fact, a greater threat to Imperial security lies in the idle legions that the taxpayer spends thousands of drakes to support. The generals of these legions, facing no enemies or opposition within the borders of their provinces, may look with ambition to the West. With their loyal veteran troops and coffers fattened by friendly monopolists, they become unpredictable political factors in the uncertainties surrounding the Imperial succession.

If the occupation of Morrowind and Black Marsh were motivated by idealistic aspirations, perhaps there might lie some justification for bearing the burden of Empire. But consider the shame of the Empire's mute acceptance to the unspeakable practice of slavery in Morrowind. Instead of using our Imperial legions to free the wretched Khajiit and Argonian slaves from their Dark Elf masters, we pay our troopers to PROTECT the indefensible institution of slavery. Within the ebony mines of Morrowind, bloated monopolists under Imperial charters exploit slave labor to harvest the outrageous profits assured by rampant graft and corruption.

Consider the colossal arrogance of our proposition to bring Peace and Enlightenment to the East, when in fact, we have only brought our armies into lands who have never threatened us, and when we have only exploited the most shameful and evil practices we have found in Morrowind and Black Marsh simply to enrich the friends and flatterers of the Imperial family.

Impartially considered, our occupation of the Eastern provinces is morally corrupt, militarily indefensible, and economically ruinous. The only conclusion is that we should disband the Eastern legions, withdraw the Imperial bureaucracies and monopolists from the East, and give these ancient lands and peoples their freedom. Only by doing so may we hope to preserve the fragile ideals and fortunes of Western culture.

Frontier, Conquest, and Accommodation:

A Social History of Cyrodiil

University of Gwylim Press, 3E 344

istorians often portray the human settlement of Tamriel as a straightforward process of military expansion of the Nords of Skyrim. In fact, human settlers occupied nearly every corner of Tamriel before Skyrim was even founded. These so-called "Nedic peoples" include the proto-Cyrodilians, the ancestors of the Bretons, the aboriginals of Hammerfell, and perhaps a now-vanished Human population of Morrowind. Strictly speaking, the Nords are simply another of these Nedic peoples, the only one that failed to find a method of peaceful accommodation with the Elves who already occupied Tamriel.

Ysgramor was certainly not the first human settler in Tamriel. In fact, in "fleeing civil war in Atmora," as the Song of Return states, Ysgramor was following a long tradition of migration from Atmora; Tamriel had served as a "safety valve" for Atmora for centuries before Ysgramor's arrival. Malcontents, dissidents, rebels, landless younger sons, all made the difficult crossing from Atmora to the "New World" of Tamriel. New archeological excavations date the earliest human settlements in Hammerfell, High Rock, and Cyrodiil at ME800-1000, centuries earlier than Ysgramor, even assuming that the twelve Nord "kings" prior to Harald were actual historical figures.

The Nedic peoples were a minority in a land of Elves, and had no choice but to live peacefully with the Elder Race. In High Rock, Hammerfell, Cyrodiil, and possibly Morrowind, they did just that, and the Nedic peoples flourished and expanded over the last centuries of the Merethic Era. Only in Skyrim did this accommodation break down, an event recorded in the Song of Return. Perhaps, being close to reinforcements from Atmora, the proto-Nords did not feel it necessary to submit to the authority of the Skyrim Elves. Indeed, the early Nord chronicles note that under King Harald, the first historical Nord ruler (1E 113-221), "the Atmoran mercenaries returned to their homeland" following the consolidation of Skyrim as a centralized kingdom. Whatever the case, the pattern was set -- in Skyrim, expansion would proceed militarily, with human settlement following the frontier of conquest, and the line between Human territory and Elven territory was relatively clear.

But beyond this "zone of conflict," the other Nedic peoples continued to merge with their Elven neighbors. When the Nord armies of the First Empire finally entered High Rock and Cyrodiil, they found Bretons and proto-Cyrodiils already living there among the Elves. Indeed, the Nords found it difficult to distinguish between Elf and Breton, the two races had already intermingled to such a degree. The arrival of the Nord armies upset the balance of power between the Nedic peoples and the Elves. Although the Nords' expansion into High Rock and Cyrodiil was relatively brief (less than two centuries), the result was decisive; from then on, power in those regions shifted from the Elves to the Humans.
Fundaments of Alchemy
by Alyandon Mathierry
ften overlooked by aspiring mages, Alchemy is a time-honored, rewarding discipline that can change the lives of those who master it. It is difficult, and often dangerous, to advance one's knowledge of the materials used in alchemical formulas, but continued study and hard work will, in the end, reward the alchemist greatly.

Before success can be achieved, or even attempted, the beginning alchemist must understand the basic principles behind his craft. Many items in our world, mostly organic in nature, can be broken down into more fundamental essences with magickal properties. The more skilled the Alchemist, the more properites of an ingredient that can be harnessed. Combining the essences of two or more ingredients can result in the creation of a potion, which anyone may then drink. (Legend has it that a truly great Alchemist can brew potions from a single ingredient, a feat well beyond the capabilities of most.)

The Alchemist's potion can have several effects, depending on the ingredients used, and not all effects are beneficial. In many cases, recipes result in a potion with a mix of positive and negative effects; it is up to the Alchemist to determine which recipes yield the best results. (It is worth noting that potions can be created to have only negative effects and be used as poisons. This practice is not recommended by the author, and this text shall not discuss such potions further.)

Wortcraft is, in fact, amateur Alchemy. Eating an ingredient requires grinding it against the teeth, which occasionally releases its simplest essence and results in a fleeting effect on the eater. Wortcraft never has as strong a result as a potion created using the proper tools.

An Alchemist's Tools
The mortar and pestle is the Alchemist's most important and essential tool. Without it, no ingredient can be correctly prepared for use in a potion. The budding alchemist is advised to keep a mortar and pestle on hand at all times, and become comfortable with its use early on. The simple grinding of an ingredient is the most fundamental step in brewing potions. When properly ground, the petals of the Redwort flower yield a powder that can, when mixed correctly with another ingredient such as ginseng, create a potion to cure poisons. (This is one formula that many alchemists are quick to learn and retain, as mistakes in potion mixing often require its use.)

The advanced Alchemist has other tools at his disposal to improve the quality of his potions. A Retort can be employed to purify the mixture, improving the positive effects of a potion. Washing the mixture through an Alembic helps to distill the potion, reducing any negative effects, and a Calcinator can be used to burn away impurities in the mixture, increasing the potency of all the potion's effects. While these apparatus are not necessary to create potions, it is advised that they be used whenever possible.

Ingredient Combination
A potion is only as good as its ingredients. Only those with identical effects may be combined to make a potion; up to four ingredients may be successfully used in a single potion.

As the Alchemist gains skill in preparing ingredients, new properties may be discovered and can be used in creating potions. While this can be an exciting time, expanding the Alchemist's repertoire, he should take care to check carefully which effects his potions will contain when he is done brewing. Many established recipes may have new results, not all of which are beneficial.

Galerion The Mystic
By Asgrim Kolsgreg

uring the early bloody years of the Second Era, Vanus Galerion was born under the name Trechtus, a serf on the estate of a minor nobleman, Lord Gyrnasse of Sollicich-on-Ker. Trechtus' father and mother were common laborers, but his father had secretly, against the law of Lord Gyrnasse, taught himself and then Trechtus to read. Lord Gyrnasse had been advised that literate serfs were an abomination of nature and dangerous to themselves and their lords, and had closed all bookstalls within Sollicich-on-Ker. All booksellers, poets, and teachers were forbidden, except within Gyrnasse's keep. Nevertheless, a small scale smuggling operation kept a number of books and scrolls in circulation right under Gyrnasse's shadow.

When Trechtus was eight, the smugglers were found and imprisoned. Some said that Trechtus's mother, an ignorant and religious woman fearful of her husband, was the betrayer of the smugglers, but there were other rumors as well. The trial of the smugglers was nonexistant, and the punishment swift. The body of Trechtus' father was kept hanging for weeks during the hottest summer Sollicich-on-Ker had seen in centuries.

Three months later, Trechtus ran away from Lord Gyrnasse's estate. He made it as far as Alinor, half-way across Summerset Isle. A band of troubadours found him nearly dead, curled up in a ditch by the side of the road. They nursed him to health and employed him as an errand boy in return for food and shelter. One of the troubadours, a soothsayer named Heliand, began testing Trechtus' mind and found the boy, though shy, to be preternaturally intelligent and sophisticated given his circumstances. Heliand recognized in the boy a commonality, for Heliand had been trained on the Isle of Artaeum as a mystic.

When the troupe was performing in the village of Potansa on the far eastern end of Summurset, Heliand took Trechtus, then a boy of eleven, to the Isle of Artaeum. The Magister of the Isle, Iachesis, recognized potential in Trechtus and took him on as pupil, giving him the name of Vanus Galarion. Vanus trained his mind on the Isle of Artaeum, as well as his body.

Thus was the first Archmagister of the Mages Guild trained. From the Psijics of the Isle of Artaeum, he received his training. From his childhood of want and injustice, he received his philosophy of sharing knowledge.
A Less Rude Song
by Anonymous

They say
The Iliac Bay
Is the place to barrel around
Without a bit of apparel on,
As advertised in that carol song
A tune that's sung as the west wind blows
About it's lovely not wearing any clothes.
Ladies singing high notes, men singing lows,
Implying that the most luscious depravity
And complete absence of serious gravity
Can only be found in the waterous cavity
Of Iliac Bay.

If you are the type who is more a sinner than a sinned,
You'll find it all in Morrowind.

But the truth, my child,
Is that nothing more wild
That an ordinary fashion
Kind of slightly mad passion
Can be detected if at all
In Sentinel and Daggerfall.

Whatever your odd needs: feathered, scaled, or finned,
You'll find it all in Morrowind

It's an invention of bards
That Bretons and Redguards
Have more than some staid fun
And suffer deviant fornication.
For the most of madness, not the least,
The wise debaucher heads out east.

Where your once steely reserve is now merely tinned,
You'll find it all in Morrowind.

In Morrowind,
There is sin.
But, pray, do not confuse Dunmer variety
With that found in tepid Western society
Compared to which, it nearly is piety.
It isn't terribly ingenious calling it prudery
Observing the Dark Elf aversion to nudity.
After all, the preferred sort of lewdity
In these parts is far more pernicious.
From the Ashlanders to the wettest fishes
You'll find pleasure and pain quite delicious
In Morrowind.

If you find yourself with unkind kinship with your kin
You'll find it all in Morrowind.


This manual is commissioned by General Warhaft to serve as a guide and manual to armor for all officers in the Imperial service.

On the battlefield, a soldier's armor should reflect his principal duties. Scouts, light cavalry, archers, and raiding skirmishers should wear light armor. Mobility and speed is of paramount importance to these troops. It is recommended that a cuirass and greaves be worn at all times. Helmets, gauntlets and boots are of value to cavalry and skirmishers, but not scouts or archers.

Light armor is made from fur, leather, chainmail, mithril, elven or glass. This is also the order of their quality and expense, fur being the least protective and cheapest, and glass the best and most expensive. Fur, leather armor, and chainmail are readily available throughout the empire. Mithril, elven and glass are exceedingly rare and are only found in ancient ruins and remote tombs.

Heavy armor should be reserved for the frontline infantry, pikemen, heavy cavalry or foot knights. All officers should be issued heavy armor. Helmets, cuirass and greaves should be standard issue at all times. Boots and gauntlets are only necessary for the cavalry and foot knights.

Blacksmiths can forge heavy armor from iron, steel, dwarven, orchish, ebony or daedric. This is also the order of their quality and expense, iron being the least useful and cheapest, with daedric the most effective and expensive. Iron and steel plate mail can be found in most any blacksmith's shop. The other materials are rare and armor made from them is only found in ancient treasure hoards hidden deep underground.

Advanced practitioners in the Mages Guild know the secrets of placing enchantments upon pieces of armor. The greatest enchantments are typically placed on armor made from rarer, more durable materials, such as ebony and daedric, but even iron can be made to take an enchantment.

The self-styled Bard of Battle, Amorous Janus, once penned a comedic ballad about a Colovian general who was constant removing and re-equipping his armor every few minutes to conserve the magicka powering it. By way of response to the implied criticism, the general had him mounted on the front of a battering ram during the siege of Castle Fallow.


This manual is commissioned by General Warhaft to serve as a guide and manual to arms and weapons for all Imperial officers in the field.

Obviously, a soldier's weaponry should reflect his skills. Skill with a blade is recommended for daggers, shortswords, longswords, and claymores. Skill with blunt weapons is desirable to wield the war axe, mace, battle axe and war hammmer. To the uninitiated, axes and hammers may seem to be very different weapons, but the rhythm, drill, and physical strength used by both weapon types are virtually identical. Only those with marksman skill should be outfitted with the bow.

Most of these weapons are commonly used in combination with a shield. The claymore, battle axe and war hammer,however, require both hands to use. These two-handed weapons are best suited to heavily-armored knights, berserkers and those soldiers that hold the flanks of the line.

Arms have been made from many materials over the ages, and each material varies in weight, durability, and cost. These materials are here ranked in order of desirablility and cost, with cheapest and least desirable listed first: iron, steel, silver, dwarven, elven, glass, ebony, and finally daedric. Some armorers correctly observe that silver weapons are slightly less durable than steel; nonetheless, its unique ability to affect ghosts, wraiths and certain types of Daedric creatures is undisputed.

Bows can be made with laminated cores of the same materials. This provides a higher tensile strength and therefore greater power on the draw. The materials used in the arrow, particularly in the arrowhead, can affect its mass and penetration. Thus, the quality of the bow and of the arrow are taken together to determine the weapon's overall armor penetration.

Enchanted weapons are mentioned in virtually every fable and song. The magic on such items lies dormant until they strike an opponent. At that moment the enchantment is activated, causing distress and injury to the target. Enchantments on bows are transferred to the arrow at the moment of release. Should the arrow have an enchantment of its own, however, the missile now carries both enchantments and delivers them to the target.

An enchanted weapon has a limited reservoir of magicka. Each blow drains some of its reserves, until finally it is drained dry. The enchantment can be recharged by arcane processes involving soul gems. The more powerful the soul in the gem, the more magicka is restored to the item.

Mixed Unit Tactics
in the Five Years War
Volume One
By Codus Callonus

The Legions could learn from the unconventional tactics used by the Khajiit in the Five Years War against Valenwood. I was stationed at the Sphinxmoth Legion Fort on the border near Dune and witnessed many of the northern skirmishes firsthand.

The war started with the so-called "Slaughter of Torval." The Khajiit claim that the Bosmer invaded the city without provocation and killed over a thousand citizens before being driven off by reinforcements from a nearby jungle tribe. The Bosmer claim that the attack was in retaliation for Khajiti bandits who were attacking wood caravans headed for Valenwood.

In the spring of 3E 396 the war moved closer to Fort Sphinxmoth. I was posted on lookout and saw parts of the conflict. I later spoke with both Khajiit and Bosmer who fought in the battle, and it will serve as an excellent example of how the Khajiit used a mixture of ground and tree units to win the war.

The Khajiit began the fight in an unusual way by sending tree-cutting teams of Cathay-raht and the fearsome Senche-raht or "Battlecats" into the outskirts of Valenwood's forests. When word reached the Bosmer that trees were being felled (allegedly a crime in the strange Bosmeri religion), a unit of archers were dispatched from larger conflicts in the south. The Bosmer were thus goaded into splitting their forces into smaller groups.

The Bosmer archers took up positions in the remaining trees whose branches were now twenty or more feet apart, allowing some light into the forest floor. The Bosmer bent the remaining trees with their magics into small fortifications from which to fire their bows.

When the tree-cutters arrived the next morning, a half dozen Khajiit fell to the Bosmer arrows in the first volley. After that the Khajiit took large wooden shields from the backs of the Senche-raht and made a crude shelter. The Khajiit, even the enormous Senche-raht, were able to hide between this shelter and one of the larger trees. When it became apparent that the Khajiit would not leave their shelter, some Bosmer choose to descend and engage the Khajiit sword-to-claw.

When the Bosmer were nearly upon the shelter, one of the Khajiit began playing on a native instrument of plucked metal bars. This was a signal of some kind, and a small group of the man-like Ohmes and Ohmes-raht emerged from covered holes on the forest floor. Although outnumbered, they were attacking from behind by surprise and won the ground quickly.

The Bosmer archers in the trees would have still won the battle were they not having troubles of their own. A group of Dagi and Dagi-raht, two of the less common forms of Khajiit who live in the trees of the Tenmar forest, jumped from one tree to another under a magical cover of silence. They took up positions in the higher branches that could not hold a Bosmer's weight. When the signal came, they used their claws and either torches or spells of fire (accounts from the two survivors I spoke with vary on this point) to distract the archers while the battle on the ground took place. A few of the archers were able to flee, but most were killed.

Apparently the Dagi and Dagi-raht have more magical ability than is widely believed if they were able to keep themselves magically silenced for so long. One of the surviving Bosmer told me that he saw a few ordinary cats among the Dagi and even claimed that these ordinary cats are known as 'Alfiq' and that they were the spellcasters, but Bosmer are almost as unreliable as the Khajiit when it comes to the truth, and I cannot believe that a housecat can cast spells.

At the end of the day the Khajiit lost perhaps a half-dozen fighters out a force of no more than four dozen, while the Bosmer lost nearly an entire company of archers. The survivors were unable to report back before a second company of archers arrived and this strategy was repeated again, with similar results. Finally, a much larger force was sent and the Bosmer won that battle with the help of the native animals of Valenwood. That third skirmish and the Khajiti response I will discuss in the second volume of this series.


An Introductory Text

The Beginning Spellcaster
The most powerful mages in Tamriel were once beginners. They all had similar early experiences: exposure to magic kindled an interest and/or unlocked some latent ability, followed by years of hard work. These intrepid souls honed their skills, learned new spells, and vigorously trained their minds and bodies to become the formidable figures they were known as during their later lives.

The Mages Guild of Tamriel has long been the first stop on a long road to knowledge and power for many individuals. Providing magical services to the general public, the Guild offers a wide variety of spells for purchase, and is recommended as a first stop for any aspiring spellcaster. Independent dealers may be found, though their selection of spells is often not as comprehensive as that of the Mages Guild.

Many spells are beyond the capabilities of beginning mages; the ability to render one's self invisible, for example, is an advanced power and is beyond the novice spellcaster. Through practice, a mage may become more skilled in a given school of Magic and find himself proficient enough to begin exploring its more powerful aspects. The fledging mage should not be daunted by his inability to wield certain powers, but should instead use this as a point of focus and a drive for bettering himself. Rather than becoming discouraged, the student should look forward to higher levels of skill, such as the advanced techniques of absorbing spells, summoning lesser (and eventually greater) Daedra and undead -- for research purposes only -- and protection against specific types of spells, such as Fire, Frost, and Shock spells.

Mages wishing to specialize in a particular school of magic are encouraged to learn as many spells of possible within that school, and to practice them frequently. All mages, whether specializing or nurturing a general interest, are encouraged to apply for membership within the Mages Guild. Beyond services available to the general public, the accomplished Guild member has access to many exclusive services such as Advanced Spellcraft and Enchanting. These services have been deemed potentially dangerous to the public at large, and have been restricted to higher-ranked Guild members in good standing by the Council of Mages.

Citizens interested in the further use of magic should consult their local Mages Guild ArchMagister.

the Imperial Province

by Erramanwe of Sunhold

fter the conquest of Hammerfell, Imperial legions massed along the northeastern borders of Cyrodiil, and invasion fleets prepared in Skyrim.

Initially, though the Imperial legions and navy were widely considered undefeatable, House Indoril and the Temple hierarchy proposed to resist to the death. Redoran and Dres stood by Indoril, with Telvanni remaining neutral. Hlaalu proposed accommodation.

Contrived border incidents in Black Marsh ended inconclusively, but the swampy terrain did not favor legion and navy coordination. Against the legions massed west of Silgrad Tower and Kragenmoor, and the legions west of Blacklight and Cormaris View, Morrowind had pitifully small militias stiffened by small companies of Redoran mercenaries and elite units of house nobles and Temple Ordinators and Armigers. Further complicating matters was the refusal of Indoril, Dres, Hlaalu, and Telvanni to garrison the western borders; Indoril and Dres proposed, rather than defend the western border, instead to withdraw to the interior and fight a guerilla war. With Hlaalu advocating accommodation, and Telvanni remaining neutral, Redoran therefore faced the prospect of standing alone against the Empire.

The situation changed radically when Vivec appeared in person in Vivec City to announce his negotiation of a treaty with Emperor Tiber Septim, reorganizing Morrowind as a province of the Empire, but guaranteeing "all rights of faith and self-government." A shocked Temple hierarchy, which apparently had not been consulted, greeted the announcement with awkward silence. Indoril swore they would resist to the death, with the loyal support of Dres, while Redoran, grateful for a graceful excuse to avoid facing the legions unsupported, joined with Hlaalu in welcoming the agreement. Telvanni, seeing which way the wind blew, joined with Hlaalu and Redoran in supporting the treaty.

Nothing is known of the circumstances of the personal meeting between Septim and Vivec, or where it took place, or the preliminaries which must have preceded the treaty. The public reason was to protect the identities of the agents involved. In the West, speculation has centered around the role of Zurin Arctus in brokering the agreement; in the East, rumors suggest that Vivec offered Numidium to aid in the conquest of the Altmer and Sumerset Isle in return for significant concessions to preserve self-rule, house traditions, and religious practices in Morrowind.

The Lord High Councilor of the Grand Council, an Indoril, refused to accept the treaty, and refused to step down. He was assassinated, and replaced by a Hlaalu. House Hlaalu took the opportunity to settle some old scores with House Indoril, and a number of local councils changed hands in bloody coups. More blood was shed in these inter-house struggles than against the Imperial Legions during Morrowind's transition from an independent nation to a province of the Empire.

The generals of the legions had dreaded an invasion of Morrowind. The Dunmer were widely regarded as the most dreadful and fanatic foes, further inspired by their Temple and clan traditions. The generals had not grasped the political weaknesses of Morrowind, which Emperor Tiber Septim recognized and exploited. At the same time, given the tragic depopulation and destruction experienced by the other provinces conquered by Septim, and the swift and efficient assimilation of Morrowind into the Imperial legal systems and economy, with relatively small impact on lower or upper classes of Morrowind's citizens, the Tribunal also deserves some credit for recognizing the hopelessness of Morrowind's defense, and the chance of gaining important concessions at the treaty table by being the first to offer peace.

By contrast, many Indoril nobles chose to commit suicide rather than submit to the Empire, with the result that the House was significantly weakened during the period of transition, guaranteeing that they would lose much of their influence and power to House Hlaalu, whose influence and power was waxing with its enthusiastic accommodation with the Empire. The Temple hierarchy more skillfully managed their loss of face, remaining aloof from political struggles, and earning the good will of the people by concentrating on their economic, educational, and spiritual welfare.

Mysterious Akavir

Akavir means "Dragon Land". Tamriel means "Dawn's Beauty." Atmora means "Elder Wood". Only the Redguards know what Yokuda ever meant.

Akavir is the kingdom of the beasts. No Men or Mer live in Akavir, though Men once did. These Men, however, were eaten long ago by the vampiric Serpent Folk of Tsaesci. Had they not been eaten, these Men would have eventually migrated to Tamriel. The Nords left Atmora for Tamriel. Before them, the Elves had abandoned Aldmeris for Tamriel. The Redguards destroyed Yokuda so they could make their journey. All Men and Mer know Tamriel is the nexus of creation, where the Last War will happen, where the Gods unmade Lorkhan and left their Adamantine Tower of secrets. Who knows what the Akaviri think of Tamriel, but ask yourself: why have they tried to invade it three times or more?

There are four major nations of Akavir: Kamal, Tsaesci, Tang Mo, and Ka Po' Tun. When they are not busy trying to invade Tamriel, they are fighting with each other.
Kamal is "Snow Hell". Demons live there, armies of them. Every summer they thaw out and invade Tang Mo, but the brave monkey-folk always drive them away. Once Ada'Soom Dir-Kamal, a king among demons, attempted to conquer Morrowind, but Almalexia and the Underking destroyed him at Red Mountain.

Tsaesci is "Snake Palace", once the strongest power in Akavir (before the Tiger-Dragon came). The serpent-folk ate all the Men of Akavir a long time ago, but still kind of look like them. They are tall, beautiful (if frightening), covered in golden scales, and immortal. They enslave the goblins of the surrounding isles, who provide labor and fresh blood. The holdings of Tsaesci are widespread. When natives of Tamriel think of the Akaviri they think of the Serpent-Folk, because one ruled the Cyrodilic Empire for four hundred years in the previous era. He was Potentate Versidue-Shaie, assassinated by the Morag Tong.

Tang Mo is the "Thousand Monkey Isles". There are many breeds of monkey-folk, and they are all kind, brave, and simple (and many are also very crazy). They can raise armies when they must, for all of the other Akaviri nations have, at one time or another, tried to enslave them. They cannot decide who they hate more, the Snakes or the Demons, but ask one, and he will probably say, "Snakes". Though once bitter enemies, the monkey-folk are now allies with the tiger-folk of Ka Po' Tun.

Ka Po' Tun is the "Tiger-Dragon's Empire". The cat-folk here are ruled by the divine Tosh Raka, the Tiger-Dragon. They are now a very great empire, stronger than Tsaesci (though not at sea). After the Serpent-Folk ate all the Men, they tried to eat all the Dragons. They managed to enslave the Red Dragons, but the black ones had fled to (then) Po Tun. A great war was raged, which left both the cats and the snakes weak, and the Dragons all dead. Since that time the cat-folk have tried to become the Dragons. Tosh Raka is the first to succeed. He is the largest Dragon in the world, orange and black, and he has very many new ideas.

"First," Tosh Raka says, "is that we kill all the vampire snakes." Then the Tiger-Dragon Emperor wants to invade Tamriel.

An Overview Of Gods and Worship In Tamriel
By Brother Hetchfeld

Editor's Note:
Brother Hetchfeld is an Associate Scribe at the Imperial University, Office of Introductory Studies
ods are commonly judged upon the evidence of their interest in worldly matters. A central belief in the active participation of Deities in mundane matters can be challenged by the reference to apparent apathy and indifference on the part of Gods during times of plague or famine.

From intervention in legendary quests to manifestations in common daily life, no pattern for the Gods of Tamriel activities is readily perceived. The concerns of Gods in many ways may seem unrelated or at best unconcerned with the daily trials of the mortal realm. The exceptions do exist, however.

Many historical records and legends point to the direct intervention of one or more gods at times of great need. Many heroic tales recount blessings of the divinity bestowed upon heroic figures who worked or quested for the good of a Deity or the Deity's temple. Some of the more powerful artifacts in the known world were originally bestowed upon their owners through such reward. It has also been reported that priests of high ranking in their temples may on occasion call upon their Deity for blessings or help in time of need. The exact nature of such contact and the blessings bestowed is given to much speculation, as the temples hold such associations secret and holy. This direct contact gives weight to the belief that the Gods are aware of the mortal realm. In many circumstances, however, these same Gods will do nothing in the face of suffering and death, seeming to feel no need to interfere. It is thus possible to conclude that we, as mortals, may not be capable of understanding more than a small fraction of the reasoning and logic such beings use.

One defining characteristic of all Gods and Goddesses is their interest in worship and deeds. Deeds in the form of holy quests are just one of the many things that bring the attention of a Deity. Deeds in everyday life, by conforming to the statutes and obligations of individual temples are commonly supposed to please a Deity. Performance of ceremony in a temple may also bring a Deity's attention. Ceremonies vary according to the individual Deity. The results are not always apparent but sacrifice and offerings are usually required to have any hope of gaining a Deity's attention.

While direct intervention in daily temple life has been recorded, the exact nature of the presence of a God in daily mundane life is a subject of controversy. A traditional saying of the Wood Elves is that "One man's miracle is another man's accident." While some gods are believed to take an active part of daily life, others are well known for their lack of interest in temporal affairs.

It has been theorized that gods do in fact gain strength from such things as worship through praise, sacrifice and deed. It may even be theorized that the number of worshippers a given Deity has may reflect on His overall position among the other Gods. This my own conjecture, garnered from the apparent ability of the larger temples to attain blessings and assistance from their God with greater ease than smaller religious institutions.

There are reports of the existence of spirits in our world that have the same capacity to use the actions and deeds of mortals to strengthen themselves as do the Gods. The understanding of the exact nature of such creatures would allow us to understand with more clarity the connection between a Deity and the Deity's worshipers.

The implication of the existence of such spirits leads to the speculation that these spirits may even be capable of raising themselves to the level of a God or Goddess. Motusuo of the Imperial Seminary has suggested that these spirits may be the remains of Gods and Goddesses who through time lost all or most of their following, reverting to their earliest most basic form. Practioners of the Old Ways say that there are no Gods, just greater and lesser spirits. Perhaps it is possible for all three theories to be true.

The Real Barenziah, Part 1

ive hundred years ago in Mournhold, City of Gems, there lived a blind widow and her only child, a tall, strapping young man. He was a miner, as was his father before him, a common laborer in the mines of the Lord of Mournhold, for his ability in magicka was small. The work was honorable but paid poorly. His mother made and sold comberry cakes at the city market to help eke out their living. They did well enough, she said, they had enough to fill their bellies, no one could wear more than one suit of clothing at a time, and the roof leaked only when it rained. But Symmachus would have liked more. He hoped for a lucky strike at the mines, which would garner him a large bonus. In his free hours he enjoyed hoisting a mug of ale in the tavern with his friends, and gambling with them at cards. He also drew the eyes and sighs of more than one pretty Elven lass, although none held his interest for long. He was a typical young Dark Elf of peasant descent, remarkable only for his size. It was rumored that he had a bit of Nordic blood in him.

In Symmachus' thirtieth year, there was great rejoicing in Mournhold-a girl-child had been born to the Lord and Lady. A Queen, the people sang, a Queen is born to us! For among the people of Mournhold, the birth of an heiress is a sure sign of future peace and prosperity.

When the time came round for the royal child's Rite of Naming, the mines were closed and Symmachus dashed home to bathe and dress in his best. "I'll rush straight home and tell you all about it," he promised his mother, who would not be able to attend. She had been ailing, and besides there would be a great crush of people as all Mournhold turned out to be part of the blessed event; and being blind she would be unable to see anything anyway.

"My son," she said. "Afore you go, fetch me a priest or a healer, else I may pass from the mortal plane ere you return."

Symmachus crossed to her pallet at once and noted anxiously that her forehead was very hot and her breathing shallow. He pried loose a slat of the wooden floor under which their small hoard of savings was kept. There wasn't nearly enough to pay a priest for healing. He would have to give what they had and owe the rest. Symmachus snatched up his cloak and hurried away.

The streets were full of folk hurrying to the sacred grove, but the temples were locked and barred. "Closed for the ceremony," read all the signs.

Symmachus elbowed his way through the mob and managed to overtake a brown-robed priest. "After the rite, brother," the priest said, "if you have gold I shall gladly attend to your mother. Milord has bidden all clerics attend-and I, for one, have no wish to offend him."

"My mother's desperately ill," Symmachus pled. "Surely Milord will not miss one lowly priest."

"True, but the Archcanon will," the priest said nervously, tearing his robe loose from Symmachus' desperate grip and vanishing into the crowd.

Symmachus tried other priests, and even a few mages, but with no better result. Armored guards marched through the street and pushed him aside with their lances, and Symmachus realized that the royal procession was approaching.

As the carriage bearing the city's rulers drew abreast, Symmachus rushed out from the crowd and shouted, "Milord, Milord! My mother's dying-!"

"I forbid her to do so on this glorious night!" the Lord shouted, laughing and scattering coin into the throng. Symmachus was close enough to smell wine on the royal breath. On the other side of the carriage his Lady clutched the babe to her breast, and stared slit-eyed at Symmachus, her nostrils flared in disdain.

"Guards!" she cried. "Remove this oaf." Rough hands seized Symmachus. He was beaten and left dazed by the side of the road.

Symmachus, head aching, followed in the wake of the crowd and witnessed the Rite of Naming from the top of a hill. He could see the brown-robed clerics and blue-robed mages gathered near the highborn folk far below.


The name came dimly to Symmachus' ears as the High Priest lifted the swaddled babe and proffered her to the twin moons on either side of the horizon: Jone rising, Jode setting.

"Behold the Lady Barenziah, born to the land of Mournhold! Grant her thy blessings and thy counsel, ye kind gods, that she may ever rule well over Mournhold, its ken and its weal, its kith and its ilk."

"Bless her, bless her," all the people intoned along with their Lord and Lady, hands upraised.

Only Symmachus stood silent, head bowed, knowing in his heart that his dear mother was gone. And in silence he swore a mighty oath-that he should be his Lord's bane, and in vengeance for his mother's needless death, the child Barenziah he should have for his own bride, and that his mother's grandchildren should be born to rule over Mournhold.


After the ceremony, he watched impassively as the royal procession returned to the palace. He saw the priest to whom he'd first spoken. The man came gladly enough now in return for the gold Sym�machus had, and a promise of more afterward.

They found his mother dead.

The priest sighed and tucked the pouch of gold coins away. "I'm sorry, brother. It's all right, you can forget the rest of the gold, there's aught I can do here. Likely-"

"Give me back my money!" Symmachus snarled. "You've done naught to earn it!" He lifted his right arm threateningly.

The priest backed away, about to utter a curse, but Symmachus struck him across the face before more than three words had left his mouth. He went down heavily, striking his head sharply on one of the stones that formed the fire pit. He died instantly.

Symmachus snatched up the gold and fled the city. As he ran, he muttered one word over and over, like a sorcerer's chant. "Barenziah," he said. "Barenziah. Barenziah."


Barenziah stood on one of the balconies of the palace, staring down into the courtyard where soldiers milled, dazzling in their armor. Presently they formed into ordered ranks and cheered as her parents, the Lord and Lady, emerged from the palace, clad from head to toe in ebony armor, long purple-dyed fur cloaks flowing behind. Splendidly caparisoned, shining black horses were brought for them, and they mounted and rode to the courtyard gates, and turned to salute her.

"Barenziah!" they cried. "Barenziah our beloved, farewell!"

The little girl blinked back tears and waved one hand bravely, her favorite stuffed animal, a gray wolf�cub she called Wuffen, clutched to her breast with the other. She had never been parted from her parents before and had no idea what it meant, save that there was war in the west and the name Tiber Septim was on everyone's lips, spoken in hate and dread.

"Barenziah!" the soldiers cried, lifting their lances and swords and bows. Then her dear parents turned and rode away, knights trailing in their wake, until the courtyard was nearly emptied.


Sometime after came a day when Barenziah was shaken awake by her nurse, dressed hurriedly, and borne from the palace.

All she could remember of that dreadful time was seeing a huge shadow with burning eyes filling the sky. She was passed from hand to hand. Foreign soldiers appeared, disappeared, and sometimes reappeared. Her nurse vanished and was replaced by strangers, some more strange than others. There were days, or it may have been weeks, of travel.

One morning she awoke to step out of the coach into a cold place with a large gray stone castle amid empty, endless gray-green hills covered patchily with gray-white snow. She clutched Wuffen to her breast in both hands and stood blinking and shivering in the gray dawn, feeling very small and very dark in all this endless space, this endless gray-white space.

She and Hana, a brown-skinned, black-haired maid who had been traveling with her for several days, went inside the keep. A large gray-white woman with icy gray-golden hair was standing by a hearth in one of the rooms. She stared at Barenziah with dreadful, bright blue eyes.

"She's very -- black, isn't she?" the woman remarked to Hana. "I've never seen a Dark Elf before."

"I don't know much about them myself, Milady," Hana said. "But this one's got red hair and a temper to match, I can tell you that. Take care. She bites. And worse."

"I'll soon train her out of that," the other woman sniffed. "And what's that filthy thing she's got? Ugh!" The woman snatched Wuffen away and threw him into the blazing hearth.

Barenziah shrieked and would have flung herself after him, but was held back despite her attempts to bite and claw at her captors. Poor Wuffen was reduced to a tiny heap of charred ash.


Barenziah grew like a weed transplanted to a Skyrim garden, a ward of Count Sven and his wife the Lady Inga. Outwardly, that is, she thrived -- but always there was a cold and empty place within.

"I've raised her as my own daughter," Lady Inga was wont to sigh as she sat gossiping when neighbor�ing ladies came to visit. "But she's a Dark Elf. What can you expect?"

Barenziah was not meant to overhear these words. At least she thought she was not. Her hearing was keener than that of her Nordic hosts. Other, less desirable Dark Elven traits evidently included pilfering, lying, and a little misplaced magic, just a small fire spell here and a little levitation spell there. And, as she grew older, a keen interest in boys and men, who could provide very pleasant sensations -- and to her aston�ishment, gifts as well. Inga disapproved of this last for reasons incomprehensible to Barenziah, so she was careful to keep it as secret as possible.

"She's wonderful with the children," Inga added, referring to her five sons, all younger than Barenziah. "I don't think she'd ever let them come to harm." A tutor had been hired when Jonni was six and Barenziah eight, and they took their lessons together. She would have liked to train in arms as well, but the very idea scandalized Count Sven and Lady Inga. So Barenziah was given a small bow and allowed to play at target shooting with the boys. She watched them at arms practice when she could, sparred with them when no grownup folk were about, and knew she was good as or better than they.

"She's very... proud, though, isn't she?" one of the ladies would whisper to Inga; and Barenziah, pre�tending not to hear, would nod silently in agreement. She could not help but feel superior to the Count and his Lady. There was something about them that provoked contempt.

Afterward she came to learn that Sven and Inga were distant cousins of Darkmoor Keep's last titled residents, and she finally understood. They were poseurs, impostors, not rulers at all. At least, they were not raised to rule. This thought made her strangely furious at them, a good clean hatred quite detached from resentment. She came to see them as disgusting and repellent insects who could be despised but never feared.


Once a month a courier came from the Emperor, bringing a small bag of gold for Sven and Inga and a large bag of dried mushrooms from Morrowind for Barenziah, her favorite treat. On these occa�sions, she was always made to look presentable-or at least as presentable as a skinny Dark Elf could be made to look in Inga's eyes-before being summoned into the courier's presence for a brief interview. The same courier seldom came twice, but all of them looked her over in much the same way a farmer would look over a hog he is readying for market.

In the spring of her sixteenth year, Barenziah thought the courier looked as if she were at last ready for market.
Upon reflection, she decided she did not wish to be marketed. The stable-boy, Straw, a big, muscular blond lad, clumsy, gentle, affectionate, and rather simple, had been urging her to run off for some weeks now. Barenziah stole the bag of gold the courier had left, took the mushrooms from the storeroom, dis�guised herself as a boy in one of Jonni's old tunics and a pair of his cast-off breeches... and on one fine spring night she and Straw took the two best horses from the stable and rode hard through the night toward Whiterun, the nearest city of any importance and the place where Straw wanted to be. But Mournhold and Morrowind also lay eastward and they drew Barenziah as a lodestone draws iron.

In the morning they abandoned the horses at Barenziah's insistence. She knew they would be missed and tracked down, and she hoped to throw off any pursuers.

They continued on foot until late afternoon, keeping to side roads, and slept for several hours in an abandoned hut. They went on at dusk and came to Whiterun's city gates just before dawn. Barenziah had prepared a pass of sorts for Straw, a makeshift document stating an errand to a temple in the city for a local village lord. She herself glided over the wall with the help of a levitation spell. She had reasoned-correctly, as it turned out-that by now the gate guards would have been alerted to keep an eye out for a young Dark Elven girl and a Nordic boy traveling together. On the other hand, unaccompanied country yokels like Straw were a common enough sight. Alone and with papers, it was unlikely that he would draw attention.

Her simple plan went smoothly. She met Straw at the temple, which was not far from the gate; she had been to Whiterun on a few previous occasions. Straw, however, had never been more than a few miles from Sven's estate, which was his birthplace.

Together they made their way to a rundown inn in the poorer quarters of Whiterun. Gloved, cloaked, and hooded against the morning chill, Barenziah's dark skin and red eyes were not apparent and no one paid any heed to them. They entered the inn separately. Straw paid the innkeeper for a single cubicle, an immense meal, and two jugs of ale. Barenziah sneaked in a few minutes later.

They ate and drank together gleefully, rejoicing in their escape, and made love vigorously on the narrow cot. Afterward they fell into an exhausted, dreamless sleep.


They stayed for a week at Whiterun. Straw earned a bit of money running errands and Barenziah burgled a few houses at night. She continued to dress as a boy. She cut her hair short and dyed her flame-red tresses jet black to further the disguise, and kept out of sight as much as possible. There were few Dark Elves in Whiterun.

One day Straw got them work as temporary guards for a merchant caravan traveling east. The one-armed sergeant looked her over dubiously.

"Heh," he chuckled, "Dark Elf, ain'tcha? Like settin' a wolf t'guard the sheep, that is. Still, I need arms, and we ain't goin' near 'nough Morrowind so's ye can betray us to yer folk. Our homegrown bandits would as fain cut yer throat as mine."

The sergeant turned to give Straw an appraising look. Then he spun back abruptly toward Barenziah, whipping out his shortsword. But she had her dagger out in the twinkling of an eye and was in a defensive stance. Straw drew his own knife and circled round to the man's rear. The sergeant dropped his blade and chuckled again.

"Not bad, kids, not bad. How are ye with yon bow, Dark Elf?" Barenziah demonstrated her prowess briefly. "Aye, not bad, not bad 'tall. And ye'll be keen of eye by night, boy, and of hearin' 'tall times. A trusty Dark Elf makes as good a fightin' man as any could ask for. I know. I served under Symmachus his�self afore I lost this arm and got invalided outter the Emp'ror's army."

"We could betray them. I know folk who'd pay well," Straw said later as they bedded down for their last night at the ramshackle lodge. "Or rob them ourselves. They're very rich, those merchants are, Berry."

Barenziah laughed. "Whatever would we do with so much money? And besides, we need their protec�tion for traveling quite as much as they need ours."

"We could buy a little farm, you and me, Berry -- and settle down, all nice like."

Peasant! Barenziah thought scornfully. Straw was a peasant and harbored nothing but peasant dreams. But all she said was, "Not here, Straw, we're too close to Darkmoor still. We'll have other chances farther east."


The caravan went only as far east as Sunguard. The Emperor Tiber Septim I had done much in the way of building relatively safe and regularly patrolled highways. But the tolls were steep, and this par�ticular caravan kept to the side roads as much as possible to avoid them. This exposed them to the hazards of wayside robbers, both human and Orcish, and roving brigand bands of various races. But such were the perils of trade and profit.

They had two such encounters before reaching Sunguard -- an ambush which Barenziah's keen ears warned them of in plenty of time for them to circle about and surprise the lurkers, and a night attack by a mixed band of Khajiit, humans, and Wood Elves. The latter were a skilled band and even Barenziah did not hear them sneaking up in time to give much warning. This time the fighting was fierce. The attackers were driven off, but two of the caravan's other guards were slain and Straw got a nasty cut on his thigh before he and Barenziah managed to gash his Khajiit assailant's throat.

Barenziah rather enjoyed the life. The garrulous sergeant had taken a liking to her, and she spent most of her evenings sitting around the campfire listening to his tales of campaigning in Morrowind with Tiber Septim and General Symmachus. This Symmachus had been made general after Mournhold fell, the sergeant said. "He's a fine soldier, boy, Symmachus is. But there was more'n soldiery involved'n that Morrowind business, if y'take my meanin'. But, well, y'know all 'bout that, I 'spect."

"No. No, I don't remember," Barenziah said, trying to sound nonchalant. "I've lived most of my life in Skyrim. My mother married a Skyrim man. They're both dead, though. Tell me, what happened to the Lord and Lady of Mournhold?"

The sergeant shrugged. "I ain't never heard. Dead, I 'spect. 'Twas alot of fightin' afore the Armistice got signed. It's pretty quiet now. Maybe too quiet. Like a calm afore a storm. Say, boy, you goin' back there?"

"Maybe," Barenziah said. The truth was that she was drawn irresistibly to Morrowind, and Mournhold, like a moth to a burning house. Straw sensed it and was unhappy about it. He was unhappy anyway since they could not bed together, as she was supposed to be a boy. Barenziah rather missed it too, but not as much as Straw did, seemingly.

The sergeant wanted them to sign on for the return trip, but gave them a bonus nonetheless when they turned the offer down, and parchments of recommendation.

Straw wanted to settle down permanently near Sunguard, but Barenziah insisted on continuing their travels east. "I'm the Queen of Mournhold by rights," she said, unsure whether it was true -- or was it just a daydream she had made up as a lost, bewildered child? "I want to go home. I need to go home." That at least was true.


After a few weeks they managed to get places in another caravan heading east. By early winter they were at Rifton, and nearing the Morrowind border. But the weather had grown severe as the days passed and they were told no merchant caravans would be setting forth till mid-spring.

Barenziah stood on top of the city walls and stared across the deep gorge that separated Rifton from the snow-clad mountain wall guarding Morrowind beyond.

"Berry," Straw said gently. "Mournhold's a long way off yet, nearly as far as we've come already. And the lands between are wild, full of wolves and bandits and Orcs and still worse creatures. We'll have to wait for spring."

"There's Silgrod Tower," Berry said, referring to the Dark Elven township that had grown up around an ancient minaret guarding the border between Skyrim and Morrowind.

"The bridge guards won't let me across, Berry. They're crack Imperial troops. They can't be bribed. If you go, you go alone. I won't try and stop you. But what will you do? Silgrod Tower is full of Imperial sol�diers. Will you become a washing-woman for them? Or a camp follower?"

"No," Barenziah said slowly, thoughtfully. Actually the idea was not entirely unappealing. She was sure she could earn a modest living by sleeping with the soldiers. She'd had a few adventures of that sort as they crossed Skyrim, when she'd dressed as a woman and slipped away from Straw. She'd only been looking for a bit of variety. Straw was sweet but dull. She'd been startled, but extremely pleased, when the men she picked up offered her money afterward. Straw had been unhappy about it, though, and would shout for a while then sulk for days afterward if he caught her at it. He was quite jealous. He'd even threat�ened to leave her. Not that he ever did. Or could.

But the Imperial Guards were a tough and brutal lot by all accounts, and Barenziah had heard some very ugly stories during their treks. The ugliest of them by far had come from the lips of ex-army veterans around the caravan campfire, and were proudly recounted. They'd been trying to shock her and Straw, she realized-but she also comprehended that there was some truth behind the wild tales. Straw hated that kind of dirty talk, and hated it more that she had to hear it. But there was a part of him that was fascinated never�theless.

Barenziah sensed this and had encouraged Straw to seek out other women. But he said he didn't want anyone else but her. She told him candidly she didn't feel that way about him, but she did like him better than anyone else. "Then why do you go with other men?" Straw had asked on one occasion.

"I don't know."

Straw sighed. "They say Dark Elven women are like that."

Barenziah smiled and shrugged. "I don't know. Or, no ... maybe I do. Yes, I do know." She turned and kissed him affectionately. "I guess that's all the explanation there is."

The Real Barenziah, Part 2

arenziah and Straw settled into Rifton for the winter, taking a cheap room in the slummier section of town. Barenziah wanted to join the Thieves Guild, knowing there would be trouble if she were caught freelancing. One day in a barroom she caught the eye of a known member of the Guild, a bold young Khajiit named Therris. She offered to bed him if he would sponsor her membership. He looked her over, grinning, and agreed, but said she'd still have to pass an initiation.

"What sort of initiation?"

"Ah," Therris said. "Pay up first, sweetness."

[This passage has been censored by order of the Temple.]

Straw was going to kill her, and maybe Therris too. What in Tamriel had possessed her to do such a thing? She cast an apprehensive look around the room, but the other patrons had lost interest and gone back to their own business. She did not recognize any of them; this wasn't the inn where she and Straw were staying. With luck it'd be a while, or never, before Straw found out.


Therris was by far the most exciting and attractive man she had yet met. He not only told her about the skills she needed to become a member of the Thieves Guild, but also trained her in them himself or else introduced her to people who could.

Among these was a woman who knew something about magic. Katisha was a plump and matronly Nord. She was married to a smith, had two teenage children, and was perfectly ordinary and respectable--except that she was very fond of cats (and by logical inference, their humanoid counterparts the Khajiit), had a talent for certain kinds of magic, and cultivated rather odd friends. She taught Barenziah an invisibility spell and schooled her in other forms of stealth and disguise. Katisha mingled magical and non-magical talents freely, using one set to enhance the other. She was not a member of the Thieves Guild but was fond of Therris in a motherly sort of way. Barenziah warmed to her as she never had toward any woman, and over the next few weeks she told Katisha all about herself.

She brought Straw there too sometimes. Straw approved of Katisha. But not of Therris. Therris found Straw "interesting" and suggested to Barenziah that they arrange what he called a "threesome."

"Absolutely not," Barenziah said firmly, grateful that Therris had broached the subject in private for once. "He wouldn't like it. I wouldn't like it!"

Therris smiled his charming, triangular feline smile and sprawled lazily on his chair, stretching his limbs and curling his tail. "You might be surprised. Both of you. Pairing is so boring."

Barenziah answered him with a glare.

"Or maybe you wouldn't like it with that country bumpkin of yours, sweetness. Would you mind if I brought along another friend?"

"Yes, I would. If you're bored with me, you and your friend can find someone else." She was a member of the Thieves Guild now. She had passed their initiation. She found Therris useful but not essential. Maybe she was a bit bored with him too.


She talked to Katisha about her problems with men. Or what she thought of as her problems with men. Katisha shook her head and told her she was looking for love, not sex, that she'd know the right man when she found him, that neither Straw nor Therris was the right one for her.

Barenziah cocked her head to one side quizzically. "They say Dark Elven women are pro-- pro-- something. Prostitutes?" she said, although she was dubious.

"You mean promiscuous. Although some do become prostitutes, I suppose," Katisha said as an afterthought. "Elves are promiscuous when they're young. But you'll outgrow it. Perhaps you're beginning to already," she added hopefully. She liked Barenziah, had grown to be quite fond of her. "You ought to meet some nice Elven boys, though. If you go on keeping company with Khajiits and humans and what have you, you'll find yourself pregnant in next to no time."

Barenziah smiled involuntarily at the thought. "I'd like that. I think. But it would be inconvenient, wouldn't it? Babies are a lot of trouble, and I don't even have my own house yet."

"How old are you, Berry? Seventeen? Well, you've a year or two yet before you're fertile, unless you're very unlucky. Elves don't have children readily with other Elves after that, even, so you'll be all right if you stick with them."

Barenziah remembered something else. "Straw wants to buy a farm and marry me."

"Is that what you want?"

"No. Not yet. Maybe someday. Yes, someday. But not if I can't be queen. And not just any queen. The Queen of Mournhold." She said this determinedly, almost stubbornly, as if to drown out any doubt.

Katisha chose to ignore this last comment. She was amused at the girl's hyperactive imagination, took it as a sign of a well-functioning mind. "I think Straw will be a very old man before 'someday' comes, Berry. Elves live for a very long time." Katisha's face briefly wore the envious, wistful look humans got when contemplating the thousand-year lifespan Elves had been granted by the gods. True, few ever actually lived that long as disease and violence took their respective tolls. But they could. And one or two of them actually did.

"I like old men too," Berry said.

Katisha laughed.
Barenziah fidgeted impatiently while Therris sorted through the papers on the desk. He was being meticulous and methodical, carefully replacing everything just as he'd found it.

They'd broken into a nobleman's household, leaving Straw to hover outside as lookout. Therris had said it was a simple job but very hush-hush. He hadn't even wanted to bring any other Guild members along. He said he knew he could trust Berry and Straw, but no one else.

"Tell me what you're looking for and I'll find it," Berry whispered urgently. Therris' night sight wasn't as good as hers and he didn't want her to magick up even a small orb of light.

She had never been in such a luxurious place. Not even the Darkmoor castle of Count Sven and Lady Inga where she had spent her childhood compared to it. She'd gazed around in wonder as they made their way through the ornately decorated and hugely echoing downstairs rooms. But Therris didn't seem interested in anything but the desk in the small book-lined study on the upper floor.

"Sssst," he hissed angrily.

"Someone's coming!" Berry said, a moment before the door opened and two dark figures stepped into the room. Therris gave her a violent shove toward them and sprang to the window. Barenziah's muscles went rigid; she couldn't move or even speak. She watched helplessly as one of the figures, the smaller one, leaped after Therris. There were two quick, silent stabs of blue light, then Therris folded over into a still heap.

Outside the study the house had come alive with hastening footsteps and voices calling out in alarm and the clank of armor hurriedly put on.

The bigger man, a Dark Elf by the looks of him, half-lifted, half-dragged Therris to the door and thrust him into the waiting arms of another Elf. A jerk of the first Elf's head sent his smaller blue-robed companion after them. Then he sauntered over to inspect Barenziah, who was once again able to move although her head throbbed maddeningly when she tried to.

"Open your shirt, Barenziah," the Elf said. Barenziah gawked at him and clutched it closed. "You're a girl, aren't you, Berry?" he said softly. "You should have stopped dressing as a boy months ago, you know. You were only drawing attention to yourself. And calling yourself Berry! Is your friend Straw too stupid to remember anything else?"

"It's a common Elven name," Barenziah defended.

The man shook his head sadly. "Not among Dark Elves it isn't, my dear. But you wouldn't know much about Dark Elves, would you? I regret that, but it couldn't be helped. No matter. I shall try to remedy it."

"Who are you?" Barenziah demanded.

"Ai. So much for fame," the man shrugged, smiling wryly. "I am Symmachus, Milady Barenziah. General Symmachus of His Awesome and Terrible Majesty Tiber Septim I's Imperial Army. And I must say it's a merry chase you've led me throughout Tamriel. Or this part of it, anyway. Although I guessed, and guessed correctly, that you'd head for Morrowind eventually. You had a bit of luck. A body was found in Whiterun that was thought to be Straw's. So we stopped looking for the pair of you. That was careless of me. Yet I'd not have thought you'd have stayed together this long."

"Where is he? Is he all right?" she asked in genuine trepidation.

"Oh, he's fine. For now. In custody, of course." He turned away. "You ... care for him, then?" he said, and then suddenly stared at her with fierce curiosity. Out of red eyes that seemed strange to her, except in her own seldom-seen reflection.

"He's my friend," Barenziah said. The words came out in a tone that sounded dull and hopeless to her own ears. Symmachus! A general in the Imperial Army, no less--said to have the friendship and ears of Tiber Septim himself.

"Ai. You seem to have several unsuitable friends--if you'll forgive my saying so, Milady."

"Stop calling me that." She was irritated at the general's seeming sarcasm. But he only smiled.

As they talked the bustle and flurry in the house died away. Although she could still hear people, presumably the residents, whispering together not far off. The tall Elf perched himself on a corner of the desk. He seemed quite relaxed and prepared to stay awhile.

Then it occurred to her. Several unsuitable friends, had he said? This man knew all about her! Or seemed to know enough, anyway. Which amounted to the same thing. "W-what's going to happen to them? To m-me?"

"Ah. As you know, this house belongs to the commander of the Imperial troops in this area. Which means to say that it belongs to me." Barenziah gasped and Symmachus looked up sharply. "What, you didn't know? Tsk, tsk. Why, you are rash, Milady, even for seventeen. You must always know what it is you do, or get yourself into."

"B-but the G-guild w-wouldn't ... wouldn't h-have--" Barenziah was trembling. The Thieves Guild would never have attempted a mission that crossed Imperial policy. No one dared oppose Tiber Septim, at least no one she knew of. Someone at the Guild had bungled. Badly. And now she was going to pay for it.

"I daresay. It's unlikely that Therris had Guild approval for this. In fact, I wonder--" Symmachus examined the desk carefully, pulling out drawers. He selected one, placed it on top of the desk, and removed a false bottom. There was a folded sheet of parchment inside. It seemed to be a map of some sort. Barenziah edged closer. Symmachus held it away from her, laughing. "Rash indeed!" He glanced it over, then folded and replaced it.

"You advised me a moment ago to seek after knowledge."

"So I did, so I did." Suddenly he seemed to be in high good humor. "We must be going, my dear Lady."

He shepherded her to the door, down the stairs, and out into the night air. No one was about. Barenziah's eyes darted toward the shadows. She wondered if she could outrun him, or elude him somehow.

"You're not thinking of attempting to escape, are you? Ai. Don't you want to hear first what my plans for you are?" She thought that he sounded a bit hurt.

"Now that you mention it--yes."

"Perhaps you'd rather hear about your friends first."


He looked gratified at this. It was evidently the answer he wanted, thought Barenziah, but it was also the truth. While she was concerned for her friends, especially Straw, she was far more concerned for herself.

"You will take your place as the rightful Queen of Mournhold."


Symmachus explained that this had been his, and Tiber Septim's, plan for her all along. That Mournhold, which had been under military rule for the dozen or so years since she had been away, was gradually to be returned to civilian government--under the Empire's guidance, of course, and as part of the Imperial Province of Morrowind.

"But why was I sent to Darkmoor?" Barenziah asked, hardly believing anything she had just been told.

"For safekeeping, naturally. Why did you run away?"

Barenziah shrugged. "I saw no reason to stay. I should have been told."

"You would have been by now. I had in fact sent for you to be removed to the Imperial City to spend some time as part of the Emperor's household. But of course you had, shall we say, absconded by then. As for your destiny, it should be, and should have been, quite obvious to you. Tiber Septim does not keep those he has no use for -- and what else could you be that would be of use to him?"

"I know nothing of him. Nor, for that matter, of you."

"Then know this: Tiber Septim rewards friends and foes alike according to their deserts."

Barenziah chewed on that for a few moments. "Straw has deserved well of me and has never done anyone any harm. He is not a member of the Thieves Guild. He came along to protect me. He earns our keep by running errands, and he ... he ..."

Symmachus waved her impatiently to silence. "Ai. I know all about Straw," he said, "and about Therris." He stared at her intently. "So? What would you?"

She took a deep breath. "Straw wants a little farm. If I'm to be rich, then I would like for one to be given to him."

"Very well." He seemed astonished at this, and then pleased. "Done. He shall have it. And Therris?"

"He betrayed me," Barenziah said coldly. Therris should have told her what risks the job entailed. Besides, he'd pushed her right into their enemies' arms in an attempt to save himself. Not a man to be rewarded. Not, in fact, a man to be trusted.

"Yes. And?"

"Well, he should be made to suffer for it ... shouldn't he?"

"That seems reasonable. What form should said suffering take?"

Barenziah balled her hands into fists. She would've liked to beat and claw at the Khajiit herself. But considering the turn events had taken, that didn't seem very queenly. "A whipping. Er ... would twenty stripes be too many, do you think? I don't want to do him any permanent injury, you understand. Just teach him a lesson."

"Ai. Of course." Symmachus grinned at this. Then his features suddenly set, and became serious. "It shall be done, Your Highness, Milady Queen Barenziah of Mournhold." Then he bowed to her, a sweeping, courtly, ridiculously wonderful bow.

Barenziah's heart leapt.


She spent two days at Symmachus' apartment, during which she was kept very busy. There was a Dark Elven woman named Drelliane who saw to her needs, although she did not exactly seem a servant since she took her meals with them. Nor did she seem to be Symmachus' wife, or lover. Drelliane looked amused when Barenziah asked her about it. She simply said she was in the general's employ and did whatever was asked of her.

With Drelliane's assistance, several fine gowns and pairs of shoes were ordered for her, plus a riding habit and boots, along with other small necessities. Barenziah was given a room to herself.

Symmachus was out a great deal. She saw him at most mealtimes, but he said little about himself or what he had been doing. He was cordial and polite, quite willing to converse on most subjects, and seemed interested in anything she had to say. Drelliane was much the same. Barenziah found them pleasant enough, but "hard to get to know," as Katisha would have put it. She felt an odd twinge of disappointment. These were the first Dark Elves with whom she'd associated closely. She had expected to feel comfortable with them, to feel at last that she belonged somewhere, with somebody, as part of something. Instead she found herself yearning for her Nordic friends, Katisha and Straw.

When Symmachus told her they were to set out for the Imperial City on the morrow, she asked if she could say good-bye to them.

"Katisha?" he asked. "Ai. But then ... I suppose I owe her something. She it was who led me to you by telling me of a lonely Dark Elven girl named Berry who needed Elven friends -- and who sometimes dressed as a boy. She has no association with the Thieves Guild, apparently. And no one associated with the Thieves Guild seems to know your true identity, save Therris. That is well. I prefer that your former Guild membership not be made public knowledge. Please speak of it to no one, Your Highness. Such a past does not ... become an Imperial Queen."

"No one knows but Straw and Therris. And they won't tell anyone."

"No." He smiled a curious little smile. "No, they won't."

He didn't know that Katisha knew, then. But still, there was something about the way he said it ...

Straw came to their apartment on the morning of their departure. They were left alone in the salon, although Barenziah knew that other Elves were within earshot. He looked drawn and pale. They hugged one another silently for a few minutes. Straw's shoulders were shaking and tears were rolling down his cheeks, but he said nothing.

Barenziah tried a smile. "So we both get what we want, eh? I'm to be Queen of Mournhold and you'll be lord of your own farmstead." She took his hand, smiled at him warmly, genuinely. "I'll write you, Straw. I promise. You must find a scribe so you can write me too."

Straw shook his head sadly. When Barenziah persisted, he opened his mouth and pointed at it, making inarticulate noises. Then she realized what it was. His tongue was gone, had been cut off.

Barenziah collapsed onto a chair and wept noisily.


"But why?" she demanded of Symmachus when Straw had been ushered away. "Why?"

Symmachus shrugged. "He knows too much. He could be dangerous. At least he's alive, and he won't need his tongue to ... raise pigs or whatever."

"I hate you!" Barenziah screamed at him, then abruptly doubled over and vomited on the floor. She continued to revile him between intermittent bouts of nausea. He listened stolidly for some time while Drelliane cleaned up after her. Finally, he told her to cease or he would gag her for her journey to the Emperor.

They stopped at Katisha's house on their way out of the city. Symmachus and Drelliane didn't dismount. All seemed normal but Barenziah was frightened as she knocked on the door. Katisha answered the knock. Barenziah thanked the gods silently that at least she was all right. But she'd also obviously been weeping. In any case, she embraced Barenziah warmly.

"Why are you crying?" Barenziah asked.

"For Therris, of course. You haven't heard? Oh dear. Poor Therris. He's dead." Barenziah felt icy fingers creeping round her heart. "He was caught stealing from the Commandant's house. Poor fellow, but that was so foolish of him. Oh, Berry, he was drawn and quartered this very dawn by the Commandant's order!" She started to sob. "I went. He asked for me. It was terrible. He suffered so before he died. I'll never forget it. I looked for you and Straw, but no one knew where you'd both gone to." She glanced behind Barenziah. "That's the Commandant, isn't it? Symmachus." Then Katisha did a strange thing. She stopped crying and grinned. "You know, the moment I saw him, I thought, This is the one for Barenziah!" Katisha took a fold of her apron and wiped it across her eyes. "I told him about you, you know."

"Yes," Barenziah said, "I know." She took Katisha's hands in each of hers and looked at her earnestly. "Katisha, I love you. I'm going to miss you. But please don't ever tell anyone else anything about me. Ever. Swear you won't. Especially not to Symmachus. And look after Straw for me. Promise me that."

Katisha promised, puzzled though willing. "Berry, it wasn't somehow because of me that Therris was caught, was it? I never said anything about Therris to ... to ... him." She glanced over at the general.

Barenziah assured her that it wasn't, that an informant had told the Imperial Guard of Therris' plans. Which was probably a lie, but she could see that Katisha plainly needed some kind of comfort.

"Oh, I'm glad of that, if I can be glad of anything just now. I'd hate to think-- But how could I have known?" She leaned over and whispered in Barenziah's ear, "Symmachus is very handsome, don't you think? And so charming."

"I wouldn't know about that," Barenziah said dryly. "I haven't really thought about it. There've been other things to think about." She explained hurriedly about being Queen of Mournhold and going to live in the Imperial City for a while. "He was looking for me, that's all. On orders from the Emperor. I was the object of a quest, nothing more than some sort of... of a... goal. I don't think he thinks of me as a woman at all. He said I didn't look like a boy, though," she added in the face of Katisha's incredulity. Katisha knew that Barenziah evaluated every male she met in terms of sexual desirability, and availability. "I suppose it's the shock of finding out that I really am a queen," she added, and Katisha agreed that yes, that's true, that must've been something of a shock, although one there was no likelihood of her experiencing firsthand. She smiled. Barenziah smiled with her. Then they hugged again, tearfully, for the last time. She never saw Katisha again. Or Straw.
The royal party left Rifton by the great southern gate. Once through, Symmachus tapped her shoulder and pointed back at the portals. "I thought you might want to say good-bye to Therris too, Your Highness," he said.

Barenziah stared briefly but steadily at the head impaled on a spike above the gate. The birds had been at it, but the face was still recognizable. "I don't think he'll hear me, although I'm quite sure he'll be pleased to know I'm fine," she said, seeming to sound light. "Let's be on our way, General, shall we?"

Symmachus was clearly disappointed by her lack of reaction. "Ai. You heard of this from your friend Katisha, I suppose?"

"You suppose correctly. She attended the execution," Barenziah said casually. If he didn't know already, he'd find out soon enough, she was sure of that.

"Did she know Therris belonged to the Guild?"

She shrugged. "Everyone knew that. It's only lower-ranking members like me who are supposed to keep their membership secret. The ones higher up are well known." She turned to smile archly at him. "But you must know all that, shouldn't you, General?" she said sweetly.

He seemed unaffected by this. "So you told her who you were and whence you came, but not about the Guild."

"The Guild membership was not my secret to tell. The other was. There's a difference. Besides, Katisha is a very honest woman. Had I told her, it would have lessened me in her eyes. She was always after Therris to take up a more honest line of work. I value her good opinion." She afforded him a glacial stare. "Not that it's any concern of yours, but do you know what else she thought? She also thought I'd be happier if I settled down with just one man. One of my own race. One of my own race with all the right qualities. One of my own race with all the right qualities, who knows to say all the right things. You, in fact." She grabbed the reins preparatory to assuming a brisker pace--but not without sinking one final irresistible barb. "Isn't it odd how wishes come true sometimes--but not in the way you want them to? Or maybe I should say, not in the way you would ever want them to?"

His answer so took her by surprise that she quite forgot about cantering off. "Yes. Very odd," he replied, and his tone matched his words exactly. Then he excused himself and fell behind.

She held her head high and urged her mount onward, trying to look unimpressed. Now what was it about his response that bothered her? Not what he said. No, that wasn't it. But something about the way he said it. Something about it made her think that she, Barenziah, was one of his wishes that had come true. Unlikely as this seemed, she gave it due deliberation. He had found her at last, after months of searching, it seemed, under pressure from the Emperor, no doubt. So his wish had come true. Yes, that must be it.

But in a way, apparently, not altogether to his liking.

The Real Barenziah, Part 3

or several days, Barenziah felt a weight of sorrow at her separation from her friends. But by the second week out her spirits began to rise a little. She found that she enjoyed being on the road again, although she missed Straw's companionship more than she would have thought. They were escorted by a troop of Redguard knights with whom she felt comfortable, although these were much more disciplined, and decorous, than the guards of the merchant caravans she had spent time with. They were genial but respectful toward her despite her attempts at flirtation.

Symmachus scolded her privately, saying a queen must maintain royal dignity at all times.

"You mean I'm never to have any fun?" she inquired petulantly.

"Ai. Not with such as these. They are beneath you. Graciousness is to be desired from those in authority, Milady. Familiarity is not. You will remain chaste and modest while you are at the Imperial City."

Barenziah made a face. "I might as well be back at Darkmoor Keep. Elves are promiscuous by nature, you know. Everyone says so."

"'Everyone' is wrong, then. Some are, some aren't. The Emperor -- and I -- expect you to display both discrimination and good taste. Let me remind you, Your Highness, that you hold the throne of Mournhold not by right of blood but solely at the pleasure of Tiber Septim. If he judges you unsuitable, your reign will end ere it begins. He requires intelligence, obedience, discretion, and total loyalty of all his appointees, and he favors chastity and modesty in women. I strongly suggest you model your deportment after our good Drelliane. Milady."

"I'd as lief be back in Darkmoor!" Barenziah snapped resentfully, offended at the thought of emulating the frigid, prudish Drelliane in any way.

"That is not an option. Your Highness. If you are of no use to Tiber Septim, he will see to it that you are of no use to his enemies either," the general said portentously. "If you would keep your head on your shoulders, take heed. Let me add that power offers pleasures other than those of carnality and cavorting with base company."

He began to speak of art, literature, drama, music, and the grand balls thrown at the Imperial Court. Barenziah listened with growing interest, spurred on not entirely by his threats. But afterward she asked timidly if she might continue her study of magic while at the Imperial City. Symmachus seemed pleased at this and promised to arrange it. Encouraged, she then said that she noted three of their knights escort were women, and asked if she might train a little with them, just for the sake of exercise. The general looked less delighted at this, but gave his consent, though stressing it would only be with the women.

The late winter weather held fair, though slightly frosty, for the rest of their journey so that they traveled quickly over firm roads. On the last day of their trip, spring seemed to have arrived at last for there were hints of a thaw. The road grew muddy underfoot, and everywhere one could hear water trickling and dripping faintly but steadily. It was a welcome sound.


They came to the great bridge that crossed into the Imperial City at sunset. The rosy glow turned the stark white marble edifices of the metropolis a delicate pink. It all looked very new and grand and immaculate. A broad avenue led north toward the Palace. A crowd of people of all sorts and races filled the wide concourse. Lights winked out in the shops and on in the inns as dusk fell and stars came out singly then by twos and threes. Even the side streets were broad and brightly illuminated. Near the Palace the towers of an immense Mages Guildhall reared toward the east, while westward the stained glass windows of a huge tabernacle glittered in the dying light.

Symmachus had apartments in a magnificent house two blocks from the palace, past the temple. ("The Temple of the One," he identified as they passed it, an ancient Nordic cult which Tiber Septim had revived. He said that Barenziah would be expected to become a member should she prove acceptable to the Emperor.) The place was quite splendid--although little to Barenziah's taste. The walls and furnishings were done in utter pristine white, relieved only by touches of dull gold, and the floors in dully gleaming black marble. Barenziah's eyes ached for color and the interplay of subtle shadings.

In the morning Symmachus and Drelliane escorted her to the Imperial Palace. Barenziah noted that everyone they met greeted Symmachus with a deferential respect in some cases bordering on obsequiousness. The general seemed to take it for granted.

They were ushered directly into the imperial presence. Morning sun flooded a small room through a large window with tiny panes, washing over a sumptuously laden breakfast table and the single man who sat there, dark against the light. He leapt to his feet as they entered and hurried toward them. "Ah, Symmachus our most loyal friend, we welcome your return most gladly." His hands held Symmachus' shoulders briefly, fondly, halting the deep genuflection the Dark Elf had been in the process of effecting.

Barenziah curtseyed as Tiber Septim turned to her.

"Barenziah, our naughty little runaway. How do you do, child? Here, let us have a look at you. Why, Symmachus, she's charming, absolutely charming. Why have you hidden her from us all these years? Is the light too much, child? Shall we draw the hangings? Yes, of course." He waved aside Symmachus' protests and drew the curtains himself, not troubling to summon a servant. "You will pardon us for this discourtesy toward yourselves, our dear guests. We've much to think of, though that's scant excuse for hospitality's neglect. But ah! pray join us. There's some excellent nectarines from Black Marsh."

They settled themselves at the table. Barenziah was dumbfounded. Tiber Septim was nothing like the grim, grey, giant warrior she'd pictured. He was of average height, fully half a head shorter than tall Sym�machus, although he was well-knit of figure and lithe of movement. He had a winning smile, bright -- indeed piercing -- blue eyes, and a full head of stark white hair above a lined and weathered face. He might have been any age from forty to sixty. He pressed food and drink upon them, then repeated the question the gen�eral had asked her days ago: Why had she left home? Had her guardians been unkind to her?

"No, Excellency," Barenziah replied, "in truth, no -- although I fancied so at times." Symmachus had fabricated a story for her, and Barenziah told it now, although with a certain misgiving. The stable-boy, Straw, had convinced her that her guardians, unable to find a suitable husband for her, meant to sell her off as a concubine in Rihad; and when a Redguard had indeed come, she had panicked and fled with Straw.

Tiber Septim seemed fascinated and listened raptly as she provided details of her life as a merchant caravan escort. "Why, 'tis like a ballad!" he said. "By the One, we'll have the Court Bard set it to music. What a charming boy you must have made."

"General Symmachus said--" Barenziah stopped in some confusion, then proceeded. "He said -- well, that I no longer look much like a boy. I have... grown in the past few months." She lowered her gaze in what she hoped approximated maidenly modesty.

"He's a very discerning fellow, is our loyal friend Symmachus."

"I know I've been a very foolish girl, Excellency. I must crave your pardon, and that of my kind guardians. I... I realized that some time ago, but I was too ashamed to go back home. But I don't want to return to Darkmoor now. Excellency, I long for Mournhold. My soul pines for my own country."

"Our dear child. You shall go home, we promise you. But we pray you remain with us a little longer, that you may prepare yourself for the grave and solemn task with which we shall charge you."

Barenziah gazed at him earnestly, heart beating fast. It was all working just as Symmachus had said it would. She felt a warm flush of gratitude toward him, but was careful to keep her attention focused on the Emperor. "I am honored, Excellency, and wish most earnestly to serve you and this great Empire you have built in any way I can." It was the politic thing to say, to be sure -- but Barenziah really meant it. She was awed at the magnificence of the city and the discipline and order evident everywhere, and moreover was excited at the prospect of being a part of it all. And she felt quite taken by the gentle Tiber Septim.


After a few days Symmachus left for Mournhold to take up the duties of a governor until Barenziah was ready to assume the throne, after which he would become her Prime Minister. Barenziah, with Drelliane as chaperone, took up residence in a suite of rooms at the Imperial Palace. Several tutors were provided her, in all the fields deemed seemly for a queenly education. During this time she became deeply interested in the magical arts, but she found the study of history and politics not at all to her prefer�ence.

On occasion she met with Tiber Septim in the Palace gardens and he would unfailingly and politely inquire as to her progress -- and chide her, although with a smile, for her disinterest at matters of state. However, he was always happy to instruct her on the finer points of magic, and he could make even history and politics seem interesting. "They're people, child, not dry facts in a dusty volume," he said.

As her understanding broadened, their discussions grew longer, deeper, more frequent. He spoke to her of his vision of a united Tamriel, each race separate and distinct but with shared ideals and goals, all contrib�uting to the common weal. "Some things are universal, shared by all sentient folk of good will," he said. "So the One teaches us. We must unite against the malicious and the brutish, the miscreated -- the Orcs, trolls, goblins, and other worse creatures -- and not strive against one another." His blue eyes would light up as he stared into his dream, and Barenziah was delighted just to sit and listen to him. If he drew close to her, the side of her body next to him would glow as if he were a smoldering blaze. If their hands met she would tingle all over as if his body were charged with a shock spell.

One day, quite unexpectedly, he took her face in his hands and kissed her gently on the mouth. She drew back after a few moments, astonished by the violence of her feelings, and he apologized instantly. "I... we... we didn't mean to do that. It's just -- you are so beautiful, dear. So very beautiful." He was looking at her with hopeless yearning in his generous eyes.

She turned away, tears streaming down her face.

"Are you angry with us? Speak to us. Please."

Barenziah shook her head. "I could never be angry with you, Excellency. I... I love you. I know it's wrong, but I can't help it."

"We have a consort," he said. "She is a good and virtuous woman, the mother of our children and future heirs. We could never put her aside -- yet there is nothing between us and her, no sharing of the spirit. She would have us be other than what we are. We are the most powerful person in all of Tamriel, and... Barenziah, we... I... I think I am the most lonely as well." He stood up suddenly. "Power!" he said with sublime contempt. "I'd trade a goodly share of it for youth and love if the gods would only sanction it."

"But you are strong and vigorous and vital, more than any man I've ever known."

He shook his head vehemently. "Today, perhaps. Yet I am less than I was yesterday, last year, ten years ago. I feel the sting of my mortality, and it is painful."

"If I can ease your pain, let me." Barenziah moved toward him, hands outstretched.

"No. I would not take your innocence from you."

"I'm not that innocent."

"How so?" The Emperor's voice suddenly grated harshly, his brows knitted.

Barenziah's mouth went dry. What had she just said? But she couldn't turn back know. He would know. "There was Straw," she faltered. "I... I was lonely too. Am lonely. And not so strong as you." She cast her eyes down in abashment. "I... I guess I'm not worthy, Excellency--"

"No, no. Not so. Barenziah. My Barenziah. It cannot last for long. You have a duty toward Mourn�hold, and a duty toward the Empire. I must tend toward mine as well. But while we may -- shall we share what we have, what we can, and pray the One forgives us our frailty?"

Tiber Septim held out his arms -- and wordlessly, willingly, Barenziah stepped into his embrace.


"You caper on the edge of a volcano, child," Drelliane admonished as Barenziah admired the splendid star sapphire ring her imperial lover had given her to celebrate their one-month anniversary.

"How so? We make one another happy. We harm no one. Symmachus bade me be discriminating and discreet. Who better could I choose? And we've been most discreet. He treats me like a daughter in public." Tiber Septim's nightly visits were made through a secret passage that only few in the Palace were privy to -- himself and a handful of trusted bodyguards.

"He slavers over you like a cur his supper. Have you not noticed the coolness of the Empress and her son toward you?"

Barenziah shrugged. Even before she and Septim had become lovers, she'd received no more from his family than bare civility. Threadbare civility. "What matter? It is Tiber who holds the power."

"But it is his son who holds the future. Do not put his mother up to public scorn, I beg you."

"Can I help it if that dry stick of a woman cannot hold her husband's interest even in conversation at dinner?"

"Have less to say in public. That is all I ask. She matters little, it is true -- but her children love her, and you do not want them as enemies. Tiber Septim has not long to live. I mean," Drelliane amended quickly at Barenziah's scowl, "humans are all short-lived. Ephemeral, as we of the Elder Races say. They come and go as the seasons -- but the families of the powerful ones live on for a time. You must be a friend to this family if you would see lasting profit from your relationship. Ah, but how can I make you see truly, you who are so young and human-bred as well! If you take heed, and wisely, you and Mournhold are like to live to see the fall of Septim's dynasty, if indeed he has founded one, just as you have witnessed its rise. It is the way of human history. They ebb and flow like the inconstant tides. Their cities and dominions bloom like spring flowers, only to wither and die in the summer sun. But the Elves endure. We are as a year to their hour, a decade to their day."

Barenziah just laughed. She knew that rumors abounded about her and Tiber Septim. She enjoyed the attention, for all save the Empress and her son seemed captivated by her. Minstrels sang of her dark beauty and her charming ways. She was in fashion, and in love -- and if it was temporary, well, what was not? She was happy for the first time she could remember, each of her days filled with joy and pleasure. And the nights were even better.


"What is wrong with me?" Barenziah lamented. "Look, not one of my skirts fit. What's become of my waistline? Am I getting fat?" Barenziah regarded her thin arms and legs and her undeniably thickened waist in the mirror with displeasure.

Drelliane shrugged. "You appear to be with child, young as you are. Constant pairing with a human has brought you to early fertility. I see no choice but for you to speak with the Emperor about it. You are in his power. It would be best, I think, for you to go directly to Mournhold if he would agree to it, and bear the child there."

"Alone?" Barenziah placed her hands on her swollen belly, tears forming in her eyes. Everything in her yearned to share the fruit of her love with her lover. "He'll never agree to that. He won't be parted from me now. You'll see."

Drelliane shook her head. Although she said no more, a look of sympathy and sorrow had replaced her usual cool scorn.

That night Barenziah told Tiber Septim when he came to her for their usual assignation.

"With child?" He looked shocked. No, stunned. "You're sure of it? But I was told Elves do not bear at so young an age..."

Barenziah forced a smile. "How can I be sure? I've never--"

"I shall have my healer fetched."

The healer, a High Elf of middle years, confirmed that Barenziah was indeed pregnant, and that such a thing had never before been known to happen. It was a testimony to His Excellency's potency, the healer said in sycophantic tones. Tiber Septim roared at him.

"This must not be!" he said. "Undo it. We command you."

"Sire," the healer gaped at him. "I cannot... I may not--"

"Of course you can, you incompetent dullard," the Emperor snapped. "It is our express wish that you do so."

Barenziah, till then silent and wide-eyed with terror, suddenly sat up in bed. "No!" she screamed. "No! What are you saying?"

"Child," Tiber Septim sat down beside her, his face wearing one of his winning smiles. "I'm so sorry. Truly. But this cannot be. Your issue would be a threat to my son and his sons. I shall no more put it plainly than that."

"The child I bear is yours!" she wailed.

"No. It is now but a possibility, a might-be, not yet gifted with a soul or quickened into life. I will not have it so. I forbid it." He gave the healer another hard stare and the Elf began to tremble.

"Sire. It is her child. Children are few among the Elves. No Elven woman conceives more than four times, and that is very rare. Two is the usual number. Some bear none, even, and some only one. If I take this one from her, Sire, she may not conceive again."

"You promised us she would not bear to us. We've little faith in your prognostications."

Barenziah scrambled naked from the bed and ran for the door, not knowing where she was going, only that she could not stay. She never reached it. Darkness overtook her.


She awoke to pain, and a feeling of emptiness. A void where something used to be, something that used to be alive, but now was dead and gone forever. Drelliane was there to soothe the pain and clean up the blood that still pooled at times between her legs. But there was nothing to fill the emp�tiness. There was nothing to take the place of the void.

The Emperor sent magnificent gifts and vast arrangements of flowers, and came on short visits, always well-attended. Barenziah received these visits with pleasure at first. But Tiber Septim came no more at night -- and after some time nor did she wish him to.

Some weeks passed, and when she was completely physically recovered, Drelliane informed her that Symmachus had written to request she come to Mournhold earlier than planned. It was announced that she would leave forthwith.

She was given a grand retinue, an extensive trousseau befitting a queen, and an elaborate and impressive ceremonial departure from the gates of the Imperial City. Some people were sorry to see her leave, and expressed their sadness in tears and expostulations. But some others were not, and did not.

The Real Barenziah, Part 4

verything I have ever loved, I have lost," Barenziah thought despondently, looking at the mounted knights behind and ahead, her tirewomen near her in a carriage. "Yet I have gained a measure of wealth and power, and the promise of more to come. Dearly have I bought it. Now I do understand better Tiber Septim's love of it, if he has often paid such prices. For surely worth is measured by the price we pay." By her wish, she rode on a shiny roan mare, clad as a warrior in resplendent chain mail of Dark Elven make.

As the days slowly slipped by and her train rode the winding road eastward into the setting sun, around her gradually rose the steep-sided mountain slopes of Morrowind. The air was thin, and a chill late autumn wind blew constantly. But it was also rich with the sweet spicy smell of the late-blooming black rose, which was native to Morrowind and grew in every shadowy nook and crevice of its highlands, finding nourishment even in the stoniest banks and ridges. In small villages and towns, ragged Dark Elven folk gathered along the road to cry her name or simply gape. Most of her knightly escort were Redguards, with a few High Elves, Nords, and Bretons. As they wove their way into the heart of Morrowind, they grew increasingly uncomfortable and clung together in protective clusters. Even the Elven knights seemed wary.

But Barenziah felt at home, at last. She felt the welcome extended to her by the land. Her land.


Symmachus met her at the Mournhold border with an escort of knights, about half of whom were Dark Elven. In Imperial battle dress, she noted.

There was a grand parade of entry into the city and speeches of welcome from stately dignitaries.

"I've had the queen's suite refurbished for you," the general told her later when they reached the palace, "but you may change anything not to your taste, of course." He went on about the details of the coronation, which was to be held in a week. He was his old commanding self -- but she sensed something else as well. He was eager for her approval of the arrangements, was in fact fishing for it. That was new. He had never required her commendation before.

He asked her nothing about her stay in the Imperial City, or of her affair with Tiber Septim -- although Barenziah was certain Drelliane had told him, or earlier written him, everything in detail.

The ceremony itself, like so much else, was a mixture of old and new -- parts of it from the ancient Dark Elven tradition of Mournhold, the others dictated by Imperial decree. She was sworn to the service of the Empire and Tiber Septim as well as to the land of Mournhold and its people. She accepted oaths of fealty and allegiance from the people, the nobility, and the council. This last was composed of a blend of Imperial emissaries ("advisors" they were called) and native representatives of the Mournhold people, who were mostly elders in accordance with Elven custom.

Barenziah later found that much of her time was occupied in attempting to reconcile these two factions and their cronies. The elders were expected to do most of the conciliating, in light of reforms introduced by the Empire pertaining to land ownership and surface farming. But most of these went clean against Dark Elven observances. Tiber Septim, "in the name of the One," had ordained a new tradition -- and apparently even the gods and goddesses themselves were expected to obey.

The new Queen threw herself into her work and her studies. She was through with love and men for a long, long time -- if not forever. There were other pleasures, she discovered, as Symmachus had promised her long ago: those of the mind, and those of power. She developed (surprisingly, for she had always rebelled against her tutors at the Imperial City) a deep love for Dark Elven history and mythology, a hunger to know more fully the people from whom she had sprung. She was gratified to learn that they had been proud warriors and skilled craftsmen and cunning mages since time immemorial.

Tiber Septim lived for another half-century, during which she saw him on several occasions as she was bidden to the Imperial City on one reason of state or another. He greeted her with warmth during these vis�its, and they even had long talks together about events in the Empire when opportunity would permit. He seemed to have quite forgotten that there had ever been anything between them more than easy friendship and a profound political alliance. He changed little as the years passed. Rumor had it that his mages had developed spells to extend his vitality, and that even the One had granted him immortality. Then one day a messenger came with the news that Tiber Septim was dead, and his grandson Pelagius was now Emperor in his place.

They had heard the news in private, she and Symmachus. The sometime Imperial General and now her trusted Prime Minister took it stoically, as he took most everything.

"Somehow it doesn't seem possible," Barenziah said.

"I told you. Ai. It's the way of humans. They are a short-lived people. It doesn't really matter. His power lives on, and his son now wields it."

"You called him your friend once. Do you feel nothing? No grief?"

He shrugged. "There was a time when you called him somewhat more. What do you feel, Barenziah?" They had long ago ceased to address each other in private by their formal titles.

"Emptiness. Loneliness," she said, then she too shrugged. "But that's not new."

"Ai. I know," he said softly, taking her hand. "Barenziah..." He turned her face up and kissed her.

The act filled her with astonishment. She couldn't remember his ever touching her before. She'd never thought of him in that way -- and yet, undeniably, an old familiar warmth spread through her. She'd forgot�ten how good it felt, that warmth. Not the scorching heat she'd felt with Tiber Septim, but the comforting, robust ardor she somehow associated with... with Straw! Straw. Poor Straw. She hadn't thought of him in so long. He'd be middle-aged now if he were still alive. Probably with a dozen children, she thought affectionately... and a hearty wife who hopefully could talk for two.

"Marry me, Barenziah," Symmachus was saying, he seemed to have picked up her thoughts on mar�riage, children... wives, "I've worked and toiled and waited long enough, haven't I?"

Marriage. A peasant with peasant dreams. The thought appeared in her mind, clear and unbidden. Hadn't she used those very same words to describe Straw, so very long ago? And yet, why not? If not Symmachus, who else?

Many of the great noble families of Morrowind had been wiped out in Tiber Septim's great war of unification, before the treaty. Dark Elven rule had been restored, it was true -- but not the old, not the true nobility. Most of them were upstarts like Symmachus, and not even half as good or deserving as he was. He had fought to keep Mournhold whole and hale when their so-called counselors would have picked at its bones, sucked them dry as Ebonheart had been sucked dry. He'd fought for Mournhold, fought for her, while she and the kingdom grew and thrived. She felt a sudden rush of gratitude -- and, undeniably, affection. He was steady and reliable. And he'd served her well. And loved her well.

"Why not?" she said, smiling. And took his hand. And kissed him.


The union was a good one, in its political as well as personal aspects. While Tiber Septim's grandson, the Emperor Pelagius I, viewed her with a jaundiced eye, his trust in his father's old friend was absolute.

Symmachus, however, was still viewed with suspicion by Morrowind's stiff-necked folk, chary at his peasant ancestry and his close ties to the Empire. But the Queen was quite unshakably popular. "The Lady Barenziah's one of our own," it was whispered, "held captive as we."

Barenziah felt content. There was work and there was pleasure -- and what more could one ask of life?

The years passed swiftly, with crises to be dealt with, and storms and famines and failures to be weath�ered, and plots to be foiled, and conspirators to be executed. Mournhold prospered steadily. Her people were secure and fed, her mines and farms productive. All was well -- save that the royal marriage had pro�duced no children. No heirs.
Elven children are slow to come, and most demanding of their welcome -- and noble children more so than others. Thus many decades had come to pass before they grew concerned.

"The fault lies with me, Symmachus. I'm damaged goods," Barenziah said bitterly. "If you want to take another..."

"I want no other," Symmachus said gently, "nor do I know for certain that the fault is yours. Perhaps it is mine. Ai. Whichever. We will seek a cure. If there is damage, surely it may be repaired."

"How so? When we dare not entrust anyone with the true story? Healer's oaths do not always hold."

"It won't matter if we change the time and circumstances a bit. Whatever we say or fail to say, Jephre the Storyteller never rests. The god's inventive mind and quick tongue are ever busy spreading gossip and rumor."

Priests and healers and mages came and went, but all their prayers, potions, and philtres produced not even a promise of bloom, let alone a single fruit. Eventually they thrust it from their minds and left it in the gods' hands. They were yet young, as Elves went, with centuries ahead of them. There was time. With Elves there was always time.
Barenziah sat at dinner in the Great Hall, pushing food about on a plate, feeling bored and restless. Symmachus was away, having been summoned to the Imperial City by Tiber Septim's great-great-grandson, Uriel Septim. Or was it his great-great-great-grandson? She'd lost count, she realized. Their faces seemed to blur one into the next. Perhaps she should have gone with him, but there'd been the delegation from Tear on a tiresome matter that nevertheless required delicate handling.

A bard was singing in an alcove off the hall, but Barenziah wasn't listening. Lately all the songs seemed the same to her, whether new or old. Then a turn of phrase caught her attention. He was singing of free�dom, of adventure, of freeing Morrowind from its chains. How dare he! Barenziah sat up straight and turned to glare at him. Worse, she realized he was singing of some ancient, and now immaterial, war with the Skyrim Nords, praising the heroism of Kings Edward and Moraelyn and their brave Companions. The tale was old enough, certainly, yet the song was new ... and its meaning ... Barenziah couldn't be sure.

A bold fellow, this bard, but with a strong, passionate voice and a good ear for music. Rather hand�some too, in a raffish sort of way. He didn't look to be well-off exactly, nor was he all that young. Certainly he couldn't be under a century of age. Why hadn't she heard him before, or at least heard of him?

"Who is he?" she inquired of a lady-in-waiting.

The woman shrugged and said, "Calls himself the Nightingale, Milady. No one seems to know any�thing about him."
"Bid him speak with me when he has done."

The man called the Nightingale came to her, thanked her for the honor of the Queen's audience and the fat purse she handed him. His manner wasn't bold at all, she decided, rather quiet and unassuming. He was quick enough with gossip about others, but she learned nothing about him -- he turned all questions away with a joking riposte or a ribald tale. Yet these were recounted so charmingly it was impossible to take offence.

"My true name? Milady, I am no one. No, no, my parents named me Know Wan -- or was it No Buddy? What matters it? It matters not. How may parents give name to that which they know not? Ah! I believe that was the name, Know Not. I have been the Nightingale for so long I do not remember, since, oh, last month at the very least -- or was it last week? All my memory goes into song and tale, you see, Milady. I've none left for myself. I'm really quite dull. Where was I born? Why, Knoweyr. I plan to settle in Dun�roamin when I get there ... but I'm in no hurry."

"I see. And will you then marry Atallshur?"

"Very perceptive of you, Milady. Perhaps, perhaps. Although I find Innhayst quite charming too, at whiles."

"Ah. You are fickle, then?"

"Like the wind, Milady. I blow hither and yon, hot and cold, as chance suits. Chance is my suit. Naught else wears well on me."

Barenziah smiled. "Stay with us awhile, then ... if you will, Milord Erhatick."

"As you wish, Milady Bryte."


After that brief exchange, Barenziah found her interest in life somehow rekindled. All that had seemed stale became fresh and new again. She greeted each day with zest, looking forward to con�versation with the Nightingale and the gift of his song. Unlike other bards, he never sang her praises, nor other women's, but only of high adventure and bold deeds.

When she asked him about this, he said, "What greater praise of your beauty could you ask, Milady, than that which your own mirror gives you? And if words you would have, you have those of the greatest, of those greater than my callow self. How should I vie with them, I who was born but a week gone by?"

For once they were speaking privately. The Queen, unable to sleep, had summoned him to her cham�ber that his music might soothe her. "You are lazy and a coward, sera, else I hold no charm for you."

"Milady, to praise you I must know you. I can never know you. You are wrapped in enigma, in clouds of enchantment."
"Nay, not so. Your words are what weave enchantment. Your words... and your eyes. And your body. Know me if you will. Know me if you dare."

He came to her then. They lay close, they kissed, they embraced. "Not even Barenziah truly knows Barenziah," he whispered softly, "so how may I? Milady, you seek and know it not, nor yet for what. What would you have, that you have not?"

"Passion," she answered back. "Passion. And children born of it."

"And for your children, what? What birthright might be theirs?"

"Freedom," she said, "the freedom to be what they would be. Tell me, you who seem wisest to these eyes and ears, and the soul that knits them. Where may I find these things?"

"One lies beside you, the other beneath you. But would you dare stretch out your hand, that you might take what could be yours, and your children's?"


"In my person lies the answer to part of what you seek. The other lies hidden below us in these your very kingdom's mines, that which will grant us the power to fulfill and achieve our dreams. That which Edward and Moraelyn between them used to free High Rock and their spirits from the hateful domination of the Nords. If it be properly used, Milady, none may stand against it, not even the power the Emperor con�trols. Freedom, you say? Barenziah, freedom it gives from the chains that bind you. Think on it, Milady." He kissed her again, softly, and withdrew.

"You're not leaving... ?" she cried out. Her body yearned for him.

"For now," he said. "Pleasures of the flesh are nothing beside what we might have together. I would have you think on what I have just said."

"I don't need to think. What must we do? What preparations must be made?"

"Why -- none. The mines may not be entered freely, it is true. But with the Queen at my side, who will stand athwart? Once below I can guide you to where this thing lies, and lift it from its resting place."

Then the memory of her endless studies slid into place. "The Horn of Summoning," she whispered in awe. "Is it true? Could it be? How do you know? I've read that it's buried beneath the measureless caves of Daggerfall."

"Nay, long have I studied this matter. Ere his death King Edward gave the Horn for safekeeping into the hand of his old friend King Moraelyn. He in turn secreted it here in Mournhold under the guardianship of the god Ephen, whose birthplace and bailiwick this is. Now you know what it has cost me many a long year and weary mile to discover."
"But the god? What of Ephen?"

"Trust me, Milady heart. All will be well." Laughing softly, he blew her a last kiss and was gone.


On the morrow they passed the guards at the great portals that led into the mines, and further below. Under pretence of her customary tour of inspection, Barenziah, unattended but for the Nightingale, ventured into cavern after subterranean cavern. Eventually they reached what looked like a for�gotten sealed doorway, and upon entering found that it led to an ancient part of the workings, long aban�doned. The going was treacherous for some of the old shafts had collapsed, and they had to clear a passage through the rubble or find a way around the more impassable piles. Vicious rats and huge spiders scurried here and there, sometimes even attacking them. But they proved no match for Barenziah's firebolt spells or the Nightingale's quick dagger.

"We've been gone too long," Barenziah said at length. "They'll be looking for us. What will I tell them?"

"Whatever you please," the Nightingale laughed. "You are the Queen, aren't you?"

"The Lord Symmachus--"

"That peasant obeys whoever holds power. Always has, always will. We shall hold the power, Milady love." His lips were sweetest wine, his touch both fire and ice.

"Now," she said, "take me now. I'm ready." Her body seemed to hum, every nerve and muscle taut.

"Not yet. Not here, not like this." He waved around, indicating the aged dusty debris and grim walls of rock. "Just a little while longer." Reluctantly, Barenziah nodded her assent. They resumed walking.

"Here," he said at last, pausing before a blank barrier. "Here it lies." He scratched a rune in the dust, his other hand weaving a spell as he did so.

The wall dissolved. It revealed an entrance to some ancient shrine. In the midst stood a statue of a god, hammer in hand, poised above an admantium anvil.

"By my blood, Ephen," the Nightingale cried, "I bid thee waken! Moraelyn's heir of Ebonheart am I, last of the royal line, sharer of thy blood. At Morrowind's last need, with all of Elvendom in dread peril of their selves and souls, release to me that guerdon which thou guardst! Now I do bid thee, strike!"

At his final words the statue glowed and quickened, the blank stone eyes shone a bright red. The mas�sive head nodded, the hammer smote the anvil, and it split asunder with a thunderous crash, the stone god itself crumbling. Barenziah clapped her hands over her ears and crouched down, shaking terribly and moaning out loud.

The Nightingale strode forward boldly and clasped the thing that lay among the ruins with a roar of ecstasy. He lifted it high.

"Someone's coming!" Barenziah cried in alarm, then noticed for the first time what it was he was hold�ing aloft. "Wait, that's not the Horn, it -- it's a staff!"

"Indeed, Milady. You see truly, at last!" The Nightingale laughed aloud. "I am sorry, Milady sweet, but I must leave you now. Perhaps we shall meet again one day. Until then... Ah, until then, Symmachus," he said to the mail-clad figure who had appeared behind them, "she is all yours. You may claim her back."

"No!" Barenziah screamed. She sprang up and ran toward him, but he was gone. Winked out of exis�tence -- just as Symmachus, claymore drawn, reached him. His blade cleaved a single stroke through empty air. Then he stood still, as if taking the stone god's place.

Barenziah said nothing, heard nothing, saw nothing... felt nothing...


Symmachus told the half dozen or so Elves who had accompanied him that the Nightingale and Queen Barenziah had lost their way, and had been set upon by giant spiders. That the Nightingale had lost his footing and fallen into a deep crevice, which closed over him. That his body could not be recovered. That the Queen had been badly shaken by the encounter and deeply mourned the loss of her friend, who had fallen in her defense. Such was Symmachus' presence and power of command that the slack-jawed knights, none of whom had caught more than a glimpse of what happened, were convinced that it was all exactly as he said.

The Queen was escorted back to the palace and taken to her chamber, whereupon she dismissed her servants-in-waiting. She sat still before her mirror for a long time, stunned, too distraught even to weep. Symmachus stood watching over her.

"Do you have any idea at all what you have just done?" he said finally -- flatly, coldly.

"You should have told me," Barenziah whispered. "The Staff of Chaos! I never dreamed it lay here. He said-- he said-- " A mewling escaped her lips and she doubled over in despair. "Oh, what have I done? What have I done? What happens now? What's to become of me? Of us?"

"Did you love him?"

"Yes. Yes, yes, yes! Oh my Symmachus, the gods have mercy on me, but I did love him. Did. But now... now... I don't know... I'm not sure... I..."

Symmachus' hard-lined face softened slightly, and his eyes glittered with new light, and he sighed. "Ai. That's something then. You will become a mother yet if it's within my power. As for the rest -- Barenziah, my dearest Barenziah, I expect you have loosed a storm upon the land. It'll be a while yet in the brewing. But when it comes, we'll weather it together. As we always have."

He came over to her then, and stripped her of her clothing, and carried her to the bed. Out of grief and longing, her enfeebled body responded to his brawny one as it never had before, pouring forth all that the Nightingale had wakened to life in her. And in so doing calming the restless ghosts of all he had destroyed.


She was empty, and emptied. And then she was filled, for a child was planted and grew within her. As her son flourished in the womb, so did her feeling toward patient, faithful, devoted Symmachus, which had been rooted in long friendship and unbroken affection -- and which now, at last, ripened into the fullness of true love. Eight years later they were again blessed, this time with a daughter.


Directly after the Nightingale's theft of the Staff of Chaos, Symmachus had sent urgent secret communiques to Uriel Septim. He had not gone himself, as he would normally have, choosing instead to stay with Barenziah during her fertile period to father a son upon her. For this, and for the theft, he suf�fered Uriel Septim's temporary disfavor and unjust suspicion. Spies were sent in search of the thief, but the Nightingale seemed to have vanished whence he had come -- wherever that was.

"Dark Elf in part, perhaps," said Barenziah, "but part human too, I think, in disguise. Else would I not have come so quickly to fertility."

"Part Dark Elf, for sure, and of ancient Ra'athim lineage at that, else he would not have been able to free the Staff," Symmachus reasoned. He turned to peer at her fixedly. "I don't think he would have lain with you. As an Elf he did not dare, for then he would not have been able to part from you." He smiled. Then he turned serious once more. "Ai! He knew the Staff lay there, not the Horn, and that he must tele�port to safety. The Staff is not a weapon that would have seen him clear, unlike the Horn. Praise the gods at least that he does not have that! It seems all was as he expected -- but how did he know? I placed the Staff there myself, with the aid of the rag-tail end of the Ra'athim Clan who now sits king in Castle Ebonheart as a reward. Tiber Septim claimed the Horn, but left the Staff for safekeeping. Ai! Now the Nightingale can use the Staff to sow seeds of strife and dissension wherever he goes, if he wishes. Yet that alone will not gain him power. That lies with the Horn and the ability to use it."
"I'm not so sure it's power the Nightingale seeks," Barenziah said.

"All seek power," Symmachus said, "each in our own way."

"Not I," she answered. "I, Milord, have found that for which I sought."

The Real Barenziah, Part 5

s Symmachus had predicted, the theft of the Staff of Chaos had few short-term consequences. The current Emperor, Uriel Septim, sent some rather stiff messages expressing shock and displeasure at the Staff's disappearance, and urging Symmachus to make every effort to locate its whereabouts and communicate developments to the newly appointed Imperial Battlemage, Jagar Tharn, in whose hands the matter had been placed.

"Tharn!" Symmachus thundered in disgust and frustration as he paced about the small chamber where Barenziah, now some months pregnant, was sitting serenely embroidering a baby blanket. "Jagar Tharn, indeed. Ai! I wouldn't give him directions for crossing the street, not if he were a doddering old blind sot."

"What have you against him, love?"

"I just don't trust that mongrel Elf. Part Dark Elf, part High Elf, and part the gods only know what. All the worst qualities of all his combined bloods, I'll warrant." He snorted. "No one knows much about him. Claims he was born in southern Valenwood, of a Wood Elven mother. Seems to have been everywhere since -- "

Barenziah, sunk in the contentment and lassitude of pregnancy, had only been humoring Symmachus thus far. But now she suddenly dropped her needlework and looked at him. Something had piqued her interest. "Symmachus. Could this Jagar Tharn have been the Nightingale, disguised?"

Symmachus thought this over before replying. "Nay, my love. Human blood seems to be the one missing component in Tharn's ancestry." To Symmachus, Barenziah knew, that was a flaw. Her husband despised Wood Elves as lazy thieves and High Elves as effete intellectuals. But he admired humans, especially Bretons, for their combination of pragmatism, intelligence, and energy. "The Nightingale's of Ebonheart, of the Ra'athim Clan - House Hlaalu, the House of Mora in particular, I'll be bound. That house has had human blood in it since her time. Ebonheart was jealous that the Staff was laid here when Tiber Septim took the Horn of Summoning from us."

Barenziah sighed a little. The rivalry between Ebonheart and Mournhold reached back almost to the dawn of Morrowind's history. Once the two nations had been one, all the lucrative mines held in fief by the Ra'athims, whose nobility retained the High Kingship of Morrowind. Ebonheart had split into two separate city-states, Ebonheart and Mournhold, when Queen Lian's twin sons -- grandsons of the legendary King Moraelyn -- were left as joint heirs. At about the same time the office of High King was vacated in favor of a temporary War Leader to be named by a council in times of provincial emergency.

Still, Ebonheart remained jealous of her prerogatives as the eldest city-state of Morrowind ("first among equals" was the phrase its rulers often quoted) and claimed that rightful guardianship of the Staff of Chaos should have been entrusted to its ruling house. Mournhold responded that King Moraelyn himself had placed the Staff in the keeping of the god Ephen -- and Mournhold was unarguably the god's birthplace.

"Why not tell Jagar Tharn of your suspicions, then? Let him recover the thing. As long as it's safe, what does it matter who recovers it, or where it lies?"

Symmachus stared at her without comprehension. "It matters," he said softly after a while, "but I suppose not that much. Ai." He added, "Certainly not enough for you to concern yourself further with it. You just sit there and tend to your," and here he smiled at her wickedly, "embroidery."

Barenziah flung the sampler at him. It hit Symmachus square in the face -- needle, thimble, and all.


In a few more months Barenziah gave birth to a fine son, whom they named Helseth. Nothing more was heard of the Staff of Chaos, or the Nightingale. If Ebonheart had the Staff in its possession, they certainly did not boast of it.

The years passed swiftly and happily. Helseth grew tall and strong. He was much like his father, whom he worshipped. When Helseth was eight years old Barenziah bore a second child, a daughter, to Symmachus' lasting delight. Helseth was his pride, but little Morgiah -- named for Symmachus' mother -- held his heart.

Sadly, the birth of Morgiah was not the harbinger of better times ahead. Relations with the Empire slowly deteriorated, for no apparent reason. Taxes were raised and quotas increased with each passing year. Symmachus felt that the Emperor suspected him of having had a hand in the Staff's disappearance and sought to prove his loyalty by making every effort to comply with the escalating demands. He lengthened working hours and raised tariffs, and even made up some of the difference from both the royal exchequer and their own private holdings. But the levies multiplied, and commoners and nobles alike began to complain. It was an ominous rumble.

"I want you to take the children and journey to the Imperial City," Symmachus said at last in desperation one evening after dinner. "You must make the Emperor listen, else all Mournhold will be up in revolt come spring." He grinned forcibly. "You have a way with men, love. You always did."

Barenziah forced a smile of her own. "Even with you, I take it."

"Yes. Especially with me," he acknowledged amiably.

"Both children?" Barenziah looked over toward a corner window, where Helseth was strumming a lute and crooning a duet with his little sister. Helseth was fifteen by then, Morgiah eight.

"They might soften his heart. Besides, it's high time Helseth was presented before the Imperial Court."

"Perhaps. But that's not your true reason." Barenziah took a deep breath and grasped the nettle. "You don't think you can keep them safe here. If that's the case, then you're not safe here either. Come with us," she urged.

He took her hands in his. "Barenziah. My love. Heart of my heart. If I leave now, there'll be nothing for us to return to. Don't worry about me. I'll be all right. Ai! I can take care of myself -- and I can do it better if I'm not worrying about you or the children."

Barenziah laid her head against his chest. "Just remember that we need you. I need you. We can do without the rest of it if we have each other. Empty hands and empty bellies are easier to bear than an empty heart." She started to cry, thinking of the Nightingale and that sordid business with the Staff. "My foolishness has brought us to this pass."

He smiled at her tenderly. "If so, 'tis not so bad a place to be." His eyes rested indulgently on their children. "None of us shall ever go without, or want for anything. Ever. Ever, my love, I promise you. I cost you everything once, Barenziah, I and Tiber Septim. Ai. Without my aid the Empire would never have begun. I helped its rise." His voice hardened. "I can bring about its fall. You may tell Uriel Septim that. That, and that my patience is not infinite."

Barenziah gasped. Symmachus was not given to empty threats. She'd no more imagined that he would ever turn against the Empire than that the old house wolf lying by the grate would turn on her. "How?" she demanded breathlessly. But he shook his head.

"Better that you not know," he said. "Just tell him what I told you should he prove recalcitrant, and do not fear. He's Septim enough that he will not take it out on the messenger." He smiled grimly. "For if he does, if he ever harms the least hair on you, my love, or the children -- so help me all the gods of Tamriel, he'll pray that he hadn't been born. Ai. I'll hunt him down, him and his entire family. And I won't rest until the last Septim is dead." The red Dark Elven eyes of Symmachus gleamed brightly in the ebbing firelight. "I plight you that oath, my love. My Queen ... my Barenziah."

Barenziah held him, held him as tight as she could. But in spite of the warmth in his embrace, she couldn't help shivering.


Barenziah stood before the Emperor's throne, trying to explain Mournhold's straits. She'd waited weeks for an audience with Uriel Septim, having been fobbed off on this pretext or that. "His Majesty is indisposed." "An urgent matter demands His Excellency's attention." "I am sorry, Your Highness, there must be some mistake. Your appointment is for next week. No, see..." And now it wasn't even going well. The Emperor did not even make the slightest pretence at listening to her. He hadn't invited her to sit, nor had he dismissed the children. Helseth stood still as a carven image, but little Morgiah had begun to fuss.

The state of her own mind didn't help her any. Shortly upon arrival at her lodgings, the Mournholdian ambassador to the Imperial City had demanded entry, bringing with him a sheaf of dispatches from Symmachus. Bad news, and plenty of it. The revolt had finally begun. The peasants had organized around a few disgruntled members of Mournhold's minor nobility, and were demanding Symmachus step down and hand over the reins of government. Only the Imperial Guard and a handful of troops whose families had been retainers of Barenziah's house for generations stood between Symmachus and the rabble. Hostilities had already broken out, but apparently Symmachus was safe and still in control. Not for long, he wrote. He entreated Barenziah to try her best with the Emperor -- but in any case she was to stay in the Imperial City until he wrote to tell her it was safe to go back home with the children.

She had tried to barge her way through the Imperial bureaucracy -- with little success. And to add to her growing panic, all news from Mournhold had come to a sudden stop. Tottering between rage at the Emperor's numerous major-domos and fear of the fate awaiting her and her family, the weeks had passed by tensely, agonizingly, remorselessly. Then one day the Mournholdian ambassador came calling to tell her she should expect news from Symmachus the following night at the latest, not through the regular channels but by nighthawk. Seemingly by the same stroke of luck, she was informed that same day by a clerk from the Imperial Court that Uriel Septim had finally consented to grant her an audience early on the morrow.

The Emperor had greeted the three of them when they came into the audience chamber with a too-bright smile of welcome that nonetheless didn't reach his eyes. Then, as she presented her children, he had gazed at them with a fixed attention that was real yet somehow inappropriate. Barenziah had been dealing with humans for nearly five hundred years now, and had developed the skill of reading their expressions and movements that was far beyond what any human could ever perceive. Try as the Emperor might to conceal it, there was hunger in his eyes -- and something else. Regret? Yes. Regret. But why? He had several fine children of his own. Why covet hers? And why look at her with such a vicious -- however brief -- yearning? Perhaps he had tired of his consort. Humans were notoriously, though predictably, inconstant. After that one long, burning glance, his gaze had shifted away as she began to speak of her mission and the violence that had erupted in Mournhold. He sat still as stone throughout her entire account.

Puzzled at his inertia, and vexed no end, Barenziah stared into the pale, set face, looking for some trace of the Septims she'd known in the past. She didn't know Uriel Septim well, having met him once when he was still a child, and then again at his coronation twenty years later. Twice, that was all. He'd been a stern and dignified presence at the ceremony, even as a young adult -- yet not icily remote as this more mature man was. In fact, despite the physical resemblance, he didn't seem to be the same man at all. Not the same, yet something about him was familiar to her, more familiar than it should be, some trick of posture or gesture...

Suddenly she felt very hot, as if lava had been poured over her. Illusion! She had studied the arts of illusion well since the Nightingale had deceived her so badly. She had learned to detect it -- and she felt it now, as certainly as a blind man could feel the sun on his face. Illusion! But why? Her mind worked furiously even as her mouth went on reciting details about Mournhold's troubles. Vanity? Humans were oft as ashamed at the signs of ageing as Elves were proud to exhibit them. Yet the face Uriel Septim wore seemed consistent with his age.

Barenziah dared use none of her own magic. Even petty nobles had means of detecting magicka, if not actually shielding themselves from its effects, within their own halls. The use of sorcery here would bring down the Emperor's wrath as surely as drawing a dagger would.



Suddenly she was brought to mind of the Nightingale. And then he was sitting before her. Then the vision changed, and it was Uriel Septim. He looked sad. Trapped. And then the vision faded once more, and another man sat in his place, like the Nightingale, and yet unlike. Pale skin, bloodshot eyes, Elven ears -- and about him a fierce glow of concentrated malice, an aura of eldritch energy -- a horrible, destructive shimmer. This man was capable of anything!

And then once again she was looking into the face of Uriel Septim.

How could she be sure she wasn't imagining things? Perhaps her mind was playing tricks on her. She felt a sudden vast weariness, as if she'd been carrying a heavy burden too long and too far. She decided to abandon her earnest narrative of Mournhold's ills -- as it was quite plainly getting her nowhere -- and switch back to pleasantry. Pleasantry, however, with a hidden agenda.

"Do you remember, Sire, Symmachus and I had dinner with your family shortly after your father's coronation? You were no older than tiny Morgiah here. We were greatly honored to be the only guests that evening -- except for your best friend Justin, of course."

"Ah yes," the Emperor said, smiling cautiously. Very cautiously. "I do believe I recall that."

"You and Justin were such friends, Your Majesty. I was told he died not long after. A great pity."

"Indeed. I still do not like to speak of him." His eyes turned blank -- or blanker, if it had been possible. "As for your request, Milady, we shall take it under advisement and let you know."

Barenziah bowed, as did the children. A nod from the Emperor dismissed them, and they backed away from the imperial presence.

She took a deep breath when they emerged from the throne room. "Justin" had been an imaginary playmate, although young Uriel had insisted a place be set for Justin at every meal. Not only that, Justin, despite the boyish name, had been a girl! Symmachus had kept up the joke long after she had gone the way of imaginary childhood friends -- inquiring after Justin's health whenever he and Uriel Septim met, and being responded to in as mock-serious a fashion. The last Barenziah had heard of Justin, several years ago, the Emperor had evidently joked elaborately to Symmachus that she had met an adventurous though incorrigible Khajiit youth, married him, and settled down in Lilandril to raise fire ferns and mugworts.

The man sitting on the Emperor's divan was not Uriel Septim! The Nightingale? Could it be...? Yes. Yes! A chord of recognition rang through her and Barenziah knew she was right. It was him. It was! The Nightingale! Masquerading as the Emperor! Symmachus had been wrong, so wrong...

What now? she wondered frantically. What had become of Uriel Septim -- and more to the point, what did it mean for her and Symmachus, and all of Mournhold? Thinking back, Barenziah guessed that their troubles were due to this false Emperor, this Nightingale-spawned glamour -- or whatever he really was. He must have taken Uriel Septim's place shortly before the unreasonable demands on Mournhold had begun. That would explain why relations had deteriorated for so long (as humans reckoned time), long after her disapproved liaison with Tiber Septim. The Nightingale knew of Symmachus' famed loyalty to, and knowledge of, the Septim House, and was effecting a pre-emptive strike. If that were the case, they were all in terrible danger. She and the children were in his power here in the Imperial City, and Symmachus was left alone to deal with troubles of the Nightingale's brewing in Mournhold.

What must she do? Barenziah impelled the children ahead of her, a hand on each shoulder, trying to stay cool, collected, her ladies-in-waiting and personal knights escort trailing behind. Finally they reached their waiting carriage. Even though their suite of rooms was only a few blocks from the Palace, royal dignity forbade travel on foot for even short distances -- and for once, Barenziah was glad of it. The carriage seemed a kind of refuge now, false as she knew the feeling must be.

A boy dashed up to one of the guards and handed him a scroll, then pointed toward the carriage. The guard brought it to her. The boy waited, eyes wide and shining. The epistle was brief and complimentary, and simply inquired if King Eadwyre of Wayrest, of the Province of High Rock, might be granted an audience with the famed Queen Barenziah of Mournhold, as he had heard much of her and would be pleased to make her acquaintance.

Barenziah's first impulse was to refuse. She wanted only to leave this city! Certainly she had no inclination toward any dalliance with a dazzled human. She looked up, frowning, and one of the guards said, "Milady, the boy says his master awaits your reply yonder." She looked in the direction indicated and saw a handsome elderly man on horseback, surrounded by a half dozen courtiers and cavaliers. He caught her eye and bowed respectfully, taking off a plumed hat.

"Very well," Barenziah said to the boy on impulse. "Tell your master he may call on me tonight, after the dinner hour." King Eadwyre looked polite and grave, and rather worried -- but not in the least lovestruck. At least that was something, she thought pensively.
Barenziah stood at the tower window, waiting. She could sense the familiar's nearness. But though the night sky was clear as day to her eyes, she could not yet see him. Then suddenly he was there, a swift moving dot beneath the wispy night clouds. A few more minutes and the great nighthawk finished its descent, wings folding, talons reaching for her thick leather armband.

She carried the bird to its perch, where it waited, panting, as her impatient fingers felt for the message secured in a capsule on one leg. The hawk drank mightily from the water till when she had done, then ruffled its feathers and preened, secure in her presence. A tiny part of her consciousness shared its satisfaction at a job well done, mission accomplished, and rest earned ... yet beneath it all was unease. Things were not right, even to its humble avian mind.

Her fingers shook as she unfolded the thin parchment and pored over the cramped writing. Not Symmachus' bold hand! Barenziah sat slowly, fingers smoothing the document while she prepared her mind and body to accept disaster calmly, if disaster it would be.

Disaster it was.

The Imperial Guard had deserted Symmachus and joined the rebels. Symmachus was dead. The remaining loyal troops had suffered a decisive defeat. Symmachus was dead. The rebel leader had been recognized as King of Mournhold by Imperial envoys. Symmachus was dead. Barenziah and the children had been declared traitors to the Empire and a price set on their heads.

Symmachus was dead.

So the audience with the Emperor earlier that morning had been nothing but a blind, a ruse. A charade. The Emperor must have already known. She was just being strung along, told to stay put, take things easy, Milady Queen, enjoy the Imperial City and the delights it has to offer, do make your stay as long as you want. Her stay? Her detention. Her captivity. And in all probability, her impending arrest. She had no delusions about her situation. She knew the Emperor and his minions would never let her leave the Imperial City, ever again. At least, not alive.

Symmachus was dead.


Barenziah jumped, startled by the servant's approach. "What is it?"

"The Breton is here, Milady. King Eadwyre," the woman added helpfully, noting Barenziah's incomprehension. She hesitated. "Is there news, Milady?" she said, nodding toward the nighthawk.

"Nothing that will not wait," Barenziah said quickly, and her voice seemed to echo in the emptiness that suddenly yawned like a gaping abyss inside her. "See to the bird." She stood up, smoothed her gown, and prepared to attend on her royal visitor.

She felt numb. Numb as the stone walls around her, numb as the quiescence of the night air... numb as a lifeless corpse.

Symmachus was dead!


King Eadwyre greeted her gravely and courteously, if a bit fulsomely. He claimed to be a fervent admirer of Symmachus, who figured prominently in his family's legends. Gradually he turned the conversation to her business with the Emperor. He inquired after details, and asked if the outcome had been favorable to Mournhold. Finding her noncommittal, he suddenly blurted out, "Milady Queen, you must believe me. The man who claims himself the Emperor is an impostor! I know it sounds mad, but I -- "

"No," Barenziah said, with sudden decisiveness. "You are entirely correct, Milord King. I know."

Eadwyre relaxed into his seat for the first time, eyes suddenly shrewd. "You know? You're not just humoring someone you might think a madman?"

"I assure you, Milord, I am not." She took a deep breath. "And who do you surmise is dissembling as the Emperor?"

"The Imperial Battlemage, Jagar Tharn."

"Ah. Milord King, have you, perchance, heard of someone called the Nightingale?"

"Yes, Milady, as a matter of fact I have. My allies and I believe him to be one and the same man as the renegade Tharn."

"I knew it!" Barenziah stood up and tried to mask her upheaval. The Nightingale -- Jagar Tharn! Oh, but the man was a demon! Diabolical and insidious. And so very clever. He had contrived their downfall seamlessly, perfectly! Symmachus, my Symmachus...!

Eadwyre coughed diffidently. "Milady, I... we... we need your aid."

Barenziah smiled grimly at the irony. "I do believe I should be the one saying those words. But go on, please. Of what assistance might I be, Milord King?"

Quickly the monarch outlined a plot. The mage Ria Silmane, of late apprenticed to the vile Jagar Tharn, had been killed and declared a traitor by the false Emperor. Yet she had retained a bit of her powers and could still contact a few of those she had known well on the mortal plane. She had chosen a Champion who would undertake to find the Staff of Chaos, which had been hidden by the traitorous sorcerer in an unknown site. This Champion was to wield the Staff's power to destroy Jagar Tharn, who was otherwise invulnerable, and rescue the true Emperor being held prisoner in another dimension. However, the Champion, while thankfully still alive, now languished in the Imperial Dungeons. Tharn's attention must be diverted while the chosen one gained freedom with Ria's spirit's help. Barenziah had the false Emperor's ears -- and seemingly his eyes. Would she provide the necessary distraction?

"I suppose I could obtain another audience with him," Barenziah said carefully. "But would that be sufficient? I must tell you that my children and I have just recently been declared traitors to the Empire."

"In Mournhold, perhaps, Milady, and Morrowind. Things are different in the Imperial City and the Imperial Province. The same administrative morass that makes it near impossible to obtain an audience with the Emperor and his ministers also quite assures that you would never be unlawfully imprisoned or otherwise punished without benefit of due legal process. In your case, Milady, and your children's, the situation is further exacerbated by your royal rank. As Queen and heirs apparent, your persons are considered inviolable -- sacrosanct, in fact." The King grinned. "The Imperial bureaucracy, Milady, is a double-edged claymore."

So. At least she and the children were safe for the time being. Then a thought struck her. "Milord King, what did you mean earlier when you said I had the false Emperor's eyes? And seemingly, at that?"

Eadwyre looked uncomfortable. "It was whispered among the servants that Jagar Tharn kept your likeness in a sort of shrine in his chambers."

"I see." Her thoughts wandered momentarily to that insane romance of hers with the Nightingale. She had been madly in love with him. Foolish woman. And the man she had once loved had caused to be killed the man she truly did love. Did love. Loved. He's gone now, he's... he... She still couldn't bring herself to accept the fact that Symmachus was dead. But even if he is, she told herself firmly, my love is alive, and remains. He would always be with her. As would the pain. The pain of living the rest of her life without him. The pain of trying to survive each day, each night, without his presence, his comfort, his love. The pain of knowing he would never see his children grow into a fine pair of adults, who would never know their father, how brave he was, how strong, how wonderful, how loving... especially little Morgiah.

And for that, for all that, for all you have done to my family, Nightingale -- you must die.

"Does that surprise you?"

Eadwyre's words broke into her thoughts. "What? Does what surprise me?"

"Your likeness. In Tharn's room."

"Oh." Her features set imperturbably. "Yes. And no."

Eadwyre could see from her expression that she wished to change the subject. He turned once again to their plans. "Our chosen one may need a few days to escape, Milady. Can you gain him a bit more time?"

"You trust me in this, Milord King? Why?"

"We are desperate, Milady. We have no choice. But even if we did -- why, yes. Yes, I would trust you. I do trust you. Your husband has been good to my family over the years. The Lord Symmachus--"

"Is dead."


Barenziah related the recent events quickly and coolly.

"Milady... Queen... but how dreadful! I... I'm so sorry..."

For the first time Barenziah's glacial poise was shaken. In the face of sympathy, she felt her outward calm start to crumble. She gathered her composure, and willed herself to stillness.

"Under the circumstances, Milady, we can hardly ask--"

"Nay, good Milord. Under the circumstances I must do what I may to avenge myself upon the murderer of my children's father." A single tear escaped the fortress of her eyes. She brushed it away impatiently. "In return I ask only that you protect my orphaned children as you may."

Eadwyre drew himself up. His eyes shone. "Willingly do I so pledge, most brave and noble Queen. The gods of our beloved land, indeed Tamriel itself, be my witnesses."

His words touched her absurdly, yet profoundly. "I thank you from my heart and my soul, good Milord King Eadwyre. You have mine and m-my children's e-everlasting g-gra -- grati -- "

She broke down.


She did not sleep that night, but sat in a chair beside her bed, hands folded in her lap, thinking deep and long into the waxing and waning of the darkness. She would not tell the children -- not yet, not until she must.

She had no need to seek another audience with the Emperor. A summons arrived at first light.

She told the children she expected to be gone a few days, bade them give the servants no trouble, and kissed them good-bye. Morgiah whimpered a bit; she was bored and lonely in the Imperial City. Helseth looked dour but said nothing. He was very like his father. His father...

At the Imperial Palace, Barenziah was escorted not into the great audience hall but to a small parlour where the Emperor sat at a solitary breakfast. He nodded a greeting and waved his hand toward the window. "Magnificent view, isn't it?"

Barenziah stared out over the towers of the great city. It dawned on her that this was the very chamber where she'd first met Tiber Septim all those years ago. Centuries ago. Tiber Septim. Another man she had loved. Who else had she loved? Symmachus, Tiber Septim... and Straw. She remembered the big blond stable-boy with sudden and intense affection. She never realized it till now, but she had loved Straw. Only she had never let him know. She had been so young then, those had been carefree days, halcyon days... before everything, before all this... before... him. Not Symmachus. The Nightingale. She was shocked in spite of herself. The man could still affect her. Even now. Even after all that had happened. A strong wave of inchoate emotion swept over her.

When she turned back at last, Uriel Septim had vanished -- and the Nightingale sat in his place.

"You knew," he said quietly, scanning her face. "You knew. Instantly. I wanted to surprise you. You might at least have pretended."

Barenziah spread her arms, trying to pacify the maelstrom churning deep inside her. "I'm afraid my skill at pretence is no match for yours, my liege."

He sighed. "You're angry."

"Just a little, I must admit," she said icily. "I don't know about you, but I find betrayal a trifle offensive."
"How human of you."

She took a deep breath. "What do you want of me?"

"Now you are pretending." He stood up to face her directly. "You know what I want of you."

"You want to torment me. Go ahead. I'm in your power. But leave my children alone."

"No, no, no. I don't want that at all, Barenziah." He came near, speaking low in the old caressing voice that had sent shivers cascading through her body. The same voice that was doing the same thing to her, here and now. "Don't you see? This was the only way." His hands closed on
The Ruins of Kemel-Ze
By Rolard Nordssen

ith the acclamations of the Fellows of the Imperial Society still ringing in my ears, I decided to return to Morrowind immediately. It was not without some regret that I bade farewell to the fleshpots of the Imperial City, but I knew that the wonders I had brought back from Raled-Makai had only scratched the surface of the Dwemer ruins in Morrowind. Even more spectacular treasures were out there, I felt, just waiting to be found, and I was eager to be off. I also had before me the salutary example of poor Bannerman, who was still dining out on his single expedition to Black Marsh twenty years ago. That would never be me, I vowed.

With my letter from the Empress in hand, this time I would have the full cooperation of the Imperial authorities. No more need to worry about attacks from superstitious locals. But where should I look next? The ruins at Kemel-Ze were the obvious choice. Unlike Raled-Makai, getting to the ruins would not be a problem. Also known as the "Cliff City", Kemel-Ze lies on the mainland side of the Vvardenfel Rift, sprawling down the sheer coastal cliff. Travelers from the east coast of Vvardenfel often visit the site by boat, and it can also be reached overland from the nearby villages without undue hardship.

Once my expedition had assembled in Seyda Neen, with the usual tedious complications involved in operating in this half-civilized land, we set out for the village of Marog near the ruins, where we hoped to hire a party of diggers. My interpreter, Tuen Panai, an unusually jolly fellow for a Dark Elf who I had hired in Seyda Neen at the recommendation of the local garrison commander, assured me that the local villagers would be very familiar with Kemel-Ze, having looted the site for generations. Incidentally, Ten Penny (as we soon came to call him, to his constant amusement) proved invaluable and I would recommend him without hesitation to any of my colleagues who were planning similar expeditions to the wilds of Morrowind.

At Marog, we ran into our first trouble. The hetman of the village, a reserved, elegant old fellow, seemed willing to cooperate, but the local priest (a representative of the absurd religion they have here, worshiping something called the Tribunal who they claim actually live in palaces in Morrowind) was fervently against us excavating the ruins. He looked likely to sway the villagers to his side with his talk of "religious taboos", but I waved the Empress's letter under his nose and mentioned something about my friend the garrison commander at Seyda Neen and he quieted right down. No doubt this was just a standard negotiating tactic arranged among the villagers to increase their pay. In any event, once the priest had stalked off muttering to himself, no doubt calling down curses upon the heads of the foreign devils, we soon had a line of villagers eager to sign on to the expedition.

While my assistant was working out the mundane details of contracts, supplies, etc., Master Arum and I rode on to the ruins. By land, they can only be reached using narrow paths that wind down the face of the cliff from above, where any misstep threatens to send one tumbling into the sea foaming about the jagged rocks below. The city's original entrance to the surface must have been in the part of the city to the northeast - the part that fell into the sea long ago when the eruption of Red Mountain created this mind-bogglingly vast crater. After successfully navigating the treacherous path, we found ourselves in a large chamber, open to the sky on one side, disappearing into the darkness on the other. As we stepped forward, our boots crunched on piles of broken metal, as common in Dwarven ruins as potsherds in other ancient sites. This was obviously where the looters brought their finds from deeper levels, stripping off the valuable outer casings of the Dwarven mechanisms and leaving their innards here - easier than lugging the intact mechanisms back up to the top of the cliff. I laughed to myself, thinking of the many warriors unwittingly walking around Tamriel with pieces of Dwarven mechanisms on their backs. For that, of course, is what most "Dwarven armor" really is - just the armored shells of ancient mechanical men. I sobered when I thought of how exceedingly valuable an intact mechanism would be. This place was obviously full of Dwarven devices, judging from the litter covering the floor of this vast chamber - or had been, I reminded myself. Looters had been working over this site for centuries. Just the casing alone would be worth a small fortune, sold as armor. Most Dwarven armor is made of mismatched pieces from various devices, hence its reputation for being bulky and unwieldy. But a matched set from an intact mechanism is worth more than its weight in gold, for the pieces all fit together smoothly and the wearer hardly notices the bulk. Of course, I had no intention of destroying my finds for armor, no matter how valuable. I would bring it back to the Society for scientific study. I imagined the astonished cries of my colleagues as I unveiled it at my next lecture, and smiled again.

I picked up a discarded gear from the piles at my feet. It still gleamed brightly, as if new-made, the Dwarven alloys resisting the corrosion of time. I wondered what secrets remained hidden in the maze of chambers that lay before me, defying the efforts of looters, waiting to gleam again in the light they had not seen in long eons. Waiting for me. It remained only to find them! With an impatient gesture to Master Arum to follow, I strode forward into the gloom.

Master Arum, Ten Penny and I spent several days exploring the ruins while my assistants set up camp at the top of the cliff and hauled supplies and equipment from the village. I was looking for a promising area to begin excavation -- a blocked passage or corridor untouched by looters that might lead to completely untouched areas of the ruins.

We found two such areas early on, but soon discovered that the many winding passages bypassed the blockage and gave access to the rooms behind. Nevertheless, even these outer areas, for the most part stripped clean of artifacts by generations of looters, were full of interest to the professional archaeologist. Behind a massive bronze door, burst from its hinges by some ancient turmoil of the earth, we discovered a large chamber filled with exquisite wall-carvings, which impressed even the jaded Ten Penny, who claimed to have explored every Dwarven ruin in Morrowind. They seemed to depict an ancient ritual of some kind, with a long line of classically-bearded Dwarven elders processing down the side walls, all seemingly bowing to the giant form of a god carved into the front wall of the chamber, which was caught in the act of stepping forth from the crater of a mountain in a cloud of smoke or steam. According to Master Arum, there are no known depictions of Dwarven religious rituals, so this was an exciting find indeed. I set a team to work prying the carved panels from the wall, but they were unable to even crack the surface. On closer examination the chamber appeared to be faced with a metallic substance with the texture and feel of stone, impervious to any of our tools. I considered having Master Arum try his blasting magic on the walls, but decided that the risk of destroying the carvings was too great. Much as I would have preferred to bring them back to the Imperial City, I had to settle for taking rubbings of the carvings. If my colleagues in the Society showed enough interest, I was sure a specialist could be found, perhaps a master alchemist, who could find a way to safely remove the panels.

I found another curious room at the top of a long winding stair, barely passable due to the fall of rubble from the roof. At the top of the stair was a domed chamber with a large ruined mechanism at its center. Painted constellations were still visible in some places on the surface of the dome. Master Arum and I agreed that this must have been some kind of observatory, and the mechanism was therefore the remains of a Dwarven telescope. To remove it from ruins down the narrow stairway would require its complete disassembly (which fact no doubt had preserved it from the attention of looters), so I decided to leave it in place for the time being. The existence of this observatory suggested, however, that this room had once been above the surface. Closer examination of the structure revealed that this was indeed a building, not an excavated chamber. The only other doorways from the room were completely blocked, and careful measurements from the top of the cliff to the entry room and then to the observatory revealed that we were still more than 250 feet below the present ground level. A sobering reminder of the forgotten fury of Red Mountain.

This discovery led us to focus our attentions downward. Since we now knew approximately where the ancient surface lay, we could rule out many of the higher blocked passages. One wide passage, impressively flanked with carven pillars, particularly drew my interest. It ended in a massive rockfall, but we could see where looters had begun and then abandoned a tunnel through this debris. With my team of diggers and Master Arum's magery to assist, I believed we could succeed where our predecessors had failed. I therefore set my team of Dark Elves to work on clearing the passage, relieved finally to be beginning the real exploration of Kemel-Ze. Soon, I hoped, my boots would be stirring up dust that had lain undisturbed since the dawn of time.

With this exciting prospect before me, I may have driven my diggers a bit too hard. Ten Penny reported that they were beginning to grumble about the long days, and that some were talking of quitting. Knowing from experience that nothing puts heart back into these Dark Elves like a taste of the lash, I had the ringleaders whipped and the rest confined to the ruins until they had finished clearing the passageway. Thank Stendarr for my foresight in requisitioning a few legionnaires from Seyda Neen! They were sullen at first, but with the promise of an extra day's wages when they broke through, they soon set to work with a will. While these measures may sound harsh to my readers back in the comforts of civilization, let me assure you that there is no other way to get these people to stick to a task.

The blockage was much worse than I had first thought, and in the end it took almost two weeks to clear the passage. The diggers were as excited as I was when their picks finally broke through the far end into emptiness, and we shared a round of the local liquor together (a foul concoction, in truth) to show that all was forgiven. I could hardly restrain my eagerness as they enlarged the hole to allow entry into the chamber beyond. Would the passage lead to entire new levels of the ancient city, filled with artifacts left by the vanished Dwarves? Or would it be only a dead end, some side passage leading nowhere? My excitement grew as I slid through the hole and crouched for a moment in the darkness beyond. From the echoing sounds of the stones rattling beneath my feet, I was in a large room. Perhaps very large. I stood up carefully, and unhooded my lantern. As the light flooded the chamber, I looked around in astonishment. Here were wonders beyond even my wildest dreams!

As the light from my lamp filled the chamber beyond the rock fall, I looked around in astonishment. Everywhere was the warm glitter of Dwarven alloys. I had found an untouched section of the ancient city! My heart pounding with excitement, I looked around me. The room was vast, the roof soaring up into darkness beyond the reach of my lamp, the far end lost in shadows with only a tantalizing glimmer hinting at treasures not yet revealed. Along each wall stood rows of mechanical men, intact except for one oddity: their heads had been ritually removed and placed on the floor at their feet. This could mean only one thing -- I had discovered the tomb of a great Dwarven noble, maybe even a king! Burials of this type had been discovered before, most famously by Ransom's expedition to Hammerfell, but no completely intact tomb had ever been found. Until now.

But if this was truly a royal burial, where was the tomb? I stepped forward gingerly, the rows of headless bodies standing silently as they had for eons, their disembodied eyes seeming to watch me as I passed. I had heard wild tales of the Curse of the Dwarves, but had always laughed it off as superstition. But now, breathing the same air as the mysterious builders of this city, which had lain undisturbed since the cataclysm that spelled their doom, I felt a twinge of fear. There was some power here, I felt, something malevolent that resented my presence. I stopped for a moment and listened. All was silent.

Except... it seemed I heard a faint hiss, regular as breathing. I fought down a sudden surge of panic. I was unarmed, not thinking of danger in my haste to explore past the blocked passage. Sweat dripped down my face as I scanned the gloom for any movement. The room was warm, I suddenly noticed, much warmer than the rest of the labyrinth thus far. My excitement returned. Could I have found a section of the city still connected to a functioning steam grid? Pipes ran along the walls, as in all sections of the city. I walked over and placed my hand on one. It was hot, almost too hot to touch! Now I saw that in places where the ancient piping had corroded, small jets of steam were escaping -- the sound I had heard. I laughed at my own credulity.

I now advanced quickly to the far end of the room, giving a cheerful salute to the ranks of mechanical soldiers who had appeared so menacing only moments before. I smiled with triumph as the light swept back the darkness of centuries to reveal the giant effigy of a Dwarven king standing on a raised dais, his metal hand clutching his rod of office. This was the prize indeed! I circled the dais slowly, admiring the craftsmanship of the ancient Dwarves. The golden king stood twenty feet tall under a freestanding domed cupola, his long upswept beard jutting forward proudly as his glittering metal eyes seemed to follow me. But my superstitious mood had passed, and I gazed benevolently on the old Dwarven king. My king, as I had already begun to think of him. I stepped onto the dais to get a better look at the sculpted armor. Suddenly the eyes of the figure opened and it raised a mailed fist to strike!

I leaped to one side as the golden arm came crashing down, striking sparks from the steps where I had stood a moment before. With a hiss of steam and the whir of gears, the giant figure stepped ponderously out from under its canopy and strode towards me with frightening speed, its eyes tracking me as I scrambled backwards. I dodged behind a pillar as the fist whistled down again. I had dropped my lantern in the confusion, and now I crept into the darkness outside the pool of light, hoping to slip between the headless mechanisms and thus escape back to the safety of the passageway. Where had the monster gone? You would think that a twenty-foot golden kind would be hard to miss, but he was nowhere to be seen. The guttering lamp only illuminated a small part of the room. He could be hiding anywhere in the gloom. I crawled faster. Without warning, the dim ranks of Dwarven soldiers in front of me went flying as the monstrous guardian loomed before me. He had cut off my escape! As I dodged backwards, blow after blow whistled down as the implacable machine followed me relentlessly, driving me into the far corner of the room. At last there was nowhere left for me to go. My back was to the wall. I glared up at my foe, determined to die on my feet. The huge fists lifted for one final blow.

The room blazed with sudden light. Bolts of purple energy crackled across the metal carapace of the Dwarven monster, and it halted, half-turning to meet this new threat. Master Arum had come! I was about to raise a cheer when the giant figure turned back to me, unharmed by the lightning bolt hurled by Master Arum, determined to destroy this first intruder. I shouted out "Steam! Steam!" as the giant raised his fist to crush me into the floor. There was a hiss and a gust of bitter cold and I looked up. The monster was now covered with a shell of ice, frozen in the very moment of dispatching me. Master Arum had understood. I leaned against the wall with relief.

The ice cracked above me. The giant golden king stood before me, the shell of ice falling away, his head swiveling towards me in triumph. Was there no stopping this Dwarven monstrosity?! But then the light faded from his eyes, and his arms dropped to his sides. The magical frost had worked, cooling its steam-driven energy.

As Master Arum and the diggers crowded around me, congratulating me on my narrow escape, my thoughts drifted. I imagined my return to the Imperial City, and I knew that this would be my greatest triumph yet. How could I possibly top this find? Perhaps it was time to move on. Recovering the fabled Eye of Argonia... now that would be a coup! I smiled to myself, reveling in the glory of the moment but already planning my next adventure.
A Short Life of
Uriel Septim VII
by Rufus Hayn

3E 368-389: Strategist and Conciliator
The early decades of Emperor Uriel's life were marked by aggressive expansion and consolidation of Imperial influence throughout the empire, but especially in the East, in Morrowind and Black Marsh, where the Empire's power was limited, Imperial culture was weak, and native customs and traditions were strong and staunchly opposed to assimilation. During this period Uriel greatly benefitted from the arcane support and shrewd council of his close advisor, the Imperial Battlemage, Jagar Tharn.

The story of Uriel's marriage to the Princess Caula Voria is a less happy tale. Though she was a beautiful and charming woman, and greatly loved and admired by the people, the Empress was a deeply unpleasant, arrogant, ambitious, grasping woman. She snared Uriel Septim with her feminine wiles, but Uriel Septim thereafter soon regretted his mistake, and was repelled by her. They heartily detested one another, and went out of their ways to hurt one another. Their children were the victims of this unhappy marriage.

With his agile mind and vaunting ambition, Uriel soon outstripped his master in the balanced skills of threat and diplomacy. Uriel's success in co-opting House Hlaalu as an advance guard of Imperial culture and economic development in Morrowind is a noteworthy example. However, Uriel also grew in pride and self-assurance. Jagar Tharn fed Uriel's pride, and hiding behind the mask of an out-paced former master counselor, Tharn purchased the complete trust that led finally to Uriel's betrayal and imprisonment in Oblivion and Tharn's secret usurpation of the Imperial throne.

3E 389-399: Betrayed and Imprisoned
Little is known of Uriel's experience while trapped in Oblivion. He says he remembers nothing but an endless sequence of waking and sleeping nightmares. He says he believed himself to be dreaming, and had no notion of passage of time. Publically, he long claimed to have no memory of the dreams and nightmares of his imprisonment, but from time to time, during the interviews with the Emperor that form the basis of this biography, he would relate details of nightmares he had, and would describe them as similar to the nightmares he had when he was imprisoned in Oblivion. He seemed not so much unwilling as incapable of describing the experience.

But it is clear that the experience changed him. In 3E 389 he was a young man, full of pride, energy, and ambition. During the Restoration, after his rescue and return to the throne, he was an old man, grave, patient, and cautious. He also became conservative and pessimistic, where the policies of his early life were markedly bold, even rash. Uriel accounts for this change as a reaction to and revulsion for the early teachings and counsel of Jagar Tharn. However, Uriel's exile in Oblivion also clearly drained and wasted him in body and spirit, though his mind retained the shrewd cunning and flexibility of his youth.

The story of Tharn's magical impersonation of the emperor, the unmasking of Tharn's imposture by Queen Barenziah, and the roles played by King Eadwyre, Ria Silmane, and her Champion in assembling the Staff of Chaos, defeating the renegade Imperial Battlemage Jagar Tharn, and restoring Uriel to the throne, is treated at length in Stern Gamboge's excellent three-Volume BIOGRAPHY OF BARENZIAH. There is no reason to recount that narrative here. Summarized briefly, Jagar Tharn's neglect and mismanagement of Imperial affairs resulted in a steady decline in the Empire's economic prosperity, allowed many petty lords and kings to challenge the authority of the Empire, and permitted strong local rulers in the East and the West to indulge in open warfare over lands and sovereign rights.

3E 399-415: Restoration, the Miracle of Peace, and Vvardenfell
During the Restoration, Uriel Septim turned from the aggressive campaign of military intimidation and diplomatic accommodation of his earlier years, and relied instead on clandestine manipulation of affairs behind the scenes, primarily through the agencies of the various branches of the Blades. A complete assessment of the methods and objectives of this period must wait until after the Emperor's death, when the voluminous diaries archived at his country estate may be opened to the public, and when the Blades no longer need to maintain secrecy to protect the identities of its agents.

Two signal achievements of this period point to the efficacy of Uriel's subtle policies: the 'Miracle of Peace' [also popularly known as 'The Warp in the West'] that transformed the Iliac Bay region from an ruly assortment of warring petty kingdoms into the well-ordered and peaceful modern counties of Hammerfell, Sentinel, Wayrest, and Orsinium, and the colonization of Vvardenfell, presided over by the skillful machinations of King Helseth of Morrowind and Lady Barenziah, the Queen-Mother, which brought Morrowind more closely into the sphere of Imperial influence.

3E 415-430: The Golden Peace, King Helseth's Court, and the Nine in the East
Following the 'Miracle of Peace' [best described in Per Vetersen's DAGGERFALL: A MODERN HISTORY], the Empire entered a period of peace and prosperity comparable to the early years of Uriel's reign. With the Imperial Heartland and West solidly integrated into the Empire, Uriel was able to turn his full attention to the East -- to Morrowind.

Exploiting conflicts at the heart of Morrowind's monolithic Tribunal religion and the long-established Great House system of government, and taking advantage of the terrible threat that the corrupted divine beings at the heart of the Tribunal religion presented to the growing colonies on Vvardenfell, Uriel worked through shadowy agents of the Blades and through the court of King Helseth in Mournhold to shift the center of political power in Morrowind from the Great House councils to Helseth's court, and took advantage of the collapse of the orthodox Tribunal cults to establish the Nine Divines as the dominant faiths in Hlaalu and Vvardenfell Districts.

Hasphat Anabolis's treatment of the establishment of the Nine in the East in his four-volume LIFE AND TIMES OF THE NEREVARINE is comprehensive; however, he fails to resolve the central mystery of this period -- how much did Uriel know about the prophecies of the Nerevarine, and how did he learn of their significance? The definitive resolution of this and other mysteries must await the future release of the Emperor's private papers, or a relenting of the Blades' strict policies of secrecy concerning their agents.

Let me tell the tale of the Thief of Virtue. In the land of Hammerfell in the city of Sutch there lived a Baron who was quite wealthy. He was a noted collector of rare coins. The Baroness Veronique found the whole thing quite tedious. However, she did appreciate the lifestyle that the Baron's wealth provided.

Ravius Terinus was a noted thief. He claimed to be a master thief in the mythical guild of thieves. However, that was most like just braggadocio. The only known Thieves Guild was wiped out over 450 years ago.

Ravius decided that the Baron should share his wealth. Specifically he should share it with Ravius. The wily thief crept into the Baron's castle one night intending to do just that.

The walls of the castle were noted for their height and unscalability. Ravius cleverly used an Arrow of Penetration to affix a rope to the top of the battlements. Once on the battlements, he had to evade the Baron's guards. By hiding in the shadows of the crenelations, he was able to work his way to the keep undetected.

Entering the keep was child's play for a thief of his caliber. However, a cunning lock with no less than 13 pins protected the private quarters of the Baron. Ravius broke only 9 lockpicks to open it. Using only a fork, a bit of string, and a wineskin, he disabled the seven traps guarding the Baron's coin collection. Truly Ravius was a master among thieves.

With the coins safely in his grasp, Ravius began his escape only to find the way blocked. The Baron had found the opened door and was raising the guard to scour the castle. Ravius fled deeper into the castle, one step ahead of the questing guards.

His only way out led through the boudoir of Baroness Veronique. He entered to find the lady preparing for bed. Now it should be said at this point that Ravius was noted for his handsome looks, while the Baroness was noted for her plainness. Both of these facts were immediately recognized by each of the pair.

"Doest thou come to plunder my virtue?" asked the lady, all a tremble.

"Nay, fair lady," Ravius said, thinking quickly. "Plunder be a harsh term to ply upon such a delicate flower as your virtue."

"I see thou hast made off with mine husbands precious coins."
Ravius looked deeply into her eyes and saw the only path by which he would escape this night with his life. It would require a double sacrifice.

"Though these coins are of rarest value, I have now found a treasure that is beyond all value," Ravius said smoothly. "Tell me, oh beauteous one, why doest thy husband set seven deadly traps around these tawdry coins, but only a simple lock upon the door of his virtuous wife?"

"Ignace protects those things that are dearest to him," Veronique replied with ire.

"I would give all the gold in my possession to spend but a moment basking in your radiance."

With that Ravius set down the coins he had worked so hard to steal. The Baroness swooned into his arms. When the captain of the guard asked to search her quarters, she hid Ravius most skillfully. She turned over the coins, claiming the thief dropped them when he fled out the window.

With that sacrifice made, Ravius steeled himself for the second. He robbed the lady Veronique of her virtue that night. He robbed her of it several times, lasting well into the wee hours of the morning. Exhausted, yet sated, he stole away in the pre-dawn hours.
Many investigators have attempted solve the riddle of the Thieves Guild. Despite repeated proofs that no viable Thieves Guild exists, the rumors persist. Whenever historians search for evidence of this shadowy organization, nothing is found. Witnesses know nothing. Safe houses are empty. Fences turn out to be simple businessmen.

Let me clarify by stating that thieves most certainly do exist. They rot in dungeons all across Tamriel. Certainly bands of thieves work together to commit crimes. On rare occasions there has even been documented cases were persistent bands of thieves have worked together for years at a time committing thefts and other crimes.

However, a guild is different than a band. A guild implies an organization with membership rolls. It would have a financial structure, which would include member dues or some other means of securing funds. It would have rules of conduct or behavior. It would have a hierarchical leadership structure. Within this structure there would be methods of advancement and succession.

The best documented case of a Thieves Guild was found in Morrowind. For a brief time Gentleman Jim Stacey ran a ring of thieves that robbed wealthy merchants and nobles all across that nation. During the recent Nevarine incident, the Fighters Guild and the shadowy Morag Tong eliminated this band of thugs. The final fate of Jim Stacey himself is not known.

The Morrowind Thieves Guild did have a financial structure and a leadership structure. It satisfied many of the conditions of a true guild. However, it was short lived. Public knowledge of Stacey's group lasted for only a few years at most. Although the Fighters Guild has claimed credit for wiping them out, some historians believe the group merely went deeper undercover.

The problem with determining the non-existence of the Thieves Guild is quite logical. It is not possible to prove a negative. I cannot prove definitively that the Thieves Guild does not exist, only that historians have been unable to document one.

If a Thieves Guild were to be operational in Cyrodiil, one would think that crime would be rampant, which it is not. The very nature of thieves makes it impossible for them to trust one another sufficiently to work together for very long. By nature a thief is a rule breaker. Therefore an organization that has rules would fail if all it's members were thieves. For these reasons, I dispute the existence of a modern day Thieves Guild in Cyrodiil.
The Anuad Paraphrased

he first ones were brothers: Anu and Padomay. They came into the Void, and Time began.

As Anu and Padomay wandered the Void, the interplay of Light and Darkness created Nir. Both Anu and Padomay were amazed and delighted with her appearance, but she loved Anu, and Padomay retreated from them in bitterness.

Nir became pregnant, but before she gave birth, Padomay returned, professing his love for Nir. She told him that she loved only Anu, and Padomay beat her in rage. Anu returned, fought Padomay, and cast him outside Time. Nir gave birth to Creation, but died from her injuries soon after. Anu, grieving, hid himself in the sun and slept.

Meanwhile, life sprang up on the twelve worlds of creation and flourished. After many ages, Padomay was able to return to Time. He saw Creation and hated it. He swung his sword, shattering the twelve worlds in their alignment. Anu awoke, and fought Padomay again. The long and furious battle ended with Anu the victor. He cast aside the body of his brother, who he believed was dead, and attempted to save Creation by forming the remnants of the 12 worlds into one -- Nirn, the world of Tamriel. As he was doing so, Padomay struck him through the chest with one last blow. Anu grappled with his brother and pulled them both outside of Time forever.

The blood of Padomay became the Daedra. The blood of Anu became the stars. The mingled blood of both became the Aedra (hence their capacity for good and evil, and their greater affinity for earthly affairs than the Daedra, who have no connection to Creation).

On the world of Nirn, all was chaos. The only survivors of the twelve worlds of Creation were the Ehlnofey and the Hist. The Ehlnofey are the ancestors of Mer and Men. The Hist are the trees of Argonia. Nirn originally was all land, with interspersed seas, but no oceans.

A large fragment of the Ehlnofey world landed on Nirn relatively intact, and the Ehlnofey living there were the ancestors of the Mer. These Ehlnofey fortified their borders from the chaos outside, hid their pocket of calm, and attempted to live on as before. Other Ehlnofey arrived on Nirn scattered amid the confused jumble of the shattered worlds, wandering and finding each other over the years. Eventually, the wandering Ehlnofey found the hidden land of Old Ehlnofey, and were amazed and joyful to find their kin living amid the splendor of ages past. The wandering Ehlnofey expected to be welcomed into the peaceful realm, but the Old Ehlnofey looked on them as degenerates, fallen from their former glory. For whatever reason, war broke out, and raged across the whole of Nirn. The Old Ehlnofey retained their ancient power and knowledge, but the Wanderers were more numerous, and toughened by their long struggle to survive on Nirn. This war reshaped the face of Nirn, sinking much of the land beneath new oceans, and leaving the lands as we know them (Tamriel, Akavir, Atmora, and Yokuda). The Old Ehlnofey realm, although ruined, became Tamriel. The remnants of the Wanderers were left divided on the other 3 continents.

Over many years, the Ehlnofey of Tamriel became: - the Mer (Elves),
- the Dwemer (the Deep Ones, sometimes called Dwarves),
- the Chimer (the Changed Ones, who later became the Dunmer),
- the Dunmer (the Dark or Cursed Ones, the Dark Elves),
- the Bosmer (the Green or Forest Ones, the Wood Elves), and
- the Altmer (The Elder or High Ones, the High Elves).

On the other continents, the Wandering Ehlnofey became the Men -- the Nords of Atmora, the Redguards of Yokuda, and the Tsaesci of Akavir.

The Hist were bystanders in the Ehlnofey war, but most of their realm was destroyed as the war passed over it. A small corner of it survived to become Black Marsh in Tamriel, but most of their realm was sunk beneath the sea.

Eventually, Men returned to Tamriel. The Nords were the first, colonizing the northern coast of Tamriel before recorded history, led by the legendary Ysgramor. The thirteenth of his line, King Harald, was the first to appear in written history. And so the Mythic Era ended.
The Ten Commands of the Nine Divines

By the intercession of St. Alessia, you may be so filled with grace, and the strength and wisdom that comes from grace, that through these teachings you may come to the true meaning of the Nine Divines and Their glories. To convey to man's mind all the manifold subtleties of truth and virtue may not be done, were all the seas ink, and all the skies the parchment upon which Their wisdoms were writ. Yet Akatosh, in His wisdom, knowing how impatient is man, and how loathe he is to travel upon the hard roads of truth, has allowed these ten simple commands to be made manifest with powerful clarity and concise definition.

1. Stendarr says: Be kind and generous to the people of Tamriel. Protect the weak, heal the sick, and give to the needy.

2. Arkay says: Honor the earth, its creatures, and the spirits, living and dead. Guard and tend the bounties of the mortal world, and do not profane the spirits of the dead.

3. Mara says: Live soberly and peacefully. Honor your parents, and preserve the peace and security of home and family.

4. Zenithar says: Work hard, and you will be rewarded. Spend wisely, and you will be comfortable. Never steal, or you will be punished.

5. Talos says: Be strong for war. Be bold against enemies and evil, and defend the people of Tamriel.

6. Kynareth says: Use Nature's gifts wisely. Respect her power, and fear her fury.

7. Dibella says: Open your heart to the noble secrets of art and love. Treasure the gifts of friendship. Seek joy and inspiration in the mysteries of love.

8. Julianos says: Know the truth. Observe the law. When in doubt, seek wisdom from the wise.

9. Akatosh says: Serve and obey your Emperor. Study the Covenants. Worship the Nine, do your duty, and heed the commands of the saints and priests.

10. The Nine say: Above all else, be good to one another.

If only each man might look into the mirror of these Commands, and see reflected there the bliss that might enfold them, were he to serve in strict obedience to these Commands, he would be cast down and made contrite and humble. The obedient man may come to the altars of the Nine and be blessed, and may receive the comfort and healing of the Nine, and may give thanks for his manifold blessings.

Heedless, the wicked man turns away, and forsaking the simple wisdoms granted to him by the All-Wise and All-Knowing Nine, he lives in sin and ignorance all the days of his life. He bears the awful burden of his crimes, and before Men and God his wickedness is known, and neither blessing nor comfort may he expect from the altars and shrines of the Nine.

Yet the wicked and foolish are not doomed, for in their infinite mercies, the Nine have said, "Repent, and do Good Works, and the Fountains of Grace shall once more spill forth upon you."

Repent your crimes! Tender unto the Emperor the fines of gold, that they may be used to spread the Faith and its Benefits to all Men!

Do yourself good works! Redeem your infamy by shining deeds! Show to all Men and the Nine the good Fame of the Righteous Man, and you may once again approach the altars and shrines of the Chapel to receive the comfort and blessings of the Nine.
The Amulet of Kings
by Wenengrus Monhona
In the first years of the First Era, a powerful race of Elves called the Ayleids, or the Heartland High Elves, ruled central Tamriel with an iron hand. The high and haughty Ayleids relied on their patrons, the treacherous Daedra Lords, to provide armies of daedra and dead spirits; with these fearless magical armies, the Ayleids preyed without mercy upon the young races of men, slaughtering or enslaving them at their whim.

On behalf of the suffering human races, St. Alessia, the first in the line of Cyrodiils, sought the aid of Akatosh, the Dragon God of Time, and ruler of the noble Aedra. Akatosh, looking with pity upon the plight of men, drew precious blood from his own heart, and blessed St. Alessia with this blood of Dragons, and made a Covenant that so long as Alessia's generations were true to the dragon blood, Akatosh would endeavor to seal tight the Gates of Oblivion, and to deny the armies of daedra and undead to their enemies, the Daedra-loving Ayleids.

In token of this Covenant, Akatosh gave to Alessia and her descendants the Amulet of Kings and the Eternal Dragonfires of the Imperial City. Thus does Alessia become the first gem in the Cyrodilic Amulet of Kings. The gem is the Red Diamond in the middle of the Amulet. This is the Symbol of the Empire and later taken as the symbol of the Septim line. It is surrounded by eight other gems, one for each of the divines.

So long as the Empire shall maintain its worship of Akatosh and his kin, and so long as Alessia's heirs shall bear the Amulet of Kings, Akatosh and his divine kin maintain a strong barrier between Tamriel and Oblivion, so that mortal man need never again fear the devastating summoned hosts of the Daedra Lords.

But if the Empire should slacken in its dedication to the Nine Divines, or if the blood of Alessia's heirs should fail, then shall the barriers between Tamriel and the Daedric realms fall, and Daedra-worshippers might summon lesser Daedra and undead spirits to trouble the races of men.
Trials of St. Alessia

[from the Trials of St. Alessia]

katosh made a covenant with Alessia in those days so long ago. He gathered the tangled skeins of Oblivion, and knit them fast with the bloody sinews of his Heart, and gave them to Alessia, saying, 'This shall be my token to you, that so long as your blood and oath hold true, yet so shall my blood and oath be true to you. This token shall be the Amulet of Kings, and the Covenant shall be made between us, for I am the King of Spirits, and you are the Queen of Mortals. As you shall stand witness for all Mortal Flesh, so shall I stand witness for all Immortal Spirits.'

nd Akatosh drew from his breast a burning handful of his Heart's blood, and he gave it into Alessia's hand, saying, 'This shall also be a token to you of our joined blood and pledged faith. So long as you and your descendants shall wear the Amulet of Kings, then shall this dragonfire burn -- an eternal flame -- as a sign to all men and gods of our faithfulness. So long as the dragonfires shall burn, to you, and to all generations, I swear that my Heart's blood shall hold fast the Gates of Oblivion.

o long as the Blood of the Dragon runs strong in her rulers, the glory of the Empire shall extend in unbroken years. But should the dragonfires fail, and should no heir of our joined blood wear the Amulet of Kings, then shall the Empire descend into darkness, and the Demon Lords of Misrule shall govern the land.'

-- from the liturgy of the Re-Kindling of the Dragonfires
Sun's Dusk
Book Eleven of 2920,
The Last Year of the First Era
by Carlovac Townway

2 Sun's Dusk, 2920
Tel Aruhn, Morrowind

man to see you, Night Mother," said the guard. "A Kothringi tribesman who presents his credentials as Lord Zuuk of Black Marsh, part of the Imperial Garrison of Gideon."

"What makes you think I'd have even the slightest possible interest in seeing him?" asked the Night Mother with venomous sweetness.

"He brings a letter from the late Empress of the Cyrodilic Empire."

"We are having a busy day," she smiled, clapping her hands together with delight. "Show him in."

Zuuk entered the chamber. His metallic skin, though exposed only at his face and hands, caught the light of the fireplace and the lightning of the stormy night from the window. The Night Mother noted also that she could see herself as he saw her: serene, beautiful, fear-inspiring. He handed her his letter from the Empress without a word. Sipping her wine, she read it.

"The Duke of Morrowind also offered me an appreciable sum to have the Emperor murdered earlier this year," she said, folding the letter. "His payment sunk, and never was delivered. It was a considerable annoyance, particularly as I had already gone to the trouble of putting one of my agents in the palace. Why should I assume that your more-than-generous payment, from a dead woman, will arrive?"

"I brought it with me," said Zuuk simply. "It is in the carriage outside."

"Then bring it in and our business is complete," smiled the Night Mother. "The Emperor will be dead by year's end. You may leave the gold with Apaladith. Unless you'd care for some wine?"

Zuuk declined the offer and withdrew. The moment he left the room, Miramor slipped noiselessly back from behind the dark tapestry. The Night Mother offered him a glass of wine, and he accepted it.

"I know that fellow, Zuuk," said Miramor carefully. "I didn't know he worked for the old Empress though."

"Let's talk about you some more, if you don't mind," she said, knowing he would, in fact, not mind.

"Let me show you my worth," said Miramor. "Let me be the one to do the Emperor in. I've already killed his son, and you saw there how well I can hide myself away. Tell me you saw one ripple in the tapestry."

The Night Mother smiled. Things were falling into place rather nicely.

"If you know how to use a dagger, you will find him at Bodrum," she said, and described to him what he must do.

3 Sun's Dusk, 2920
Mournhold, Morrowind

The Duke stared out the window. It was early morning, and for the fourth straight day, a red mist hung over the city, flashing lightning. A freakish wind blew through the streets, ripping his flags from the castle battlements, forcing all his people to close their shudders tightly. Something terrible was coming to his land. He was not a greatly learned man, but he knew the signs. So too did his subjects.

"When will my messengers reach the Three?" he growled, turning to his castellan.

"Vivec is far to the north, negotiating the treaty with the Emperor," the man said, his face and voice trembling with fear. "Almalexia and Sotha Sil are in Necrom. Perhaps they can be reached in a few days time."

The Duke nodded. He knew his messengers were fast, but so too was the hand of Oblivion.

6 Sun's Dusk, 2920
Bodrum, Morrowind

Torchlight caught in the misting snow gave the place an otherworldly quality. The soldiers from both camps found themselves huddled together around the largest of the bonfires: winter bringing enemies of four score of warring close together. While only a few of the Dunmer guard could speak Cyrodilic, they found common ground battling for warmth. When a pretty Redguard maiden passed into their midst to warm herself before moving back to the treaty tent, many a man from both army raised their eyes in approval.

The Emperor Reman III was eager to leave negotiations before they had ever begun. A month earlier, he thought it would be a sign of good will to meet at the site of his defeat to Vivec's army, but the place brought back more bad memories than he thought it would. Despite the protestations of Potentate Versidue-Shaie that the rocks of the river were naturally red, he could swear he saw splatters of his soldier's blood.

"We have all the particulars of the treaty," he said, taking a glass of hot yuelle from his mistress Corda. "But here and now is not the place for signing. We should do it at the Imperial Palace, with all the pomp and splendor this historic occasion demands. You must bring Almalexia with you too. And that wizard fellow."

"Sotha Sil," whispered the Potentate.

"When?" asked Vivec with infinite patience.

"In exactly a month's time," said the Emperor, smiling munificently and clambering awkwardly to his feet. "We will hold a grand ball to commemorate. Now I must take a walk. My legs are all cramped up with the weather. Corda, my dear, will you walk with me?"

"Of course, your Imperial Majesty," she said, helping him toward the tent's entrance.

"Would you like me to come with you as well, your Imperial Majesty?" asked Versidue-Shaie.

"Or I?" asked King Dro'Zel of Senchal, a newly appointed advisor to the court.

"That won't be necessary, I won't be gone a minute," said Reman.

Miramor crouched in the same rushes he had hidden in nearly eight months before. Now the ground was hard and snow-covered, and the rushes slick with ice. Every slight movement he made issued forth a crunch. If it were not for the raucous songs of the combined Morrowind and Imperial army gathered about the bonfire, he would not have dared creep as close to the Emperor and his concubine. They were standing at the curve in the frozen creek below the bluff, surrounded by trees sparkling with ice.

Carefully, Miramor removed the dagger from its sheath. He had slightly exaggerated his abilities with a short blade to the Night Mother. True, he had used one to cut the throat of Prince Juilek, but the lad was not in any position to fight back at the time. Still, how difficult could it be to stab an old man with one eye? What sort of blade skill would such an easy assassination require?

His ideal moment presented itself before his eyes. The woman saw something deeper in the woods, an icicle of an unusual shape she said, and darted off to get it. The Emperor remained behind, laughing. He turned to the face of the bluff to see his soldiers singing their song's refrain, his back to his assassin. Miramor knew the moment had come. Mindful of the sound of his footfall on the icy ground, he stepped forward and struck. Very nearly.

Almost simultaneously, he was aware of a strong arm holding back his striking arm and another one punching a dagger into his throat. He could not scream. The Emperor, still looking up at the soldiers, never saw Miramor pulled back into the brush and a hand much more skilled than his slicing into his back, paralyzing him.

His blood pooling out and already crystallizing on the frozen ground, Miramor watched, dying, as the Emperor and his courtesan returned to join the camp up on the bluff.

12 Sun's Dusk, 2920
Mournhold, Morrowind

A gout of ever-erupting flame was all that remained of the central courtyard of Castle Mournhold, blasting skyward into the boiling clouds. A thick, tarry smoke rolled through the streets, igniting everything that was wood or paper on fire. Winged bat-like creatures harried the citizens from their hiding places out into the open, where they were met by the real army. The only thing that kept all of Mournhold from burning to the ground was the wet, sputtering blood of its people.

Mehrunes Dagon smiled as he surveyed the castle crumbling.

"To think I nearly didn't come," he said aloud, his voice booming over the chaos. "Imagine missing all this fun."

His attention was arrested by a needle-thin shaft of light piercing through his black and red shadowed sky. He followed it to its source, two figures, a man and a woman standing on the hill above town. The man in the white robe he recognized immediately as Sotha Sil, the sorcerer who had talked all the Princes of Oblivion into that meaningless truce.

"If you've come for the Duke of Mournhold, he isn't here," laughed Mehrunes Dagon. "But you might find pieces of him the next time it rains."

"Daedra, we cannot kill you," said Almalexia, her face hard and resolute. "But that you will soon regret."

With that, two living gods and a prince of Oblivion engaged in battle on the ruins of Mournhold.

17 Sun's Dusk, 2920
Tel Aruhn, Morrowind

"Night Mother," said the guard. "Correspondence from your agent in the Imperial Palace."

The Night Mother read the note carefully. The test had been a success: Miramor had been successfully detected and slain. The Emperor was in very unsafe hands. The Night Mother responded immediately.

18 Sun's Dusk, 2920
Balmora, Morrowind

Sotha Sil, face solemn and unreadable, greeted Vivec at the grand plaza in front of his palace. Vivec had ridden day and night after hearing about the battle in his tent in Bodrum, crossing mile after mile, cutting through the dangerous ground at Dagoth-Ur at blinding speed. To the south, during all the course of the voyage, he could see the whirling red clouds and knew that the battle was continuing, day after day. In Gnisis, he met a messenger from Sotha Sil, asking him to meet at Balmora.

"Where is Almalexia?"

"Inside," said Sotha Sil wearily. There was a long, ugly gash running across his jaw. "She's gravely injured, but Mehrunes Dagon will not return from Oblivion for many a moon."

Almalexia lay on a bed of silk, tended to by Vivec's own healers. Her face, even her lips, was gray as stone, and blood stained through the gauze of her bandages. Vivec took her cold hand. Almalexia's mouth moved wordlessly. She was dreaming.

She was battling Mehrunes Dagon again amid a firestorm. All around her, the blackened husk of a castle crumbled, splashing sparks into the night sky. The Daedra's claws dug into her belly, spreading poison through her veins while Almalexia throttled him. As she sank to the ground beside her defeated foe, she saw that the castle consumed by fire was not Castle Mournhold. It was the Imperial Palace.

24 Sun's Dusk, 2920
The Imperial City, Cyrodiil

A winter gale blew over the city, splashing the windows and glass domes of the Imperial Palace. Quivering light rays illuminated the figures within in surreal patterns.

The Emperor barked orders to his staff in preparations for the banquet and ball. This was what he enjoyed best, more than battle. King Dro'Zel was supervising the entertainment, having strong opinions on the matter. The Emperor himself was arranging the details of the dinner. Roast nebfish, vegetable marrow, cream soups, buttered helerac, codscrumb, tongue in aspic. Potentate Versidue-Shaie had made a few suggestions of his own, but the tastes of the Akaviri were very peculiar.

The Lady Corda accompanied the Emperor to his chambers as night fell.

The Year is Concluded in Evening Star.
Evening Star
Book Twelve of 2920,
The Last Year of the First Era
by Carlovac Townway

1 Sun's Dusk, 2920
Balmora, Morrowind

he winter morning sun glinted through the cobweb of frost on the window, and Almalexia opened her eyes. An ancient healer mopped a wet cloth across her head, smiling with relief. Asleep in the chair next to her bed was Vivec. The healer rushed to a side cabinet and returned with a flagon of water.

"How are you feeling, goddess?" asked the healer.

"Like I've been asleep for a very long time," said Almalexia.

"So you have. Fifteen days," said the healer, and touched Vivec's arm. "Master, wake up. She speaks."

Vivec rose with a start, and seeing Almalexia alive and awake, his face broke into a wide grin. He kissed her forehead, and took her hand. At last, there was warmth again in her flesh.

Almalexia's peaceful repose suddenly snapped: "Sotha Sil --"

"He's alive and well," replied Vivec. "Working on one of his machines again somewhere. He would have stayed here too, but he realized he could do you more good working that peculiar sorcery of his."

The castellan appeared in the doorway. "Sorry to interrupt you, master, but I wanted to tell you that your fastest messenger left late last night for the Imperial City."

"Messenger?" asked Almalexia. "Vivec, what has happened?"

"I was to go and sign a truce with the Emperor on the sixth, so I sent him word that it had to be postponed."

"You can't do me any good here," said Almalexia, pulling herself up with effort. "But if you don't sign that truce, you'll put Morrowind back to war, maybe for another eighty years. If you leave today with an escort and hurry, perhaps you can get to the Imperial City only a day or two late."

"Are you certain you don't need me here?" asked Vivec.

"I know that Morrowind needs you more."

6 Sun's Dusk, 2920
The Imperial City, Cyrodiil

The Emperor Reman III sat on his throne, surveying the audience chamber. It was a spectacular sight: silver ribbons dangled from the rafters, burning cauldrons of sweet herbs simmered in every corner, Pyandonean swallowtails sweeping through the air, singing their songs. When the torches were lit and servants began fanning, the room would be transfigured into a shimmering fantasy land. He could smell the kitchen already, spices and roasts.

The Potentate Versidue-Shaie and his son Savirien-Chorak slithered into the room, both bedecked in the headdress and jewelry of the Tsaesci. There was no smile on their golden face, but there seldom was one. The Emperor still greeted his trusted advisor with enthusiasm.

"This ought to impress those savage Dark Elves," he laughed. "When are they supposed to arrive?"

"A messenger's just arrived from Vivec," said the Potentate solemnly. "I think it would be best if your Imperial Majesty met him alone."

The Emperor lost his laughter, but nodded to his servants to withdraw. The door then opened and the Lady Corda walked into the room, with a parchment in her hand. She shut the door behind her, but did not look up to meet the Emperor's face.

"The messenger gave his letter to my mistress?" said Reman, incredulous, rising to take the note. "That's a highly unorthodox way of delivering a message."

"But the message itself is very orthodox," said Corda, looking up into his one good eye. With a single blinding motion, she brought the letter up under the Emperor's chin. His eyes widened and blood poured down the blank parchment. Blank that is, except for a small black mark, the sign of the Morag Tong. It fell to the floor, revealing the small dagger hidden behind it, which she now twisted, severing his throat to the bone. The Emperor collapsed to the floor, gasping soundlessly.

"How long do you need?" asked Savirien-Chorak.

"Five minutes," said Corda, wiping the blood from her hands. "If you can give me ten, though, I'll be doubly grateful."

"Very well," said the Potentate to Corda's back as she raced from the audience chamber. "She ought to have been an Akaviri, the way the girl handles a blade is truly remarkable."

"I must go and establish our alibi," said Savirien-Chorak, disappearing behind one of the secret passages that only the Emperor's most trusted knew about.

"Do you remember, close to a year ago, your Imperial Majesty," the Potentate smiled, looking down at the dying man. "When you told me to remember 'You Akaviri have a lot of showy moves, but if just one of our strikes comes through, it's all over for you.' I remembered that, you see."

The Emperor spat up blood and somehow said the word: "Snake."

"I am a snake, your Imperial Majesty, inside and out. But I didn't lie. There was a messenger from Vivec. It seems he'll be a little late in arriving," the Potentate shrugged before disappearing behind the secret passage. "Don't worry yourself. I'm sure the food won't go bad."

The Emperor of Tamriel died in a pool of his own blood in his empty audience chamber decorated for a grand ball. He was found by his bodyguard fifteen minutes later. Corda was nowhere to be found.

8 Sun's Dusk, 2920
Caer Suvio, Cyrodiil

Lord Glavius, apologizing profusely for the quality of the road through the forest, was the first emissary to greet Vivec and his escort as they arrived. A string of burning globes decorated the leafless trees surrounding the villa, bobbing in the gentle but frigid night breeze. From within, Vivec could smell the simple feast and a high sad melody. It was a traditional Akaviri wintertide carol.

Versidue-Shaie greeted Vivec at the front door.

"I'm glad you received the message before you got all the way to the City," said the Potentate, guiding his guest into the large, warm drawing room. "We are in a difficult transition time, and for the moment, it is best not to conduct our business at the capitol."

"There is no heir?" asked Vivec.

"No official one, though there are distant cousins vying for the throne. While we sort the matter out, at least temporarily the nobles have decided that I may act in the office of my late master," Versidue-Shaie signaled for the servants to draw two comfortable chairs in front of the fireplace. "Would you feel most comfortable if we signed the treaty officially right now, or would you like to eat something first?"

"You intend to honor the Emperor's treaty?"

"I intend to do everything as the Emperor," said the Potentate.

14 Sun's Dusk, 2920
Tel Aruhn, Morrowind

Corda, dusty from the road, flew into the Night Mother's arms. For a moment, they stayed locked together, the Night Mother stroking her daughter's hair, kissing her forehead. Finally, she reached into her sleeve and handed Corda a letter.

"What is it?" asked Corda.

"A letter from the Potentate, expressing his delight at your expertise," replied the Night Mother. "He's promised to send us payment, but I've already sent him back a reply. The late Empress paid us enough for her husband's death. Mephala would not have us be greedy beyond our needs. You should not be paid twice for the same murder, so it is written."

"He killed Rijja, my sister," said Corda quietly.

"And so it should be that you struck the blow."

"Where will I go now?"

"Whenever any of our holy workers becomes too famous to continue the crusade, we send them to an island called Vounoura. It's not more than a month's voyage by boat, and I've arranged for a delightful estate for your sanctuary," the Night Mother kissed the girl's tears. "You meet many friends there, and I know you will find peace and happiness at last, my child."

19 Sun's Dusk, 2920
Mournhold, Morrowind

Almalexia surveyed the rebuilding of the town. The spirit of the citizens was truly inspirational, she thought, as she walked among the skeletons of new buildings standing in the blackened, shattered remains of the old. Even the plantlife showed a remarkable resilience. There was life yet in the blasted remains of the comberry and roobrush shrubs that once lined the main avenue. She could feel the pulse. Come springtide, green would bolt through the black.

The Duke's heir, a lad of considerable intelligence and sturdy Dunmer courage, was coming down from the north to take his father's place. The land would do more than survive: it would strengthen and expand. She felt the future much more strongly than she saw the present.

Of all the things she was most certain of, she knew that Mournhold was forever home to at least one goddess.

22 Sun's Dusk, 2920
The Imperial City, Cyrodiil

"The Cyrodiil line is dead," announced the Potentate to the crowd gathered beneath the Speaker's Balcony of the Imperial Palace. "But the Empire lives. The distant relatives of our beloved Emperor have been judged unworthy of the throne by the trusted nobility who advised his Imperial Majesty throughout his long and illustrious reign. It has been decided that as an impartial and faithful friend of Reman III, I will have the responsibility of continuing on in his name."

The Akaviri paused, allowing his words to echo and translate into the ears of the populace. They merely stared up at him in silence. The rain had washed through the streets of the city, but the sun, for a brief time, appeared to be offering a respite from the winter storms.

"I want to make it clear that I am not taking the title Emperor," he continued. "I have been and will continue to be Potentate Versidue-Shaie, an alien welcomed kindly to your shores. It will be my duty to protect my adopted homeland, and I pledge to work tirelessly at this task until someone more worthy takes the burden from me. As my first act, I declare that in commemoration of this historical moment, beginning on the first of Morning Star, we will enter year one of the Second Era as time will be reckoned. Thus, we mourn the loss of our Imperial family, and look forward to the future."

Only one man clapped at these words. King Dro'Zel of Senchal truly believed that this would be the finest thing to happen to Tamriel in history. Of course, he was quite mad.

31 Sun's Dusk, 2920
Ebonheart, Morrowind

In the smoky catacombs beneath the city where Sotha Sil forged the future with his arcane clockwork apparatus, something unforeseen happened. An oily bubble seeped from a long trusted gear and popped. Immediately, the wizard's attention was drawn to it and to the chain that tiny action triggered. A pipe shifted half an inch to the left. A tread skipped. A coil rewound itself and began spinning in a counter direction. A piston that had been thrusting left-right, left-right, for millennia suddenly began shifting right-left. Nothing broke, but everything changed.

"It cannot be fixed now," said the sorcerer quietly.

He looked up through a crick in the ceiling into the night sky. It was midnight. The second era, the age of chaos, had begun.
First Seed
Book Three of
2920, The Last Year of the First Era
by Carlovac Townway

15 First Seed, 2920
Caer Suvio, Cyrodiil

rom their vantage point high in the hills, the Emperor Reman III could still see the spires of the Imperial City, but he knew he was far away from hearth and home. Lord Glavius had a luxurious villa, but it was not close to being large enough to house the entire army within its walls. Tents lined the hillsides, and the soldiers were flocking to enjoy his lordship's famous hot springs. Little wonder: winter chill still hung in the air.

"Prince Juilek, your son, is not feeling well."

When Potentate Versidue-Shaie spoke, the Emperor jumped. How that Akavir could slither across the grass without making a sound was a mystery to him.

"Poisoned, I'd wager," grumbled Reman. "See to it he gets a healer. I told him to hire a taster like I have, but the boy's headstrong. There are spies all around us, I know it."

"I believe you're right, your imperial majesty," said Versidue-Shaie. "These are treacherous times, and we must take precautions to see that Morrowind does not win this war, either on the field or by more insidious means. That is why I would suggest that you not lead the vanguard into battle. I know you would want to, as your illustrious ancestors Reman I, Brazollus Dor, and Reman II did, but I fear it would be foolhardy. I hope you do not mind me speaking frankly like this."

"No," nodded Reman. "I think you're right. Who would lead the vanguard then?"

"I would say Prince Juilek, if he were feeling better," replied the Akavir. "Failing that, Storig of Farrun, with Queen Naghea of Riverhold at left flank, and Warchief Ulaqth of Lilmoth at right flank."

"A Khajiit at left flank and an Argonian at right," frowned the Emperor. "I never do trust beastfolk."

The Potentate took no offense. He knew that "beastfolk" referred to the natives of Tamriel, not to the Tsaesci of Akavir like himself. "I quite agree your imperial majesty, but you must agree that they hate the Dunmer. Ulaqth has a particular grudge after all the slave-raids on his lands by the Duke of Mournhold."

The Emperor conceded it was so, and the Potentate retired. It was surprising, thought Reman, but for the first time, the Potentate seemed trustworthy. He was a good man to have on one's side.

18 First Seed, 2920
Ald Erfoud, Morrowind

"How far is the Imperial Army?" asked Vivec.

"Two days' march," replied his lieutenant. "If we march all night tonight, we can get higher ground at the Pryai tomorrow morning. Our intelligence tells us the Emperor will be commanding the rear, Storig of Farrun has the vanguard, Naghea of Riverhold at left flank, and Ulaqth of Lilmoth at right flank."

"Ulaqth," whispered Vivec, an idea forming. "Is this intelligence reliable? Who brought it to us?"

"A Breton spy in the Imperial Army," said the lieutenant and gestured towards a young, sandy-haired man who stepped forward and bowed to Vivec.

"What is your name and why is a Breton working for us against the Cyrodiils?" asked Vivec, smiling.

"My name is Cassyr Whitley of Dwynnen," said the man. "And I am working for you because not everyone can say he spied for a god. And I understood it would be, well, profitable."

Vivec laughed, "It will be, if your information is accurate."

19 First Seed, 2920
Bodrums, Morrowind

The quiet hamlet of Bodrum looked down on the meandering river, the Pryai. It was an idyllic site, lightly wooded where the water took the bend around a steep bluff to the east with a gorgeous wildflower meadow to the west. The strange flora of Morrowind met the strange flora of Cyrodiil on the border and commingled gloriously.

"There will be time to sleep when you've finished!"

The soldiers had been hearing that all morning. It was not enough that they had been marching all night, now they were chopping down trees on the bluff and damming the river so its waters spilled over. Most of them had reached the point where they were too tired to complain about being tired.

"Let me be certain I understand, my lord," said Vivec's lieutenant. "We take the bluff so we can fire arrows and spells down on them from above. That's why we need all the trees cleared out. Damming the river floods the plain below so they'll be trudging through mud, which should hamper their movement."

"That's exactly half of it," said Vivec approvingly. He grabbed a nearby soldier who was hauling off the trees. "Wait, I need you to break off the straightest, strongest branches of the trees and whittle them into spears. If you recruit a hundred or so others, it won't take you more than a few hours to make all we need."

The soldier wearily did as he was bade. The men and women got to work, fashioning spears from the trees.

"If you don't mind me asking," said the lieutenant. "The soldiers don't need any more weapons. They're too tired to hold the ones they've got."

"These spears aren't for holding," said Vivec and whispered, "If we tired them out today, they'll get a good night's sleep tonight" before he got to work supervising their work.

It was essential that they be sharp, of course, but equally important that they be well balanced and tapered proportionally. The perfect point for stability was a pyramid, not the conical point of some lances and spears. He had the men hurl the spears they had completed to test their strength, sharpness, and balance, forcing them to begin on a new one if they broke. Gradually, out of sheer exhaustion from doing it wrong, the men learned how to create the perfect wooden spears. Once they were through, he showed them how they were to be arranged and where.

That night, there was no drunken pre-battle carousing, and no nervous neophytes stayed up worrying about the battle to come. As soon as the sun sank beneath the wooded hills, the camp was at rest, but for the sentries.

20 First Seed, 2920
Bodrum, Morrowind

Miramor was exhausted. For last six days, he had gambled and whored all night and then marched all day. He was looking forward to the battle, but even more than that, he was looking forward to some rest afterwards. He was in the Emperor's command at the rear flank, which was good because it seemed unlikely that he would be killed. On the other hand, it meant traveling over the mud and waste the army ahead left in their wake.

As they began the trek through the wildflower field, Miramor and all the soldiers around him sank ankle-deep in cold mud. It was an effort to even keep moving. Far, far up ahead, he could see the vanguard of the army led by Lord Storig emerging from the meadow at the base of a bluff.

That was when it all happened.

An army of Dunmer appeared above the bluff like rising Daedra, pouring fire and floods of arrows down on the vanguard. Simultaneously, a company of men bearing the flag of the Duke of Mournhold galloped around the shore, disappearing along the shallow river's edge where it dipped to a timbered glen to the east. Warchief Ulaqth nearby on the right flank let out a bellow of revenge at the sight and gave chase. Queen Naghea sent her flank towards the embankment to the west to intercept the army on the bluff.

The Emperor could think of nothing to do. His troops were too bogged down to move forward quickly and join the battle. He ordered them to face east towards the timber, in case Mournhold's company was trying to circle around through the woods. They never came out, but many men, facing west, missed the battle entirely. Miramor kept his eyes on the bluff.

A tall Dunmer he supposed must have been Vivec gave a signal, and the battlemages cast their spells at something to the west. From what transpired, Miramor deduced it was a dam. A great torrent of water spilled out, washing Naghea's left flank into the remains of the vanguard and the two together down river to the east.

The Emperor paused, as if waiting for his vanquished army to return, and then called a retreat. Miramor hid in the rushes until they had passed by and then waded as quietly as he could to the bluff.

The Morrowind army was retiring as well back to their camp. He could hear them celebrating above him as he padded along the shore. To the east, he saw the Imperial Army. They had been washed into a net of spears strung across the river, Naghea's left flank on Storig's vanguard on Ulaqth's right flank, bodies of hundreds of soldiers strung together like beads.

Miramor took whatever valuables he could carry from the corpses and then ran down the river. He had to go many miles before the water was clear again, unpolluted by blood.

29 First Seed, 2920
Hegathe, Hammerfell

"You have a letter from the Imperial City," said the chief priestess, handing the parchment to Corda. All the young priestesses smiled and made faces of astonishment, but the truth was that Corda's sister Rijja wrote very often, at least once a month.

Corda took the letter to the garden to read it, her favorite place, an oasis in the monochromatic sand-colored world of the conservatorium The letter itself was nothing unusual: filled with court gossip, the latest fashions which were tending to winedark velvets, and reports of the Emperor's ever-growing paranoia.

"You are so lucky to be away from all of this," wrote Rijja. "The Emperor is convinced that his latest battlefield fiasco is all a result of spies in the palace. He has even taken to questioning me. Ruptga keep it so you never have a life as interesting as mine."

Corda listened to the sounds of the desert and prayed to Ruptga the exact opposite wish.

The Year is Continued in Rain's Hand.

"Sit quietly, Child, and listen, for the story I tell you is a story of the ages."

"But what is it, Grandfather? Is it a story of heroes and beasts?"

The Grandfather looked patiently at the Child. He was growing into a fine boy. Soon he would see the value in the stories, the lessons that were taught to each generation.
"Just listen, Child. Let the story take root in your heart."

In a time before now, long before now, when the Skaal were new, there was peace in the Land. The sun was hot and the crops grew long, and the people were happy in the peace that the All-Maker provided. But, the Skaal grew complacent and lazy, and they took for granted the Lands and all the gifts the All-Maker had given them. They forgot, or chose not to remember, that the Adversary is always watching, and that he delights in tormenting the All-Maker and his chosen people. And so it was that the Adversary came to be among the Skaal.

The Adversary has many aspects. He appears in the unholy beasts and the incurable plague. At the End of Seasons, we will know him as Thartaag the World-Devourer. But in these ages he came to be known as the Greedy Man.

The Greedy Man (that is what we call him, for to speak his name would certainly bring ruin on the people) lived among the Skaal for many months. Perhaps he was once just a man, but when the Adversary entered into him, he became the Greedy Man, and that is how he is remembered.

It came to be one day that the powers of the Skaal left them. The strength left the arms of the warriors, and the shaman could no longer summon the beasts to their side. The elders thought that surely the All-Maker was displeased, and some suggested that the All-Maker had left them forever. It was then that the Greedy Man appeared to them and spoke.

"You of the Skaal have grown fat and lazy. I have stolen the gifts of your All-Maker. I have stolen the Oceans, so you will forever know thirst. I have stolen the Lands and the Trees and the Sun, so your crops will wither and die. I have stolen the Beasts, so you will go hungry. And I have stolen the Winds, so you will live without the Spirit of the All-Maker.

"And until one of you can reclaim these gifts, the Skaal will live in misery and despair. For I am the Greedy Man, and that is my nature."

And the Greedy Man disappeared.

The members of the Skaal spoke for many days and nights. They knew that one of them must retrieve the Gifts of the All-Maker, but they could not decide who it should be.

"I cannot go," said the Elder, "for I us must stay to lead the Skaal, and tell our people what is the law."

"I cannot go," said the Warrior, "for I must protect the Skaal. My sword will be needed in case the Greedy Man reappears."

"I cannot go," said the Shaman, "for the people need my wisdom. I must read the portents and offer my knowledge."

It was then that a young man called Aevar lifted his voice. He was strong of arm, and fleet of foot, though he was not yet a warrior of the Skaal.

"I will go," said Aevar, and the Skaal laughed.

"Hear me out," the boy continued. "I am not yet a warrior, so my sword will not be needed. I cannot read the portents, so the people will not seek my counsel. And I am young, and not yet wise in the ways of the law. I will retrieve the Gifts of the All-Maker from the Greedy Man. If I cannot, I will not be missed."

The Skaal thought on this briefly, and decided to let Aevar go. He left the village the next morning to retrieve the Gifts.

Aevar first set out to retrieve the Gift of Water, so he traveled to the Water Stone. It was there the All-Maker first spoke to him.

"Travel west to the sea and follow the Swimmer to the Waters of Life."

So Aevar walked to the edge of the ocean, and there was the Swimmer, a Black Horker, sent from the All-Maker. The Swimmer dove into the waters and swam very far, and far again. Aevar was strong, though, and he swam hard. He followed the Swimmer to a cave, swimming deeper and deeper, his lungs burning and his limbs exhausted. At last, he found a pocket of air, and there, in the dark, he found the Waters of Life. Gathering his strength, he took the Waters and swam back to the shore.

Upon returning to the Water Stone, the All-Maker spoke. "You have returned the Gift of Water to the Skaal. The Oceans again will bear fruit, and their thirst will be quenched."

Aevar then traveled to the Earth Stone, and there the All-Maker spoke to him again.

"Enter the Cave of the Hidden Music, and hear the Song of the Earth."

So Aevar traveled north and east to the Cave of the Hidden Music. He found himself in a large cavern, where the rocks hung from the ceiling and grew from the ground itself. He listened there, and heard the Song of the Earth, but it was faint. Grabbing up his mace, he struck the rocks of the floor in time with the Song, and the Song grew louder, until it filled the cavern and his heart. Then he returned to the Earth Stone.

"The Gift of the Earth is with the Skaal again," said the All-Maker. "The Lands are rich again, and will bear life."

Aevar was tired, as the Sun burned him, the trees offered no shade, and there was no wind to cool him. Still, he traveled on to the Beast Rock, and the All-Maker spoke.

"Find the Good Beast and ease his suffering."

Aevar traveled through the woods of the Isinfier for many hours until he heard the cries of a bear from over a hill. As he crested a hill, he saw the bear, a Falmer's arrow piercing its neck. He checked the woods for the Falmer (for that is what they were, though some say they are not), and finding none, approached the beast. He spoke soothing words and came upon it slowly, saying, "Good Beast, I mean you no harm. The All-Maker has sent me to ease your suffering."

Hearing these words, the bear ceased his struggles, and laid his head at Aevar's feet. Aevar grasped the arrow and pulled it from the bear's neck. Using the little nature magic he knew, Aevar tended the wound, though it took the last bit of his strength. As the bear's wound closed, Aevar slept.

When he awoke, the bear stood over him, and the remains of a number of the Falmer were strewn about. He knew that the Good Beast had protected him during the night. He traveled back to Beast Rock, the bear by his side, and the All-Maker spoke to him again.

"You have returned the Gift of the Beasts. Once again, the Good Beasts will feed the Skaal when they are hungry, clothe them when they are cold, and protect them in times of need."

Aevar's strength had returned, so he traveled on to the Tree Stone, though the Good Beast did not follow him. When he arrived, the All-Father spoke to him.

"The First Trees are gone, and must be replanted. Find the seed and plant the First Tree."

Aevar traveled again through the Hirstaang Forest, searching for the seeds of the First Tree, but he could find none. Then he spoke to the Tree Spirits, the living trees. They told him that the seeds had been stolen by one of the Falmer (for they are the servants of the Adversary), and this Falmer was hiding them deep in the forest, so that none would ever find them.

Aevar traveled to the deepest part of the forest, and there he found the evil Falmer, surrounded by the Lesser Tree Spirits. Aevar could see that the Spirits were in his thrall, that he had used the magic of the Seeds and spoken their secret name. Aevar knew he could not stand against such a force, and that he must retrieve the seeds in secret.

Aevar reached into his pouch and drew out his flint. Gathering leaves, he started a small fire outside the clearing where the Falmer and the ensorcelled Spirits milled. All the Skaal know the Spirits' hatred of fires, for the fires ravage the trees they serve. At once, the Nature of the Spirits took hold, and they rushed to quell the flames. During the commotion, Aevar snuck behind the Falmer and snatched the pouch of Seeds, stealing away before the evil being knew they were gone.

When Aevar returned to the Tree Stone, he planted the tree in the ground, and the All-Maker spoke to him.

"The Gift of Trees is restored. Once again, the Trees and Plants will bloom and grow, and provide nourishment and shade."

Aevar was tired, for the Sun would only burn, and the Winds would not yet cool him, but he rested briefly in the shade of the Trees. His legs were weary and his eyes heavy, but he continued on, traveling to the Sun Stone. Again, the All-Maker spoke.

"The gentle warmth of the Sun is stolen, so now it only burns. Free the Sun from the Halls of Penumbra."

And so Aevar walked west, over the frozen lands until he reached the Halls of Penumbra. The air inside was thick and heavy, and he could see no farther than the end of his arm. Still, he felt his way along the walls, though he heard the shuffling of feet and knew that this place held the Unholy Beasts who would tear his flesh and eat his bones. For hours he crept along, until he saw a faint glow far at the end of the hall.

There, from behind a sheet of perfect ice, came a glow so bright he had to shut his eyes, lest they be forever blinded. He plucked the flaming eye from one of the Unholy Beasts and threw it at the ice with all his might. A small crack appeared in the ice, then grew larger. Slowly, the light crept out between the cracks, widening them, splitting the ice wall into pieces. With a deafening crack, the wall crumbled, and the light rushed over Aevar and through the Halls. He heard the shrieks of the Unholy Beasts as they were blinded and burned. He ran out of the Halls, following the light, and collapsed on the ground outside.

When he was able to rise again, the Sun again warmed him, and he was glad for that. He traveled back to the Sun Stone, where the All-Maker spoke to him.

"The Gift of the Sun is the Skaal's once again. It will warm them and give them light."

Aevar had one final Gift he had to recover, the Gift of the Winds, so he traveled to the Wind Stone, far on the western coast of the island. When he arrived, the All-Maker spoke to him, giving him his final task.

"Find the Greedy Man and release the Wind from its captivity."

So, Aevar wandered the land in search of the Greedy Man. He looked in the trees, but the Greedy Man did not hide there. Nor did he hide near the oceans, or the deep caves, and the beasts had not seen him in the dark forests. Finally, Aevar came to a crooked house, and he knew that here he would find the Greedy Man.

"Who are you," shouted the Greedy Man, "that you would come to my house?"

"I am Aevar of the Skaal," said Aevar. "I am not warrior, shaman, or elder. If I do not return, I will not be missed. But I have returned the Oceans and the Earth, the Trees, the Beasts, and the Sun, and I will return the Winds to my people, that we may feel the spirit of the All-Maker in our souls again."

And with that, he grabbed up the Greedy Man's bag and tore it open. The Winds rushed out with gale force, sweeping the Greedy Man up and carrying him off, far from the island. Aevar breathed in the Winds and was glad. He walked back to the Wind Stone, where the All-Maker spoke to him a final time.

"You have done well, Aevar. You, the least of the Skaal, have returned my gifts to them. The Greedy Man is gone for now, and should not trouble your people again in your lifetime. Your All-Maker is pleased. Go now, and live according to your Nature."

And Aevar started back to the Skaal village.


"And then what happened, Grandfather?"

"What do you mean, Child? He went home."

"No. When he returned to the village," the Child continued. "Was he made a warrior? Or taught the ways of the shaman? Did he lead the Skaal in battle?"

"I do not know. That is where the story ends," said the Grandfather.

"But that is not an ending! That is not how stories end!"

The old man laughed and got up from his chair.

"Is it not?"

The Argonian Account
Book Two
By Waughin Jarth

ecumus Scotti emerged from the dirt and reeds, exhausted from running, his face and arms sheathed in red fleshflies. Looking back towards Cyrodiil, he saw the bridge disappear beneath the thick black river, and he knew he was not getting back until the tide went down in a few days' time. The river also held in its adhesive depths his files on the Black Marsh account. He would have to rely on his memory for his contacts in Gideon.

Mailic was purposefully striding through the reeds ahead. Flailing ineffectually at the fleshflies, Scotti hurried after him.

"We're lucky, sir," said the Redguard, which struck Scotti as an extraordinarily odd thing to say, until his eyes followed where the man's finger was pointing. "The caravan is here."

Twenty-one rusted, mud-spattered wagons with rotting wood and wobbly wheels sat half-sunk in the soft earth ahead. A crowd of Argonians, gray-scaled and gray-eyed, the sort of sullen manual laborers that were common in Cyrodiil, pulled at one of the wagons which had been detached from the others. As Scotti and Mailic came closer, they saw it was filled with a cargo of black berries so decayed that they had become hardly recognizable... more a festering jelly than a wagonload of fruit.

Yes, they were going to the city of Gideon, and, yes, they said, Scotti could get a ride with them after they were finished unloading this shipment of lumberries.

"How long ago were they picked?" Scotti asked, looking at the wagon's rotten produce.

"The harvest was in Last Seed, of course," said the Argonian who seemed to be in charge of the wagon. It was now Sun's Dusk, so they had been en route from the fields for a little over two months.

Clearly, Scotti thought, there were problems with transportation. But fixing that, after all, was what he was doing here as a representative of Lord Vanech's Building Commission.

It took close to an hour of the berries rotting even more in the sun for the wagon to be pushed to the side, the wagons in front of it and behind it to be attached to one another, and one of the eight horses from the front of the caravan to be brought around to the now independent wagon. The laborers moved with dispirited lethargy, and Scotti took the opportunity to inspect the rest of the caravan and talk to his fellow travellers.

Four of the wagons had benches in them, fit for uncomfortable riders. All the rest were filled with grain, meat, and vegetation in various stages of corruption.

The travellers consisted of the six Argonian laborers, three Imperial merchants so bug-bitten that their skin looked as scaly as the Argonians themselves, and three cloaked fellows who were evidently Dunmer, judging by the red eyes that gleamed in the shadows under their hoods. All were transporting their goods along this, the Imperial Commerce Road.

"This is a road?" Scotti exclaimed, looking at the endless field of reeds that reached up to his chin or higher.

"It's solid ground, of a sort," one of the hooded Dunmer shrugged. "The horses eat some of the reed, and sometimes we set fire to it, but it just grows right back up."

Finally, the wagonmaster signalled that the caravan was ready to go, and Scotti took a seat in the third wagon with the other Imperials. He looked around, but Mailic was not on board.

"I agreed to get to you to Black Marsh and take you back out," said the Redguard, who had plumped down a rock in the sea of reeds and was munching on a hairy carrot. "I'll be here when you get back."

Scotti frowned, and not only because Mailic had dropped the deferential title "sir" while addressing him. Now he truly knew no one in Black Marsh, but the caravan slowly grinded and bumped forward, so there was no time to argue.

A noxious wind blew across the Commerce Road, casting patterns in the endless featureless expanse of reeds. In the distance, there seemed to be mountains, but they constantly shifted, and Scotti realized they were banks of mist and fog. Shadows flitted across the landscape, and when Scotti looked up, he saw they were being cast by giant birds with long, saw-like beaks nearly the size of the rest of their bodies.

"Hackwings," Chaero Gemullus, an Imperial on Scotti's left, who might have been young but looked old and beaten, muttered. "Like everything else in this damnable place, they'll eat you if you don't keep moving. Beggars pounce down and give you a nasty chop, and then fly off and come back when you're mostly dead from blood loss."

Scotti shivered. He hoped they'd be in Gideon before nightfall. It was then it occurred to him that the sun was on the wrong side of the caravan.

"Excuse me, sir," Scotti called to the wagonmaster. "I thought you said we were going to Gideon?"

The wagonmaster nodded.

"Why are we going north then, when we should be going south?"

There was no reply but a sigh.

Scotti confirmed with his fellow travellers that they too were going to Gideon, and none of them seemed very concerned about the circuitous route to getting there. The seats were hard on his middle-aged back and buttocks, but the bumping rhythm of the caravan, and the hypnotic waving reeds gradually had an effect on him, and Scotti drifted off to sleep.

He awoke in the dark some hours later, not sure where he was. The caravan was no longer moving, and he was on the floor, under the bench, next to some small boxes. There were voices, speaking a hissing, clicking language Scotti didn't understand, and he peeked out between someone's legs to see what was happening.

The moons barely pierced the thick mist surrounding the caravan, and Scotti did not have the best angle to see who was talking. For a moment, it looked like the gray wagonmaster was talking to himself, but the darkness had movement and moisture, in fact, glistening scales. It was hard to tell how many of these things there were, but they were big, black, and the more Scotti looked at them, the more details he could see.

When one particular detail emerged, huge mouths filled with dripping needle-like fangs, Scotti slipped back under the bench. Their black little eyes had not fallen on him yet.

The legs in front of Scotti moved and then began to thrash, as their owner was grabbed and pulled out of the wagon. Scotti crouched further back, getting behind the little boxes. He didn't know much about concealment, but had some experience with shields. He knew that having something, anything, in between you and bad things was always good.

A few seconds after the legs had disappeared from sight, there was a horrible scream. And then a second and a third. Different timbres, different accents, but the same inarticulate message... terror, and pain, horrible pain. Scotti remembered a long forgotten prayer to the god Stendarr and whispered it to himself.

Then there was silence... ghastly silence that lasted only a few minutes, but which seemed like hours... years.

And then the carriage started rolling forward again.

Scotti cautiously crawled out from under the carriage. Chaero Gemullus gave him a bemused grin.

"There you are," he said. "I thought the Nagas took you."


"Nasty characters," Gemullus said, frowning. "Puff adders with legs and arms, seven feet tall, eight when they're mad. Come from the inner swamp, and they don't like it here much so they're particularly peevish. You're the kind of posh Imperial they're looking for."

Scotti had never in his life thought of himself as posh. His mud and fleshfly-bespeckled clothing seemed eminently middle-class, at best, to him. "What would they want me for?"

"To rob, of course," the Imperial smiled. "And to kill. You didn't notice what happened to the others?" The Imperial frowned, as if struck by a thought. "You didn't sample from those boxes down below, did you? Like the sugar, do you?"

"Gods, no," Scotti grimaced.

The Imperial nodded, relieved. "You just seem a little slow. First time to Black Marsh, I gather? Oh! Heigh ho, Hist piss!"

Scotti was just about to ask Gemullus what that vulgar term meant when the rain began. It was an inferno of foul-smelling, yellow-brown rain that washed over the caravan, accompanied by the growl of thunder in the distance. Gemullus worked to pull the roof up over the wagon, glaring at Scotti until he helped with the laborious process.

He shuddered, not only from the cold damp, but from contemplation of the disgusting precipitation pouring down on the already nasty produce in the uncovered wagon.

"We'll be dry soon enough," Gemullus smiled, pointing out into the fog.

Scotti had never been to Gideon, but he knew what to expect. A large settlement more or less laid out like a Imperial city, with more or less Imperial style architecture, and all the Imperial comforts and traditions, more or less.

The jumble of huts half-sunk in mud was decidedly less.

"Where are we?" asked Scotti, bewildered.

"Hixinoag," replied Gemullus, pronouncing the queer name with confidence. "You were right. We were going north when we should have been going south."
The Argonian Account
Book Four
By Waughin Jarth

ecumus Scotti was drowning, and he didn't think much of it. He couldn't move his arms or his legs to swim because of the paralysis spell the Argonian peasant had lobbed at him, but he wasn't quite sinking. The Onkobra River was a crashing force of white water and currents that could carry along large rocks with ease, so Scotti tumbled head over heels, spinning, bumping, bouncing along.

He figured that soon enough he would be dead, and that would be better than being in Black Marsh. He wasn't too panicked about it all when he felt his lungs fill with water and cold blackness fell upon him.

For a while, for the first time in some time, Decumus Scotti felt peace. Blessed darkness. And then pain came to him, and he felt himself coughing, spewing water up from his belly and his lungs.

A voice said, "Oh bother, he's alive, ain't he, now?"

Scotti wasn't quite sure if that were true, even when he opened his eyes and looked at the face above him. It was an Argonian, but unlike any he had seen anywhere. The face was thin and long like a thick lance; the scales were ruby-red, brilliant in the sunlight. It blinked at him, its eyelids opening and closing in vertical slits.

"I don't suppose we should eat you, should we now?" the creature smiled, and Scotti could tell from its teeth that it was no idle suggestion.

"Thank you," said Scotti weakly. He craned his head slightly to find out who the "we" were, and discovered he was on the muddy bank of the still, sludgy river, surrounded by a group of Argonians with similarly needle-like faces and a whole rainbow of scales. Bright greens and gem-like purples, blues, and oranges.

"Can you tell me, am I near - well, anywhere?"

The ruby-colored Argonian laughed. "No. You're in the middle of everywhere, and near nowhere."

"Oh," said Scotti, who grasped the idea that space did not mean much in Black Marsh. "And what are you?"

"We are Agacephs," the ruby-colored Argonian replied. "My name is Nomu."
Scotti introduced himself. "I'm a senior clerk in Lord Vanech's Building Commission in the Imperial City. My job was to come here to try to fix the problems with commerce, but I've lost my agenda, haven't met with any of my contacts, the Archeins of Gideon..."

"Pompous, assimiliated, slaver kleptocrats," a small lemon-colored Agaceph murmured with some feeling.

"...And now I just want to go home."

Nomu smiled, his long mouth arching up like a host happy to see an unwanted guest leave a party. "Shehs will guide you."

Shehs, it seemed, was the bitter little yellow creature, and he was not at all pleased at the assignment. With surprising strength, he hoisted Scotti up, and for a moment, the clerk was reminded of Gemullus dropping him into the bubbling muck that led to the Underground Express. Instead, Shehs shoved Scotti toward a tiny little raft, razor-thin, that bobbed on the surface of the water.

"This is how you travel?"

"We don't have the broken wagons and dying horses of our brothers on the outside," Shehs replied, rolling his tiny eyes. "We don't know better."

The Argonian sat at the back of the craft and used his whip-like tail to propel and navigate the craft. They traveled quickly around swirling pools of slime that stank of centuries of putrefaction, past pinnacled mountains that seemed sturdy but suddenly fell apart at the slightest ripple in the still water, under bridges that might have once been metal but were now purely rust.

"Everything in Tamriel flows down to Black Marsh," Shehs said.

As they slid through the water, Shehs explained to Scotti that the Agacephs were one of the many Argonian tribes that lived in the interior of the province, near the Hist, finding little in the outside world worth seeing. He was fortunate to have been found by them. The Nagas, the toad-like Paatru, and the winged Sarpa would have killed him on the spot.

There were other creatures too to be avoided. Though there were few natural predators in inner Black Marsh, the scavengers that rooted in the garbage seldom shied away from a living meal. Hackwings circled overhead, like the ones Scotti had seen in the west.

Shehs fell silent and stopped the raft completely, waiting for something.

Scotti looked in the direction Shehs was watching, and saw nothing unusual in the filthy water. Then, he realized that the pool of green slime in front of them was actually moving, and fairly quickly, from one bank to the other. It deposited small bones behind it as it oozed up into the reeds, and disappeared.

"Voriplasm," Shehs explained, moving the boat forward again. "Big word. It'll strip you to the bone by the second syllable."

Scotti, desirous to distract himself from the sights and smells that surrounded him, thought it a good time to compliment his pilot on his excellent vocabulary. It was particularly impressive, given how far from civilization they were. The Argonians in the east did, in fact, speak so well.

"They tried to erect a Temple of Mara near here, in Umpholo, twenty years ago," Shehs explained, and Scotti nodded, remembering reading about it in the files before they were lost. "They all perished quite dreadfully of swamp rot in the first month, but they left behind some excellent books."

Scotti was going to inquire further when he saw something so huge, so horrifying, it made him stop, frozen.

Half submerged in the water ahead was a mountain of spines, lying on nine-foot-long claws. White eyes stared blindly forward, and then suddenly the whole creature spasmed and lurched, the jaw of its mouth jutting out, exposing tusks clotted with gore.

"Swamp Leviathan," Shehs whistled, impressed. "Very, very dangerous."

Scotti gasped, wondering why the Agaceph was so calm, and more, why he was continuing to steer the raft forward towards the beast..

"Of all the creatures in the world, the rats are sometimes the worst," said Shehs, and Scotti noticed that the huge creature was only a husk. Its movement was from the hundreds of rats that had burrowed into it, rapidly eating their way from the inside out, bursting from the skin in spots.

"They are indeed," Scotti said, and his mind went to the Black Marsh files, buried deep in the mud, and four decades of Imperial work in Black Marsh.

The two continued westward through the heart of Black Marsh.

Shehs showed Scotti the vast complicated ruins of the Kothringi capitals, fields of ferns and flowered grasses, quiet streams under canopies of blue moss, and the most astonishing sight of Scotti's life -- the great forest of full-grown Hist trees. They never saw a living soul until they arrived at the edge of the Imperial Commerce Road just east of Slough Point, where Mailic, Scotti's Redguard guide, was waiting patiently.

"I was going to give you two more minutes," the Redguard scowled, dropping the last of his food onto the pile at his feet. "No more, sir."

The sun was shining bright when Decumus Scotti rode into the Imperial City, and as it caught the morning dew, it lent a glisten to every building as if they had been newly polished for his arrival. It astonished him how clean the city was. And how few beggars there were.

The protracted edifice of Lord Vanech's Building Commission was the same as it had always been, but still the very sight of it seemed exotic and strange. It was not covered in mud. The people within actually, generally, worked.

Lord Vanech himself, though singularly squat and squinty, seemed immaculate, not only relatively clean of dirt and scabs, but also relatively uncorrupt. Scotti couldn't help but stare at him when he first caught sight of his boss. Vanech stared right back.

"You are a sight," the little fellow frowned. "Did your horse drag you to Black Marsh and back? I would say go home and fix yourself, but there are a dozen people here to see you. I hope you have solutions for them."

It was no exaggeration. Nearly twenty of Cyrodiil's most powerful and wealthiest people were waiting for him. Scotti was given an office even larger than Lord Vanech's, and he met with each.

First among the Commission's clients were five independent traders, blustering and loaded with gold, demanding to know what Scotti intended to do about improving the trade routes. Scotti summarized for them the conditions of the main roads, the state of the merchants' caravans, the sunken bridges, and all the other impediments between the frontier and the marketplace. They told him to have everything replaced and repaired, and gave him the gold necessary to do it.

Within three months, the bridge at Slough Point had disappeared into the muck; the great caravan had collapsed into decrepitude; and the main road from Gideon had been utterly swallowed up by swamp water. The Argonians began once again to use the old ways, their personal rafts and sometimes the Underground Express to transport the grain in small quantities. It took a third of the time, two weeks, to arrive in Cyrodiil, none of it rotten.

The Archbishop of Mara was the next client Scotti met with. A kindhearted man, horrified by the tales of Argonian mothers selling their children into slavery, he pointedly asked Scotti if it were true.

"Sadly, yes," Scotti replied, and the Archbishop showered him with septims, telling the clerk that food must be brought to the province to ease their suffering, and the schools must be improved so they could learn to help themselves.

Within five months, the last book had been stolen from the deserted Maran monastery in Umphollo. As the Archeins went bankrupt, their slaves returned to his parents' tiny farms. The backwater Argonians found that they could grow enough to feed their families provided they had enough hard workers in their enclave, and the buyers market for slaves sharply declined.

Ambassador Tsleeixth, concerned about the rising crime in northern Black Marsh, brought with him the contributions of many other expatriate Argonians like himself. They wanted more Imperial guards on the border at Slough Point, more magically lit lanterns posted along the main roads at regular intervals, more patrol stations, and more schools built to allow young Argonians to better themselves and not turn to crime.

Within six months, there were no more Nagas roaming the roads, as there were no merchants traveling them to rob. The thugs returned to the fetid inner swamp, where they felt much happier, their constitutions enriched by the rot and pestilence that they loved. Tsleeixth and his constituency were so pleased by the crime rate dropping, they brought even more gold to Decumus Scotti, telling him to keep up the good work.

Black Marsh simply was, is, and always shall be unable to sustain a large-scale, cash-crop plantation economy. The Argonians, and anyone else, the whole of Tamriel, could live in Black Marsh on subsistence farming, just raising what they needed. That was not sad, Scotti thought; that was hopeful.

Scotti's solution to each of their dilemmas had been the same. Ten percent of the gold they gave him went to Lord Vanech's Building Commission. The rest Scotti kept for himself, and did exactly nothing about the requests.

Within a year, Decumus Scotti had embezzled enough to retire very comfortably, and Black Marsh was better off than it had been in forty years.

Azura and the Box
Ancient Tales of the Dwemer, Part XI
By Marobar Sul

Nchylbar had enjoyed an adventurous youth, but had grown to be a very wise, very old Dwemer who spent his life searching for the truth and dispelling superstitions. He invented much and created many theorems and logic structures that bore his name. But much of the world still puzzled him, and nothing was a greater enigma to him that the nature of the Aedra and Daedra. Over the course of his research, he came to the conclusion that many of the Gods were entirely fabricated by man and mer.

Nothing, however, was a greater question to Nchylbar than the limits of divine power. Were the Greater Beings the masters of the entire world, or did the humbler creatures have the strength to forge their own destinies? As Nchylbar found himself nearing the end of his life, he felt he must understand this last basic truth.

Among the sage's acquaintances was a holy Chimer priest named Athynic. When the priest was visiting Bthalag-Zturamz, Nchylbar told him what he intended to do to find the nature of divine power. Athynic was terrified and pleaded with his friend not to break this great mystery, but Nchylbar was resolute. Finally, the priest agreed to assist out of love for his friend, though he feared the results of this blasphemy.

Athynic summoned Azura. After the usual rituals by which the priest declared his faith in her powers and Azura agreed to do no harm to him, Nchylbar and a dozen of his students entered the summoning chamber, carrying with them a large box.

"As we see you in our land, Azura, you are the Goddess of the Dusk and Dawn and all the mysteries therein," said Nchylbar, trying to appear as kindly and obsequious as he could be. "It is said that your knowledge is absolute."

"So it is," smiled the Daedra.

"You would know, for example, what is in this wooden box," said Nchylbar.

Azura turned to Athynic, her brow furrowed. The priest was quick to explain, "Goddess, this Dwemer is a very wise and respected man. Believe me, please, the intention is not to mock your greatness, but to demonstrate it to this scientist and to the rest of his skeptical race. I have tried to explain your power to him, but his philosophy is such that he must see it demonstrated."

"If I am to demonstrate my might in a way to bring the Dwemer race to understanding, it might have been a more impressive feat you would have me do," growled Azura, and turned to look Nchylbar in the eyes. "There is a red-petalled flower in the box."

Nchylbar did not smile or frown. He simply opened the box and revealed to all that it was empty.

When the students turned to look to Azura, she was gone. Only Athynic had seen the Goddess's expression before she vanished, and he could not speak, he was trembling so. A curse had fallen, he knew that truly, but even crueler was the knowledge of divine power that had been demonstrated. Nchylbar also looked pale, uncertain on his feet, but his face shone with not fear, but bliss. The smile of a Dwemer finding evidence for a truth only suspected.

Two of his students supported him, and two more supported the priest as they left the chamber.

"I have studied very much over the years, performed countless experiments, taught myself a thousand languages, and yet the skill that has taught me the finally truth is the one that I learned when I was but a poor, young man, trying only to have enough gold to eat," whispered the sage.

As he was escorted up the stairs to his bed, a red flower petal fell from the sleeve of his voluminous robe. Nchylbar died that night, a portrait of peace that comes from contented knowledge.

Publisher's Note:

This is another tale whose origin is unmistakably Dwemer. Again, the words of some Aldmeris translations are quite different, but the essence of the story is the same. The Dunmer have a similar tale about Nchylbar, but in the Dunmer version, Azura recognizes the trick and refuses to answer the question. She slays the Dwemer present for their skepticism and curses the Dunmer for blasphemy.

In the Aldmeris versions, Azura is tricked not by an empty box, but by a box containing a sphere which somehow becomes a flat square. Of course the Aldmeris versions, being a few steps closer to the original Dwemer, are much more difficult to understand. Perhaps this "stage magic" explanation was added by Gor Felim because of Felim's own experience with such tricks in his plays when a mage was not available.

"Marobar Sul" left even the character of Nchylbar alone, and he represents many "Dwemer" virtues. His skepticism, while not nearly as absolute as in the Aldmeris version, is celebrated even though it brings a curse upon the Dwemer and the unnamed House of the poor priest.

Whatever the true nature of the Gods, and how right or wrong the Dwemer were about them, this tale might explain why the dwarves vanished from the face of Tamriel. Though Nchylbar and his kind may not have intended to mock the Aedra and Daedra, their skepticism certainly offended the Divine Orders.

Collected Essays on
Dwemer History and Culture
Chapter 1

Marobar Sul and the Trivialization of the Dwemer in Popular Culture
By Hasphat Antabolis

hile Marobar Sul's Ancient Tales of the Dwemer was definitively debunked in scholarly circles as early as the reign of Katariah I, it remains one of the staples of the literate middle-classes of the Empire, and has served to set the image of the Dwemer in the popular imagination for generations of schoolchildren. What about this lengthy (but curiously insubstantial) tome has proved so captivating to the public that it has been able to see off both the scorn of the literati and the scathing critiques of the scholars?

Before examing this question, a brief summary of the provenance and subsequent career of Ancient Tales would be appropriate. First published around 2E670, in the Interregnum between the fall of the First Cyrodilic Empire and the rise of Tiber Septim, it was originally presented as a serious, scholarly work based on research in the archives of the University of Gwylim, and in the chaos of that era was taken at face value (a sign of the sad state of Dwemer scholarship in those years). Little is known of the author, but Marobar Sul was most likely a pseudonym of Gor Felim, a prolific writer of "penny dreadful romances" of that era, who is known to have used many other pseudonyms. While most of Felim's other work has, thankfully, been lost to history, what little survives matches Ancient Tales in both language and tone (see Lomis, "Textual Comparison of Gor Felim's A Hypothetical Treachery with Marobar Sul's Ancient Tales of the Dwemer"). Felim lived in Cyrodiil his whole life, writing light entertainments for the elite of the old Imperial capital. Why he decided to turn his hand to the Dwemer is unknown, but it is clear that his "research" consisted of nothing more than collecting the peasants' tales of the Nibenay Valley and recasting them in Dwemer guise.

The book proved popular in Cyrodiil, and Felim continued to churn out more volumes until the series numbered seven in all. Ancient Tales of the Dwemer was thus firmly established as a local favorite in Cyrodiil (already in its 17th printing) when the historical forces that propelled Tiber Septim to prominence also began to spread the literature of the "heartland" across the continent. Marobar Sul's version of the Dwemer was seized upon in a surge of human racial nationalism that has not yet subsided.

The Dwemer appear in these tales as creatures of fable and light fantasy, but in general they are "just like us". They come across as a bit eccentric, perhaps, but certainly there is nothing fearsome or dangerous about them. Compare these to the Dwemer of early Redguard legend: a mysterious, powerful race, capable of bending the very laws of nature to their will; vanished but perhaps not gone. Or the Dwemer portrayed in the most ancient Nord sagas: fearsome warriors, tainted by blasphemous religious practices, who used their profane mechanisms to drive the Nords from Morrowind. Marobar Sul's Dwemer were much more amenable to the spirit of the time, which saw humans as the pinnacle of creation and the other races as unenlightened barbarians or imperfect, lesser versions of humans eager for tutelage. Ancient Tales falls firmly in the latter camp, which does much to explain its enduring hold on the popular imagination. Marobar Sul's Dwemer are so much more comfortable, so much friendlier, so much more familiar, than the real Dwemer, whose truly mysterious nature we are only beginning to understand. The public prefers the light, trivial version of this vanished race. And from what I have learned in my years of studying the Dwemer, I have some sympathy for that preference. As the following essays will show, the Dwemer were, to our modern eyes, a remarkably unlikeable people in many ways.
Book One
by Waughin Jarth

he Great Sage was a tall, untidy man, bearded but bald. His library resembled him: all the books had been moved over the years to the bottom shelves where they gathered in dusty conglomerations. He used several of the books in his current lecture, explaining to his students, Taksim and Vonguldak, how the Mages Guild had first been founded by Vanus Galerion. They had many questions about Galerion's beginnings in the Psijic Order, and how the study of magic there differed from the Mages Guild.

"It was, and is, a very structured way of life," explained the Great Sage. "Quite elitist, actually. That was the aspect of it Galerion most objected to. He wanted the study of magic to be free. Well, not free exactly, but at least available to all who could afford it. In doing that, he changed the course of life in Tamriel."

"He codified the praxes and rituals used by all modern potionmakers, itemmakers, and spellmakers, didn't he, Great Sage?" asked Vonguldak.

"That was only part of it. Magic as we know it today comes from Vanus Galerion. He restructured the schools to be understandable by the masses. He invented the tools of alchemy and enchanting so everyone could concoct whatever they wanted, whatever their skills and purse would allow them to, without fears of magical backfire. Well, eventually he created that."

"What do you mean, Great Sage?" asked Taksim.

"The first tools were more automated than the ones we have today. Any layman could use them without the least understanding of enchantment and alchemy. On the Isle of Artaeum, the students had to learn the skills laboriously and over many years, but Galerion decided that was another example of the Psijics' elitism. The tools he invented were like robotic master enchanters and alchemists, capable of creating anything the customer required, provided he could pay."

"So someone could, for example, create a sword that would cleave the world in twain?" asked Vonguldak.

"I suppose, in theory, but it would probably take all the gold in the world," chuckled the Great Sage. "No, I can't say we were ever in very great danger, but that it isn't to say that there weren't a few unfortunate incidents where a unschooled yokel invented something beyond his ken. Eventually, of course, Galerion tore apart his old tools, and created what we use today. It's a little elitist, requiring that people know what they're doing before they do it, but remarkably practical."

"What did people invent?" asked Taksim. "Are there any stories?"

"You're trying to distract me so I don't test you," said the Great Sage. "But I suppose I can tell you one story, just to illustrate a point. This particular tale takes place in city of Alinor on the west coast of Summurset Isle, and concerns a scribe named Thaurbad.

This was in the Second Era, not long after Vanus Galerion had first founded the Mages Guild and chapter houses had sprung up all over Summurset, though not yet spread to the mainland of Tamriel.

For five years, this scribe, Thaurbad, had conducted all his correspondence to the outside world by way of his messenger boy, Gorgos. For the first year of his adoption of the hermit life, his few remaining friends and family -- friends and family of his dead wife, truth be told -- had tried visiting, but even the most indefatigable kin gives up eventually when given no encouragement. No one had a good reason to keep in touch with Thaurbad Hulzik, and in time, very few even tried. His sister-in-law sent him the occasional letter with news of people he could barely remember, but even that communication was rare. Most of messages to and from his house dealt with his business, writing the weekly proclamation from the Temple of Auri-El. These were bulletins nailed on the temple door, community news, sermons, that sort of thing.

The first message Gorgos brought him that day was from his healer, reminding him of his appointment on Turdas. Thaurbad took a while to write his response, glum and affirmative. He had the Crimson Plague, which he was being treated for at considerable expense -- you have to remember these were the days before the School of Restoration had become quite so specialized. It was a dreadful disease and had taken away his voicebox. That was why he only communicated by script.

The next message was from Alfiers, the secretary at the church, as curt and noxious as ever: "THAURBAD, ATTACHED IS SUNDAS'S SERMON, NEXT WEEK'S EVENTS CALENDAR, AND THE OBITUARIES. TRY TO LIVEN THEM UP A LITTLE. I WASN'T HAPPY WITH YOUR LAST ATTEMPT."

Thaurbad had taken the job putting together the Bulletin before Alfiers joined the temple, so his only mental image of her was purely theoretical and had evolved over time. At first he thought of Alfiers as an ugly fat sloadess covered with warts; more recently, she had mutated into a rail-thin, spinster orcess. Of course, it was possible his clairvoyance was accurate and she had just lost weight.

Whatever Alfiers looked like, her attitude towards Thaurbad was clear, unwavering disdain. She hated his sense of humor, always found the most minor of misspellings, and considered his structure and calligraphy the worst kind of amateur work. Luckily, working for a temple was the next most secure job to working for the good King of Alinor. It didn't bring in very much money, but his expenses were minimal. The truth was, he didn't need to do it anymore. He had quite a fortune stashed away, but he didn't have anything else to occupy his days. And the truth was further that having little else to occupy his time and thoughts, the Bulletin was very important to him.

Gorgos, having delivered all the messages, began to clean and as he did so, he told Thaurbad all the news in town. The boy always did so, and Thaurbad seldom paid him any attention, but this time he had an interesting report. The Mages Guild had come to Alinor.

As Thaurbad listened intently, Gorgos told him all about the Guild, the remarkable Archmagister, and the incredible tools of alchemy and enchanting. Finally, when the lad had finished, Thaurbad scribbled a quick note and handed it and a quill to Gorgos. The note read, "Have them enchant this quill."

"It will be expensive," said Gorgos.

Thaurbad gave Gorgos a sizeable chunk of the thousands of gold pieces he had saved over the years, and sent him out the door. Now, Thaurbad decided, he would finally have the ability to impress Alfiers and bring glory to the Temple of Auri-El.

The way I've heard the story, Gorgos had thought about taking the gold and leaving Alinor, but he had come to care for poor old Thaurbad. And even more, he hated Alfiers who he had to see every day to get his messages for his master. It wasn't perhaps for the best of motivations, but Gorgos decided to go to the Guild and get the quill enchanted.

The Mages Guild was not then, especially not then, an elitist institution, as I have said, but when the messenger boy came in and asked to use the Itemmaker, he was greeted with some suspicion. When he showed the bag of gold, the attitude melted, and he was ushered in the room.

Now, I haven't seen one of the enchanting tools of old, so you must use your imagination. There was a large prism for the item to be bound with magicka, assuredly, and an assortment of soul gems and globes of trapped energies. Other than that, I cannot be certain how it looked or how it worked. Because of all the gold he gave to the Guild, Gorgos could infuse the quill with the highest-price soul available, which was something daedric called Feyfolken. The initiate at the Guild, being ignorant as most Guildmembers were at that time, did not know very much about the spirit except that it was filled with energy. When Gorgos left the room, the quill had been enchanted to its very limit and then some. It was virtually quivering with power.

Of course, when Thaurbad used it, that's when it became clear how over his head he was.

And now," said the Great Sage. "It's time for your test."

"But what happened? What were the quill's powers?" cried Taksim.

"You can't stop the tale there!" objected Vonguldak.

"We will continue the tale after your conjuration test, provided you both perform exceptionally well," said the Great Sage.

Feyfolken, Book Two
by Waughin Jarth

fter the test had been given and Vonguldak and Taksim had demonstrated their knowledge of elementary conjuration, the Great Sage told them that they were free to enjoy the day. The two lads, who most afternoons fidgeted through their lessons, refused to leave their seats.

"You told us that after the test, you'd tell us more of your tale about the scribe and his enchanted quill," said Taksim.

"You've already told us about the scribe, how he lived alone, and his battles with the Temple secretary over the Bulletin he scripted for posting, and how he suffered from the Crimson Plague and couldn't speak. When you left off, his messenger boy had just had his master's quill enchanted with the spirit of a daedra named Feyfolken," added Vonguldak to add the Great Sage's memory.

"As it happens," said the Great Sage. "I was thinking about a nap. However, the story does touch on some issues of the natures of spirits and thus is related to conjuration, so I'll continue.

Thaurbad began using the quill to write the Temple Bulletin, and there was something about the slightly lopsided, almost three-dimensional quality of the letters that Thaurbad liked a lot.

Into the night, Thaurbad put together the Temple of Auri-El's Bulletin. For the moment he washed over the page with the Feyfolken quill, it became a work of art, an illuminated manuscript crafted of gold, but with good, simple and strong vernacular. The sermon excerpts read like poetry, despite being based on the archpriest's workmanlike exhortation of the most banal of the Alessian doctrines. The obituaries of two of the Temple's chief benefactors were stark and powerful, pitifully mundane deaths transitioned into world-class tragedies. Thaurbad worked the magical palette until he nearly fainted from exhaustion. At six o'clock in the morning, a day before deadline, he handed the Bulletin to Gorgos for him to carry to Alfiers, the Temple secretary.

As expected, Alfiers never wrote back to compliment him or even comment on how early he had sent the bulletin. It didn't matter. Thaurbad knew it was the best Bulletin the Temple had ever posted. At one o'clock on Sundas, Gorgos brought him many messages.

"The Bulletin today was so beautiful, when I read it in the vestibule, I'm ashamed to tell you I wept copiously," wrote the archpriest. "I don't think I've seen anything that captures Auri-El's glory so beautifully before. The cathedrals of Firsthold pale in comparison. My friend, I prostrate myself before the greatest artist since Gallael."

The archpriest was, like most men of the cloth, given to hyperbole. Still, Thaurbad was happy with the compliment. More messages followed. All of the Temple Elders and thirty-three of the parishioners young and old had all taken the time to find out who wrote the bulletin and how to get a message to congratulate him. And there was only one person they could go through for that information: Alfiers. Imaging the dragon lady besieged by his admirers filled Thaurbad with positive glee.

He was still in a good mood the next day when he took the ferry to his appointment with his healer, Telemichiel. The herbalist was new, a pretty Redguard woman who tried to talk to him, even after he gave her the note reading "My name is Thaurbad Hulzik and I have an appointment with Telemichiel for eleven o'clock. Please forgive me for not talking, but I have no voicebox anymore."

"Has it started raining yet?" she asked cheerfully. "The diviner said it might."

Thaurbad frowned and shook his head angrily. Why was it that everyone thought that mute people liked to be talked to? Did soldiers who lost their arms like to be thrown balls? It was undoubtedly not a purposefully cruel behavior, but Thaurbad still suspected that some people just liked to prove that they weren't crippled too.

The examination itself was routine horror. Telemichiel performed the regular invasive torture, all the while chatting and chatting and chatting.

"You ought to try talking once in a while. That's the only way to see if you're getting better. If you don't feel comfortable doing it in public, you could try practicing it by yourself," said Telemichiel, knowing his patient would ignore his advice. "Try singing in the bath. You'll probably find you don't sound as bad as you think."

Thaurbad left the examination with the promise of test results in a couple of weeks. On the ferry ride back home, Thaurbad began thinking of next week's temple bulletin. What about a double-border around the "Last Sundas's Offering Plate" announcement? Putting the sermon in two columns instead of one might have interesting effects. It was almost unbearable to think that he couldn't get started on it until Alfiers sent him information.


In response, Thaurbad almost followed Telemichiel's advice by screaming obscenities at Gorgos. Instead, he drank a bottle of cheap wine, composed and sent a suitable reply, and fell asleep on the floor.

The next morning, after a long bath, Thaurbad began work on the Bulletin. His idea for putting a light shading effect on the "Special Announcements" section had an amazing textural effect. Alfiers always hated the extra decorations he added to the borders, but using the Feyfolken quill, they looked strangely powerful and majestic.

Gorgos came to him with a message from Alfiers at that very moment as if in response to the thought. Thaurbad opened it up. It simply said, "I'M SORRY."

Thaurbad kept working. Alfiers's note he put from his mind, sure that she would soon follow it up with the complete message "I'M SORRY THAT NO ONE EVER TAUGHT YOU TO KEEP RIGHT-HAND AND LEFT-HAND MARGINS THE SAME LENGTH" or "I'M SORRY WE CAN'T GET SOMEONE OTHER THAN A WEIRD, OLD MAN AS SCRIBE OF OUR BULLETIN." It didn't matter what she was sorry about. The columns from the sermon notes rose like the massive pillars of roses, crowned with unashamedly ornate headers. The obituaries and birth announcements were framed together with a spherical border, as a heartbreaking declaration of the circle of life. The Bulletin was simultaneously both warm and avant-garde. It was a masterpiece. When he sent it off to Alfiers late that afternoon, he knew she'd hate it, and was glad.

Thaurbad was surprised to get a message from the Temple on Loredas. Before he read the content, he could tell from the style that it wasn't from Alfiers. The handwriting wasn't Alfiers's usual belligerent slashing style, and it wasn't all in Alfiers's usual capital letters, which read like a scream from Oblivion.

"Thaurbad, I thought you should know Alfiers isn't at the Temple anymore. She quit her position yesterday, very suddenly. My name is Vanderthil, and I was lucky enough (let me admit it now, I begged pitifully) to be your new Temple contact. I'm overwhelmed by your genius. I was having a crisis of faith until I read last week's Bulletin. This week's Bulletin is a miracle. Enough. I just wanted to say I'm honored to be working with you. -- Vanderthil."

The response on Sundas after the service even astonished Thaurbad. The archpriest attributed the massive increase in attendance and collection plate offerings entirely to the Bulletin. Thaurbad's salary was quadrupled. Gorgos brought over a hundred and twenty messages from his adoring public.

The following week, Thaurbad sat in front of his writing plank, a glass of fine Torvali mead at his side, staring at the blank scroll. He had no ideas. The Bulletin, his child, his second-wife, bored him. The third-rate sermons of the archbishop were absolute anathema, and the deaths and births of the Temple patrons struck him as entirely pointless. Blah blah, he thought as he scribbled on the page.

He knew he wrote the letters B-L-A-H B-L-A-H. The words that appeared on the scroll were, "A necklace of pearl on a white neck."

He scrawled a jagged line across the page. It appeared in through that damned beautiful Feyfolken quill: "Glory to Auri-El."

Thaurbad slammed the quill and poetry spilled forth in a stream of ink. He scratched over the page, blotting over everything, and the vanquished words sprung back up in different form, even more exquisite than before. Every daub and splatter caused the document to whirl like a kaleidoscope before falling together in gorgeous asymmetry. There was nothing he could do to ruin the Bulletin. Feyfolken had taken over. He was a reader, not an author.

Now," asked the Great Sage. "What was Feyfolken from your knowledge of the School of Conjuration?"

"What happened next?" cried Vonguldak.

"First, tell me what Feyfolken was, and then I'll continue the story."

"You said it was a daedra," said Taksim. "And it seems to have something to do with artistic expression. Was Feyfolken a servitor of Azura?"

"But the scribe may have been imagining all this," said Vonguldak. "Perhaps Feyfolken is a servitor of Sheogorath, and he's gone mad. Or the quill's writing makes everyone who views it, like all the congregation at the Temple of Auri-El go mad."

"Hermaeus Mora is the daedra of knowledge ... and Hircine is the daedra of the wild ... and the daedra of revenge is Boethiah," pondered Taksim. And then he smiled, "Feyfolken is a servitor of Clavicus Vile, isn't it?"

"Very good," said the Great Sage. "How did you know?"

"It's his style," said Taksim. "Assuming that he doesn't want the power of the quill now that he has it. What happens next?"

"I'll tell you," said the Great Sage, and continued the tale.
Feyfolken, Book 3
by Waughin Jarth

haurbad had at last seen the power of the quill," said the Great Sage, continuing his tale. "Enchanted with the daedra Feyfolken, servitor of Clavicus Vile, it had brought him great wealth and fame as the scribe of the weekly Bulletin of the Temple of Auri-El. But he realized that it was the artist, and he merely the witness to its magic. He was furious and jealous. With a cry, he snapped the quill in half.

He turned to finish his glass of mead. When he turned around, the quill was intact.

He had no other quills but the one he had enchanted, so he dipped his finger in the inkwell and wrote a note to Gorgos in big sloppy letters. When Gorgos returned with a new batch of congratulatory messages from the Temple, praising his latest Bulletin, he handed the note and the quill to the messenger boy. The note read: "Take the quill back to the Mages Guild and sell it. Buy me another quill with no enchantments."

Gorgos didn't know what to make of the note, but he did as he was told. He returned a few hours later.

"They wouldn't give us any gold back for it," said Gorgos. "They said it wasn't enchanted. I told 'em, I said 'What are you talking about, you enchanted it right here with that Feyfolken soul gem,' and they said, 'Well, there ain't a soul in it now. Maybe you did something and it got loose.'"

Gorgos paused to look at his master. Thaurbad couldn't speak, of course, but he seemed even more than usually speechless.

"Anyway, I threw the quill away and got you this new one, like you said."

Thaurbad studied the new quill. It was white-feathered while his old quill had been dove gray. It felt good in his hand. He sighed with relief and waved his messenger lad away. He had a Bulletin to write, and this time, without any magic except for his own talent.

Within two days time, he was nearly back on schedule. It looked plain but it was entirely his. Thaurbad felt a strange reassurance when he ran his eyes over the page and noticed some slight errors. It had been a long time since the Bulletin contained any errors. In fact, Thaurbad reflected happily, there were probably other mistakes still in the document that he was not seeing.

He was finishing a final whirl of plain calligraphy on the borders when Gorgos arrived with some messages from the Temple. He looked through them all quickly, until one caught his eye. The wax seal on the letter read "Feyfolken." With complete bafflement, he broke it open.

"I think you should kill yourself," it read in perfectly gorgeous script.

He dropped the letter to the floor, seeing sudden movement on the Bulletin. Feyfolken script leapt from the letter and coursed over the scroll in a flood, translating his shabby document into a work of sublime beauty. Thaurbad no longer cared about the weird croaking quality of his voice. He screamed for a very long time. And then drank. Heavily.

Gorgos brought Thaurbad a message from Vanderthil, the secretary of the Temple, early Fredas morning, but it took the scribe until mid-morning to work up the courage to look at it. "Good Morning, I am just checking in on the Bulletin. You usually have it in on Turdas night. I'm curious. You planning something special? -- Vanderthil."

Thaurbad responded, "Vanderthil, I'm sorry. I've been sick. There won't be a Bulletin this Sunday" and handed the note to Gorgos before retiring to his bath. When he came back an hour later, Gorgos was just returning from the Temple, smiling.

"Vanderthil and the archpriest went crazy," he said. "They said it was your best work ever."

Thaurbad looked at Gorgos, uncomprehending. Then he noticed that the Bulletin was gone. Shaking, he dipped his finger in the inkwell and scrawled the words "What did the note I sent with you say?"

"You don't remember?" asked Gorgos, holding back a smile. He knew the master had been drinking a lot lately. "I don't remember the exact words, but it was something like, 'Vanderthil, here it is. Sorry it's late. I've been having severe mental problems lately. - Thaurbad.' Since you said, 'here it is,' I figured you wanted me to bring the Bulletin along, so I did. And like I said, they loved it. I bet you get three times as much letters this Sundas."

Thaurbad nodded his head, smiled, and waved the messenger lad away. Gorgos returned back to the Temple, while his master turned to his writing plank, and pulled out a fresh sheet of parchment.

He wrote with the quill: "What do you want, Feyfolken?"

The words became: "Goodbye. I hate my life. I have cut my wrists."

Thaurbad tried another tact: "Have I gone insane?"

The words became: "Goodbye. I have poison. I hate my life."

"Why are you doing this to me?"

"I Thaurbad Hulzik cannot live with myself and my ingratitude. That's why I've put this noose around my neck."

Thaurbad picked up a fresh parchment, dipped his finger in the inkwell, and proceeded to rewrite the entire Bulletin. While his original draft, before Feyfolken had altered it, had been simple and flawed, the new copy was a scrawl. Lower-case I's were undotted, G's looked like Y's, sentences ran into margins and curled up and all over like serpents. Ink from the first page leaked onto the second page. When he yanked the pages from the notebook, a long tear nearly divided the third page in half. Something about the final result was evocative. Thaurbad at least hoped so. He wrote another note reading, simply, "Use this Bulletin instead of the piece of trash I sent you."

When Gorgos returned with new messages, Thaurbad handed the envelope to him. The new letters were all the same, except for one from his healer, Telemichiel. "Thaurbad, we need you to come in as soon as possible. We've received the reports from Black Marsh about a strain of the Crimson Plague that sounds very much like your disease, and we need to re-examine you. Nothing is definite yet, but we're going to want to see what our options are."

It took Thaurbad the rest of the day and fifteen drams of the stoutest mead to recover. The larger part of the next morning was spent recovering from this means of recovery. He started to write a message to Vanderthil: "What did you think of the new Bulletin?" with the quill. Feyfolken's improved version was "I'm going to ignite myself on fire, because I'm a dying no-talent."

Thaurbad rewrote the note using his finger-and-ink message. When Gorgos appeared, he handed him the note. There was one message in Vanderthil's handwriting.

It read, "Thaurbad, not only are you divinely inspired, but you have a great sense of humor. Imagine us using those scribbles you sent instead of the real Bulletin. You made the archbishop laugh heartily. I cannot wait to see what you have next week. Yours fondly, Vanderthil."

The funeral service a week later brought out far more friends and admirers than Thaurbad Hulzik would've believed possible. The coffin, of course, had to be closed, but that didn't stop the mourners from filing into lines to touch its smooth oak surface, imagining it as the flesh of the artist himself. The archbishop managed to rise to the occasion and deliver a better than usual eulogy. Thaurbad's old nemesis, the secretary before Vanderthil, Alfiers came in from Cloudrest, wailing and telling all who would listen that Thaurbad's suggestions had changed the direction of her life. When she heard Thaurbad had left her his quill in his final testament, she broke down in tears. Vanderthil was even more inconsolable, until she found a handsome and delightfully single young man.

"I can hardly believe he's gone and I never even saw him face-to-face or spoke to him," she said. "I saw the body, but even if he hadn't been all burned up, I wouldn't have been able to tell if it was him or not."

"I wish I could tell you there'd been a mistake, but there was plenty of medical evidence," said Telemichiel. "I supplied some of it myself. He was a patient of mine, you see."

"Oh," said Vanderthil. "Was he sick or something?"

"He had the Crimson Plague years ago, that's what took away his voice box, but it appeared to have gone into complete remission. Actually, I had just sent him a note telling him words to that effect the day before he killed himself."

"You're that healer?" exclaimed Vanderthil. "Thaurbad's messenger boy Gorgos told me that he had just picked up that message when I sent mine, complementing him on the new, primative design for the Bulletin. It was amazing work. I never would've told him this, but I had begun to suspect he was stuck in an outmoded style. It turned out he had one last work of genius, before going out in a blaze of glory. Figuratively. And literally."

Vanderthil showed the healer Thaurbad's last Bulletin, and Telemichiel agreed that its frantic, nearly illegible style spoke volumes about the power and majesty of the god Auri-El."

"Now I'm thoroughly confused," said Vonguldak.

"About which part?" asked the Great Sage. "I think the tale is very straight-forward."

"Feyfolken made all the Bulletins beautiful, except for the last one, the one Thaubad did for himself," said Taksim thoughtfully. "But why did he misread the notes from Vanderthil and the healer? Did Feyfolken change those words?"

"Perhaps," smiled the Great Sage.

"Or did Feyfolken changed Thaurbad's perceptions of those words?" asked Vonguldak. "Did Feyfolken make him mad after all?"

"Very likely," said the Great Sage.

"But that would mean that Feyfolken was a servitor of Sheogorath," said Vonguldak. "And you said he was a servitor of Clavicus Vile. Which was he, an agent of mischief or an agent of insanity?"

"The will was surely altered by Feyfolken," said Taksim, "And that's the sort of thing a servitor of Clavicus Vile would do to perpetuate the curse."

"As an appropriate ending to the tale of the scribe and his cursed quill," smiled the Great Sage. "I will let you read into it as you will."
BOOK:DESCBook3ValuableHistoryOfLockPickingThe modern lock has a fascinating history in Cyrodiil. The need to restrict access to one's home has been a problem since homes were first built. The very first security system was a simple bar across the door. This has the obvious shortcoming of only being functional when the owner is at home.

The first recorded instance of a lock is the ingenious armbreaker of Castle Anvil. The count of the day put five slide bars on the side of the door. A hole in the door just above them allowed him to reach in and manipulate any of these bars. Only one of the bars truly locked or unlocked the door. The other four released the clasp on a hammer that fell down on the person's arm. Only by knowing which sliding bar was the true lock could one safely open the door.

For over a hundred years, the state of the art in locks was defined by sliding bars and punished traps. Then the famous dwarf Mzunchend invented the pin lock. The first example had three pins. The key was turned in the lock four times, each turn depending on a different pin being in position. Obviously a pin could be used more than once.

It was 65 years before anyone devised a method to open a pin-based lock without the key and without damaging the lock. It wasn't that the problem was so difficult. It was that nobody other than royalty could afford Mzunchend's locks. An enterprising blacksmith named Orenthal decided to mass-produce a common form of the lock at a reasonable price. Suddenly every shop had a lock. Now there was a reason to subvert the locks. It wasn't long before lockpicks and lockpicking appeared. Orenthal became quite wealthly inventing more and more sophisticated locks.

Today's locks are sophisticated mechanisms with spring-loaded pins. Each metal pin must be pushed up by the key precisely to open the lock. Any imprecision in the key, any poorly made copy, or any clumsy attempt at lockpicking releases the spring tension, causing the pin to clamp down upon or even break the key or lockpick.

Locks are made more secure by using multiple pins in the lock. Multiple-pin locks are more delicate and difficult to make, and more expensive, but provide a greater reliablity against tampering. Multiple-pin locks have the further virtue of resetting all pins when any single pin is tampered with. A single mistake with the fifth pin of a five-pin lock requires a thief to reset all five pins again. Most affordable locks are one-pin or two-pin locks. The five-pin lock is the highest achievement of the lockmaker's craft, and the greatest challenge to a would-be intruder.

Picking the modern lock is an art form. A lockpick is a thin metal bar with a small tooth on the end. The tooth is used to press the pin up into the lock mechanism. The thief uses skill and experience to manipulate each pin in turn to determine the exact tension necessary to set the spring-loaded pin at its catchpoint. With a subtle pressing and lofting of the pin, the master thief determines the exact motion required to set it.

A novice thief breaks many picks while learning his trade. Only with time and practice will he get better at guessing the tension and timing necessary to set a pin. As a result, novice thieves tend to carry a great many lockpicks, while the masters only need to carry a few.

The Lusty Argonian Maid
Act IV, Scene III, continued

Lifts-Her-Tail: Certainly not, kind sir! I am here but to clean your chambers.

Crantius Colto: Is that all you have come here for, little one? My chambers?

Lifts-Her-Tail: I have no idea what it is you imply, master. I am but a poor Argonian maid.

Crantius Colto: So you are, my dumpling. And a good one at that. Such strong legs and shapely tail.

Lifts-Her-Tail: You embarrass me, sir!

Crantius Colto: Fear not. You are safe here with me.

Lifts-Her-Tail: I must finish my cleaning, sir. The mistress will have my head if I do not!

Crantius Colto: Cleaning, eh? I have something for you. Here, polish my spear.

Lifts-Her-Tail: But it is huge! It could take me all night!

Crantius Colto: Plenty of time, my sweet. Plenty of time.



The Madness of Pelagius
By Tsathenes

he man who would be Emperor of all Tamriel was born Thoriz Pelagius Septim, a prince of the royal family of Wayrest in 3E 119 at the end of the glorious reign of his uncle, Antiochus I. Wayrest had been showered by much preference during the years before Pelagius' birth, for King Magnus was Antiochus' favorite brother.

It is hard to say when Pelagius' madness first manifested itself, for, in truth, the first ten years of his life were marked by much insanity in the land itself. When Pelagius was just over a year old, Antiochus died and a daughter, Kintyra, assumed the throne to the acclaim of all. Kintyra II was Pelagius' cousin and an accomplished mystic and sorceress. If she had sufficient means to peer into the future, she would have surely fled the palace.

The story of the War of the Red Diamond has been told in many other scholarly journals, but as most historians agree, Kintyra II's reign was usurped by her and Pelagius' cousin Uriel, by the power of his mother, Potema -- the so-called wolf queen of Solitude. The year after her coronation, Kintyra was trapped in Glenpoint and imprisoned in the Imperial dungeons there.

All of Tamriel exploded into warfare as Prince Uriel took the throne as Uriel III, and High Rock, because of the imprisoned Empress' presence there, was the location of some of the bloodiest battles. Pelagius' father, King Magnus, allied himself with his brother Cephorus against the usurper Emperor, and brought the wrath of Uriel III and Queen Potema down on Wayrest. Pelagius, his brothers and sisters, and his mother Utheilla fled to the Isle of Balfiera. Utheilla was of the line of Direnni, and her family manse is still located on that ancient isle even to this day.

There is thankfully much written record of Pelagius' childhood in Balfiera recorded by nurses and visitors. All who met him described him as a handsome, personable boy, interested in sport, magic, and music. Even assuming diplomats' lack of candor, Pelagius seemed, if anything, a blessing to the future of the Septim Dynasty.

When Pelagius was eight, Cephorus slew Uriel III at the Battle of Ichidag and proclaimed himself Emperor Cephorus I. For the next ten years of his reign, Cephorus battled Potema. Pelagius' first battle was the Siege of Solitude, which ended with Potema's death and the final end of the war. In gratitude, Cephorus placed Pelagius on the throne of Solitude.

As king of Solitude, Pelagius' eccentricities of behavior began to be noticeable. As a favorite nephew of the Emperor, few diplomats to Solitude made critical commentary about Pelagius. For the first two years of his reign, Pelagius was at the very least noted for his alarming shifts in weight. Four months after taking the throne, a diplomat from Ebonheart called Pelagius "a hale and hearty soul with a heart so big, it widens his waist"; five months after that, the visiting princess of Firsthold wrote to her brother that "the king's gripped my hand and it felt like I was being clutched by a skeleton. Pelagius is greatly emaciated, indeed."

Cephorus never married and died childless three years after the Siege of Solitude. As the only surviving sibling, Pelagius' father Magnus left the throne of Wayrest and took residence at the Imperial City as the Emperor Magnus I. Magnus was elderly and Pelagius was his oldest living child, so the attention of Tamriel focused on Sentinel. By this time, Pelagius' eccentricities were becoming infamous.

There are many legends about his acts as King of Sentinel, but few well-documented cases exist. It is known that Pelagius locked the young princes and princesses of Silvenar in his room with him, only releasing them when an unsigned Declaration of War was slipped under the door. When he tore off his clothes during a speech he was giving at a local festival, his advisors apparently decided to watch him more carefully. On the orders of Magnus, Pelagius was married to the beautiful heiress of an ancient Dark Elf noble family, Katariah Ra'athim.

Nordic kings who marry Dark Elves seldom improve their popularity. There are two reasons most scholars give for the union. Magnus was trying to cement relations with Ebonheart, where the Ra'athim clan hailed. Ebonheart's neighbor, Mournhold, had been a historical ally of the Empire since the very beginning, and the royal consort of Queen Barenziah had won many battles in the War of the Red Diamond. Ebonheart had a poorly-kept secret of aiding Uriel III and Potema.

The other reason for the marriage was more personal: Katariah was as shrewd a diplomat as she was beautiful. If any creature was capable of hiding Pelagius' madness, it was she.

On the 8th of Second Seed, 3E 145, Magnus I died quietly in his sleep. Jolethe, Pelagius' sister took over the throne of Solitude, and Pelagius and Katariah rode to the Imperial City to be crowned Emperor and Empress of Tamriel. It is said that Pelagius fainted when the crown was placed on his head, but Katariah held him up so only those closest to the thrones could see what had happened. Like so many Pelagius stories, this cannot be verified.

Pelagius III never truly ruled Tamriel. Katariah and the Elder Council made all the decisions and only tried to keep Pelagius from embarrassing all. Still, stories of Pelagius III's reign exist.

It was said that when the Argonian ambassador from Blackrose came to court, Pelagius insisted on speaking in all grunts and squeaks, as that was the Argonian's natural language.

It is known that Pelagius was obsessed with cleanliness, and many guests reported waking to the noise of an early-morning scrubdown of the Imperial Palace. The legend of Pelagius while inspecting the servants' work, suddenly defecating on the floor to give them something to do, is probably apocryphal.

When Pelagius began actually biting and attacking visitors to the Imperial Palace, it was decided to send him to a private asylum. Katariah was proclaimed regent two years after Pelagius took the throne. For the next six years, the Emperor stayed in a series of institutions and asylums.

Traitors to the Empire have many lies to spread about this period. Whispered stories of hideous experiments and tortures performed on Pelagius have almost become accepted as fact. The noble lady Katariah became pregnant shortly after the Emperor was sent away, and rumors of infidelity and, even more absurd, conspiracies to keep the sane Emperor locked away, ran amok. As Katariah proved, her pregnancy came about after a visit to her husband's cell. With no other evidence, as loyal subjects, we are bound to accept the Empress' word on the matter. Her second child, who would reign for many years as Uriel IV, was the child of her union with her consort Lariate, and publicly acknowledged as such.

On a warm night in Suns Dawn, in his 34th year, Pelagius III died after a brief fever in his cell at the Temple of Kynareth in the Isle of Betony. Katariah I reigned for another forty six years before passing the scepter onto the only child she had with Pelagius, Cassynder.

Pelagius' wild behavior has made him perversely dear to the province of his birth and death. The 2nd of Suns Dawn, which may or may not be the anniversary of his death (records are not very clear) is celebrated as Mad Pelagius, the time when foolishness of all sorts is encouraged. And so, one of the least desirable Emperors in the history of the Septim Dynasty, has become one of the most famous ones.

Magic from the Sky
by Irlav Jarol

he ancient Ayleids believed that Nirn was composed of four basic elements -- earth, water, air, and light -- and of these four elements, they believed the most sublime form of light was star light. The stars are our links to the plane of Aetherius, the source of all magical power, and therefore, light from the stars is the most potent and exalted of all magical powers.

From time to time, fragments of Aetherius fall from the heavens. The people know these fragments as 'shooting stars', and from time to time, such Aetherial fragments are found on Nirn. The most common varieties are known as 'meteoric iron'; this metal is prized by armorers and enchanters for its properties in the forging of enchanted weapons and armors. This meteoric iron is also the primary component in 'Ayleid Wells,' ancient enchanted artifacts found throughout Cyrodiil.

Another, rarer form of Aetherial fragment is called 'meteroic glass'. It is from such fragments that other rare Ayleid enchanted artifacts are crafted -- Welkynd Stones and Varla Stones.

Ayleids Wells are scattered across Cyrodiil's landscape. Their siting is a mystery; they are not associated with any known Ayleid cities or settlements. It is presumed that, in some manner, they harvest magical power from starlight. It is also suggested, without evidence or support, that they are located at the meeting points of ancient lines of magical power; however, modern arcane arts have discovered no perceptible evidence of such lines of power.

Those with magical talents can draw magicka from Ayleid wells to restore their own reservoirs of magical power. No ritual or arcane knowledge is necessary, suggesting that these wells were designed to serve persons not skilled in the magical arts. Once drained, the wells replenish again only at magical midnight. Once recharged, they appear to radiate magical power back into the sky, which prompts some to theorize they are also objects with religious or magical ritual significance -- perhaps a means of offering magic back to the heavens.

Welkynd Stones [Aldmeris - "sky stone," "heaven stone"; literally, "sky child"] are pieces of cut and enchanted meteoric glass which apparently act as storage devices for magical power. A magical talent can restore his reseroirs of magicka from such stones. Alas, the means of restoring power to these stones may have been lost with the Ayleids. Currently, these objects simply crumble to dust after they have been used.

Great Welkynd Stones are exceptionally large pieces of enchanted meteoric glass. Scholars believe that at the heart of each ancient Ayleid city, a Great Welkynd Stone was the source of the settlement's magical enchantments. It may be that these great stones were linked to the lesser stones, restoring and maintaining their power. In any case, research on these Great Welkynd Stones is impossible, since all the known Ayleid ruins have been looted of their great stones, and no examples of these great stones are known to survive.

Another rare enchanted item found in Ayleid ruins is called a Varla Stone [Aldmeris - "star stone"]. Varla Stones are remarkably powerful, enabling untrained users to restore magical energy to any number of enchanted items. Because of their great value and utility, these items are also extremely rare, but since they are small and easily concealed, diligent explorers may still occasionally come across them in any Ayelid ruin.

Ayleid Wells. Welkynd Stones. Varla Stones. Consider, then, these marvels of magical enchantment. Are we then to conclude that the Ayleids were a superior race and culture? Did they so exceed us in art and craft that they mock the feeble powers of Third Era Wizards?

Never! The Ayleids were powerful, yes, and cunning, but they were neither good nor wise, and so they were struck down. Their works have passed from Nirn, save these rare and sparkling treasures. Their ancient cities are dark and empty, save for the grim revenants and restless spirits condemned forever to walk the halls, keeping their melancholy vigils over bones and dust.
The Dowry
Ancient Tales of the Dwemer, Part X
By Marobar Sul

naleigh was the wealthiest landowner in Gunal, and he had over the years saved a tremendous dowry for the man who would marry his daughter, Genefra. When she reached the age of consent, he locked the gold away for safe-keeping, and announced his intention to have her marry. She was a comely lass, a scholar, a great athlete, but dour and brooding in aspect. This personality defect did not bother her potential suitors any more than her positive traits impressed them. Every man knew the tremendous wealth that would be his as the husband of Genefra and son-in-law of Ynaleigh. That alone was enough for hundreds to come to Gunal to pay court.

"The man who will marry my daughter," said Ynaleigh to the assembled. "Must not be doing so purely out of avarice. He must demonstrate his own wealth to my satisfaction."

This simple pronouncement removed a vast majority of the suitors, who knew they could not impress the landowner with their meager fortunes. A few dozen did come forward within a few days, clad in fine killarc cloth of spun silver, accompanied by exotic servants, traveling in magnificent carriages. Of all who came who met with Ynaleigh's approval, none arrived in a more resplendent fashion that Welyn Naerillic. The young man, who no one had ever heard of, arrived in a shining ebon coach drawn by a team of dragons, his clothing of rarest manufacture, and accompanied by an army of the most fantastical servants any of Gunal had ever seen. Valets with eyes on all sides of their heads, maidservants that seemed cast in gemstones.

But such was not enough with Ynaleigh.

"The man who marries my daughter must prove himself a intelligent fellow, for I would not have an ignoramus as a son-in-law and business partner," he declared.

This eliminated a large part of the wealthy suitors, who, through their lives of luxury, had never needed to think very much if at all. Still some came forward over the next few days, demonstrating their wit and learning, quoting the great sages of the past and offering their philosophies of metaphysics and alchemy. Welyn Naerillic too came and asked Ynaleigh to dine at the villa he had rented outside of Gunal. There the landowner saw scores of scribes working on translations of Aldmeri tracts, and enjoyed the young man's somewhat irreverent but intriguing intelligence.

Nevertheless, though he was much impressed with Welyn Naerillic, Ynaleigh had another challenge.

"I love my daughter very much," said Ynaleigh. "And I hope that the man who marries her will make her happy as well. Should any of you make her smile, she and the great dowry are yours."

The suitors lined up for days, singing her songs, proclaiming their devotion, describing her beauty in the most poetic of terms. Genefra merely glared at all with hatred and melancholia. Ynaleigh who stood by her side began to despair at last. His daughter's suitors were failing to a man at this task. Finally Welyn Naerillic came to the chamber.

"I will make your daughter smile," he said. "I dare say, I'll make her laugh, but only after you've agreed to marry us. If she is not delighted within one hour of our engagement, the wedding can be called off."

Ynaleigh turned to his daughter. She was not smiling, but her eyes had sparked with some morbid curiosity in this young man. As no other suitor had even registered that for her, he agreed.

"The dowry is naturally not to be paid 'til after you've wed," said Ynaleigh. "Being engaged is not enough."

"Might I see the dowry still?" asked Welyn.

Knowing how fabled the treasure was and understanding that this would likely be the closest the young man would come to possessing it, Ynaleigh agreed. He had grown quite found of Welyn. On his orders, Welyn, Ynaleigh, glum Genefra, and the castellan delved deep into the stronghold of Gunal. The first vault had to be opened by touching a series of runic symbols: should one of the marks be mispressed, a volley of poisoned arrows would have struck the thief. Ynaleigh was particularly proud of the next level of security -- a lock composed of blades with eighteen tumblers required three keys to be turned simultaneously to allow entry. The blades were designed to eviscerate any who merely picked one of the locks. Finally, they reached the storeroom.

It was entirely empty.

"By Lorkhan, we've been burgled!" cried Ynaleigh. "But how? Who could have done this?"

"A humble but, if I may say so, rather talented burglar," said Welyn. "A man who has loved your daughter from afar for many years, but did not possess the glamour or the learning to impress. That is, until the gold from her dowry afforded me the opportunity."

"You?" bellowed Ynaleigh, scarcely able to believe it. Then something even more unbelievable happened.

Genefra began to laugh. She had never even dreamed of meeting anyone like this thief. She threw herself into his arms before her father's outraged eyes. After a moment, Ynaleigh too began to laugh.

Genefra and Welyn were married in a month's time. Though he was in fact quite poor and had little scholarship, Ynaleigh was amazed how much his wealth increased with such a son-in-law and business partner. He only made certain never to ask from whence came the excess gold.

Publisher's Note:

The tale of a man trying to win the hand of a maiden whose father (usually a wealthy man or a king) tests each suitor is quite common. See, for instance, the more recent "Four Suitors of Benitah" by Jole Yolivess. The behavior of the characters is quite out of character for the Dwemer. No one today knows their marriage customs, or even if they had marriage at all.

One rather odd theory of the Disappearance of the Dwarves came from this and a few other tales of "Marobar Sul." It was proposed that the Dwemer never, in fact, left. They did not depart Nirn, much less the continent of Tamriel, and they are still among us, disguised. These scholars use the story of "Azura and the Box" to suggest that the Dwemer feared Azura, a being they could neither understand nor control, and they adopted the dress and manner of Chimer and Altmer in order to hide from Azura's gaze.
On Oblivion
by Morian Zenas
t is improper, however customary, to refer to the denizens of the dimension of Oblivion as "demons." This practice probably dates to the Alessian Doctrines of the First Era prophet Marukh -- which, rather amusingly, forbade "trafficke with daimons" and then neglected to explain what daimons were.

It is most probable that "daimon" is a misspelling or etymological rendition of "Daedra," the old Elven word for those strange, powerful creatures of uncertain motivation who hail from the dimension of Oblivion. ("Daedra" is actually the plural form; the singular is "Daedroth.") In a later tract by King Hale the Pious of Skyrim, almost a thousand years after the publication of the original Doctrines, the evil machinations of his political enemies are compared to "the wickedness of the demons of Oblivion... their depravity equals that of Sanguine itself, they are cruel as Boethiah, calculating as Molag Bal, and mad as Sheogorath." Hale the Pious thus long-windedly introduced four of the Daedra lords to written record.

But the written record is not, after all, the best way to research Oblivion and the Daedra who inhabit it. Those who "trafficke with daimons" seldom wish it to be a matter of public account. Nevertheless, scattered throughout the literature of the First Era are diaries, journals, notices for witch burnings, and guides for Daedra-slayers. These I have used as my primary source material. They are at least as trustworthy as the Daedra lords I have actually summoned and spoken with at length.

Apparently, Oblivion is a place composed of many lands -- thus the many names for which Oblivion is synonymous: Coldharbour, Quagmire, Moonshadow, etc. It may be correctly supposed that each land of Oblivion is ruled over by one prince. The Daedra princes whose names appear over and over in ancient records (though this is not an infallible test of their authenticity or explicit existence, to be sure) are the afore-mentioned Sanguine, Boethiah, Molag Bal, and Sheogorath, and in addition, Azura, Mephala, Clavicus Vile, Vaernima, Malacath, Hoermius (or Hermaeus or Hormaius or Herma -- there seems to be no one accepted spelling) Mora, Namira, Jyggalag, Nocturnal, Mehrunes Dagon, and Peryite.

From my experience, Daedra are a very mixed lot. It is almost impossible to categorize them as a whole except for their immense power and penchant for extremism. Be that as it may, I have here attempted to do so in a few cases, purely for the sake of scholastic expediency.

Mehrunes Dagon, Molag Bal, Peryite, Boethiah, and Vaernima are among the most consistently "demonic" of the Daedra, in the sense that their spheres seem to be destructive in nature. The other Daedra can, of course, be equally dangerous, but seldom purely for the sake of destruction as these five can. Nor are these previous five identical in their destructiveness. Mehrunes Dagon seems to prefer natural disasters -- earthquakes and volcanoes -- for venting his anger. Molag Bal elects the employment of other daedra, and Boethiah inspires the arms of mortal warriors. Peryite's sphere seems to be pestilence, and Vaernima's torture.

In preparation for the next instalment in this series, I will be investigating two matters that have intrigued me since I began my career as a Daedra researcher. The first is on one particular Daedroth, perhaps yet another Daedra prince, referred to in multiple articles of incunabula as Hircine. Hircine has been called "the Huntsman of the Princes" and "the Father of Man-beasts," but I have yet to find anyone who can summon him. The other, and perhaps more doubtful, goal I have is to find a practical means for mortal men to pass through to Oblivion. It has always been my philosophy that we need only fear that which we do not understand -- and with that thought in mind, I ever pursue my objective.

Book II
by Vojne Mierstyyd

alla. Pal La. The name burned in my heart. I found myself whispering it in my studies even when I tried to concentrate on something the Magister was saying. My lips would silently purse to voice the "Pal," and tongue lightly flick to form the "La" as if I were kissing her spirit before me. It was madness in every way except that I knew that it was madness. I knew I was in love. I knew she was a noble Redguard woman, a fierce warrior more beautiful than the stars. I knew her young daughter Betaniqi had taken possession of a manorhouse near the Guild, and that she liked me, perhaps was even infatuated. I knew Palla had fought a terrible beast and killed it. I knew Palla was dead.

As I say, I knew it was madness, and by that, I knew I could not be mad. But I also knew that I must return to Betaniqi's palace to see her statue of my beloved Palla engaged in that final, horrible, fatal battle with the monster.

Return I did, over and over again. Had Betaniqi been a different sort of noblewoman, more comfortable with her peers, I would not have had so many opportunities. In her innocence, unaware of my sick obsession, she welcomed my company. We would talk for hours, laughing, and every time we would take a walk to the reflecting pond where I would always stop breathless before the sculpture of her mother.

"It's a marvelous tradition you have, preserving these figures of your ancestors at their finest moments," I said, feeling her curious eyes on me. "And the craftsmanship is without parallel."

"You wouldn't believe me," laughed the girl. "But it was a bit of scandal when my great grandfather began the custom. We Redguards hold a great reverence for our families, but we are warriors, not artists. He hired an traveling artist to create the first statues, and everyone admired them until it was revealed that the artist was an elf. An Altmer from the Summurset Isle."


"It was, absolutely," Betaniqi nodded seriously. "The idea that a pompous, wicked elf's hands had formed these figures of noble Redguard warriors was unthinkable, profane, irreverent, everything bad you can imagine. But my great grandfather's heart was in the beauty of it, and his philosophy of using the best to honor the best passed down to us all. I would not have even considered having a lesser artist create the statues of my parents, even if it would have been more allegiant to my culture."

"They're all exquisite," I said.

"But you like the one of my mother most of all," she smiled. "I see you look at it even when you seem to be looking at the others. It's my favorite also."

"Would you tell me more about her?" I asked, trying to keep my voice light and conversational.

"Oh, she would have said she was nothing extraordinary, but she was," the girl said, picking a flower from the garden. "My father died when I was quite young, and she had so many roles to fill, but she did them all effortlessly. We have a great many business interests and she was brilliant at managing everything. Certainly better than I am now. All it took was her smile and everyone obeyed, and those that didn't paid dearly. She was very witty and charming, but a formidable force when the need arose for her to fight. Hundreds of battles, but I can never remember a moment of feeling neglected or unloved. I literally thought she was too strong for death. Stupid, I know, but when she went to battle that -- that horrible creature, that freak from a mad wizard's laboratory, I never even thought she would not return. She was kind to her friends and ruthless to her enemies. What more can one say about a woman than that?"

Poor Betaniqi's eyes teared up with remembrance. What sort of villain was I to goad her so, in order to satisfy my perverted longings? Sheogorath could never have conflicted a mortal man more than me. I found myself both weeping and filled with desire. Palla not only looked like a goddess, but from her daughter's story, she was one.

That night while undressing for bed, I rediscovered the black disc I had stolen from Magister Tendixus's office weeks before. I had half-forgotten about its existence, that mysterious necromantic artifact which the mage believed could resurrect a dead love. Almost by pure instinct, I found myself placing the disc on my heart and whispering, "Palla."

A momentary chill filled my chamber. My breath hung in the air in a mist before dissipating. Frightened I dropped the disc. It took a moment before my reason returned, and with it the inescapable conclusion: the artifact could fulfill my desire.

Until the early morning hours, I tried to raise my mistress from the chains of Oblivion, but it was no use. I was no necromancer. I entertained thoughts of how to ask one of the Magisters to help me, but I remembered how Magister Ilther had bid me to destroy it. They would expel me from the Guild if I went to them and destroy the disc themselves. And with it, my only key to bringing my love to me.

I was in my usual semi-torpid condition the next day in classes. Magister Ilther himself was lecturing on his specialty, the School of Enchantment. He was a dull speaker with a monotone voice, but suddenly I felt as if every shadow had left the room and I was in a palace of light.

"When most persons think of my particular science, they think of the process of invention. The infusing of charms and spells into objects. The creation of a magickal blade, perhaps, or a ring. But the skilled enchanter is also a catalyst. The same mind that can create something new can also provoke greater power from something old. A ring that can generate warmth for a novice, on the hand of such a talent can bake a forest black." The fat man chuckled: "Not that I'm advocating that. Leave that for the School of Destruction."

That week all the initiates were asked to choose a field of specialization. All were surprised when I turned my back on my old darling, the School of Illusion. It seemed ridiculous to me that I had ever entertained an affection for such superficial charms. All my intellect was now focused on the School of Enchantment, the means by which I could free the power of the disc.

For months thereafter, I barely slept. A few hours a week, I'd spend with Betaniqi and my statue to give myself strength and inspiration. All the rest of my time was spent with Magister Ilther or his assistants, learning everything I could about enchantment. They taught me how to taste the deepest levels of magicka within a stored object.

"A simple spell cast once, no matter how skillfully and no matter how spectacularly, is ephemeral, of the present, what it is and no more," sighed Magister Ilther. "But placed in a home, it develops into an almost living energy, maturing and ripening so only its surface is touched when an unskilled hand wields it. You must consider yourself a miner, digging deeper to pull forth the very heart of gold."

Every night when the laboratory closed, I practiced what I had learned. I could feel my power grow and with it, the power of the disc. Whispering "Palla," I delved into the artifact, feeling every slight nick that marked the runes and every facet of the gemstones. At times I was so close to her, I felt hands touching mine. But something dark and bestial, the reality of death I suppose, would always break across the dawning of my dream. With it came an overwhelming rotting odor, which the initiates in the chambers next to mine began to complain about.

"Something must have crawled into the floorboards and died," I offered lamely.

Magister Ilther praised my scholarship, and allowed me the use of his laboratory after hours to further my studies. Yet no matter what I learned, Palla seemed scarcely closer. One night, it all ended. I was swaying in a deep ecstasy, moaning her name, the disc bruising my chest, when a sudden lightning flash through the window broke my concentration. A tempest of furious rain roared over Mir Corrup. I went to close the shutters, and when I returned to my table, I found that the disc had shattered.

I broke into hysterical sobs and then laughter. It was too much for my fragile mind to bear such a loss after so much time and study. The next day and the day after, I spent in my bed, burning with a fever. Had I not been a Mages Guild with so many healers, I likely would have died. As it was, I provided an excellent study for the budding young scholars.

When at last I was well enough to walk, I went to visit Betaniqi. She was charming as always, never once commenting on my appearance, which must have been ghastly. Finally I gave her reason to worry when I politely but firmly declined to walk with her along the reflecting pool.

"But you love looking at the statuary," she exclaimed.

I felt that I owed her the truth and much more. "Dear lady, I love more than the statuary. I love your mother. She is all I've been able to think about for months now, ever since you and I first removed the tarp from that blessed sculpture. I don't know what you think of me now, but I have been obsessed with learning how to bring her back from the dead."

Betaniqi stared at me, eyes wide. Finally she spoke: "I think you need to leave now. I don't know if this is a terrible jest --"

"Believe me, I wish it were. You see, I failed. I don't know why. It could not have been that my love wasn't strong enough, because no man had a stronger love. Perhaps my skills as an enchanter are not masterful, but it wasn't from lack of study!" I could feel my voice rise and knew I was beginning to rant, but I could not hold back. "Perhaps the fault lay in that your mother never met me, but I think that only the caster's love is taken into account in the necromantic spell. I don't know what it was! Maybe that horrible creature, the monster that killed her, cast some sort of curse on her with its dying breath! I failed! And I don't know why!"

With a surprising burst of speed and strength for so small a lady, Betaniqi shoved herself against me. She screamed, "Get out!" and I fled out the door.

Before she slammed the door shut, I offered my pathetic apologies: "I'm so sorry, Betaniqi, but consider that I wanted to bring your mother back to you. It's madness, I know, but there is only one thing that's certain in my life and that's that I love Palla."

The door was nearly shut, but the girl opened it crack to ask tremulously: "You love whom?"

"Palla!" I cried to the Gods.

"My mother," she whispered angrily. "Was named Xarlys. Palla was the monster."

I stared at the closed door for Mara knows how much time, and then began the long walk back to the Mages Guild. My memory searched through the minutiae to the Tales and Tallows night so long ago when I first beheld the statue, and first heard the name of my love. That Breton initiate, Gelyn had spoken. He was behind me. Was he recognizing the beast and not the lady?

I turned the lonely bend that intersected with the outskirts of Mir Corrup, and a large shadow rose from the ground where it had been sitting, waiting for me.

"Palla," I groaned. "Pal La."

"Kiss me," it howled.

And that brings my story up to the present moment. Love is red, like blood.
The Mystery of
Princess Talara, Part V
By Mera Llykith

y what right do you arrest my father?" cried the Lady Jyllia. "What has he done?"

"I arrest the King of Camlorn, the former Duke of Oloine, by my right as an Imperial Commanding Officer and Ambassador," said Lord Strale. "By the right of law of the Emperor of Tamriel which supercedes all provincial royal authority."

Gyna came forward and tried to put her hand on Jyllia's arm, but she was coldly rebuffed. Quietly, she sat down at the foot of the throne in the now empty audience chamber.

"This young lady came to me, having completely recovered her memory, but the story she told was beyond incredible, I simply couldn't believe it," said Lord Strale. "But she was so convinced of it, I had to investigate. So I talked to everyone who was here at the palace twenty years ago to see if there could be any truth to it. Of course, at the time of the King and Queen's murder, and the Princess's disappearance, there was a full inquiry made, but I had different questions to ask this time. Questions about the relationship between the two little cousins, Lady Jyllia Raze and the Princess."

"I've told everyone over and over again, I don't remember anything at all about that time in my life," said Jyllia, tears welling up.

"I know you don't. There has never been a question in my mind that you witnessed a horrible murder, and that your memory lapse and hers," said Lord Strale, gesturing toward Gyna "Are both very real. The story I heard from the servants and other people at the palace was that the little girls were inseparably close. There were no other playmates, and as the Princess's place was to be close to her parents, so the little Lady Jyllia was always there as well. When the assassin came to murder the Royal Family, the King and Queen were in their bedroom, and the girls were playing in the throne room."

"When my memory came back to me, it was like opening a sealed box," said Gyna solemnly. "Everything was so clear and detailed, like it all happened yesterday not twenty years ago. I was on the throne, playing Empress, and you were hiding behind the dais, pretending you were in a dungeon I had sent you to. A man I had never seen burst into the room from the Royal bedchamber, his blade soaked in blood. He came at me, and I ran for my life. I remember starting to run for the dais, but I saw your face, frozen in fear, and I didn't want to lead him to you. So I ran for the window.

"We had climbed on the outside of the castle before, just for fun, that was one of the first memories that came back to me when I was holding onto that cliff. You and I on the castle wall, and the King calling up to me, telling me how to get down. But that day, I couldn't hold on, I was trembling so much. I just fell, and landed in the river.

"I don't know if it was entirely the horror of what I had seen, or that combined with the impact of the fall and the coldness of the water, but everything just went blank in my mind. When I finally pulled myself out of the river, many miles away, I had no idea who I was. And so it stayed," Gyna smiled. "Until now."

"So you are the Princess Talara?" cried Jyllia.

"Let me explain further before she answers that, because the simple answer would just confuse you, as it did me," said Lord Strale. "The assassin was caught before he managed to escape the palace - in truth, he had to know he was going to be caught. He confessed immediately to the murders of the Royal Family. The Princess, he said, he had thrown out the window to her death. A servant down below heard the scream, and saw something fly past his window, so he knew it to be true.

"It was not for several hours that little Lady Jyllia was found by her nursemaid Ramke hiding behind the dais, coated with dust, shivering with fear, and unable to speak at all. Ramke was very protective of you," Strale said, nodding to Jyllia. "She insisted on putting you to your room right away, and sent word the Duke of Oloine that the Royal Family was dead, and that his daughter had witnessed the murders but survived."

"I'm beginning to remember a little of that," said Jyllia, wonderingly. "I remember lying in bed, with Ramke comforting me. I was so muddled and I couldn't concentrate. I remember I just wanted it all to be play time still, I don't know why. And then, I remember being bundled up and taken to that asylum."

"It'll all come back to you soon," Gyna smiled. "I promise. That's how I began to remember. I just caught one detail, and the whole flood began."

"That's it," Jyllia began to sob in frustration. "I don't remember anything else except confusion. No, I also remember Daddy not even looking at me as I was taken away. And I remember not caring about that, or anything else."

"It was a confusing time for all, so particularly so for little girls. Especially little girls who went through what you two did," said Lord Strale sympathetically. "From what I understand, as soon as he received the message from Ramke, the Duke left his palace at Oloine, gave orders for you to be sent to a private sanitarium until you'd recovered from your ordeal, and set to work with his private guard torturing the assassin for information. When I heard that, that no one but the Duke and his personal guard saw the assassin after he gave his initial confession, and that no one was present but the Duke and his guards when the assassin was killed trying to escape, I thought that very significant.

"I spoke with Lord Eryl, who I knew was one of those present, and I had to bluff him, pretending I had more evidence than I did. I got the reaction I was hoping for, though it was a dangerous gambit. At last he confessed to what I already knew to be true.

"The assassin," Lord Strale paused, and reluctantly met Jyllia's eyes, "Had been hired by the Duke of Oloine to kill the Royal Family, including the Princess as heir, so that the crown might be passed to him and to his children."

Jyllia stared at Lord Strale, aghast. "My father -"

"The assassin had been told that once the Duke had him in custody, he would be paid and a prison break would be arranged. The thug picked the wrong time to be greedy and try to get more gold. The Duke decided that it would be cheaper to silence him, so he murdered him then and there, so the man would never tell anyone what really happened," Lord Strale shrugged. "No tragic loss as far as murders go. In a few years' time, you returned from the sanitarium, a little shaken but back to normal, except for a complete absence of memory about your childhood. And in that time, the former Duke of Oloine had taken his brother's place as the King of Camlorn. It was no small maneuver."

"No," said Jyllia, quietly. "He must have been very busy. He remarried and had another child. No one ever came to visit me in the sanitarium but Ramke."

"If he had visited and seen you," said Gyna. "This story might have turned out very differently."

"What do you mean?" asked Jyllia.

"This is the most amazing part," said Lord Strale. "The question has long been whether Gyna is the Princess Talara. When her memory returned, and she told me what she remembered, I put several pieces of evidence together. Consider these facts.

"The two of you look remarkably alike now after twenty years of living very different lives, and as little girls and constant playmates, you looked nearly identical.

"At the time of the assassination, the murderer who had never been there before, only saw one girl on the throne, who he assumed to be his quarry.

"The woman who found Lady Jyllia was her nursemaid Ramke, a creature of unstable mind and fanatical devotion to her charge - the type would never accept the possibility that her beloved little girl had been the one who disappeared. The nursemaid was the only single person who knew both Princess Talara and the Lady Jyllia who visited you while you were in the sanitarium.

"Finally," said Lord Strale, "Consider the fact that when you returned to court from the sanitarium, five years had past, and you had grown from a child to a young lady. You looked familiar, but not quite the same as your family remembered you, which is only natural."

"I don't understand," cried the poor girl, her eyes wide, because she did understand. Here memory was falling together like a terrible flood.

"Let me explain it like this," said her cousin, wrapping her in her arms. "I know who I am now. My real name is Jyllia Raze. That man who was arrested was my father, the man who murdered the King - your father. YOU are the Princess Talara."

he Empire of Tamriel encompasses the nine Imperial provinces: Skyrim, High Rock, Hammerfell, Summerset Isle, Valenwood, Elsweyr, Black Marsh, Morrowind, and the ancient Imperial province itself, Cyrodiil. Morrowind was among the last of the provinces to be integrated into the Empire, and because it was added by treaty, and not by conquest, Morrowind retains exceptional power to define local law by reference to ancient Great House precedents.

kyrim, also known as the Old Kingdom or the Fatherland, was the first region of Tamriel settled by humans from the continent of Atmora: the hardy, brave, warlike Nords, whose descendants still occupy this rugged land. Though more restrained and civilized than their barbarian ancestors, the Nords of the pure blood still excel in the manly virtues of red war and bold exploration.

ammerfell is primarily an urban and maritime province, with most of its population confined to the great cities of Sentinel and Stros M'Kai and to other small ports among the islands and along the coast. The interior is sparsely populated with small poor farms and beastherds. The Redguard love of travel, adventure, and the high seas has dispersed them as sailors, mercenaries, and adventurers in ports of call throughout the Empire.

igh Rock encompasses the many lands and clans of Greater Bretony, the Dellese Isles, the Bjoulsae River tribes, and, by tradition, the Western Reach. The rugged highland strongholds and isolated valley settlements have encouraged the fierce independence of the various local Breton clans, and this contentious tribal nature has never been completely integrated into a provincial or Imperial identity. Nonetheless, their language, bardic traditions, and heroic legends are a unifying common legacy.

he Summerset Isle is a green and pleasant land of fertile farmlands, woodland parks, and ancient towers and manors. Most settlements are small and isolated, and dominated by ruling seats of the local wizard or warlord. The Isle has few good natural ports, and the natives are unwelcoming to foreigners, so the ancient, chivalric high culture of the Aldmer is little affected by modern Imperial mercantilism.

alenwood is a largely uninhabited forest wilderness. The coasts of Valenwood are dominated by mangrove swamps and tropical rain forests, while heavy rainfalls nurture the temperate inland rain forests. The Bosmer live in timber clanhouses at sites scattered along the coast and through the interior, connected only by undeveloped foot trails. The few Imperial roads traverse vast dense woodlands, studded with tiny, widely separated settlements, and carry little trade or traffic of any kind.

he Khajiit of the southern Elsweyr jungles and river basins are settled city dwellers with ancient mercantile traditions and a stable agrarian aristocracy based on sugarcane and saltrice plantations. The nomadic tribal Khajiit of the dry northern wastes and grasslands are, by contrast, aggressive and territorial tribal raiders periodically united under tribal warlords. While the settled south has been quick to adopt Imperial ways, the northern nomadic tribes cling to their warlike barbarian traditions.

ost of the native Argonian population of Black Marsh is confined to the great inland waterways and impenetrable swamps of the southern interior. There are few roads here, and most travel is by boat. The coasts and the northwestern upland forests are largely uninhabited. For ages the Dunmer have raided Black Marsh for slaves; though the Empire has made this illegal, the practice persists, and Dunmer and Argonians have a long-standing and bitter hatred for one another.

orrowind, homeland of the Dunmer peoples, is the northeastmost province of the Tamrielic Empire. Most of the population is gathered in the high uplands and fertile river valleys of central Morrowind, especially around the Inland Sea. The island Vvardenfel is encircled by the Inner Sea, and is dominated by the titanic volcano Red Mountain and its associated ash wastelands; most of the island's population is confined to the relatively hospitable west and southwest coast.

yrodiil is the cradle of Human Imperial high culture on Tamriel. It is the largest region of the continent, and most is endless jungle. The Imperial City is in the heartland, the fertile Nibenay Valley. The densely populated central valley is surrounded by wild rain forests drained by great rivers into the swamps of Argonia and Topal Bay. The land rises gradually to the west and sharply to the north. Between its western coast and its central valley are deciduous forests and mangrove swamps.

Fall of the Snow Prince

[An account of the Battle of the Moesring as transcribed by Lokheim, chronicler to the chieftain Ingjaldr White-Eye]

From whence he came we did not know, but into the battle he rode, on a brilliant steed of pallid white. Elf we called him, for Elf he was, yet unlike any other of his kind we had ever seen before that day. His spear and armor bore the radiant and terrible glow of unknown magicka, and so adorned this unknown rider seemed more wight than warrior.

What troubled, nay, frightened us most at that moment was the call that rose from the Elven ranks. It was not fear, not wonder, but an unabashed and unbridled joy, the kind of felicity felt by a damned man who has been granted a second chance at life. For at that time the Elves were as damned and near death as ever they had been during the great skirmishes of Solstheim. The Battle of the Moesring was to be the final stand between Nord and Elf on our fair island. Led by Ysgramor, we had driven the Elven scourge from Skyrim, and were intent on cleansing Solstheim of their kind as well. Our warriors, armed with the finest axes and swords Nord craftsmen could forge, cut great swaths through the enemy ranks. The slopes of the Moesring ran red with Elf blood. Why, then, would our foe rejoice? Could one rider bring such hope to an army so hopeless?

To most of our kind, the meaning of the call was clear, but the words were but a litany of Elven chants and cries. There were some among us, however, the scholars and chroniclers, who knew well the words and shuddered at their significance.

"The Snow Prince is come! Doom is at hand!"

There was then a great calm that overcame the Elves that still stood. Through their mass the Snow Prince did ride, and as a longboat slices the icy waters of the Fjalding he parted the ranks of his kin. The magnificent white horse slowed to a gallop, then a trot, and the unknown Elf rider moved to the front of the line at a slow, almost ghostlike pace.

A Nord warrior sees much in a life of bloodshed and battle, and is rarely surprised by anything armed combat may bring. But few among us that day could have imagined the awe and uncertainty of a raging battlefield that all at once went motionless and silent. Such is the effect the Snow Prince had on us all. For when the joyous cries of the Elves had ended, there remained a quiet known only in the solitude of slumber. It was then our combined host, Elf and Nord alike, were joined in a terrible understanding -- victory or defeat mattered little that day on the slopes of the Moesring Mountains. The one truth we all shared was that death would come to many that day, victor and vanquished alike. The glorious Snow Prince, an Elf unlike any other, did come that day to bring death to our kind. And death he so brought.

Like a sudden, violent snow squall that rends travelers blind and threatens to tear loose the very foundations of the sturdiest hall, the Snow Prince did sweep into our numbers. Indeed the ice and snow did begin to swirl and churn about the Elf, as if called upon to serve his bidding. The spinning of that gleaming spear whistled a dirge to all those who would stand in the way of the Snow Prince, and our mightiest fell before him that day. Ulfgi Anvil-Hand, Strom the White, Freida Oaken-Wand, Heimdall the Frenzied. All lay dead at the foot of the Moesring Mountains.

For the first time that day it seemed the tide of battle had actually turned. The Elves, spurred on by the deeds of the Snow Prince, rallied together for one last charge against our ranks. It was then, in a single instant, that the Battle of the Moesring came to a sudden and unexpected end.

Finna, daughter of Jofrior, a lass of only twelve years and squire to her mother, watched as the Snow Prince cut down her only parent. In her rage and sorrow, Finna picked up Jofrior's sword and threw it savagely at her mother's killer. When the Elf's gleaming spear stopped its deadly dance, the battlefield fell silent, and all eyes turned to the Snow Prince. No one that day was more surprised than the Elf himself at the sight that greeted them all. For upon his great steed the Snow Prince still sat, the sword of Jofrior buried deeply in his breast. And then, he fell, from his horse, from the battle, from life. The Snow Prince lay dead, slain by a child.

With their savior defeated, the spirit of the remaining Elven warriors soon shattered. Many fled, and those that remained on the battlefield were soon cut down by our broad Nord axes. When the day was done, all that remained was the carnage of the battlefield. And from that battlefield came a dim reminder of valor and skill, for the brilliant armor and spear of the Snow Prince still shined. Even in death, this mighty and unknown Elf filled us with awe.

It is common practice to burn the corpses of our fallen foes. This is as much a necessity as it is custom, for death brings with it disease and dread. Our chieftains wished to cleanse Solstheim of the Elven horde, in death as well as life. It was decided, however, that such was not to be the fate of the Snow Prince. One so mighty in war yet so loved by his kin deserved better. Even in death, even if an enemy of our people.

And so we brought the body of the Snow Prince, wrapped in fine silks, to a freshly dug barrow. The gleaming armor and spear were presented on a pedestal of honor, and the tomb was arrayed with treasures worthy of royalty. All of the mighty chieftains agreed with this course, that the Elf should be so honored. His body would be preserved in the barrow for as long as the earth chose, but would not be offered the protection of our Stalhrim, which was reserved for Nord dead alone.

So ends this account of the Battle of the Moesring, and the fall of the magnificent Elven Snow Prince. May our gods honor him in death, and may we never meet his kind again in life.
Tamrielic Artifacts

The following are notes I have gathered, over the past centuries, of items of unimaginable significance. All have been seen, owned, and lost, again and again throughout Tamriel. Some may be myth, others may be hoax, but regardless, many have lost their lives attempting to find or protect these very coveted items.

Lord's Mail
Sometimes called the Armor of Morihaus or the gift of Kynareth, this is an ancient cuirass of unsurpassable quality. It grants the wearer power to absorb health, resist the effects of spells, and cure oneself of poison when used. It is said that whenever Kynareth deigns the wearer unworthy, the Lord's Mail will be taken away and hidden for the next chosen one.

Ebony Mail
The Ebony Mail is a breastplate created before recorded history by the Dark Elven goddess Boethiah. It is she who determines who should possess the Ebony Mail and for how long a time. If judged worthy, its power grants the wearer added resistance of fire, magicka, and grants a magical shield. It is Boethiah alone who determines when a person is ineligible to bear the Ebony Mail any longer, and the goddess can be very capricious.

Spell Breaker
Spell Breaker, superficially a Dwemer tower shield, is one of the most ancient relics of Tamriel. Aside from its historical importance in the Battle of Rourken-Shalidor, the Spell Breaker protects its wielder almost completely from any spell caster, either by reflecting magicks or silencing any mage about to cast a spell. It is said that Spell Breaker still searches for its original owner, and will not remain the property of anyone else for long. For most, possessing Spell Breaker for any length of time is power enough.

The Paladin's Blade is an ancient claymore with offensive capabilities surpassed only by its own defenses. It lends the wielder health, protects him or her from fire, and reflects any spells cast against the wielder back to the caster. Seldom has Chrysamere been wielded by any bladesman for any length of time, for it chooses not to favor one champion.

Staff of Magnus
The Staff of Magnus, one of the elder artifacts of Tamriel, was a metaphysical battery of sorts for its creator, Magnus. When used, it absorbs an enemy's health and mystical energy. In time, the Staff will abandon the mage who wields it before he becomes too powerful and upsets the mystical balance it is sworn to protect.

Warlock's Ring
The Warlock's Ring of the Archmage Syrabane is one of the most popular relics of myth and fable. In Tamriel's ancient history, Syrabane saved all of the continent by judicious use of his Ring, and ever since, it has helped adventurers with less lofty goals. It is best known for its ability to reflect spells cast at its wearer and to improve his or her speed and to restore health. No adventurer can wear the Warlock's Ring for long, for it is said that the Ring is Syrabane's alone to command.

Ring of Phynaster
The Ring of Phynaster was made hundreds of years ago by a man who needed good defenses to survive his adventurous life. Thanks to the Ring, Phynaster lived for hundreds of years, and since then it has passed from person to person. The Ring improves its wearer's overall resistance to poison, magicka, and shock. Still, Phynaster was cunning and cursed the ring so that it eventually disappears from its holder's possessions and returns to another resting place, discontent to stay anywhere but with Phynaster himself.

Ring of Khajiit
The Ring of the Khajiit is an ancient relic, hundreds of years older than Rajhin, the thief that made the Ring famous. It was Rajhin who used the Ring's powers to make himself invisible and as quick as the breath of wind. Using the Ring, he became the most successful burglar in Elsweyr's history. Rajhin's eventual fate is a mystery, but according to legend, the Ring rebelled against such constant use and disappeared, leaving Rajhin helpless before his enemies.

Mace of Molag Bal
Also known as the Vampire's Mace, the Mace of Molag Bal drains its victims of magicka and gives it to the bearer. It also has the ability to transfer an enemy's strength to its wielder. Molag Bal has been quite free with his artifact. There are many legends about the Mace. It seems to be a favorite for vanquishing wizards.

Masque of Clavicus Vile
Ever the vain one, Clavicus Vile made a masque suited to his own personality. The bearer of the Masque is more likely to get a positive response from the people of Tamriel. The higher his personality, the larger the bonus. The best known story of the Masque tells the tale of Avalea, a noblewoman of some renown. As a young girl, she was grossly disfigured by a spiteful servant. Avalea made a dark deal with Clavicus Vile and received the Masque in return. Though the Masque did not change her looks, suddenly she had the respect and admiration of everyone. A year and a day after her marriage to a well connected baron, Clavicus Vile reclaimed the Masque. Although pregnant with his child, Avalea was banished from the Baron's household. Twenty one years and one day later, Avalea's daughter claimed her vengeance by slaying the Baron.

Mehrunes Razor
The Dark Brotherhood has coveted this ebony dagger for generations. This mythical artifact is capable of slaying any creature instantly. History does not record any bearers of Mehrune's Razor. However, the Dark Brotherhood was once decimated by a vicious internal power struggle. It is suspected that the Razor was involved.

Cuirass of the Savior's Hide
Another of Hircine's artifacts was the Cuirass of the Savior's Hide. The Cuirass has the special ability to resist magicka. Legend has it that Hircine rewarded his peeled hide to the first and only mortal to have ever escaped his hunting grounds. This unknown mortal had the hide tailored into this magical Cuirass for his future adventures. The Savior's Hide has a tendency to travel from hero to hero as though it has a mind of its own.

Spear of Bitter Mercy
One of the more mysterious artifacts is the Spear of Bitter Mercy. Little to nothing is known about the Spear. There are no recorded histories but many believe it to be of Daedric origin. The only known legend about it is its use by a mighty hero during the fall of the Battlespire. The hero was aided by the Spear in the defeat of Mehrunes Dagon and the recapturing of the Battlespire. Since that time, the Spear of Bitter Mercy has made few appearances within Tamriel.

Daedric Scourge
The Daedric Scourge is a mighty mace forged from sacred ebony in the Fires of Fickledire. The legendary weapon of Mackkan, it was once a fierce weapon used to send spirits of black back into Oblivion. The weapon lhas the ability to summon creatures from Oblivion, Once a tool used against the Daedric Lords in the Battlespire, it now roams the land with adventurers.

Bow of Shadows
Legend has it that the Bow of Shadows was forged by the Daedra Nocturnal. The legendary ranger, Raerlas Ghile, was granted the Bow for a secret mission that failed, and the Bow was lost. Raerlas did not go down without a hearty fight and is said to have, with the aid of the Bow, taken scores of his foes with him. The Bow grants the user the ability of invisibility and increased speed. Many sightings of the Bow of Shadows have been reported, and it is even said that the sinister Dark Elf assassin of the Second Era, Dram, once wielded this bow.

Fists of Randagulf
Randagulf of Clan Begalin goes down in Tamrielic history as one of the mightiest warriors from Skyrim. He was known for his courage and ferocity in battle and was a factor in many battles. He finally met his fate when King Harald conquered Skyrim. King Harald respected this great hero and took Randagulf's gauntlets for his own. After King Harald died, the gauntlets disappeared. The King claimed that the Fists granted the bearer added strength.

Ice Blade of the Monarch
The Ice Blade of the Monarch is truly one of Tamriel's most prized artifacts. Legend has it that the Evil Archmage Almion Celmo enchanted the claymore of a great warrior with the soul of a Frost Monarch, a stronger form of the more common Frost Atronach. The warrior, Thurgnarr Assi, was to play a part in the assassination of a great king in a far off land, and become the new leader. The assassination failed and the Archmage was imprisoned. The Ice Blade freezes all who feel its blade. The Blade circulates from owner to owner, never settling in one place for long.

Ring of Surroundings
Little is known of this prize but it is said that it lends the wearer the ability to blend in with their surroundings.

Boots of the Apostle
The Boots of the Apostle are a true mystery. The wearer of the boots is rumored to be able to levitate, though nobody has ever seen them used.

The Mentor's Ring
This ring is a prized possession for any apprentice to magic. It lends the wearer the ability to increase their intelligence and wisdom, thus making their use of magic more efficient. The High Wizard Carni Asron is said to be the creator of the Ring. It was a construct for his young apprentices while studying under his guidance. After Asron's death, the Ring and several other possessions vanished and have been circulated throughout Tamriel.

Ring of the Wind
No facts are known about this Ring, but the title and the few rumors lend one to think it grants the wearer added speed.

Vampiric Ring
One of the more deadly and rare artifacts in Tamriel is the Vampiric Ring. It is said that the Ring has the power to steal its victim's health and grant it to the wearer. The exact nature and origin of the Ring is wholly unknown, but many elders speak of its evil creation in Morrowind long, long ago by a cult of Vampire followers. The Vampiric Ring is an extremely rare artifact and is only seen every few hundred cycles of the moons.

Eleidon's Ward
Eleidon was a holy knight of legend in Breton history. He was a sought after man for his courage and determination to set all wrongs right. In one story, it is said that he rescued a Baron's daughter from sure death at the hands of an evil warlord. For his reward, the Baron spent all of his riches to have an enchanted shield built for Eidelon. The Shield granted Eleidon the opportunity to heal his wounds.

Staff of Hasedoki
Hasedoki was said to have been a very competitive wizard. He wandered the land in search for a wizard who was greater than he. To the best of all knowledge, he never found a wizard who could meet up to his challenge. It is said that he felt so lonely and isolated because so many feared his power, that he bonded his life-force into his very own staff, where his soul remains to this very day. Magic users all over Tamriel have been searching for this magical staff. Granting its wielder a protection of magicka, it is a sure prize for any magic user.

Bloodworm Helm
The King of Worms was said to have left behind one of his prized possessions, the Bloodworm Helm. The Helm is a construct of magically formed bone. The Helm allows the user to summon skeletons and control the undead. It would be a prized artifact to a necromancer.

Dragonbone Mail
This cuirass is one of the greatest artifacts any collector or hero could own. It is constructed of real dragon bone and was enchanted by the first Imperial Battlemage, Zurin Arctus, in the early years of the Third Era. It is a truly exquisite piece of work and many have sought to possess it. The properties of the Cuirass allow the wearer to be resist fire, and to damage an enemy with a blast of fire. Little is known about the involvement of Zurin Arctus with the enchantment of the Cuirass, but an old tale speaks of a debt that he owed to a traveling warrior. Like the warrior, the Dragonbone Mail never stays put for long.

Skull Crusher
The Skull Crusher is an amazingly large, and powerful weapon. The Warhammer was created in a fire, magically fueled by the Wizard, Dorach Gusal, and was forged by the great weaponsmith, Hilbongard Rolamus. The steel is magically hardened and the weight of the weapon is amazingly light, which makes for more powerful swings and deadly blows. The Warhammer was to be put on display for a festival, but thieves got it first. The Skull Crusher still travels Tamriel in search of its creators.

This magical Sword is almost a complete mystery. Thieves tell tales about its golden make and how it was actually forged by ancient dragons of the North. Their tales claim that it was given to a great knight who was sworn to protect the dragons. The Sword lends its wielder the ability to do fire damage on an enemy. Goldbrand has not been sighted in recent history and is said to be awaiting a worthy hero.

Fang of Haynekhtnamet
Black Marsh was once known to be inhabited with what the Argonians called the Wamasus. Northern men considered them to be intelligent dragons with lightning for blood. One such mighty beast, Haynekhtnamet, was slain by the Northern men, though it took 7 days and nights, and a score of men. One of the surviving men took a fang home as a trophy. The fang was carved down into a blade and fashioned into a small dagger. The Dagger mysteriously houses some of the beast's magical properties and grants the user the ability to do shock damage on an opponent. This unique Dagger is seen occasionally by traveling heroes.

Umbra Sword
The Umbra Sword was enchanted by the ancient witch Naenra Waerr, and its sole purpose was the entrapment of souls. Used in conjunction with a soul gem, the Sword allows the wielder the opportunity to imprison an enemy's soul in the gem. Naenra was executed for her evil creation, but not before she was able to hide the Sword. The Umbra Sword is very choosy when it comes to owners and therefore remains hidden until a worthy one is found.

Denstagmer's Ring
All that is known of this Ring is that it may grant the user protection from certain elements. Even the name Denstagmer is a mystery.

Helm of Oreyn Bearclaw
One of Valenwood's legendary heroes is Oreyn Bearclaw. Son of King Faume Toad-Eye, he was a respected clan hunter and a future leader. Wood Elven legend claims Oreyn single handedly defeated Glenhwyfaunva, the witch-serpent of the Elven wood, forever bringing peace to his clan. Oreyn would go on to accomplish numerous other deeds, eventually losing his life to the Knahaten Flu. His Helm stood as a monument of his stature for future generations to remember. The Helm was lost eventually, as the Clan split, and is now a treasured artifact for adventurers. The Helm of Oreyn Bearclaw is rumored to improve the wearers agility and endurance.

Daedric Crescent Blade
Probably the most rare and even outlawed item of all the great prizes is the Daedric Crescent Blade. The Blade was used by Mehrunes Dagon's Daedric forces in the capture of the Imperial Battlespire. These extremely unique Blades were gathered up and destroyed after the Battlespire was recaptured by the Empire. All but one it seems. Though the Empire believes them all to be destroyed, it is rumored that one still remains in existence, somewhere in Tamriel, though none have ever seen it. The Blade lends it's wielder the ability to do great damage on an enemy and allows him to paralyze and put heavy wear on his enemy's armor. Quite the prize for any mighty warrior, if it does indeed exist.

The Firmament
by Ffoulke

he Stars of Tamriel are divided into thirteen constellations. Three of them are the major constellations, known as the Guardians. These are the Warrior, the Mage, and the Thief. Each of the Guardians protects its three Charges from the thirteenth constellation, the Serpent.

When the sun rises near one of the constellations, it is that constellation's season. Each constellation has a Season of approximately one month. The Serpent has no season, for it moves about in the heavens, usually threatening one of the other constellations.

The Warrior

arrior is the first Guardian Constellation and he protects his charges during their Seasons. The Warrior's own season is Last Seed when his Strength is needed for the harvest. His Charges are the Lady, the Steed, and the Lord. Those born under the sign of the Warrior are skilled with weapons of all kinds, but prone to short tempers.

The Mage

age is a Guardian Constellation whose Season is Rain's Hand when magicka was first used by men. His Charges are the Apprentice, the Golem, and the Ritual. Those born under the Mage have more magicka and talent for all kinds of spellcasting, but are often arrogant and absent-minded.

The Thief

hief is the last Guardian Constellation, and her Season is the darkest month of Evening Star. Her Charges are the Lover, the Shadow, and the Tower. Those born under the sign of the Thief are not typically thieves, though they take risks more often and only rarely come to harm. They will run out of luck eventually, however, and rarely live as long as those born under other signs.

The Serpent

erpent wanders about in the sky and has no Season, though its motions are predictable to a degree. No characteristics are common to all who are born under the sign of the Serpent. Those born under this sign are the most blessed and the most cursed.

The Lady

ady is one of the Warrior's Charges and her Season is Heartfire. Those born under the sign of the Lady are kind and tolerant.

The Steed

teed is one of the Warrior's Charges, and her Season is Mid Year. Those born under the sign of the Steed are impatient and always hurrying from one place to another.

The Lord

ord's Season is First Seed and he oversees all of Tamriel during the planting. Those born under the sign of the Lord are stronger and healthier than those born under other signs.

The Apprentice

pprentice's Season is Sun's Height. Those born under the sign of the apprentice have a special affinity for magick of all kinds, but are more vulnerable to magick as well.

The Atronach

tronach (often called the Golem) is one of the Mage's Charges. Its season is Sun's Dusk. Those born under this sign are natural sorcerers with deep reserves of magicka, but they cannot generate magicka of their own.

The Ritual

itual is one of the Mage's Charges and its Season is Morning Star. Those born under this sign have a variety of abilities depending on the aspects of the moons and the Divines.

The Lover

over is one of the Thief's Charges and her season is Sun's Dawn. Those born under the sign of the Lover are graceful and passionate.

The Shadow

hadow's Season is Second Seed. The Shadow grants those born under her sign the ability to hide in shadows.

The Tower

ower is one of the Thief's Charges and its Season is Frostfall. Those born under the sign of the Tower have a knack for finding gold and can open locks of all kinds.

The Seed
Ancient Tales of the Dwemer, Part II
By Marobar Sul

he hamlet village of Lorikh was a quiet, peaceful Dwemer community nestled in the monochrome grey and tan dunes and boulders of the Dejasyte. No vegetation of any kind grew in Lorikh, though there were blackened vestiges of long dead trees scattered throughout the town. Kamdida arriving by caravan looked at her new home with despair. She was used to the forestland of the north where her father's family had haled. Here there was no shade, little water, and a great open sky. It looked like a dead land.

Her mother's family took Kamdida and her younger brother Nevith in, and was very kind to the orphans, but she felt lonely in the alien village. It was not until she met an old Argonian woman who worked at the water factory that Kamdida found a friend. Her name was Sigerthe, and she said that her family had lived in Lorikh centuries before the Dwemer arrived, when it was a great and beauteous forest.

"Why did the trees die?" asked Kamdida.

"When there were Argonians only in this land, we never cut trees for we had no need for fuel or wooden structures such as you use. When the Dwemer came, we allowed them to use the plants as they needed them, provided they never touched the Hist, which are sacred to us and to the land. For many years, we lived peaceably. No one wanted for anything."

"What happened?"

"Some of your scientists discovered that distilling a certain tree sap, molding it and drying it, they could create a resilient kind of armor called resin," said Sigerthe. "Most of the trees that grew here had very thin ichor in their branches, but not the Hist. Many of them fairly glistened with sap, which made the Dwemer merchants greedy. They hired a woodsman named Juhnin to start clearing the sacred arbors for profit."

The old Argonian woman looked to the dusty ground and sighed, "Of course, we Argonians cried out against it. It was our home, and the Hist, once gone, would never return. The merchants reconsidered, but Juhnin took it on his own to break our spirit. He proved one terrible, bloody day that his prodigious skill with the axe could be used against people as well as trees. Any Argonian who stood in his way was hewn asunder, children as well. The Dwemer people of Lorikh closed their doors and their ears to the cries of murder."

"Horrible," gasped Kamdida.

"It is difficult to explain," said Sigerthe. "But the deaths of our living ones was not nearly as horrible to us as the death of our trees. You must understand that to my people, the Hist are where we come from and where we are going. To destroy our bodies is nothing; to destroy our trees is to annihilate us utterly. When Juhnin then turned his axe on the Hist, he killed the land. The water disappeared, the animals died, and all the other life that the trees nourished crumbled and dried to dust."

"But you are still here?" asked Kamdida. "Why didn't you leave?"

"For us, we are trapped. I am one of the last of a dying people. Few of us are strong enough to live away from our ancestral groves, and sometimes, even now, there is a perfume in the air of Lorikh that gives us life. It will not be long until we are all gone."

Kamdida felt tears welling up in her eyes. "Then I will be alone in this horrible place with no trees and no friends."

'We Argonians have an expression," said Sigerthe with a sad smile, taking Kamdida's hand. "That the best soil for a seed is found in your heart."

Kamdida looked into the palm of her hand and saw that Sigerthe had given her a small black pellet. It was a seed. "It looks dead."

"It can only grow in one place in all Lorikh," said the old Argonian. "Outside an old cottage in the hills outside town. I cannot go there, for the owner would kill me on sight and like all my people, I am too frail to defend myself now. But you can go there and plant the seed."

"What will happen?" asked Kamdida. "Will the Hist return?"

"No. But some part of their power will."

That night, Kamdida stole from her house and into the hills. She knew the cottage Sigerthe had spoken of. Her aunt and uncle had told her never to go there. As she approached it, the door opened and an old but powerfully built man appeared, a mighty axe slung over his shoulder.

"What are you doing here, child?" he demanded. "In the dark, I almost took you to be a lizard man."

"I've lost my way in the dark," she said quickly. "I'm trying to get back to my home in Lorikh."

"Be on your way then."

"Do you have a candle I might have?" she asked piteously. "I've been walking in circles and I'm afraid I'll only return back here without any light."

The old man grumbled and walked into his house. Quickly, Kamdida dug a hole in the dry dirt and buried the seed as deeply as she could. He returned with a lit candle.

"See to it you don't come back here," he growled. "Or I'll chop you in half."

He returned to his house and fire. The next morning when he awoke and opened the door, he found that his cottage was entirely sealed within an enormous tree. He picked up his axe and delivered blow and after blow to the wood, but he could never break through. He tried side chops, but the wood healed itself. He tried an upper chop followed by an under chop to form a wedge, but the wood sealed.

Much time went by before someone discovered old Juhnin's emaciated body lying in front of his open door, still holding his blunted, broken axe. It was a mystery to all what he had been chopping with it, but the legend began circulating through Lorikh that Hist sap was found on the blade.

Shortly thereafter, small desert flowers began pushing through the dry dirt in the town. Trees and plants newly sown began to live tolerably well, if not luxuriantly. The Hist did not return, but Kamdida and the people of Lorikh noticed that at a certain time around twilight, long, wide shadows of great, bygone trees would fill the streets and hills.

Publisher's Note
"The Seed" is one of Marobar Sul's tales whose origins are well known. This tale originated from the Argonian slaves of southern Morrowind. "Marobar Sul" merely replaced the Dunmer with Dwemer and claimed he found it in a Dwemer ruin. Furthermore, he later claimed that the Argonian version of the tale was merely a retelling of his "original!"

Lorikh, while clearly not a Dwemer name, simply does not exist, and in fact "Lorikh" was a name commonly used, incorrectly, for Dunmer men in Gor Felim's plays. The Argonian versions of the story usually take place on Vvardenfell, usually in the Telvanni city of Sadrith Mora. Of course the so-called "scholars" of Temple Zero will probably claim this story has something to do with "Lorkhan" simply because the town starts with the letter L.

The Third Door
by Annanar Orme

I sing of Ellabeth, the Queen of the Axe,
Who could fell a full elm with two hatchet hacks.
She could rip apart Valenwood just for her fun.
She studied under Alfhedil in Tel Aruhn.
He taught her the jabs, the strokes, and the stance
To make an ax-swing into an elegant dance.

He taught her the barbed axes of the Orcs bold,
The six-foot-long axes favored in Winterhold,
The hollow-bladed axes of the Elves of the West,
Which whistle when they swing through flesh.
With a single-headed axe, she could behead two men.
With a double-headed axe, she could fell more than ten.
Yet where she lives in legend has most to do
With the man who hacked her own heart in two.

Nienolas Ulwarth the Mighty, who hailed from Blackrose,
The only man who could best Ellabeth with ax blows,
In a minute, she chopped fifty trees; he, fifty-three.
She felt at once that he was the only man for she.
When she professed her love, Nienolas just laughed.
He said he loved more his ax handle and shaft.
And if they weren't enough to slake all his desire
There was another woman named Lorinthyrae.
Fury gripped the Queen of the Axe, the maid Ellabeth,
And her thoughts turned to pondering musings of death.
Mephala and Sheogorath gave her a revengeful scheme
And for weeks, she worked on it in a state like a dream.
In the still of the night, she kidnapped her rival
And then told her choices between doom and survival.

Lorinthyrae awoke in a house in the moors
In a room lightly furnished except for three doors.
Ellabeth explained that behind one of the doors the lass
Would find Ellabeth's and her love, the great Nienolas.
Behind the second lived a ravenous demon.
And behind the third, an exit to freedom.
She must choose a door, and to aid her decision
If she pondered too long, the axe'd make a division.
Lorinthyrae wept, and Ellabeth felt contrite,
And opened the door to her immediate right.
It led to the moors, and as she slipped through the gloom,
She advised Lorinthyrae to likewise abandon the room.
Lorinthyrae ignored her and did not feel her will bend.
Nienolas was largely behind the first door she opened.

Ellabeth had lied; there was no demon of lore.
The top third of Nienolas was behind the third door.
Varieties Of Daedra
By Aranea Drethan,
Healer and Dissident Priest

here is little chance of our ever understanding the various orders of Daedra and their relationships to the Daedra Lords and their dominions. Of the varieties of Daedra that appear in our world, and the varieties of their relationships to their fellows and their Daedra patrons, there is no end. In one place and time they are seen to be this, and in another place and time they are seen to be the opposite, and in another place and time they are seen to be both this and that, in completely contradictory terms.

What Daedra serves this Prince? What Daedra gives orders, and what Daedra serves, and in what hierarchy, and under what circumstances? What Daedra exist in fellowship with one another, and what Daedra have eternal enmity to one another, and what Daedra are solitary, or social, and by turns solitary or social? There are no limits to the varieties of behaviors that may be observed, and in one place they may be this, and in another place they may that, and all rules describing them are always found to be contradictory and in exception to others.

Further, from whom may we seek answers to our questions about these orders? From mortals, who know little but what they may observe of another world? From the gods, who speak in riddles, of enigmas wrapped in mysteries, and who keep things from us, the better to preserve their dominion over us? From the Daedra themselves, who are never the models of straightforwardness or truthtelling, but rather are famous for misstatements and obfuscations?

And even were the Daedra to speak the truth, how can we know if they know themselves, or that there is any truth about them that is to be known, or are all arrangements among the Daedra protean and ever subject to change?

In short, what is to be known is little, and and what is to be trusted is nothing.

These things being said, I shall venture to relate what I have observed and heard of the relationships of the servants of Lord Dagon in my brief service to the Telvanni Wizard Divayth Fyr, when I sought him out and offered to bring peace to the victims of corprus in his sanitarium, once the Prophecies of the Incarnate had been fulfilled, and Dagoth Ur had been destroyed, and the Blight had been banished from the island of Vvardenfell forever.

Divayth Fyr told me that he, by choice, trafficked only with two Daedra Powers -- Mehrunes Dagon and Azura.

Azura, he said, knew and understood all things, and declined to speak of these things, or only spoke in riddles.

Mehrunes Dagon, on the other hand, out of pride, fixity of purpose, and a predictable lack of subtlety in thought, knew nothing and understood nothing, and was inclined to speak freely and without falsehood.

Divayth Fyr said that Dagon's chief servants, the Dremora, were like him in pride, fixed purpose, and lack of subtlety, with the addition of the peculiar traits of honor and loyalty, both within their class and within their relationship to Lord Dagon.

And Divayth Fyr said that the Dremora were ordered into clans and castes, and these clans and castes were well-defined. Individual Dremora might rise or fall in ranks, or move back and forth among clans, but only when regulated by complex oaths, and only at the will and pleasure of their Lord Dagon.

The Dremora refer to themselves as 'The Kyn' ('the People'), contrasting themselves to other Daedra, whom they consider unthinking animals. The term 'kynaz' refers to a member of the Dremora race ('he of the Kyn').

The least of kyn castes are the Churls, the undistinguished rabble of the lowest rank of Dremora. Churls are obsequeous to superiors but ferociously cruel to humans and other Daedra.

Next in rank are the Caitiffs, creatures of uncalculating zeal, energy without discrimination. Caitiffs are used as irregulars in the faction wars of the Daedra, as berserkers and shock troops, undisciplined and unreliable, but eager and willing.

The highest of the regular rank-and file of Dremora troops are the Kynvals, warrior-knights who have distinguished themselves in battle, and shown the deliberate steadiness of potential war leaders.

Above the rank and file warriors of the Churl, Caitiff, and Kynval castes are the officer castes.

A Kynreeve is a clan sheriff or clan officer. Kynreeves are typically associated either with a clan fighting unit or an administrative office in the order of battle.

The Kynmarcher is the lord and high officer of a Daedric citadel, outpost, or gate. A Kymarcher's command is usually associated both with a unit and with a 'fief' -- a location or territory for which he is responsible.

Above the Kymarcher is the Markynaz, or 'grand duke'. A Markynaz is a lord of lords, and member of the Markyn, Mehrunes Dagon's Council of Lords.

The highest rank of Dremora is the Valkynaz, or 'prince'. This warrior duke is a member of the Valkyn, Mehrunes Dagon's personal guard. The Valkynaz are rarely encountered on Tamriel; normally they remain by Mehrunes Dagon's side, or serve as commanders of operations of particular importance or interest to Dagon.

Of the varieties of other Daedra I encountered while I served in Divayth Fyr's Corprusarium -- Ogrims and Golden Saints, Daedroths and Winged Twilights, Scamps and Clannfear -- there is much that might be said, but little that is helpful or reliable.

I did note, however, that when Divayth Fyr sought a Daedra of a character like unto the Dremora, but of greater power, and greater inclination for independence and initiative, or solely as a master, he summoned Xivilai, who are like the Dremora in personality and temperment, except that they hate subordination, and are liable to disloyalty and betrayal when they feel they have not been treated with the proper deference and respect.

The feral, beastlike Daedra like the Clannfear and the Daedroth appear in the service of many different Daedric Powers, and may represent common creatures existing like wild animals in the wildernesses of Oblivion. Other savage, semi-intelligent creatures like Scamps and Spider Daedra may also be found in the realms of various Daedra Lords.

The case of the Elemental Atronachs, on the other hand, is less certain. Flame and Frost Atronachs, for example, appear to be highly intelligent, but not all varieties of Elemental Atronachs seem to be social or to have the power of speech. Divayth Fyr preferred not to summon or deal with these creatures, had little experience with them, and showed no inclination to speculate upon their nature, so I learned little about them during my time at Tel Fyr.
The Wolf Queen, Book Eight
by Waughin Jarth

From the pen of Inzolicus, Second Century Sage:

3E 127:
Following the Battle of Ichidag, the Emperor Uriel Septim III was captured and, before he was able to be brought to his uncle's castle in the Hammerfell kingdom of Gilane, he met his death at the hands of an angry mob. This uncle, Cephorus, was thereafter proclaimed emperor and rode to the Imperial City. The troops formerly loyal to Emperor Uriel and his mother, the Wolf Queen Potema, pledged themselves to the new Emperor. In return for their support, the nobility of Skyrim, High Rock, Hammerfell, the Summerset Isle, Valenwood, Black Marsh, and Morrowind demanded and received a new level of autonomy and independence from the Empire. The War of the Red Diamond was at an end.

Potema continued to fight a losing battle, her area of influence dwindling and dwindling until only her kingdom of Solitude remained in her power. She summoned daedra to fight for her, had her necromancers resurrect her fallen enemies as undead warriors, and mounted attack after attack on the forces of her brothers, the Emperor Cephorus Septim I and King Magnus of Lilmoth. Her allies began leaving her as her madness grew, and her only companions were the zombies and skeletons she had amassed over the years. The kingdom of Solitude became a land of death. Stories of the ancient Wolf Queen being waited on by rotting skeletal chambermaids and holding war plans with vampiric generals terrified her subjects.

3E 137:
Magnus opened up the small window in his room. For the first time in weeks, he heard the sounds of a city: carts squeaking, horses clopping over the cobblestones, and somewhere a child laughing. He smiled as he returned to his bedside to wash his face and finish dressing. There was a distinctive knock on the door.

"Come in, Pel," he said.

Pelagius bounded into the room. It was obvious that he had been up for hours. Magnus marveled at his energy, and wondered how much longer battles would last if they were run by twelve-year-old boys.

"Did you see outside yet?" Pelagius asked. "All the townspeople have come back! There are shops, and a Mages Guild, and down by the harbor, I saw a hundred shops come in from all over the place!"

"They don't have to be afraid anymore. We've taken care of all the zombies and ghosts that used to be their neighbors, and they know it's safe to come back."

"Is Uncle Cephorus going to turn into a zombie when he dies?" asked Pelagius.

"I wouldn't put that past him," laughed Magnus. "Why do you ask?"

"I heard some people saying that he was old and sick," said Pelagius.

"He's not that old," said Magnus. "He's sixty years old. That's just two years older than I."

"And how old is Aunt Potema?" asked Pelagius.

"Seventy," said Magnus. "And yes, that is old. Any more questions will have to wait. I have to go meet with the commander now, but we can talk at supper. You can make yourself busy, and not get into any trouble?"

"Yes, sir," said Pelagius. He understood that his father had to continue to hold siege on aunt Potema's castle. After they took it over and locked her up, they would move out of the inn and into the castle. Pelagius was not looking forward to that. The whole town had a funny, sweet, dead smell, but he could not get even as close as the castle moat without gagging from the stench. They could dump a million flowers on the place and it wouldn't make any difference at all.

He walked through the city for hours, buying some food and then some ribbons for his sister and mother back in Lilmoth. He thought about who else he needed to buy gifts for and was stumped. All his cousins, the children of Uncle Cephorus, Uncle Antiochus, and Aunt Potema, had died during the war, some of them in battle and some of them during the famines because so many crops had been burned. Aunt Bianki had died last year. There was only he, his mother, his sister, his father, and his uncle the Emperor left. And Aunt Potema. But she didn't really count.

When he came upon the Mages Guild earlier that morning, he had decided not to go in. Those places always spooked him with their strange smoke and crystals and old books. This time, it occurred to Pelagius that he might buy a gift for Uncle Cephorus. A souvenir of Solitude's Mages Guild.

An old woman was having trouble with the front door, so Pelagius opened it for her.

"Thank you," she said.

She was easily the oldest thing he had ever seen. Her face looked like an old rotted apple framed with a wild whirl of bright white hair. He instinctively moved away from her gnarled talon when she started to pat him on the head. But there was a gem around her neck that immediately fascinated him. It was a single bright yellow jewel, but it almost looked there was something trapped within. When the light hit it from the candles, it brought out the form of a four-legged beast, pacing.

"It's a soul gem," she said. "Infused with the spirit of a great demon werewolf. It was enchanted long, long ago with the power to charm people, but I've been thinking about giving it another spell. Perhaps something from the School of Alteration like Lock or Shield." She paused and looked at the boy carefully with yellowed, rheumy eyes. "You look familiar to me, boy. What's your name?"

"Pelagius," he said. He normally would have said "Prince Pelagius," but he was told not to draw attention to himself while in town.

"I used to know someone named Pelagius," the old woman said, and slowly smiled. "Are you here alone, Pelagius?"

"My father is... with the army, storming the castle. But he'll be back when the walls have been breached."

"Which I dare say won't take too much longer," sighed the old woman. "Nothing, no matter how well built, tends to last. Are you buying something in the Mages Guild?"

"I wanted to buy a gift for my uncle," said Pelagius. "But I don't know if I have enough gold."

The old woman left the boy to look over the wares while she went to the Guild enchanter. He was a young Nord, ambitious, and new to the kingdom of Solitude. It took little persuasion and a lot of gold to convince him to remove the charm spell from the soul gem and imbue it with a powerful curse, a slow poison that would drain wisdom from its wearer year by year until he or she lost all reason. She also purchased a cheap ring of fire resistance.

"For your kindness to an old woman, I've bought you these," she said, giving the boy the necklace and the ring. "You can give the ring to your uncle, and tell him it has been enchanted with a levitation spell, so if ever he needs to leap from high places, it will protect him. The soulgem is for you."

"Thank you," said the boy. "But this is too kind of you."

"Kindness has nothing to do with it," she answered, quite honestly. "You see, I was in the Hall of Records at the Imperial Palace once or twice, and I read about you in the foretellings of the Elder Scrolls. You will be Emperor one day, my boy, the Emperor Pelagius Septim III, and with this soul gem to guide you, posterity will always remember you and your deeds."

With those words, the old woman disappeared down an alley behind the Mages Guild. Pelagius looked after her, but he did not think to search behind a heap of stones. If he had, he would have found a tunnel under the city into the very heart of Castle Solitude. And if he had found his way there, he would have found, past the shambling undead and the moldering remains of a once grand palace, the bedroom of the queen.

In that bedroom, he would find the Wolf Queen of Solitude in repose, listening to the sounds of her castle collapsing. And he would see a toothless grin growing on her face as she breathed her last.

From the pen of Inzolicus, Second Century Sage:

3E 137:
Potema Septim died after a month long siege on her castle. While she lived, she had been the Wolf Queen of Solitude, Daughter of the Emperor Pelagius II, Wife of King Mantiarco, Aunt of the Empress Kintyra II, Mother of Emperor Uriel III, and Sister of the Emperors Antiochus and Cephorus. At her death, Magnus appointed his son, Pelagius, as the titular head of Solitude, under guidance from the royal council.

3E 140:
The Emperor Cephorus Septim died after falling from his horse. His brother was proclaimed the Emperor Magnus Septim.

3E 141:
Pelagius, King of Solitude, is recorded as "occasionally eccentric" in the Imperial Annals. He marries Katarish, Duchess of Vvardenfell.

3E 145:
The Emperor Magnus Septim dies. His son, who will be known as Pelagius the Mad, is coronated.
Arcana Restored
A Handbook
By Wapna Neustra
Praceptor Emeritus

FORM THE FIRST: Makest thou the Mana Fountain to be Primed with Pure Gold, for from Pure Gold only may the Humors be rectified, and the Pure Principles coaxed from the chaos of Pure Power. Droppest thou then the Pure Gold upon the surface of the Mana Fountain. Takest thou exceeding great care to safeguard yourself from the insalubrious tempests of the Mana Fountain, for through such Assaults may one's health be utterly Blighted.

FORM THE SECOND: Make sure that thou havest with you this Excellent Manual, so that thou might speak the necessary Words straightaway, and without error, so that thou not in carelessness cause thyself and much else to discorporate and disorder the World with your component humors.

FORM THE THIRD: Take in hand the item to be Restored, and hold it forth within the Primed Fountain, murmuring all the while the appropriate phrases, which are to be learned most expeditiously and faultlessly from this Manual, and this Manual alone, notwithstanding the vile calumnies of Kharneson and Rattor, whose bowels are consumed by envy of my great learning, and who do falsely give testament to the efficacies of their own Manuals, which are in every way inferior and steeped in error.

FORM THE FOURTH: Proceed instantly to Heal thyself of all injuries, or to avail yourself of the Healing powers of the Temples and Healers, for though the agonies of manacaust must be borne by any who would Restore a prized Arcana to full Potency, yet it is not wise that suffering be endured unduly, nor does the suffering in any way render the Potency more Sublime, notwithstanding the foolish speculations of Kharneson and Rattor, whose faults and wickednesses are manifest even to the least learned of critics.
The Brothers of Darkness
by Pellarne Assi

s their name suggests, the Dark Brotherhood has a history shrouded in obfuscation. Their ways are secret to those who are not themselves Brothers of the Order ("Brother" is a generic term; some of their deadliest assassins are female, but they are often called Brothers as well). How they continue to exist in shadow, but be easily found by those desperate enough to pay for their services, is not the least of the mysteries surrounding them.

The Dark Brotherhood sprang from a religious order, the Morag Tong, during the Second Era. The Morag Tong were worshippers of the Daedra spirit Mephala, who encouraged them to commit ritual murders. In their early years, they were as disorganized as only obscure cultists could be-there was no one to lead the band, and as a group they dared not murder anybody of any importance. This changed with the rise of the Night Mother.

All leaders of the Morag Tong, and then afterward the Dark Brotherhood, have been called the Night Mother. Whether the same woman (if it is even a woman) has commanded the Dark Brotherhood since the Second Era is unknown. What is believed is that the original Night Mother developed an important doctrine of the Morag Tong-the belief that, while Mephala does grow stronger with every murder committed in her name, certain murders were better than others. Murders that came from hate pleased Mephala more than murders committed because of greed. Murders of great men and women pleased Mephala more than murders of relative unknowns.

We can approximate the time this belief was adopted with the first known murder committed by the Morag Tong. In the year 324 of the Second Era, the Potentate Versidue-Shaie was murdered in his palace in what is today the Elsweyr kingdom of Senchal. In a brash move, the Night Mother announced the identity of the murderers by painting "MORAG TONG" on the walls in the Potentate's own blood.

Previous to that, the Morag Tong existed in relative peace, more or less like a witches' coven-occasionally persecuted but usually ignored. In remarkable synchronicity at a time when Tamriel the Arena was a fractured land, the Morag Tong was outlawed throughout the continent. Every sovereign gave the cult's elimination his highest priority. Nothing more was officially heard of them for a hundred years.

It is more difficult to date the Era when the Morag Tong re-emerged as the Dark Brotherhood, especially as other guilds of assassins have sporadically appeared throughout the history of Tamriel. The first mention of the Dark Brotherhood that I have found is from the journals of the Blood Queen Arlimahera of Hegathe. She spoke of slaying her enemies by her own hand, or if necessary "with the help of the Night Mother and her Dark Brotherhood, the secret arsenal my family has employed since my grandfather's time." Arlimahera wrote this in 2E412, so one can surmise that the Dark Brotherhood had been in existence since at least 360 if her grandfather had truly made use of them.

The important distinction between the Dark Brotherhood and the Morag Tong was that the Brotherhood was a business as much as it was a cult. Rulers and wealthy merchants used the order as an assassin's guild. The Brotherhood gained the obvious rewards of a profitable enterprise, as well as the secondary benefit that rulers could no longer actively persecute them: They were needed. They were purveyors of an essential commodity. Even an extremely virtuous leader would be unwise to mistreat the Brotherhood.

Not long after Alimahera's journal entry came perhaps the most famous series of executions in the history of the Dark Brotherhood. The Colovian Emperor-Potentate Savirien-Chorak and every one of his heirs were murdered on one bloody night in Sun's Dawn in 430. Within a fortnight, the Colovian Dynasty crumbled, to the delight of its enemies. For over four hundred years, until the advent of the Warrior Emperor Tiber Septim, chaos reigned over Tamriel. Though no comparably impressive executions have been recorded, the Brotherhood must have grown fat with gold during that interregnum.

The Five Tenets

Tenet 1: Never dishonor the Night Mother. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.

Tenet 2: Never betray the Dark Brotherhood or its secrets. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.

Tenet 3: Never disobey or refuse to carry out an order from a Dark Brotherhood superior. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.

Tenet 4: Never steal the possessions of a Dark Brother or Dark Sister. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.

Tenet 5: Never kill a Dark Brother or Dark Sister. To do so is to invoke the Wrath of Sithis.
BOOK:DESCBook4RareCharterFightersGuildFirstEditionHistory of the Fighters Guild, First Edition

n the 283rd year of the 2nd Era, Potentate Versidue-Shaie was faced with a disintegrating empire. The vassal kingdoms throughout Tamriel had reached a new height of rebellion, openly challenging his rule. They refused his taxes and led sorties against the Imperial garrisons throughout the land. At the destruction of his fortress in Dawnstar, he gathered the Imperial Council in what would be called the Council of Bardmont, after the town south of Dawnstar where they met. There the Potentate declared catholic and universal martial law. The princes of Tamriel would dissolve their armies or face his wrath.

The next thirty-seven years were perhaps the bloodiest in the violent history of Tamriel.

In order to crush the last of the royal armies, Versidae-Shaie had to sacrifice many of his best legions, as well as spend nearly every last piece of gold in the Imperial treasury. But he accomplished the unthinkable. For the first time in history, there was but one army in the land, and it was his own.

The problems that immediately surfaced were almost as staggering as the triumph itself. The Potentate had impoverished the land by his war, for the vanquished kingdoms had also spent the last of their gold in defense. Farmers and merchants alike had their livelihood ruined. Before the princes of Tamriel would not pay his taxes - now, they could not.

The only persons who benefited from the war were criminals, who preyed upon the ruins of the lawless land, without fear of arrest now that all the local guards and militia were gone. It was a crisis the Akavir had seen coming long before he destroyed the last of his subjects' armies, but for which he had no solution. He could not allow his vassals their own armies again, but the land was deeper into the stew of anarchy that it had ever been before. His army sought to fight the rise of crime, but a central authority was no threat against the local underworld.

In the dawn of the year 320, a kinsman of Versidae-Shaie, Dinieras-Ves "the Iron", presented himself with a host of companions before the Potentate. It was he who suggested an order of mercantile warriors-for-hire, who could be hired by nobility in lieu of a standing army. The employment would be temporary, and a percentage of the fee would go to the Potentate's government, thus putting salve on two of Versidae-Shaie's greatest pains.

Though it was then called The Syffim, after the Tsaesci word for 'soldiers,' the organization that was to be known as the Fighters Guild had been born.

Dinieras-Ves "the Iron" initially believed that the entirety of the order should be composed of Akaviri. This belief of his is not disputed by any historian, though his motivation is often debated. The traditional, simple explanation is that he knew his countrymen well, trusted them, and felt that their tradition of fighting for profit would be of use. Others believe, with reason, that he and the Potentate sought to use the order to effectively complete the conquest of Tamriel begun over five hundred years earlier. When Akavir attacked Tamriel in the 2703rd year of the 1st era, they had been beaten back by the Reman Dynasty. Now they had a Potentate on the throne, and with Dinieras-Ves's machinations, the local armies would also be Akaviri. What they had failed to do by combat, they would have successfully accomplished by patience. A traditional strategem, many scholars suggest, of the immortal snake men, the Tsaesci of Akavir, who always had time on their side.

The point, however, is largely academic. Though the Syffim did establish themselves in some kingdoms neighboring Cyrodiil, it became quickly apparent that local warriors were needed. Part of the problem was simply that there were not enough Akaviri for the work that needed to be done. Another part was that the snake men did not understand the geography and politics of the regions they were assigned.

It was evident that some non-Akaviri were needed in the Syffim, and by the mid point of the year, three Nords, a warrior-sorceress, a rogue, and a knight were admitted into the order.

The knight, whose name has been lost in the sands of time, was also a great armorer, and probably did more to strengthen the organization than anyone but Dinieras-Ves himself. As has often been stated, the Akaviri, particularly the Tsaesci, understood weaponry better than armor. Even if they could not wear it themselves, the knight was able to explain to the other Syffim what the weaknesses were in their opponent's armor, explaining to them how many joints there were in a pauldon and a grieve, and the differences between Aketons and Armkachens, Gorgets and Gliedshrims, Palettes and Pasguards, Tabards and Tassettes.

With this knowledge, they made long strides in defeating the brigands, doing far better than their meager numbers would suggest. It is a joke among historians that if Akavir had a Nord armorer in their employ in the first era, they would have won the invasion.

The success of these first three outsiders to the Syffim opened the door for more local members. Before the year was through, Dinieras-Ves had spread his business throughout the Empire. Young men and women, for a variety of reasons - because of desperate poverty, for love of action and adventure, in order to aid their crime-stricken neighbors - joined his new order en masse. They received training, and were immediately put to work helping the aristocracy's problems, assuming the roles of guards and soldiers within their locality.

The early success of the Syffim in combating crime and defeating local monsters so inspired Potentate Versidae-Shaie that he entertained representatives from other organizations interested in Imperial sanction. Though formed much earlier, the Mages Guild had always been viewed with suspicion by the government. In the 321st year of the 2nd Era, the Potentate gave his approval to the Guilds Act, officially sanctioning the Mages, together with the Guilds of Tinkers, Cobblers, Prostitutes, Scribes, Architects, Brewers, Vintners, Weavers, Ratcatchers, Furriers, Cooks, Astrologers, Healers, Tailors, Minstrals, Barristers, and the Syffim. In the charter, they were no longer called the Syffim, however: bowing to the name it had become known as by the people, they were to be called the Fighters Guild. All the Guilds, and those that followed by later sanctions throughout the second and third eras, would be protected and encouraged by the Empire of Cyrodiil, recognizing their value to the people of Tamriel. All would be required to pay to expand their influence throughout the land. The Empire was strengthened by their presence, and the Imperial coffers were filled once again.

Shortly after Versidae-Shaie's death, only three years after the Guild Act, his heir Savirien-Chovak, allowed the reforming of local armies. The Fighters Guild was no longer the principal arm of the local aristocracy, but their worth had already been established. Though there were certainly strong individuals who sought their own fortunes in the past, many historians have suggested that Dinieras-Ves was the ancestor in spirit of the modern phenomenon of the Adventurer, those men and women who dedicate their lives to questing for fame and fortune.

Thus, all owe a debt of gratitude to the Fighters Guild -- not only its members, and the people who have been helped by its neutral policy of offering strong arms for a fee within the boundaries of the law. Without them, there would be no guilds of any kind, and it may be argued, no model for even the independent Adventurer.
BOOK:DESCBook4RareCharterThievesGuildWe are the Fingers of the Fox, the Children of the Shadows. More commonly we are known as the Thieves Guild.

There are but three rules for followers of the Gray Fox:

First, never steal from another member of the guild.

Second, never kill anyone on the job. This is not the Dark Brotherhood. Animals and monsters can be slain if necessary.

Third, don't steal from the poor. The peasants and beggars are under the personal protection of the Gray Fox, particularly in the Imperial City Waterfront.

Breaking any of the three rules means expulsion from the Thieves Guild. If you commit murder, you must pay the blood price to rejoin the guild. Blood price is for each person slain. You can pay any of the guild Doyen.

The Doyen are the hands and eyes of the guildmaster. You take your orders from them. You get your favors from them. They can pay off the Imperial judges to remove your crimes -- for a small fee, of course.

Our guildmaster is the Gray Fox. We don't talk about him in public. However, we make sure that most folks think he is just a myth.

We're thieves, not masons or scribes. Each member steals at his own discretion. The guild neither helps nor hinders with a burglary. However, you will find that you can only sell stolen property to one of our guild fences. Other merchants won't take hot merchandise.

You won't be considered for promotion in the Thieves Guild unless you have sold enough stolen property to the fences. The higher in the guild you rise, the more stolen property you need to have fenced.

If you should be called to help the Gray Fox in some special way, remember that the best source of information is the beggars. Their eyes and ears seem to be everywhere. However, be prepared to spend a little coin. They won't tell you anything for free. At least not anything true.

The guild takes care of its own. The Doyen can remove the bounty from any guild member. However, it takes money to bribe the guards. The guild member must pay the Doyen half of his total fines to get rid of them.
Children of the Sky

Nords consider themselves to be the children of the sky. They call Skyrim the Throat of the World, because it is where the sky exhaled on the land and formed them. They see themselves as eternal outsiders and invaders, and even when they conquer and rule another people; they feel no kinship with them.

The breath and the voice are the vital essence of a Nord. When they defeat great enemies they take their tongues as trophies. These are woven into ropes and can hold speech like an enchantment. The power of a Nord can be articulated into a shout, like the kiai of an Akaviri swordsman. The strongest of their warriors are called "Tongues." When the Nords attack a city, they take no siege engines or cavalry; the Tongues form in a wedge in front of the gatehouse, and draw in breath. When the leader lets it out in a kiai, the doors are blown in, and the axemen rush into the city. Shouts can be used to sharpen blades or to strike enemies. A common effect is the shout that knocks an enemy back, or the power of command. A strong Nord can instill bravery in men with his battle-cry, or stop a charging warrior with a roar. The greatest of the Nords can call to specific people over hundreds of miles, and can move by casting a shout, appearing where it lands.

The most powerful Nords cannot speak without causing destruction. They must go gagged, and communicate through a sign language and through scribing runes.

The further north you go into Skyrim, the more powerful and elemental the people become, and the less they require dwellings and shelters. Wind is fundamental to Skyrim and the Nords; those that live in the far wastes always carry a wind with them.

BOOK:DESCBook4RareCleansingoftheFaneThe Chronicles of the Holy Brothers of Marukh, Volume IV

Or, The Cleansing of the Fane

[Editor's Note: This is the only surviving fragment of the chronicle of this First Era sect of the Alessian Order. It seems to have been kept at their great monastic complex at Lake Canulus, which was razed during the War of Righteousness (1E 2321) and its archives destroyed or dispersed.

Note also that Alessian scribes of this time customarily dated events from the Apotheosis of Alessia (1E 266).]

ere is recorded the events of the Year 127 of the Blessed Alessia.

In this year was the day darkened over all lands, and the sun was all as it were Masser but three days old, and the stars about him at midday. This was on the fifth of First Seed. All who saw it were dismayed, and said that a great event should come hereafter. So it did, for that same year issued forth a great concourse of devils from the ancient Elvish temple Malada, such had not been seen since the days of King Belharza. These devils greatly afflicted the land such that no man could plow, or reap, or seed, and the people appealed to the brothers of Marukh for succour. And then Abbot Cosmas gathered all the brothers and led them to Malada, also known as the High Fane in the Elvish tongue, and came against it with holy fire, and the foul demons were destroyed, and many devilish relics and books found therein were burned. And the land had peace for many years.
The Five Songs of
King Wulfharth

Shor's Tongue

The first song of King Wulfharth is ancient, circa 1E500. After the defeat of the Alessian army at Glenumbria Moors, where King Hoag Merkiller was slain, Wulfharth of Atmora was elected by the Pact of Chieftains. His thu'um was so powerful that he could not verbally swear into the office, and scribes were used to draw up his oaths. Immediately thereafter the scribes wrote down the first new law of his reign: a fiery reinstatement of the traditional Nordic pantheon. The Edicts were outlawed, their priests put to the stake, and their halls set ablaze. The shadow of King Borgas had ended for a span. For his zealotry, King Wulfharth was called Shor's Tongue, and Ysmir, Dragon of the North.

Kyne's Son

The second song of King Wulfharth glorifies his deeds in the eyes of the Old Gods. He fights the eastern Orcs and shouts their chief into Hell. He rebuilds the 418th step of High Hrothgar, which had been damaged by a dragon. When he swallowed a thundercloud to keep his army from catching cold, the Nords called him the Breath of Kyne.

Old Knocker

The third song of King Wulfharth tells of his death. Orkey, an enemy god, had always tried to ruin the Nords, even in Atmora where he stole their years away. Seeing the strength of King Wulfharth, Orkey summoned the ghost of Alduin Time-Eater again. Nearly every Nord was eaten down to six years old. Boy Wulfharth pleaded to Shor, the dead Chieftain of the Gods, to help his people. Shor's own ghost then fought the Time-Eater on the spirit plane, as he did at the beginning of time, and he won, and Orkey's folk, the Orcs, were ruined. As Boy Wulfharth watched the battle in the sky he learned a new thu'um, What Happens When You Shake the Dragon Just So. He used this new magic to change his people back to normal. In his haste to save so many, though, he shook too many years out on himself. He grew older than the Greybeards, and died. The flames of his pyre were said to have reached the hearth of Kyne itself.

The Ash King

The fourth song of King Wulfharth tells of his rebirth. The Dwarves and Devils of the eastern kingdoms had started to fight again, and the Nords hoped they might reclaim their ancient holdings there because of it. They planned an attack, but then gave up, knowing that they had no strong King to lead them. Then in walked the Devil of Dagoth, who swore he came in peace. Moreover, he told the Nords a wondrous thing: he knew where the Heart of Shor was! Long ago the Chief of the Gods had been killed by Elven giants, and they ripped out Shor's Heart and used it as a standard to strike fear into the Nords. This worked until Ysgramor Shouted Some Sense and the Nords fought back again. Knowing that they were going to lose eventually, the Elven giants hid the Heart of Shor so that the Nords might never have their God back. But here was the Devil of Dagoth with good news! The Dwarves and Devils of the eastern kingdom had his Heart, and this was the reason for their recent unrest. The Nords asked the Devil of Dagoth why he might betray his countrymer so, and he said that the Devils have betrayed each other since the beginning of time, and this was so, and so the Nords believed him. The Tongues sung Shor's ghost into the world again. Shor gathered an army as he did of old, and then he sucked in the long-strewn ashes of King Wulfharth and remade him, for he needed a good general. But the Devil of Dagoth petitioned to be that general, too, and he pointed out his role as the blessed harbinger of this holy war. So Shor had two generals, the Ash King and the Devil of Dagoth, and he marched on the eastern kingdoms with all the sons of Skyrim.

Red Mountain

The fifth song of King Wulfharth is sad. The survivors of the disaster came back under a red sky. That year is called Sun's Death. The Devil of Dagoth had tricked the Nords, for the Heart of Shor was not in the eastern kingdoms, and had never been there at all. As soon as Shor's army had got to Red Mountain, all the Devils and Dwarves fell upon them. Their sorcerers lifted the mountain and threw it onto Shor, trapping him underneath Red Mountain until the end of time. They slaughtered the sons of Skyrim, but not before King Wulfharth killed King Dumalacath the Dwarf-Orc, and doomed his people. Then Vehk the Devil blasted the Ash King into Hell and it was over. Later, Kyne lifted the ashes of the ashes of Ysmir into the sky, saving him from Hell and showing her sons the color of blood when it is brought by betrayal. And the Nords will never trust another Devil again.

The Secret Song of
Wulfharth Ash-King

The Truth at Red Mountain

The Heart of Shor was in Resdayn, as Dagoth-Ur had promised. As Shor's army approached the westernmost bank of the Inner Sea, they stared across at Red Mountain, where the Dwemeri armies had gathered. News from the scouts reported that the Chimeri forces had just left Narsis, and that they were taking their time joining their cousins against the Nords. Dagoth-Ur said that the Tribunal had betrayed their King's trust, that they sent Dagoth-Ur to Lorkhan (for that is what they called Shor in Resdayn) so that the god might wreak vengeance on the Dwarves for their hubris; that Nerevar's peace with the Dwemer would be the ruin of the Velothi way. This was the reason for the slow muster, Dagoth-Ur said.

The Armies Grow

And Lorkhan (for that is what they called Shor in Resdayn) said: �I do not wreak vengeance on the Dwarves for the reasons that the Tribunal might believe I do. Nevertheless, it is true that they will die by my hand, and any whoever should side with them. This Nerevar is the son of Boethiah, one of the strongest Padomaics. He is a hero to his people despite his Tribunal, and he shall muster enough that this battle will be harder going still. We will need more than what we have.� And so Dagoth-Ur, who wanted the Dwarves as dead as the Tribunal did, went to Kogoran and summoned his House chap'thil, his nix-hounds, his wizards, archers, his stolen men of brass. And the Ash King, Wulfharth, hoary Ysmir, went and made peace with the Orcs in spite of his Nordic blood, and they brought many warriors but no wizards at all. Many Nords could not bring themselves to ally with their traditional enemies, even in the face of Red Mountain. They were close to desertion. Then Wulfharth said: �Don't you see where you really are? Don't you know who Shor really is? Don't you know what this war is?� And they looked from the King to the God to the Devils and Orcs, and some knew, really knew, and they are the ones that stayed.

The Doom Drum

Nerevar carried Keening, a dagger made of the sound of the shadow of the moons. His champions were Dumac Dwarfking, who carried a hammer of divine mass, and Alandro Sul, who was the immortal son of Azura and wore the Wraith Mail. They met Lorkhan at the last battle of Red Mountain. Lorkhan had his Heart again, but he had long been from it, and he needed time. Wulfharth met Sul but could not strike him, and he fell from grievous wounds, but not before shouting Sul blind. Dagoth-Ur met Dumac and slew him, but not before Sunder struck his lord's Heart. Nerevar turned away from Lorkhan and struck down Dagoth-Ur in rage, but he took a mortal wound from Lorkhan in turn. But Nerevar feigned the death that was coming early and so struck Lorkhan with surprise on his side. The Heart had been made solid by Sunder's tuning blow and Keening could now cut it out. And it was cut out and Lorkhan was defeated and the whole ordeal was thought over.

On Artaeum
By Taurce il-Anselma

he Isle of Artaeum (ar-TAY-um) is the third largest island in the Summurset archipelago, located south of the Moridunon village of Potansa and west of the mainland village of Runcibae. It is best known for being home to the Psijic Order, perhaps the oldest monastic group in Tamriel.

The earliest written record of Psijics is from the 20th year of the First Era and tells the tale of the renowned Breton sage and author Voernet, traveling to the Isle of Artaeum to meet with Iachesis, the Ritemaster of the Psijics.

Even then, the Psijics were the counsellors of kings and proponents of the "Elder Way," taught to them by the original race that inhabited Tamriel. The Elder Way is a philosophy of meditation and study said to bind the forces of nature to the individual will. It differs from magicka in origin, but the effects are much the same.

That said, it is perhaps more than coincidence that the Isle of Artaeum literally vanished from the shores of Summurset at the beginning of the Second Era at about the time of the founding of the Mages Guild in Tamriel. Various historians and scholars have published theories about this, but perhaps none but Iachesis and his own could shed light on the matter.

Five hundred years passed and Artaeum returned. The Psijics on the Isle consisted of persons, mostly Elves, who had disappeared and were presumed dead in the Second Era. They could not or would not offer any explanation for Artaeum's whereabouts during that time, or the fate of Iachesis and the original council of Artaeum.

Currently, the Psijics are led by the Loremaster Celarus, who has presided over the Council of Artaeum for the last two hundred and fifty years. The Council's influence in Tamrielan politics is tidal. The kings of Sumurset, particularly those of Moridunon, have often sought the Psijics' opinion. Emperor Uriel V was much influenced by the Council in the early, most glorious parts of his reign, before his disastrous attack on Akavir. It has even been suggested that the fleet of King Orghum of Pyandonea was destroyed by a joint effort of Emperor Antiochus and the Psijic Order. The last four emperors, Uriel VI, Morihatha, Pelagius IV, and Uriel VII, have been suspicious of the Psijics enough to refuse ambassadors from the Isle of Artaeum within the Imperial City.

The Isle of Artaeum is difficult to chart geographically. It is said that it shifts continuously either at random or by decree of the Council. Visitors to the island are so rare as to be almost unheard of. Anyone desirous of a meeting with a Psijic may find contacts in Potansa and Runcibae as well as many of the kingdoms of Summurset.

Were it more accessible, Artaeum would be a favored destination for travelers. I have been to the Isle once and still dream of its idyllic orchards and clear pastures, its still and silent lagoons, its misty woodlands, and the unique Psijic architecture that seems to be as natural as its surroundings as well as wondrous in its own right. The Ceporah Tower in particular I would study, for it is a relic from a civilization that predates the High Elves by several hundred years and is still used in certain rites by the Psijics. Perhaps one day I might return.

[Note: The author is currently on the Isle of Artaeum by gracious consent of Master Sargenius of the Council of Artaeum.]


Glories and Laments
Among the Ayleid Ruins
By Alexandre Hetrard

aving arrived at Gottlesfont Priory, halfway on the Gold Road between Skingrad and the Imperial City, I resolved to make a side trip to view the magnificent ruins of Ceyatatar, or "Shadow of the Fatherwoods' in the ancient Ayleid tongue. After many hours of difficult travel through tangled hawthorn hells and limberlosts, I was suddenly struck dumb by the aspect of five pure white columns rising from a jade-green mound of vines to perfect V-shaped arches and graceful capitals towering above the verdant forest growth. This spectacle caused me to meditate on the lost glories of the past, and the melancholy fate of high civilizations now poking like splinter shards of bone from the green-grown tumulus of time-swept obscurity.

Within the forest tangle I discovered an entrance leading down into the central dome of a great underground edifice once dedicated to Magnus, the God of Sight, Light, and Insight. Dimly lit by the faded power of its magical pools, the shattered white walls of the enclosure shimmered with a cold blue light.

The marble benches of the central plaza faced out across the surrounding waters to tall columns and sharp arches supporting the high dome. From the central island, stately bridges spanned the still pools to narrow walkways behind the columns, with broad vaulted avenues and limpid canals leading away through ever-deeping gloom into darkness. Reflected in the pools were the tumbled columns, collapsed walls, and riotous root and vine growth thriving the dark half-light of the magical fountains.

The ancient Ayleids recognized not the four elements of modern natural philosophy -- earth, water, air, and fire -- but the four elements of High Elf religion -- earth, water, air, and light. The Ayleids considered fire to be but a weak and corrupt form of light, which Ayleid philosophers identified with primary magical principles. Thus their ancient subterranean temples and sanctuaries were lit by lamps, globes, pools, and fountains of purest magic.

It was by these ancient, faded, but still active magics that I knelt and contemplated the departed glories of the long-dead Ayelid architects. Gazing through the glass-smooth reflections of the surrounding pools, I could see, deep below, the slow pulse, the waxing and waning of the Welkynd stones.

The chiefest perils of these ruins to the explorer are the cunning and deadly mechanisms devised by the Ayleids to torment and confound those would invade their underground sanctuaries. What irony that after these many years, these devices should still stand vigilant against those who would admire the works of the Ayleids. For it is clear... these devices were crafted in vain. They did not secure the Ayleids against their true enemies, which were not the slaves who revolted and overthrew their cruel masters, nor the were they the savage beast peoples who learned the crafts owar and magic from their Ayleid masters. No, it was the arrogant pride of their achievements, their smug self-assurance that their empire would last forever, that doomed them to fail and fade into obscurity.
Hanging Gardens
of Wasten Coridale

[This book was apparently written in Dwemer and translated to Aldmeris. Only fragments of the Aldmeris is readable, but it may be enough for a scholar of Aldmeris to translate fragments of other Dwemer books.] Altmer-Estrial led with foot-flames for the town-center where lay dead the quadrangular gardens...

...asked the foundations and chains and vessels their naming places...

...why they did not use solid sound to teach escape from the Earth Bones nor nourished them with frozen flames...

....the word I shall have once written of, this "art" our lesser cousins speak of when their admirable ignorance...

...but neither words nor experience cleanses the essence of the strange and terrible ways of defying our ancestors' transient rules.

[The translation ends with a comment in Dwemer in a different hand, which you may be translated as follows:]

"Put down your ardent cutting-globes, Nbthld. Your Aldmeris has the correct words, but they cannot be properly misinterpreted."

The Last King of the Ayleids
by Herminia Cinna

he Ayleids, or Heartland High Elves, ruled Cyrodiil in the long ages of Myth before the beginning of recorded history. One of the earliest recorded dates, in fact, is the Fall of White Gold Tower in 1E 243, which is commonly assumed to mark the end of the Ayleids.

Although Ayleid rule over all of Cyrodiil was indeed broken in 1E 243, this was only one of the most obvious stages near the end of a long decline. The first two centuries of the First Era saw increasing strife between the great Ayleid lords of Cyrodiil. Alessia appears to have taken advantage of a period of civil war to launch her uprising. Imperial historians have traditionally attributed her victory to intervention from Skyrim, but it appears that she had at least as much help from rebel Ayleid lords during the siege of White Gold Tower.

The popular image of the Ayleids as brutal slavemasters is based in fact, of course, but it is less well-known that a number of Ayleid princes continued to rule parts of Cyrodiil after 263, as vassals of the new Empress of Cyrodiil. This suggests either that Ayleid rule was not universally detested, or that Alessia and her successors were more pragmatic than is traditionally believed, or perhaps some of both.

In any event, excavations at a number of Ayleid sites show continued occupation and even expansion during the so-called Late Ayleid Period (1E 243 - c. 498). At first, many Ayleid lords continued to rule as vassals of the new human regime. In some cases, Ayleid supporters of Alessia were even rewarded with new lands taken from slain enemies. It is not clear to what extent human slavery continued under the Cyrodilic Empire. Humans continued to dwell in the Ayleid-ruled areas of Cyrodiil, but there is nothing definitive to show under what terms.

This was an uneasy relationship from the beginning, and was not destined to last long. Resentment at the continued presence of Ayleid nobles within the Empire was a contributing factor to the rise of the so-called Alessian Order founded by Maruhk. The first victims of the Alessians were the Ayleids of Cyrodiil. In the early 300s, the surviving Ayleid communities in human-ruled areas were obliterated one by one, the refugees temporarily swelling the power of the remaining Ayleid lordships.

Then in 361, the Alessians gained control of the Empire and enforced the Alessian Doctrines throughout its domain. The Ayleid lordships were abolished. Enforcement of this decree does not appear to have required much direct violence -- it seems that by this point the balance of power was so overwhelmingly against them, and their fate so long foreshadowed, that most of the remaining Ayleids simply left Cyrodiil, eventually being absorbed into the Elven populations of Valenwood and High Rock. Indeed, the rise of the Direnni Hegemony may be linked to this exodus of Ayleids from Cyrodiil (a connection so far little studied by historians).

Still, a remnant Ayleid population seems to have survived the rule of the Alessians, because we hear of "the last king of the Ayleids" joining the battle of Glenumbria Moors where the Dirennis decisively defeated the Alessians in 482. How this king's people survived the preceding century is unknown. We do not even know who they were, although recent research points to Nenalata as the possible resting place of this "last king." Unfortunately, in the current state of the Empire, funds are no longer available for proper scientific investigation of such extensive ruins, so the answer to these questions will have to be left to future generations.
"Not till the very evening they came," answered he, and then told of his dealings with Mehrunes Dagon's thralls, saying that Mackkan would find it easier to whistle on the wind's tracks and go on a fool's errand than to fight his toads. Then said Mackkan:

"Now see to thy safety henceforward,
And stick to thy parts and thy pride;
Or this mallet of mine, Malacath's Scourge,
Will meet with thine ear of a surety.
For quick as I can cry "Equality,"
Though eight arms thou couldst boast of,
Such bumps thou shalt comb on thy brainpan,
Thou that breakest the howes of the dead.

EXPLICATION: The mace Scourge, Blessed of Malacath, Mackkan's legendary weapon, forged from sacred ebony in the Fountains of Fickledire, has ever been the bane of the Dark Kin, and many a black spirit has been hurled back into Oblivion with a single blow of this bold defender of the friendless. Scourge now hangs within the armory of Battlespire, ready to take up in the name of the Emperor against the Daedric Lords.

Modern Heretics: a Study of Daedra Worship in the Empire
Haderus of Gottlesfont

aedra worship is not prohibited by law in Cyrodiil. Primarily this is a result of the Imperial Charter granted the Mages Guild permitting the summoning of Daedra. Nonetheless, chapel and public opinion is so strongly against Daedra worship that those who practice Daedric rituals do so in secret.

However, opinions about Daedra worship differ widely in other provinces. Even in Cyrodiil, traditional opinions have changed greatly over the years, and some communities survive which worship Daedra. Some more traditional Daedra-worshippers are motivated by piety and personal conviction; many modern Daedra-worshippers are motivated by a lust for arcane power. In particular, questing heroes of all stripes seek after the fabled Daedric artifacts for their potent combat and magical benefits.

I personally have discovered one community worshipping the Daedra Lord Azura, Queen of Dawn and Dusk. A researcher curious about Daedra worship might research in several ways: through a study of the literature, through exploration and discovery of ancient daedric shrines, through questioning local informants, and through questioning worshippers themselves. I used all these means to discover the shrine of Azura.

First I read books. References like this one may provide a helpful general background concerning Daedric shrines. For example, my researches led me to understand that, in Cyrodiil, Daedric shrines are generally represented by statues of Daedra Lords, are generally situated in wilderness locations far from settlements, that each shrine generally has associated with it a community of worshippers, often referred to as a 'coven', that shrines have associated with them a particular time -- often a day of the week -- when a Daedra lord might be solicited, that Daedra Lord often will not deign to respond unless they regard a petitioner of sufficient prowess or strength of character, that they will only respond if given the proper offering [the secret of which offering often known only to the community of worshippers], and that, in return for the completion of some task or service, the Daedra Lords will often undertake to offer an artifact of power to a successful quester.

Then I questioned locals with an intimate knowledge of the wilderness. Two classes of informants I found especially useful -- well-traveled hunters and adventurers [who might come across shrines in their travels], and scholars of the Mages Guild. In the case of the Shrine of Azura, both sources were profitable. I discovered a Cheydinhal hunter who had chanced across a strange epic statue in his travels. The statue was of a woman with outstretched arms; in one hand she held a star; in the other hand, she held a crescent moon. He had shunned the statue out of superstitious fear, but had marked the location in memory --far north of Cheydinhal, northwest of Lake Arrius, high in the Jerall Mountains. Then, proceeding to the local Mages Guild with a description of the statue, I was able to confirm from its description the identity of the Daedra Lord worshipped.

Having discovered the location of the shrine, I visited it, and discovered there the community of worshippers. Because of the strength of opinion against Daedra worship, the worshippers were, at first, reluctant to admit their identity. But once I had won their trust, they were willing to divulge to me the secrets of the times when Azura would hear petitions [from dusk to dawn], and that the offering required by Azura was glow dust, a substance obtained from the will-o-the-wisp.

I am, of course, nothing more than a chapelman and scholar, so it did not lie within my power to find a will-o-the-wisp to obtain glow dust; nor am I certain that Azura would have found me worthy to make such an offering, even had I proffered it. But I was assured that if I had been able to make such an offering, and if it had been accepted, Azura would have given me some sort of quest, which, if completed, might have earned me the reward of Azura's Star, a Daedric artifact of legendary magical powers.

I have since heard rumors of the existence in Cyrodiil of several other Daedric shrines, of the Daedric Lords to which they are dedicated, and the Daedric artifacts that might be won by questing heroes. Hircine the Huntsman, for example, is linked in legend to the Savior's Hide, a powerful enchanted armor. The sword Volendrung is associated with Malacath, Lord of Monsters, and the eponymously named Mace of Molag Bal is also thought to be the object of Daedra worship. Other Daedra Lords, their shrines and worshippers, remain to be discovered in Cyrodiil by earnest and persistent researchers.
The Unfathomable Voyage
by Tetronius Lor

ysticism is the school of sorcery least understood by the magical community and the most difficult to explain to novice mages. The spell effects commonly ascribed to the School of Mysticism are as extravagantly disparate as Soul Trap, the creation of a cell that would hold a victim's spirit after death, to Telekinesis, the manipulation of objects at a distance. But these effects are simply that: effects. The sorcery behind them is veiled in a mystery that goes back to the oldest civilizations of Tamriel, and perhaps beyond.

The Psijics of the Isle of Artaeum have a different term for Mysticism: the Old Way. The phrase becomes bogged in semantic quagmire because the Old Way also refers to the religion and customs of the Psijics, which may or may not be part of the magic of Mysticism.

There are few mages who devote their lives to the study of Mysticism. The other schools are far more predictable and ascertainable. Mysticism seems to derive power from its conundrums and paradoxes; the act of experimentation, no matter how objectively implemented, can influence magicka by its very existence. Therefore the Mystic mage must consign himself to finding dependable patterns within a roiling imbroglio of energy. In the time it takes him to devise an enchantment with a consistent trigger and result, his peers in the other schools may have researched and documented dozens of new spells and effects. The Mystic mage must thus be a patient and relatively uncompetitive philosopher.

For centuries, mostly during the Second Era, scholarly journals published theory after theory about the aspect or aspects of magicka lumped together under Mysticism. In the Mages Guild's tradition of finding answers to all things, respected researchers suggested that Mysticism's penultimate energy source was the Aetherius Itself, or else Daedric Beings of unimaginable power -- either rationale would explain the seemingly random figurations of Mysticism. Some even ventured that Mysticism arose from the unused elements of successfully, or even unsuccessfully, cast spells. Discussion within the Order of Psijics after Artaeum's reappearance has led some scholars to postulate that Mysticism is less spiritual in nature as was originally supposed, and that either the intellect or the emotional state of the believer is sufficient to influence its energy configuration and flow.

None of these explanations is truly satisfactory taken by itself. For the beginning student of Mysticism, it is best simply to learn the patterns distinguishable in the maelstrom of centuries past. The more patterns are discovered, the clearer the remaining ones become. Until, of course, they change. For inevitably they have to. And then the journey begins anew.

Nerevar Moon-and-Star

[This is a selection from a series of monographs by various Imperial scholars on Ashlander legends.]

n ancient days, the Deep Elves and a great host of outlanders from the West came to steal the land of the Dunmer. In that time, Nerevar was the great khan and warleader of the House People, but he honored the Ancient Spirits and the Tribal law, and became as one of us.

o, when Nerevar pledged upon his great Ring of the Ancestors, One-Clan-Under-Moon-and-Star, to honor the ways of the Spirits and rights of the Land, all the Tribes joined the House People to fight a great battle at Red Mountain.

hough many Dunmer, Tribesman and Houseman, died at Red Mountain, the Dwemer were defeated and their evil magicks destroyed, and the outlanders driven from the land. But after this great victory, the power-hungry khans of the Great Houses slew Nerevar in secret, and, setting themselves up as gods, neglected Nerevar's promises to the Tribes.

ut it is said that Nerevar will come again with his ring, and cast down the false gods, and by the power of his ring will make good his promises to the Tribes, to honor the Spirits and drive the outsiders from the land.



[an obscure text in the language of the Sload, purportedly written by the Second Era Western necromancer, N'Gasta.]

N'Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis!

N'Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis! ahkstas so novajxletero (oix jhemile) so Ranetauw. Ricevas gxin pagintaj membrauw kaj aliaj individuauw, kiujn iamaniere tusxas so raneta aktivado. En gxi aperas informauw unuavice pri so lokauw so cxiumonataj kunvenauw, sed nature ankoix pri aliaj aktuasoj aktivecauw so societo. Ne malofte enahkstas krome plej diversaspekta materialo eduka oix distra.

So interreta Kvako (retletera kaj verjheauw) ahkstas unufsonke alternativaj kanasouw por distribui so enhavon so papera Kva! Kvak!. Sed alifsonke so enhavauw so diversaj verjheauw antoixvible ne povas kaj ecx ne vus cxiam ahksti centprocente so sama. En malvaste cirkusonta paperfolio ekzemple ebsos publikigi ilustrajxauwn, kiuj pro kopirajtaj kiasouw ne ahkstas uzebsoj en so interreto. Alifsonke so masoltaj kostauw reta distribuo forigas so spacajn limigauwn kaj permahksas pli ampleksan enhavon, por ne paroli pri gxishora aktualeco.

Tiuj cirkonstancauw rahkspeguligxos en so aspekto so Kvakoa, kiu ja cetere servos ankoix kiel gxeneraso retejo so ranetauw.

The Old Ways
by Celarus the Loremaster

e who know the Old Ways are well aware of the existence of a spiritual world invisible to the unenlightened. Just as one living in a kingdom but unaware of the political machinations underneath may see a new tax or battle preparation as the caprices of fortune, many observe floods, famines, and madness with helpless incomprehension. This is deplorable. As the great Cuilean Darnizhaan moaned, "The power of ignorance can shatter ebony like glass."

What, after all, is the origin of these spiritual forces that move the invisible strings of Mundus? Any neophyte of Artaeum knows that these spirits are our ancestors -- and that, while living, they too were bewildered by the spirits of their ancestors, and so on back to the original Acharyai. The Daedra and gods to whom the common people turn are no more than the spirits of superior men and women whose power and passion granted them great influence in the afterworld.

Certainly this is our truth and our religion. But how does it help us in our sacred duty of seliffrnsae, or providing "grave and faithful counsel" to lesser men?

Primarily, it is easy to grasp the necessity both of endowing good men with great power and making powerful men good. We recognize the multiple threats that a strong tyrant represents -- breeds cruelty which feeds the Daedra Boethiah and hatred which feeds the Daedra Vaernima; if he should die having performed a particularly malevolent act, he may go to rule in Oblivion; and worst of all, he inspires other villains to thirst after power and other rulers to embrace villainy. Knowing this, we have developed patience in our dealings with such despots. They should be crippled, humiliated, impoverished, imprisoned. Other counsellors may advocate assassination or warfare -- which, aside from its spiritual insignificance, is expensive and likely to inflict at least as much pain on the innocents as the brutish dictator. No, we are intelligence gatherers, dignified diplomats -- not revolutionaries.

How, then, are our counsellors "faithful"? We are faithful only to the Old Ways -- it is essential always to remember the spiritual world while keeping our eyes open in the physical one. Performing the Rites of Moawita on the 2nd of Hearth Fire and the Vigyld on the 1st of Second Seed are essential means of empowering salutary spirits and debilitating unclean ones. How, then, are we at once faithful to those we counsel and to the Isle of Artaeum? Perhaps the sage Taheritae said it best: "In Mundus, conflict and disparity are what bring change, and change is the most sacred of the Eleven Forces. Change is the force without focus or origin. It is the duty of the disciplined Psijic ["Enlightened One"] to dilute change where it brings greed, gluttony, sloth, ignorance, prejudice, cruelty... [here Taheritae lists the rest of the 111 Prodigalities], and to encourage change where it brings excellence, beauty, happiness, and enlightenment. As such, the faithful counsel has but one master: His mind. If the man the Psijic counsels acts wickedly and brings oegnithr ["bad change"] and will otherwise not be counselled, it is the Psijic's duty to counterbalance the oegnithr by any means necessary [emphasis mine]."

A student of the Old Ways may indeed ally himself to a lord -- but it is a risky relationship. It cannot be stressed enough that the choice be wisely made. Should the lord refuse wise counsel and order the Psijic (to use Taheritae's outmoded word) to perform an act contrary to the teachings of the Old Ways, there are few available options. The Psijic may obey, albeit unwillingly, and fall prey to the dark forces against which he has devoted his life. The Psijic may abandon his lord, which will bring shame on him and the Isle of Artaeum, and so may never be allowed home again. Or the Psijic may simply kill himself.

Origin of the Mages Guild
by The Archmage Salarth

he idea of a collection of Mages, Sorcerers, and assorted Mystics pooling their resources and talents for the purpose of research and public charity was a revolutionary concept in the early years of the Second Era. The only organization then closest in aim and structure to what we know today as the Mages Guild was the Psijic Order of the Isle of Artaeum. At the time, magic was something to be learned by individuals, or at most within intimate covens. Mages were, if not actually hermits, usually quite solitary.

The Psijic Order served the rulers of Summurset Isle as counsellors, and chose its members through a complex, ritualized method not understood by outsiders. Its purposes and goals likewise went unpublished, and detractors attributed the worst evils as the source of the Order's power. Actually, the religion of the old Order could be described as ancestor worship, an increasingly unfashionable philosophy in the Second Era.

When Vanus Galerion, a Psijic of Artaeum and student of the famed Iachesis, began collecting magic-users from around Summurset Isle, he attracted the animosity of all. He was operating out of the urban center of Firsthold, and there was a common (and not entirely unfounded) attitude that magical experiments should be conducted only in unpopulated areas. Even more shocking, Galerion proposed to make magical items, potions, and even spells available to any member of the general public who could afford to pay. No longer was magic to be limited either to the aristocracy or intelligentsia.

Galerion was brought before Iachesis and the King of Firsthold, Rilis XII, and made to state the intentions of the fraternity he was forming. The fact that Galerion's speech to Rilis and Iachesis was not recorded for posterity is doubtless a tragedy, though it does afford opportunity for historians to amuse one another with speculation about the lies and persuasions Galerion might have used to found the ubiquitous organization. The charter, at any rate, was approved.

Almost immediately after the Guild was formed, the question of security had to be addressed. The Isle of Artaeum did not require force of arms to shield it from invaders -- when the Psijic Order does not wish someone to land on the Isle, it and all its inhabitants simply become insubstantial. The new Mages Guild, by contrast, had to hire guards. Galerion soon discovered what the Tamrielan nobility has known for thousands of years: Money alone does not buy loyalty. The knightly Order of the Lamp was formed the following year.

Like a tree from an acorn, the Mages Guild grew branches all over Summurset Isle and gradually the mainland of Tamriel. There are numerous records of superstitious or sensibly fearful rulers forbidding the Guild in their domains, but their heirs or heirs' heirs eventually recognized the wisdom of allowing the Guild free rein. The Mages Guild has become a powerful force in Tamriel, a dangerous foe if a somewhat disinterested ally. There have been only a few rare incidents of the Mages Guild actually becoming involved in local political struggles. On these occasions, the Guild's participation has been the ultimate decider in the conflict.

As begun by Vanus Galerion, the Mages Guild as an institution is presided over by a supreme council of six Archmagisters. Each Guildhall is run by a Guildmagister, assisted by a twofold counsel, the Master of Incunabula and the Master at Arms. The Master of Incunabula presides over an additional counsel of two mages, the Master of Academia and the Master of the Scrye. The Master at Arms also has a counsel of two, the Master of Initiates and the Palatinus, the leader of the local chapter of the Order of the Lamp.

One need not be a member of the Mages Guild to know that this carefully contrived hierarchy is often nothing more than a chimera. As Vanus Galerion himself said bitterly, leaving Tamriel to travel to other lands, "The Guild has become nothing more than an intricate morass of political infighting."

The Pig Children
by Tyston Bane

o one -- not the oldest Dark Elf of Mount Dagoth-Ur or the Ancient Sage of Solitude himself -- can recall a time when the Orc did not ravage our fair Tamriel. Whatever foul and pestilent Daedra of Oblivion conjured them up could scarcely have created a more constant threat to the well-being of the civilized races of Tamriel than the obnoxious Orc.

Orcs are thankfully easy to recognize from other humanoids by their size -- commonly forty pertans in height and fifteen thousand angaids in weight -- their brutal pig-like features, and their stench. They are consistently belligerent, morally grotesque, intellectually moronic, and unclean. By all rights, the civilized races of Tamriel should have been able to purge the land of their blight eras ago, but their ferocity, animal cunning, and curious tribal loyalty have made them inevitable as leeches in a stagnant pool.

Tales of Orcish barbarity precede written record. When Jastyaga wrote of the Order of Diagna's joining the armies of Daggerfall and Sentinel "to hold at bay the wicked Orcs in their foul Orsinium fastness... and burn aught in cleansing flame" in 1E950, she assumed that any reader would be aware of the savagery of the Orcs. When the siege was completed thirty years later, after the death of many heroes including Gaiden Shinji, and the destruction of Orsinium scattered the Orcish survivors throughout the Wrothgarian Mountains, she further wrote, "The free peoples rejoiced for that their ancient fell enemy was dispersed into diverse parts." Obviously, the Orcs had been terrorizing the region of the Iliac Bay at least since the early years of the First Era.

[The writing in the book appears to be a hasty transcription, perhaps from dictation, or copied from a longer work.]

The Posting of the Hunt

Let no man say before a witness that the Hunt has not been called, nor the Rites declared, or the Ancient Offices observed.

The Ritual of the Innocent Quarry, also called the Wild Hunt, is an ancient rite drawing magical energy from the powerful magicka stream that engulfs this realm. The creators and times of the rituals are long forgotten. But followed properly, the rite brings great power and prestige to the Huntsman.

The ritual pits the all-powerful Huntsmen and their Greater and Lesser Dogs against the pitiful and doomed Innocent Quarry, called by tradition the Hare, after the mortal creature of human hunts. At once, the Huntsman is transported by the exquisite thrill and glory of his might and dominion over his helpless prey, and at the same time touched by the tragic, noble, and ultimately futile plight of the Innocent Quarry. In the highest aesthetic realization of the ritual, the ecstatic rapture of the kill is balanced by the Huntsman's identification with the sadness and despair of the Innocent Quarry. As in pieces the body of the innocent Hare is torn, the Huntsman reflects on the tragic imbalances of power and the cruel injustices of the world.

As the Hunt begins, the Lesser Dogs assemble before the green crystal reflections of the Chapel of the Innocent Quarry. Inside the Chapel, the Huntsmen, the Greater Dogs, and the Master of the Hunt perform the rites that initiate and sanctify the Huntsmen, the Hunt, and the Innocent Quarry. Then the Huntsman emerges from the Chapel, displays the Spear of Bitter Mercy, and recites the Offices of the Hunt. The Offices describe explains the laws and conditions of the four stages of the Hunt: the Drag, the Chase, the Call, and the View to the Kill.

Stage One -- The Drag, in which the Lesser Dogs drag the ground to flush out the Hare.

Stage Two -- The Chase, in which the Greater Hounds drive the Hare before them.

Stage Three -- The Call, in which the Greater Hounds trap the Hare and summon the Huntsmen for the kill.

Stage Four -- The View, in which the Huntsman makes the kill with the ritual Spear of Bitter Mercy, and calls upon the Master of the Hunt to view the kill by ringing the town bell. The Master of the Hunt then bestows the Bounty upon the Huntsman Bold who has wielded the Spear of Bitter Mercy in the kill. The Master of the Hunt also calls upon the Huntsman Bold to name the next Hare for the next Hunt (though the Huntsman Bold himself may not participate in the next Hunt).

The Offices of the Hunt, which the Huntsmen, Master, and Hounds are solemnly sworn to honor, detail the practices and conditions of the Hunt. These practices and conditions, also known as the Law, strictly define all details of the Hunt, such as how many Hounds of each sort may participate, how the Spear of Bitter Mercy may be wielded, and so forth. In addition, the Law states that the Hare must have a genuine chance to escape the Hunt, no matter how slim. In practice, this condition has been defined as the availability of six keys, which, if gathered together in the Temple of Daedric Rites, permit the Hare to teleport away from the Hunt, and so elude the Huntsman and his Spear. It is inconceivable, of course, that the Hare might actually discover the keys and escape, but the forms must be observed, and tampering with the keys or cheating the Hare of a genuine chance of finding or using the keys is a shameful and unforgivable betrayal of the Law of the Hunt.

The Ritual of the Hunt grants the Huntsmen protection from all forms of attack, including mortal and immortal weapons, and sorceries of all schools. Huntsmen are cautioned, however, that the ritual does not protect the Huntsman from the potent energies of his own Spear, and cautions against reckless wielding of the Spear in close melee, darkness, or other dangerous circumstances, for a single touch of the Spear of Bitter Mercy means instant and certain death for innocent Hare or fellow Huntsman alike.

The right to name a Wild Hunt is a grand and grave right indeed, as all but the High Daedra Lords are vulnerable to the potent sorceries of the Spear of Bitter Mercy. The Spear itself is therefore a terrible weapon, and it is forbidden to remove it from the Grounds of the Ritual Hunt.

The Red Book of Riddles

This handye booke doth containe alle diverse manner of riddles and follyes, and, by means of carefulle studye, the prudente scholarlye gentlemane maye finde himselfe noe longer discomfited by the sharpe wite of his fellowes.

[The posing and puzzling of riddles is a convention of polite aristocratic Western society. Nobles and social aspirants collect books of riddles and study them, hoping thereby to increase the chances of their appearing sly and witty in conversation.]

The question:
It has a tail, a side and a head
I call it what I call a snake
It has no body and it is dead

The answer:
It must be a drake

The question:
Poets know the hearts of Men and Mer
But beasts can't know my heart, you see
This book was written by a bear

The answer:
It is not a book of poetry.

The question:
I gave you a sock, not unlike a box
With hammers and nails all around it
Two lids open when it knocks

The answer:
It must have been a great hit.



And in those days the empire of the Cyrodiils was dead, save in memory only, for through war and slug famine and iniquitous rulers, the west split from the east and Colovia's estrangment lasted some four hundreds of years. And the earth was sick with this sundering. Once-worthy western kings, of Anvil and Sarchal, of Falkreath and Delodiil, became through pride and habit as like thief-barons and forgot covenant. In the heartland things were no better, as arcanists and false moth-princes lay in drugged stupor or the studies of vileness and no one sat on the Throne in dusted generations. Snakes and the warnings of snakes went unheeded and the land bled with ghosts and deepset holes unto cold harbors. It is said that even the Chim-el Adabal, the amulet of the kings of glory, had been lost and its people saw no reason to find it.

And it was in this darkness that King Hrol set out from the lands beyond lost Twil with a sortie of questing knights numbered eighteen less one, all of them western sons and daughters. For Hrol had seen in his visions the snakes to come and sought to heal all the borders of his forebears. And to this host appeared at last a spirit who resembled none other than El-Estia, queen of ancienttimes, who bore in her left hand the dragonfire of the aka-tosh and in her right hand the jewels of the covenant and on her breast a wound that spilt void onto her mangled feet. And seeing El-Estia and Chim-el Adabal, Hrol and his knights wailed and set to their knees and prayed for all things to become as right. Unto them the spirit said, I am the healer of all men and the mother of dragons, but as you have run so many times from me so shall I run until you learn my pain, which renders you and all this land dead.

And the spirit fled from them, and they split among hills and forests to find her, all grieving that they had become a villainous people. Hrol and his shieldthane were the only ones to find her, and the king spoke to her, saying, I love you sweet Aless, sweet wife of Shor and of Auri-el and the Sacred Bull, and would render this land alive again, not through pain but through a return to the dragon-fires of covenant, to join east and west and throw off all ruin. And the shieldthane bore witness to the spirit opening naked to his king, carving on a nearby rock the words AND HROL DID LOVE UNTO A HILLOCK before dying in the sight of their union.

When the fifteen other knights found King Hrol, they saw him dead after his labors against a mound of mud. And they parted each in their way, and some went mad, and the two that returned to their homeland beyond Twil would say nothing of Hrol, and acted ashamed for him.

But after nine months that mound of mud became as a small mountain, and there were whispers among the shepherds and bulls. A small community of believers gathered around that growing hill during the days of its first churning, and they were the first to name it the Golden Hill, Sancre Tor. And it was the shepherdess Sed-Yenna who dared climb the hill when she heard his first cry, and at its peak she saw what it had yielded, an infant she named Reman, which is "Light of Man."

And in the child's forehead was the Chim-el Adabal, alive with the dragon-fires of yore and divine promise, and none dared obstruct Sed-Yenna when she climbed the steps of White-Gold Tower to place the babe Reman on his Throne, where he spoke as an adult, saying I AM CYRODIIL COME.


nd in the days of interregnum, the Chim-el Adabal was lost again amid the petty wars of gone-heathen kings. West and east knew no union then and all the lands outside of them saw Cyrodiil as a nest of snakemen and snakes. And for four more hundreds of years did the seat of Reman stay sundered, with only the machinations of a group of loyal knights keeping all its borders from throwing wide.

These loyal knights did go by no name then, but were known by their eastern swords and painted eyes, and it was whispered that they were descended from the bodyguard of old Reman. One of their number, called the Chevalier Renald, discovered the prowess of Cuhlecain and then supported him towards the throne. Only later would it be revealed that Renald did this thing to come closer to Talos, anon Stormcrown, the glorious yet-emperor Tiber Septim; only later still, that he was under instruction by a pig.

Long glory was wife to the all the knights of the dragon-banner, who knew no other and were brothers before beyond many seas and now were brothers under the law named the blade-surrender of Pale Pass. And having vampire blood these brother-knights lived for ages through and past Reman and then kept guard over his ward, the coiled king, Versidue-Shaie. The snake-captain Vershu became Renald became the protector of the northern west when the black dart was hooked into Savirien-Chorak.

[Here torn pages indicate that the rest of this ancient book has been lost.]



We do not die. We do not fear death.

Destroy the Body, and the Animus is cast into The Darkness. But the Animus returns.

But we are not all brave.

We feel pain, and fear it. We feel shame, and fear it. We feel loss, and fear it. We hate the Darkness, and fear it.

The Scamps have small thoughts, and cannot fear greatly.

The Vermai have no thoughts, and cannot fear.

The Dremora have deep thoughts, and must master fear to overcome it.


We are not born; we have not fathers nor mothers, yet we have kin and clans.

The clan-form is strong. It shapes body and thought.

In the clan-form is strength and purpose.


We serve by choice. We serve the strong, so that their strength might shield us.

Clans serve by long-practice, but practice may change.

Dremora have long served Dagon but not always so.

Practice is secure when oath-bonds are secure, and trust is shared.

When oath-bonds are weak, there is pain, and shame, and loss, and Darkness, and great fear.


Perhaps you find Scamps comic, and Vermai brutish.

How then do you imagine we view you humans?

You are the Prey, and we are the Huntsmen.

The Scamps are the Hounds, and the Vermai the Beaters.

Your flesh is sweet, and the chase is diverting.

As you may sometimes praise the fox or hare, admiring its cunning and speed, and lamenting as the hounds tear its flesh, so do we sometimes admire our prey, and secretly applaud when it cheats our snares or eludes pursuit.

But, like all worldly things, you will in time wear, and be used up. You age, grow ugly, weak, and foolish. You are always lost, late or soon.

Sometimes the prey turns upon us and bites. It is a small thing. When wounded or weary, we fly away to restore. Sometimes a precious thing is lost, but that risk makes the chase all the sweeter.


Man is mortal, and doomed to death and failure and loss.

This lies beyond our comprehension - why do you not despair?

The True Nature of Orcs

rcs were born during the latter days of the Dawn Era. History has mislabeled them beastfolk, related to the goblin races, but the Orcs are actually the children of Trinimac, strongest of the Altmeri ancestor spirits. When Trinimac was eaten by the Daedroth Prince Boethiah, and transformed in that foul god's insides, the Orcs were transformed as well. The ancient name for the Orcs is 'Orsimer,' which means 'The Pariah Folk.' They now follow Malauch, the remains of Trinimac.

Who is Malauch?

He is more commonly know as the Daedroth Prince Malacath, 'whose sphere is the patronage of the spurned and ostracized, the sworn oath, and the bloody curse.' He is not technically a Daedra Lord, nor do the other Daedra recognize him as such, but this is fitting for his sphere. Of old he was Trinimac, the champion of the High Elven pantheon, in some places more popular than Auri-El, who protected them against enemies without and within. When Trinimac and his followers attempted to halt the Velothi dissident movement, Boethiah ate him. Trinimac's body and spirit were corrupted, and he emerged as Malacath. His followers were likewise changed for the worse. Despised by everyone, especially the inviolate Auri-El, they quickly fled to the northern wastes, near Saarthal. They fought Nords and Chimer for a place in the world, but did not get much. In Skyrim, Malacath is called Orkey, or Old Knocker, and his battles with Ysmir are legendary.

Waters of Oblivion
hundred and twenty numbered ages in the void that fated folk had grown deep-schooled in evil. Then the Bright Gods resolved to punish those faithless spirits, and shatter the unruly caitiffs, those huge, unholy scathers, loathsome to the Light. They repented exceedingly that they had gazed upon Oblivion, and seen there the first of dark kin, and welcomed them as brothers and sisters.

he Principalities of Victory beheld how great was the wickedness of the wayward spirits, and saw that they were bold in sin and full of wiles. They resolved then to chasten the tribes of daedra, and smite darkkind with hammer and hand.

ut ever shall Darkness contest the Light, and great were the Powers that breathed the void and laid waste upon one another, and no oath might bind them, so deep were they in envy and perfidy. For once the portals are opened, who shall shut them upon the rising tide?

On Wild Elves
by Kier-jo Chorvak

In the wilds of most every province of Tamriel, descended philosophically if not directly from the original inhabitants of the land, are the Ayleids, commonly called the Wild Elves. While three races of Elven stock -- the Altmer (or High Elves), the Bosmer (or Wood Elves), and the Dunmer (or Dark Elves) -- have assimilated well into the new cultures of Tamriel, the Ayleids and their brethren have remained aloof toward our civilization, preferring to practice the old ways far from the eyes of the world.

The Wild Elves speak a variation of Old Cyrodilic, opting to shun Tamrielic and separating themselves from the mainstream of Tamriel even further than the least urbanized of their Elven cousins. In temperament they are dark-spirited and taciturn -- though this is from the point of view of outsiders (or "Pellani" in their tongue), and doubtless they act differently within their own tribes.

Indeed, one of the finest sages of the University of Gwilym was a civilized Ayleid Elf, Tjurhane Fyrre (1E2790-2E227), whose published work on Wild Elves suggests a lively, vibrant culture. Fyrre is one of the very few Ayleids to speak freely on his people and religion, and he himself said "the nature of the Ayleid tribes is multihued, their personalities often wildly different from their neighbor[ing] tribes" (Fyrre, T., Nature of Ayleidic Poesy, p. 8, University of Gwilym Press, 2E12).

Like any alien culture, Wild Elves are often feared by the simple people of Tamriel. The Ayleids continue to be one of the greatest enigmas of the continent of Tamriel. They seldom appear in the pages of written history in any role, and then only as a strange sight a chronicler stumbles upon before they vanish into the wood. When probable fiction is filtered from common legend, we are left with almost nothing. The mysterious ways of the Ayleids have remained shrouded since before the First Era, and may well remain so for thousands of years to come.


Mee wurst troll evurr

nobuddy pay brijj tole

me nott sceary enuf

mee gett drunc an kil sellf

troll droun


by Waldorf Wordswell

In what can only be described as a blatant assault on the security and liberty of the civilized people of Cyrodiil, retired Imperial Legion commander Adamus Phillida was brutally murdered by the secretive assassins guild known as the Dark Brotherhood. The slaying occurred in the sleepy town of Leyawiin, where Phillida had chosen to spend the remainder of his days. It was to be a life of quiet solitude, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the Imperial City, where Phillida had served the Imperial Legion proudly for more than twenty-five years.

But even in retirement, the noble Legion commander could not escape his past. Throughout the years, Adamus Phillida had become a rather vocal opponent of the Dark Brotherhood and its practices, and vowed to expose the organizations' secrets and bring its leaders to justice. Indeed, Phillida had been targeted for assassination twice in the past, but both attempts were thwarted by the commander and his Legion soldiers. Sadly, his luck ran out in Leyawiin.

When asked if there was any doubt as to the Dark Brotherhood's involvement in Phillida murder, newly appointed Imperial Legion commander Giovanni Civello had this to say:

"It was the Dark Brotherhood, all right. No question about it. This was a crime of vengeance, a despicable act of hatred and evil against a pinnacle of nobility and virtue. Adamus fought the Dark Brotherhood every day of his life, and he died for what he believed in. Adamus Phillida was a great man. He taught me everything I know, and I'll be damned if I let his dream die with him. From this day forward, I vow to destroy the Dark Brotherhood and everything they stand for!"

Adamus Phillida may be dead, but it would seem his fight against the Dark Brotherhood lives on in Giovanni Civello and the rest of the Imperial Legion. There may soon come a day when those bloodthirsty assassins have more to fear than the good people of the Imperial Province.



Temptresses Terrorize Anvil No More!

A ruthless crime ring of female thieves plaguing Anvil's men folk has finally been broken. These shameless women employed feminine wiles to seduce the men, lured them to remote locations, then robbed them, leaving them without a stitch of clothing.

The gang's ringleader, Faustina Cartia, had preyed upon Anvil's male population for some time, but the shamefaced victims had been reluctant to admit what was happening. Now, thanks to an extensive undercover operation by two unnamed Anvil Guard Investigators, and with the aid of an anonymous private operative, this menace to Anvil's men has been summarily dealt with, and the wives of Anvil may rest easier knowing their gullible husbands will no longer be imperiled by predatory seductresses.



Elder Council Named as Regents!

mperor Uriel Septim VII is dead, at the age of 87, having ruled Tamriel for 65 years. He was killed by assassins unknown. At the same time, in separate locations, the late emperor's three sons and heirs (Crown Prince Geldall, 56; Prince Enman, 55; Prince Ebel, 53] were slain by other assassins. An investigation into the identity and motives of the assassins is under way, but the Elder Council, Imperial Guard, and Blades Guard have forbidden the publication of reports and rumors concerning the event until further notice.

y ancient precedent, the Elder Council rules the empire until a new emperor is crowned. No direct heirs survive, and the council has proposed no list of candidates. Chancellor Ocato, Imperial Battlemage, speaking for the Elder Council, presented an appeal to the empire's citizens for calm, and asked that the people remember the Emperor, his sons, and the Elder Council in their prayers.

mperor Uriel's early reign was marked by peace and prosperity. The Empress Caula Voria bore him three healthy sons, was a loving companion to the Emperor, and a great favorite of the people. However, the emperor and the empire suffered terribly during the Imperial Simulacrum (3E 389-399], when he was held captive in Oblivion while the usurper Jagar Tharn assumed his appearance and ruled in his stead. Emperor Uriel was finally rescued and restored and the impostor defeated by the agency of the sorceress Ria Silmane and her shadowy prot�g�, but the affairs of the empire were in great disorder, and Empress Caula Voria, exhausted by her ordeal, withdrew from public life.

he decades following the Restoration were once again peaceful and prosperous, but increasing political tensions among the petty states of northwest Tamriel finally erupted in the Wars of the Iliac Bays, resulting in the establishment of the modern borders of Daggerfall, Sentinel, Wayrest, and Orsinium, and culminating with the remarkable events associated with the Warp in the West.

he latter years of the Emperor's reign have seen a flourishing of Imperial influence in the provinces, and with the fortunate resolution of the religious wars and the Vvardenfell Crisis, and with the wise and firm guidance of King Helseth and his mother, Queen Barenziah, an extension of high Imperial culture even into the more remote parts of Morrowind.

he Emperor's murder, and the murder of his three sons, is a terrible crime, and a great tragedy for the Empire. Battlemage Ocato assures us that all the resources of the Elder Council, the Legions, the Guard, the Arcane University, and the Imperial Battle College are being employed to bring the assassins to justice. But, in the meantime, the greatest tribute we citizens can offer to the memory of our beloved Emperor is to go earnestly and diligently about our daily affairs, honoring the life of the great Empire he loved so much, and served so faithfully for so long.



Nephew inherits estate

by Phineas Farnsworth
For the residents of Bruma, a city known for its snowy avenues and frigid, Skyrim-like temperatures, nothing is quite as important as the warmth and safety of one's own home. But even the most secure dwelling can harbor a deadly secret. In the case of Baenlin, an elderly Elf nobleman who had called Bruma home for nearly forty-three years, death came not from the icy cold, nor from the sting of a burglar's blade, but from a killer far more insidious -- structural instability.

According to Gromm, Baenlin's longtime live-in manservant, the day of his master's death was like any other. Baenlin lived as a recluse, and rarely left the comfort of his home. He spent his morning breakfasting, and his afternoons reading or napping, but it was in the late evening hours before bedtime, when Baenlin relaxed in his favorite chair as was his custom, when disaster struck. A stuffed Minotaur head mounted on the wall directly over the chair came crashing down, killing the unsuspecting noble instantly.

As horrible as Baenlin's death may seem, even more horrible is the revelation that this was not an isolated incident, as previously thought. In fact, through a series of interviews and an in-depth investigation, the Black Horse Courier has learned that many of Bruma's homes are actually deathtraps waiting to spring.

"Me and my boys, we done repair work on half these houses. They're a bleedin' mess! Rotted wood, rusty nails, misaligned foundations. Them Nords, they're good for drinkin' and killin', but they can't build a house worth a damn!"

So said Antoine Dubois, owner of Dubois and Sons Carpentry, a thriving house-building business headquartered in the Breton nation of High Rock. Because of his expertise, Dubois has been known to offer his services throughout the Empire, and has visited Bruma on numerous occasions. In his opinion, this predominantly Nord city features some of the most poorly-constructed dwellings in all the Empire.

"Yeah, I know what the Nords say. It's the snow! It's rots the wood, it does this, it does that. Whine, whine, whine! The mead-swillin' savages wouldn't know oakwood from oranges. Truth is, they just don't know anything about the latest architectural methods. The work is unsafe and sloppy. That head that fell on the Elf? An infant could've secured those bindings better! It's no wonder they came loose! But I've seen this type of thing all over Bruma. Did you know that until I came in to do repair work on the roof, you couldn't attend a service in the Chapel without getting snowed on? Now that's just wrong."

When asked what he thought of the issues, Baenlin's nephew, Caenlin, who inherited his uncle's estate and is now residing in the very house where he was killed, had this to say:

"It was a tragic, tragic accident. I always told my poor uncle that head would fall on him some day, but would he listen? Now, I've heard the rumors that some think there was foul play involved, but that's nonsense, of course. Everybody knows this city is falling apart. It could have happened to anyone."

And so, as the city of Bruma mourns the loss of one of its oldest and most respected residents, there are those who can't help but wonder -- am I next?


he Fighters Guild has been an institution in Tamriel for as long as most anyone can remember. These brave men and women have, for countless years, always been available to do those jobs that the average citizen is simply not qualified to handle. Whether it be ridding a homeowner of a plague of rats or rescuing a wayward scholar, the Fighters Guild has always been available for anyone with enough coin to pay their modest fees. Now, however, it seems that the Fighters Guild is not the only game in town.

A new group has recently been making a lot of waves in Cyrodiil. They call themselves the Blackwood Company, and they've let it be known that they'll handle any job that the Fighters Guild will, and many that they won't.

While the Fighters Guild has always maintained the strictest standards on both the quality of their members and the legality of the contracts they accept, the Blackwood Company makes none of the same claims. They have no screening process when accepting new members, and they seem willing to accept any contract, assuming one can afford the price tag.

Some have questioned the Blackwood Company's methods. They are rumored to be reckless and indiscriminant. Many have spoken of needless damage to person and property during the fulfillment of a contract. None of those we spoke to were willing to go on the record for this article.

What the future holds for this upstart group remains to be seen. Are they the perfect solution for a quickly changing world? Will their methods force the Fighters Guild to adopt more lenient business practices? Only time will tell. Until then, if you need a job done, and the Fighters Guild won't do it, check with your local Blackwood Company!



Sir Farwil and Companions Close Gate Threatening City!
Farwil Indarys, son and heir of His Lordship Andel Indarys, Count of Cheydinhal, has been delivered from the sulfurous torments of Oblivion by a questing hero. The count's courageous son and his boon companions, the Knights of the Thorn, had boldly entered an Oblivion Gate threatening Cheydinhal, intent on slaying its monstrous horrors and protecting the city and its citizens.

Sources report that the Knights were outnumbered a hundred to one, and only the dauntless courage and strength of arms of Farwil and one other brave soul managed to hold them at bay. Thanks to an allied adventurer who entered the gate to offer his aid, the Knights of the Thorn, led by the noble Sir Farwil, were able to assault the main citadel and shut the gate forever. Cheydinhal and its people are forever in the debt of Sir Farwil and his brave companions.


"Doomstones not Magical" Says Noted Argonian Writer
he author of 'The Goblin with the Golden Arm' and 'Red Crater' plans a new series of historical works set in the early days of the Reman emperors. The stories will center around the sorcerers and battlemages that play such a prominent part in the legends of the Reman emperors' rapid rise to power in the closing years of the Second Era. She plans to call the series "The Paths of the Doomstones."

he Argonian authoress declined to reveal any details of the characters and themes of these books. However, Quill-Weave clearly has quite ambitious plans for this series, since she plans titles to correspond with each of Cyrodiil's twenty-one Doomstones. These ancient monuments are scattered throughout Cyrodiil, and each is known in legend by its own name.

"I always carefully research my subjects," Quill-Weave says, "and I find no evidence at all to support the popular notion that these runestones were once artifacts of great magical power." She noted that thirteen of these stones are associated with the common birthsigns by which people have always marked the aspects of the heavens when children are born. "Such stones as the 'Mage Stone' and the 'Serpent Stone' were certainly associated with the primitive sky worships of the Beast Folk of the Mythic Era. Other stones, like the 'Aetherius Stone' and the 'Magnus Stone' were also doubtless associated with other long-forgotten cults."

he Courier asked Quill-Weave why she might choose to abandon the popular tales of thieves, outlaws, murderers, and low-lifes that have made her so famous in Cyrodiil and throughout the Empire. She explained that she has long sought material with more mature and epic themes to celebrate the noble virtues of Cyrodiil and the Empire. She assured the Courier that she will fill the Doomstones series with the lusty and colorful characters we've come to know and love. "But this time," Quill-Weave says, "my characters will uproot trees, devastate cities, and summon rains of boiling blood before slipping away to explore the private and intimate mysteries of the heart."


Is a so-called Thieves Guild masterminding all the thefts in the Imperial City? Captain Hieronymus Lex of the Imperial Watch seems to think so.

When asked about the Thieves Guild and its mythical leader, the Gray Fox, the captain was quite emphatic. "This one man is responsible for all crime in the city!" The energetic and tenacious Captain Lex has therefore devoted himself to apprehending this masked menace.

When questioned on the subject, Adamus Phillida, Legion Commander and Captain Lex's immediate superior, had the following response. "Ridiculous! The Gray Fox is just a fairy tale. There is no such thing as a Thieves Guild, and there never has been."

Stories of an unstoppable thief called the Gray Fox have been circulating around the Imperial City for centuries. The stories claim he can turn invisible at will, shrink himself down to the size of a mouse, turn to mist and seep under locked doors, and perform any number of other truly unbelievable feats. If even half of these stories are true, Captain Lex will have his hands full capturing the Gray Fox.


Vlanarus Kvinchal recently admitted to being the notorious thief, the Gray Fox. Under questioning by the Imperial Watch, he also confessed to being the reincarnation of Tiber Septim, the love-child of Lord Stendarr, a were-shark, and the mother of Hieronymus Lex. Only after he spent a night in the Imperial prisons was it discovered that Vlanarus had recently consumed a near-lethal dose of skooma.

Vlanarus is now back home and recuperating from the hospitality of the Imperial Watch and from the close attention he received during his interrogation. He speculates that he might be able to work again in a month or two, so long as it doesn't involve walking or lifting anything heavier than a beer mug. The sometimes- dockworker has sworn a solemn oath never to trifle with Skooma again, and earnestly warns everyone to stay away from the Orum gang.



Countess Alessia Caro is a lady of great beauty, wit, and grace. Her face is known throughout Cyrodiil. Unfortunately, thanks to one deviant prankster, the rest of her has become known to a good deal of her castle staff as well.

During what started as a formal dinner party for some close friends of the Countess, an unknown assailant cast a spell that affected all who attended. Though it did no physical damage, it certainly left a lasting impression. The Countess and all of her invited guests suddenly found themselves altogether�in the altogether.

The spell apparently stripped everyone affected of all of their possessions, including the clothes on their backs. From all reports, the frightened guests handled the situation calmly, maintaining proper decorum at all times.

"Everybody was acting like ladies and gentleman," said one palace staffer who asked not to be identified. "I don't think they was trying to sneak no glances at anyone's naughty bits."

As to the identity of the assailant, castle guards have remained silent. Some reports maintain that the culprit was apprehended at the scene; others claim that he was able to escape without detection. One witness even claims that the assailant was affected by his own spell, and fled the scene in haste when he realized he, too, had been a victim.

Whatever the case, castle security has been on high alert since the incident. It is not known as of press time whether Countess Caro has any dinner parties planned in the near future.


New Watch Captain Named

Servatius Quintilius was recently promoted to Watch Captain to replace Hieronymus Lex. Captain Lex's career was marked by frequent tirades against the mythical thief and master criminal, the so-called "Gray Fox." At the same time, Hieronymus Lex announced that he has been retained by Countess Millona Umbranox of Anvil to be her new Captain of the Guard.

Captain Quintilius is a practical man who does not believe in the Thieves Guild or its imaginary grandmaster, the Gray Fox. He has promised peace and order in the districts under his protection. Guard patrol routes will be posted so that all citizens will know where to find a Watchman when they need one.

When asked if this would also make things easier for thieves, Captain Quintilius responded, "Never. Criminals are dumb. Wouldn't be criminals otherwise, right? Stands to reason. You smart Courier boys should just leave the crime-fighting in this city to professionals like me."



"And won't be tolerated!"
warns Imperial Legion.

by Agnes "the quill is mightier than the ebony sword" Earheardt

The Imperial City -- pinnacle of art, entertainment, scholarship... and ritualistic murder? So says Adamus Phillida, commander of the Imperial Legion forces in the Imperial City, and a staunch opponent of the mysterious assassin's guild known as the Dark Brotherhood. According to Phillida, Imperial Legion soldiers have discovered thirteen separate instances of the macabre "Black Sacrament," a sinister rite purportedly used to summon a member of the Dark Brotherhood, in order to arrange an assassination.

Whether or not a card-carrying killer shows up on a ritual performer's doorstep remains to be seen, but the Black Sacrament itself is very real, and truly the stuff of nightmares. As documented in the rare and taboo work "A Kiss, Sweet Mother," the Black Sacrament involves an effigy of the intended victim -- created from actual body parts, including a heart, skull, bones and flesh -- within a circle of candles. To proceed with the ritual, one must stab the effigy repeatedly with a dagger rubbed with the petals of a Nightshade plant, while whispering the plea, "Sweet Mother, sweet Mother, send your child unto me, for the sins of the unworthy must be baptized in blood and fear." As gruesome as this ritual may be, even more frightening is its intention -- the summoning of a mysterious assassin (who some witnesseses claim is always clad in a black hooded robe) who will then receive money to kill an innocent victim. No remorse. No regret. It is, as the merchant's say, simply business. And that's what worries Adamus Phillida.

"This brazen increase in Night Mother rituals is an affront to the decent, peace-loving citizens of the Empire. The Imperial Legion exists for one reason and one reason only -- to protect and serve the people of Tamriel. How in Azura's name can we do that when people take it upon themselves to contact paid assassins and have innocent people murdered? How can I sleep at night knowing my Legion can't possibly save the life of someone marked for death by the Dark Brotherhood? Anyone who carries out this "Black Sacrament" makes a mockery of the Imperial Legion, and as Commander, that's something I just can't tolerate. From this point forward, any citizen found in the possession of items related to the Night Mother ritual will be incarcerated in the Imperial Prison indefinitely, and their property seized by the Empire. There's no fine high enough, no standard prison sentence long enough, for the type of malcontent who would show such a blatant disregard for our dear Emperor's laws and the wellfare of the fine people of Tamriel"

To be sure, Adamus Phillida is not one to issue empty threats. Indeed, the Black Horse Courier has learned that one Claudius Arcadia, until recently a resident of the Talos Plaza District of the Imperial City, is now residing in a cold, dank cell in the Imperial Prison, and his house has become the newest Imperial Legion outpost. So before you take the law into your own hands, dear reader, remember -- you'll go further in life with a warm smile than a cold blade. And if you've got a grudge that won't be soothed, a score that can't be settled, you can always move to Morrowind and have the government-sanctioned Morag Tong do the killing for you.



Disappearance Still a Mystery!

Rythe Lythandas of Cheydinhal, one of this period's most noted landscape painters, is finally back in his studio after an unexplained absence. He'd reportedly been missing for several days.

Neither the artist nor his wife would comment on the circumstances of his disappearance, though both expressed deep gratitude to the unnamed citizen responsible for his safe return. [The citizen remains anonymous at the request of the happy couple.] Speculation by sources within the Cheydinhal Guard of a kidnapping and ransom demand behind the disappearance cannot be confirmed.

A grateful Empire expresses its appreciation to Lythandas' anonymous benefactor. The Courier is pleased to report that Lythandas is back to work in his studio, and anticipates a new exhibition by our great living painter in the near future.

Palace Break-In?

The Legion Centurion in command of the Palace Guard was charged with dereliction of duty. Although the Council has officially denied the stories of a palace break-in, the rumors persist. Muddled accounts of the events and principles range from a madman intent on spit-polishing the Emperor's shoes to a master thief stealing one of the legendary Elder Scrolls.

The Palace Guard has made no arrests in connection with the break-in. However, the Watch has been making peculiar inquiries all around the city. The Guard and the Legion are in complete agreement on one matter at least... neither the fictitious Thieves Guild nor its mythical leader, the Gray Fox, could have been in any way involved. Although rumor has long insisted that the Thieves Guild has been a significant factor in Imperial City criminal activities, representatives of the Guard and Legion insist that even the mythical Gray Fox would never dare to break into the Imperial Palace.



First Era Secrets Revealed!

Fort Pale Pass, the fabled headquarters of Tamriel's First Era Akaviri invaders, has been located by an agent of the Countess of Bruma. This fortress was thought to be long lost to the ages, buried in the frozen wastes of the Jeral Mountains. Thanks to an expedition funded by Her Ladyship Narina Carvain, Countess of Bruma, the secret entrance to this great ruin was found.

Previously, scholars have offered no persuasive account for why the Akaviri juggernaut, having swept aside Tamriel's defenders, should collapse suddenly and completely crossing the Jeral Mountains. Now evidence uncovered at the site indicates a great landslide had covered the fort, trapping the hapless Akaviri commanders within, leaving the Akaviri columns leaderless and isolated in the alpine wilderness passes.


The Poor Burdened by Taxes!

Recently Captain Hieronymus Lex of the Imperial Watch collected the taxes from all citizens in the Waterfront district of the city. Although the laws are clear that all citizens of the Imperial City must pay taxes, it has been 53 years since anyone applied that law to the poor and destitute of the Waterfront.

Although members of the Watch approached by the Courier declined to comment on the success of the venture, one of the Watchmen who asked not to be named suggested the operation was "a complete... wossitsname? You know. Starts with an 'f'. Right. Complete fee-ass-ko, is what it was."

In a related story, miscreants have recently broken into the South Watchtower. An anonymous source reports that a small sum of money was stolen from the office of Hieronymus Lex. By remarkable coincidence, the sum corresponds exactly to the taxes collected by Captain Lex from the Waterfront.

The ever-vigilant Captain Lex has renewed his call to capture the infamous thief, the Gray Fox. He is petitioning for a bounty to be put on the legendary master thief's head.


Experts Bewildered!

The quiet life of the idyllic Border Watch community was shattered recently by a meteorological phenomenon local experts are unable to explain. On an otherwise normal day, the skies above the small village suddenly darkened, and burning dogs rained down from the heavens.

The carnage was terrible, according to witnesses. Charred dog carcasses littered the village, and the smell alone was enough to drive many residents into their homes. When asked about the event, local mage and weather expert Castus Philidus had this to say:

"There seems to be no precedent for this in all of Tamrielic history. While there have been stories of insects, frogs, and the occasional wayward mage crashing to the earth, I've never encountered tales of burning dogs raining from the skies. It is possible that the dogs were the part of some mage's experiments with summoning gone bad, or perhaps the dogs were swept up in a great wind and hurled into the sky. This might explain the dogs falling onto the unfortunate Border Watch community. Of course, that still doesn't explain why they were on fire."

While the experts seem puzzled, the residents of Border Watch see only one explanation.

"It is the end of the world!" said one resident, who asked not to be named in this article. "The K'Sharra Prophecy tells us that this will happen! The rats! The sheep! We are all doomed! Doomed!"

Prophecy? Mages? Freak weather occurrence? We may never know. And the small village of Border Watch will definitely never be the same.


Vampire Nest in the City!

A nest of vampires was recently discovered in the home of the Earl of Imbel. The Courier is shocked to learn that Earl Jakben, a local noble of previously unblemished reputation, is revealed to have one of these vampires!

Responding to a tip by the Earl's servant, the Imperial Watch raided the Imbel estate and slew all of the foul creatures. Captain Quintilius has categorically denied the rumors that most of the terrible creatures of the night were already dead by the time the Watch arrived.

Daring Waterfront Raid Fails!
Stymied in his attempts to capture the legendary thief, the Gray Fox, Captain Hieronymus Lex of the Imperial Watch raided the Waterfront. Extra Watchmen were pulled from duty in other parts of the city to search the slums of the Waterfront. A small amount of contraband was confiscated, but the Gray Fox escaped.

The Arcane University has filed a formal complaint against Captain Hieronymus Lex for dereliction of duty. The guards normally posted at the Arcane University were sent to the Waterfront during the raid. An attempted break-in at the University was foiled. University spokesmen insist that nothing was taken. They scoffed at the idea that any mere thief could make off with one of their treasures.


Im tellin ya sir! We gots ta be moor carefull! if the Layawind city watch comes snoopin around agin, we may havta pull anchor and git out of this good fer nuthin city! I aint spendin the rest a my days locked up in no jail for illegaly transportin cattle! No sir, i will not! all due rspect capn, but the mates an me sined on fer real pirate stuff -- murderin lootin and ravagin! we aint no damn shepeards!

first mate filch (pirate!)
BOOK:DESCClutterAnvilShop01The Flowing Bowl is a great place to eat. For this week only, we are putting twice as many leeks into our soup as normal. Why not stop in for a bowl? Bring a friend!
BOOK:DESCClutterAnvilShop02The beds at the Count's Arms are the softest in Anvil. We wash them after every third customer, no matter how soiled. Our pillows are twice as soft as those at the Flowing Bowl.
BOOK:DESCClutterAnvilShop03Lelle's Quality Merchandise has the best prices and the largest inventory in Anvil. Don't bother with those other shops. We'll beat their prices everytime.
BOOK:DESCClutterAnvilShop04Having trouble keeping the peace at home? Come to Morvayn's Peacemakers. One look at our maces and your neighbors will ask before taking your goat.
BOOK:DESCClutterAnvilShop05A night at the Fo'c'c'le is a night you'll never forget. Our tea and crumpets taste better and last longer than any in Anvil. And there is always a wench to keep you company.
BOOK:DESCClutterAnvilShop06The Fo'c's'le features warm beds and great company. Our tea and crumpets taste better and last longer than any in Anvil. The serving wenches are always available for conversation.
BOOK:DESCClutterBravilShop01Bay Roan Stables has what you need. Horses, horse, horses. Don't be content to walk. Ride with style on a Bay horse from Bay Roan Stables.
BOOK:DESCClutterBravilShop02The Lonely Suitor Lodge is ideal for all Bachelors and Bachelorettes. Our rooms are private and soundproof. Our staff asks no questions and tells no tales. Reasonable rates for food and lodging.
BOOK:DESCClutterBravilShop03When your mother-in-law comes to visit, put her up at Silverhome-on-the-Water. We offer moderately priced, clean rooms. Chamberpots are available for a small fee.
BOOK:DESCClutterBravilShop04Looking for a fair deal? Come to the Fair Deal! We won't cheat you, we promise. We buy and sell everything.
BOOK:DESCClutterBravilShop05Wizard's beware! If you are using supplies from some place other than A Warlock's Luck, you may be taking your life in your hands. Don't compromise your spellcraft. We won't.
BOOK:DESCClutterBravilShop06The Archer's Paradox has everything a hunter might need. If it's sharp and pointy, the odds are we have it, and at a better price than anywhere else.
BOOK:DESCClutterBrumaShop01Don't settle for a weak horse. The Wildeye Stable's Paint horses are tougher and meaner than any in Cyrodiil. What good does a faster horse do you if it can't carry the load? We also have the best prices around.
BOOK:DESCClutterBrumaShop02Olav's Tap and Tack is changing business! Instead of providing for all your horse needs, we will provide for all of yours! Great food! Soft beds! Rousing company! We have it all!
BOOK:DESCClutterBrumaShop03Tired of the noisesome din of the common tap room? Stay at Jerall View. Peaceful, tasteful, and only for the most discerning of customers. Everyone knows, quality comes at a price.
BOOK:DESCClutterBrumaShop04Buying? Selling? Who cares? We'll do either at Novaroma. We'll do whatever it takes to make the sale.
BOOK:DESCClutterBrumaShop05Do you believe that the clothes make the man, but you don't look it? Come to Nord Winds for a complete make-over. We'll put you at the height of fashion.
BOOK:DESCClutterBrumaShop06The streets of Bruma can be a dangerous place. We can sell you protection at reasonable prices. Every citizen should have a warhammer from the Hammer and Axe. Don't leave home without it.
BOOK:DESCClutterBusiness01 Your proposal is acceptible. I will have the shipment waiting a week after next. I shall expect payment by the end of the month.
BOOK:DESCClutterBusiness02Your last payment was 10% short. I've allowed your debts to accumulate to long. Pay the full debt by next Friday, or I'll be forced to sell my wares elsewhere.
BOOK:DESCClutterBusiness03I need 15 gross of your finest goods. I'll be by some time on Wednesday to pay for them. Our agreement was half now, half in 30 days.
BOOK:DESCClutterBusiness04Your offer was ludicrous. My merchandise is worth twice that at least. Because we have done business before, and because you are known to be trustworthy, I am willing to give you a 15% discount, but no more.

The Chapel of Dibella welcomes visitors to Anvil. Come and share the quiet grace and joy of the Goddess of Love.

"My spirit rises up, sweet Dibella. My spirit praises you in the happiness of my heart."

The earnest believer may improve both spriit and mind with the dedicated clerics of Mara. Visit our altars for health and inspiration. Meditate upon the Mysteries of Nirn and the Nine in quiet contemplation. Seek instruction in Restoration and Speechcraft from our wise and patient trainers.

"Praise us in our ministry, O Mara, that we may serve you and your people."

Citizens of Cheydinhal! Children, saints, and travelers! Come to the Chapel, and drink deep of the waters of the Spirit. The Altar of the Nine shall make you hale and whole! The Nine Altars shall refresh your spirit, and fill you with the Gods' glories! Arkay's servants shall train you in the mysteries of Restoration and Alteration!

"Not a stone, stem, or spirit below but sings of Your Wonders!"

Come! Contemplate the Nine and their Glories! Begin at the Altar of the Nine, where the world's wounds are washed away, and the corruptions of the spirit and body are made clean. Then step along the Stations of the Nine -- Stendarr, Arkay, Mara, Zenithar, Talos, Kynareth, Dibella, Julianos, and Akatosh -- and see what bright inspiration springs from Devotion to the Great Lords of All!

"My heart and spirit are full! Where e'er my eye turns, there shines thy Glories!"

Take a break from your labors! Work is sacred, but rest and restoration are sacred, too! Sit in quiet contemplation, or seek counsel from Zenithar's servants. Gather together with your friends and neighbors, and send up hymns of praise to the Nine.

"Take strength from my altars, and comfort, and wisdom. These gifts I have prepared for you, when you rest from your labors."

Training in the Restoration Arts is now available from Sister Marie Palielle at the Skingrad Chapel. Arrangements should be made with Sister Marie herself. Scheduling is flexible.

And while you're at the chapel,
don't forget...

"Seek forgiveness for your sins, O ye faithful! Offend not against the laws of Man or God. For none but must tremble, when ye contemplate that Julianos is Just!"
BOOK:DESCClutterChorrolShop01The North Country Stables is the areas finest purveyor of Chestnut horses. Why ride a paint horse or bay horse when you can ride a Chestnut from North Country Stables?
BOOK:DESCClutterChorrolShop02Eat at the Grey Mare tonight. Why cook your own meals when Emfrid can do it for you? We specialize in Orcish cuisine.
BOOK:DESCClutterChorrolShop03The Oak and Crosier. If you need to ask why, then you've obviously never dined there. We cater to the best.
BOOK:DESCClutterChorrolShop04Need a fur coat? Need new candles? Look no further than Northern Goods and Trade. We have the best from Skyrim and beyond.
BOOK:DESCClutterChorrolShop05You can always find what you are looking for at Renoit's Books. Whether you need Barenziah's latest adventures or a guide to the city, we've got it.
BOOK:DESCClutterChorrolShop06Nothing says 'Howdy, villain' like a sharp axe from Fire and Steel. And once you've dented your blade on his skull, we can sharpen it for you, too!
BOOK:DESCClutterDirections01Go through the fields.
Turn east for half a mile.
It's just past the big rock on the right.
BOOK:DESCClutterDirections02It's three houses past the chapel.
Look for the place with the flowers.
She'll be waiting outside.
BOOK:DESCClutterDirections03Go the end of the street.
Turn left.
Take the next right.
If you see the house with the fallen roof, you've gone too far.
Knock twice, pause, knock again.
They'll let you in.
Be sure to have the money.
BOOK:DESCClutterDirections04Head north for a hour or so.
You'll see a group of dead trees.
Head northeast until you come to the water.
Follow the shore upstream.
His house is close by.
Watch out for bears.
BOOK:DESCClutterEEgg00FortColdcornLootThe sword leads the way.
Half a mile.
It's just past the big rock on the right.
BOOK:DESCClutterEEgg01Blessed are those who explore the unbeaten path...
BOOK:DESCClutterEEgg02Nothing in life is free... except for this.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop01If you need quality arms and armor, you have to shop at A Fighting Chance. We specialize in custom-fitted armor.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop014Slash 'N Smash makes weapons. Really good weapons. You should buy some.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop02At The Main Ingredient, we only stock the finest alchemical ingredients and potions. We may not be the cheapest, but we are the best.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop03First Edition is a supplier of books for the Imperial Library. If the Emperor trusts us, so can you. We have a widest selection of tomes and histories in all of Cyrodiil.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop04Staffs are not for everyone. Only the most talented of wizards can use a staff. If you have what it takes, come see us at Rindir's Staffs. We can sell you the right staff for the right occasion.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop05Edgar's Discount Spells will beat any Mages Guild price for spells. Why pay more for the same spell?
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop06The Copious Coinpurse has goods from beyond the shores of Anvil. All manner of exotic items are available on our shelves. We have the widest inventory in the city.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop07Stonewall Shields specializes in armor of all sorts, and shields in particular. We use the best steel for quality armor. Viator Accius trained with Orc smiths for 9 years to learn their secrets.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop08Red Diamond Jewelry is the only jewelry store in the nine cities. We have the best gems and silver in Cyrodiil. We also have the best guards, so don't even think about it.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop09When you're hungry, stop by the Feed Bag. Please.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop10Jensine's "Good as New" Merchandise will beat any price at the Copious Coinpurse. We also buy and sell used goods.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop11Three Brothers Trade Goods has a sterling reputation for honesty. We will always pay what your trade goods are worth, and always charge you a fair price for what you buy.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop12When you dress, do you wear Divine Elegance? You should. A first impression is priceless. That's why you won't see prices marked on our clothing. If you need to ask, you shouldn't be shopping at Divine Elegance.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop13Mystic Emporium is the only enchanter's shop in all of Cyrodiil. We import the rarest items from Black Marsh, Skyrim, and Morrowind. Come see what we have in stock today.
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop15The Gilded Carafe is an Alchemy shop of distinction. We are distinctly CHEAPER than those other guys! Don't pay more! Shop at the Gilded Carafe!
BOOK:DESCClutterICShop16When you need protecting, wear armor made at The Best Defense. We'll keep you safe from the sharpest blades.
BOOK:DESCClutterInstructions01Remove the top first.
Reach inside and take out all the parts, being careful to note their order.
Put the carving onto the rod.
Reinsert the rod into the cavity.
Replace the parts in the order you removed them.
Seal the top with pine tar.
BOOK:DESCClutterInstructions02Mix the flour and yeast with the elderberry shavings.
Fold in two eggs.
Stir in milk until it thickens.
Add any chopped fruit you want.
I like to mix in some harrada.
Bake it until the crust turns light brown.
Served best with mead.
BOOK:DESCClutterInstructions03Sit up against the wall.
Drop your head between your knees.
Breathe deeply while reciting the seven aphorisms to Akatosh.
Swallow the ointment.
In a short while, the hangover will be gone.
BOOK:DESCClutterInstructions04Do the upstairs rooms first.
Floors and walls are most important.
After the privvy is emptied, spread crushed peppermint to mask the scent.
Only then should you replace the linens.
Don't forget to put flowers on the table.
BOOK:DESCClutterLeyawiinShop01Rooms and food at the Five Claws Lodge. Let someone else watch the hatchlings tonight. We'll serve you fresh fish. We'll even cook it for a extra fee.
BOOK:DESCClutterLeyawiinShop02Let the Three Sisters hunt for you. After your meal, try one of our soft beds for the night. Locks and keys are available for small fee.
BOOK:DESCClutterLeyawiinShop03If it can be made or found, you can buy it or sell it at Best Goods and Guarantees. We'll match any competitor's offer.
BOOK:DESCClutterLeyawiinShop04Exotic adventures from the Southern kingdoms. Histories of ancient heros. We have it all at Southern Books. We buy used books, too.
BOOK:DESCClutterLeyawiinShop05Is that dent in your greaves making it hard to sit down? We'll pound it out for you at The Dividing Line. If we can't fix it, we'll sell you a new set.
BOOK:DESCClutterLoveLetter01I can't wait to see you tonight. My every day is spent thinking about when we will next be together. Soon we will be married and we can be together forever.

Your True Love
BOOK:DESCClutterLoveLetter02My dearest lover,
Yesterday was wonderful. We should plan to see the gardens every week. Your gift was very touching. I will wear it when we next meet. Until then, you have my eternal love.

You know who
BOOK:DESCClutterLoveLetter03I was heart-broken when you rejected me. Tell me what I can do to win your heart. I will slay Trolls, walk through thorns, fast for a week. Please don't shut me out of your life. I love you more than a flower needs sunshine.

Your penitent lover
BOOK:DESCClutterLoveLetter04You don't know me, but I see you every day. Every day my heart skips a beat as you walk past. I am writing to you in hopes that you will let me court you. When you next venture into town, I will be the one holding a daffodil. If you walk by without stopping, I'll know you don't want me, and I shall never bother you again.
BOOK:DESCClutterLoveLetter04aYou don't know me, but I see you every day. Every day my heart skips a beat as you walk past. I am writing to you in hopes that you will let me court you. When you next venture into town, I will be the one holding a primrose.
BOOK:DESCClutterPotionRecipe01To create a potion of Restore Fatigue, combine any two normal foods, such as meat or seeds. Grind carefully with the mortar and pestle. Place the resulting powder in a small pestle and mix with ordinary clear water.
BOOK:DESCClutterPotionRecipe02For a potion of Cure Disease, grind Clannfear Claws and Mandrake root into a fine powder using a mortar and pestle. It will remain somewhat gritty. It can be mixed in with almost any liquid, but ordinary clear water is safest.
BOOK:DESCClutterPotionRecipe03To create a potion of Cure Poison, mix Ginseng and Redwort Flower in equal portions. Slowly grind them together with a mortar and pestle. The ginseng may leave a sticky residue. Add water for easy swallowing.
BOOK:DESCClutterPotionRecipe04For a minor Restore Health potion, crumble some Cairn Bolete cap over roasted Boar Meat. Chop finely and mix together with a mortar and pestle. Add water to create a solution that can be drunk.
BOOK:DESCClutterPotionRecipe05A potion of Restore Willpower is made by heating Minotaur Horn and Primrose Leaves. Grind the results together with a mortar and pestle. Add water to create a drinkable fluid.
BOOK:DESCClutterShoppingList01Beer, lots of beer
New mugs
Enough fruit for 12 guests
8 loaves of bread
Roast boar
BOOK:DESCClutterShoppingList02New shirt
Two forks
BOOK:DESCClutterShoppingList04Paper, quality vellum
Ink, red and black
Binding glue
Two new quills
BOOK:DESCClutterShoppingList05Side of beef
3 loaves of bread
BOOK:DESCClutterShoppingList06Wheat flour
Fruit (any kind)
Half loaf of bread
Tinder Polypore Cap
Ironwood nuts
Stinkhorn cap
BOOK:DESCClutterSkingradShop01Horses! Horses! Horses! You know you want one. Come to the Grateful Pass Stables and pick one out today. All horses are for riding only. Grateful Pass Stables does not condone selling horses for food under any circumstances.
BOOK:DESCClutterSkingradShop02A free bath with every night's stay! Only at the Two Sisters Lodge. Meals and drinks are extra.
BOOK:DESCClutterSkingradShop03Fine dining is a rare experience, unless you eat at the West Weald Inn. We use only the freshest truffles, and our goat's milk yogurt is considered the best in Cyrodiil.
BOOK:DESCClutterSkingradShop04Colovian Traders. We have goods from beyond Black Marsh. We buy and sell almost anything. Browsers are always welcome.
BOOK:DESCClutterSkingradShop05Need fresh Bloodgrass? Out of Harrada? We keep them in stock. Husband snores at night? We have silence potions as well. All Things Alchemical. The only shop for potions and rare herbs.
BOOK:DESCClutterSkingradShop06Hammer and Tongs has been in business for 87 years. Seven generations of smiths have passed down their secrets to Agnete. If he can't forge it, you need to talk to the Last Dwarf.
BOOK:DESCCrumpledPaperReadableBlank01[blank crumpled piece of paper]
BOOK:DESCCrumpledPaperReadableBlank02[blank crumpled piece of paper]
BOOK:DESCCrumpledPaperReadableBlank03[blank crumpled piece of paper]
BOOK:DESCDAAzuraVampireNote[This worn, faded note was written on a scrap of parchment and secured by a piece of rawhide to the vampire's neck.]

My name is Ghola gro-Muzgol. My companion's names are Aranalda, Nille Elf-Daughter, Avita Cassiana, and Umar gra-Khar.

The vampire Dratik died by our hands, but the price was dear. Those into whose hands we have fallen, we thank you, and pray your favor.

We served Lady Azura. Bring these, our last words, to the Her Shrine. We praise Her with the full fountain of our devotion.

Our destinies were written in the stars, that our souls and reason be slain, and our world lost forever.

None can escape Her Fate. But let us be remembered at Her shrine, and in the hearts of Her servants.
"It is only by fate
that any life ends,
and only by chance
that it is mine...
not yours."


So far the investigation has been inconclusive, to say the least. The assassin's body has yielded no clues as to his affiliation, and we haven't even been able to ascertain the motive for the Emperor's slaying. We've even gone so far as to question local merchants about the unique garb, but have run into nothing but dead ends.

The nature of the attack, the multiple assassins, the ceremonial robes, the summoned weapons and armor -- it all speaks of something...ritualistic. I've seen the Dark Brotherhood's handiwork more times than I care to remember, and this just doesn't fit their usual pattern. I guess that's what worries me. We're not dealing with the unknown, and I'll be damned if I know how to handle it.

-- Captain Gepard Montrose

Postscript -- I've instructed the men to dump the rest of the assassins' bodies in the sewers. Let them serve as food for the vermin. It's more than those bastards deserve.

This was my big break! Finally I'm given something important to do, and what happens? I blow it! All I had to do was keep Phillida alive! That's it! But no! I couldn't even accomplish that! Father was right -- I'm an idiot, and I haven't amounted to anything!

I let everyone down, so this is it. Goodbye cruel Empire! I'm ending it all!


Entry 1: My initial findings may have been inconclusive, but they set me on the path I will pursue until I achieve my goal or lie rotting in this cave. Either outcome will be a welcome respite from the days and nights I've spent toiling without food, water, or any kind of companionship. A lesser mage would have fallen prey to madness by now, I'm sure of it. But I am not a lesser mage! Though they try in earnest, though their hearts and minds are true to the teachings of our great Sovereign, my fellow Necromancers lack the complete dedication required to achieve that ultimate of goals -- the state of lichdom. Not even Falcar himself can match my sheer tenacity, my unwillingness to accept failure on any level. That is why I, Celedaen, will soon join the ranks of the Worm Eremites, those servants favored by our sovereign above all others. I will sit with honor and obedience at his right hand while those fools in the Mages Guild grovel at my maggot-ridden feet!

Entry 2: Even the most pedestrian peasant fairy tale has long held that a lich must somehow remain bound to his soul, and that connection most commonly manifests itself as a transference of the spirit into an actual physical object. An urn, a sarcophagus, a crystal phial.... One Khajiit fairy tale even tells of a lich who preserved his spirit in the severed head of a Wood Elf infant! And these same peasants long comforted themselves with the belief that if they ever had the grave misfortune of facing a lich, they would need only find the vessel containing his spirit form and then destroy it, thus destroying the lich himself. Fools and their folklore! True liches possess no such weakness! Can one of the Sovereign's Worm Eremites be bested by shattering a glass vase? The very notion is so absurd as to be comical. Yes, a Necromancer must transfer his soul into a physical vessel, but once that transference is complete, once the Necromancer has fully metamorphosed into his lich form, the vessel is inconsequential. But it's the process of this transference itself that has eluded me for so long. My soul remains bound to my earthly body, and nothing I have attempted has allowed me to free myself of this mortal coil and transcend to the state of lichdom I so dearly desire.

Entry 3: Every tome I've acquired, the volumes upon volumes of Necromantic discourse, all useless! I have grown disgusted by the years of wasted life that have been poured into these so-called "essential" writings. Who in their right mind would ever wish to animate a month-dead Cyrodilic butterfly, or bring life to the rotting husk of a rare albino mud crab? How many months have I wasted away in this cave? And for what reason? Ah, yes, I know! I will resurrect an army of deformed goblin younglings and march on the White-Gold Tower itself! That at least is in my reach! My mind has become a cesspool of Necromantic waste, where reject spells and rituals compete for the honor of finally driving me completely insane. And still I am no closer to achieving my goal than I was when I first began this process. Am I losing faith in myself, in my discipline? Perhaps I have been studying too hard. Many a night I have sacrificed my prayers to our Sovereign for one more experiment, one more incantation. What I need now is rest. Rest, and a state of tranquility, so that I may commune with our Sovereign and re-pledge my loyalty and devotion. For what answer will I find in some crumbling codex that could not be supplied by our great Sovereign himself?

Entry 4: The secret is mine! So long I searched, so hard I toiled, but I was a fool! I was right to forgo my studies for a more ardent devotion to prayer. Last night, as I sit in the throes of meditation, our great Sovereign did come to me! He passed to me the knowledge I have sought for so long! The secrets of transcendence were even more complex and arcane than even I could have imagined, and I will never transcribe them into any written work. Indeed, they have never been recorded! All my months of solitude were for naught, as the secret I so desperately sought could only be obtained through direct communication with out great Sovereign himself. Soon I will walk the earth as a Worm Eremite, serving the Sovereign in a state of endless undeath!

Entry 5: Through the sacrifice of many innocents, the resurrection of many servants to aid me in my tasks, and the tireless performance of a nearly week-long ritual, I have completed construction of the Sands Of Resolve. The transcendence to full lichdom will not be immediate, however. The vessel has been crafted, but my energy force, my soul, must be fully transferred into it. Not even our Sovereign was quite certain how long this process would take, at it varies from one Necromancer to the next, based on many factors both physical and spiritual. One thing, however, is certain. This hourglass must never leave my possession until the transference is complete! I grow more powerful every day, but in truth am more vulnerable than I've ever been. If something were to happen to the Sands of Resolve, if the hourglass should somehow leave my person, the connection between soul and vessel would be severed. To think that my work, my life, could be eradicated so easily after I've come so close to success is almost more than I can bear.

Dear courier,

I would like to thank you again for agreeing to assist me. I was so delighted when a friend recommended you, and will certainly employ your services again in the future if everything goes well with this round of purchases. You can imagine how difficult it is for an old woman such as myself to get around. My children, darlings that they are, deserve the best, and I'm afraid I haven't been able to properly show my love and appreciation for them in quite a few years. But all that is behind me now! Here is the list of gifts I think my family would most enjoy, as well each child's current place of residence, which should be used to for delivery.

Matthias -- Talos Plaza District, Imperial City (he has a home there): Matthias always was a rough and tumble lad. The last I'd heard, he'd fallen in with some pretty tough characters there in the Imperial City. I'd feel so much better if I knew he was well protected, so I'd like for you to find him a nice cuirass. Nothing too light -- iron or steel should be fine. And, if possible, I'd like it engraved with "To my Dear Matty, I'll always be here to protect you, love Mum."

Andreas -- The Drunken Dragon Inn (he owns the place and lives there as well): Andy has been brewing his own beer and spirits since he was six years old. The opening of that inn was the happiest day of his life. I'd like for you to get him some new tavern glasses. I'm sure there are craftsmen in the Imperial City who could make a fancy set from frosted ebony or Altmeri crystal.

Sibylla -- Muck Valley Cavern. Yes, my daughter lives in a cave, and no, I'm not very happy about it. Sibby has always loved animals (almost as much as Andy loves beer) and a couple of years ago she apparently thought it a good idea to abandon the Empire and live as a savage with the rest of the animals. In that time, I'm afraid Sibby has kind of... cracked. She's basically as wild as the beasts she lives with. What can I do? I'm Sibby's mother and I'll always love her. She obviously doesn't want or need anything from civilized society, so what I'd like you to do is find a tanner and secure the largest fur blankets you can possibly find. The last time I saw Sibby she was nearly naked, and I can't imagine there's much in that cave to keep her warm. When you do bring them to Muck Valley Cavern, be careful! The wild animals are bad enough, but Sibby herself will probably attack anyone on sight.

Caelia -- Castle Leyawiin (you'll find her in the barracks): My beautiful Cae! My dearest daughter broke so many hearts when she was younger. But now that she's an officer in the Imperial Legion I'm afraid she's let herself go a bit. Not gotten fat! By Mephala, not that! But she's settled into a more... practical kind of look. Even a bit boyish, I guess you could say. So what I'd like you to do is get my Cae as much pretty "girl" stuff as you can. Flowers, perfume, Nord chocolate, that sort of thing.

You've already received half your fee in advance, and will receive the remainder after the gifts have been purchased and delivered, as we originally agreed. Thank you again for providing such a valuable service.


Perennia Draconis


It's all right, mother. It's almost over. I'm close. So very close. How long have we struggled? How long have we waited? Too long, I know. But it's almost over. I promise.


mommy mommy as you lie the dark man comes and makes you die my daddy's hands are red with guilt because he killed the life we built

I hate it! All this lying, all this pretending! Sithis and the Five Tenets be damned! How long do I have to live by their rules? How long before I get my chance? I saw Lucien Lachance yesterday. He was in the Sanctuary talking with Ocheeva. He was right there! So close I could have severed his spine in less than a heartbeat! Oh Mother, never before have I had to exercise such self-control. What's sickeningly ironic is that it was the Dark Brotherhood's discipline that allowed me to restrain myself. I've been a part of their "family" for so long it's a part of me, whether I like it or not. And in all that time I've fooled them all. They see me as a fellow member of the Brother, a trusted family member. Some day soon I will learn the truth about the Night Mother, and when I do, I will use that trust to get close to her. Close enough so that I may rend the head from her body, just as Lucien Lachance did to you so long ago!

Damn it, mother! Why did it have to be this way? Maria was so beautiful. She was perfect in so many ways. Why couldn't she handle the truth? Why couldn't she realize her "family" didn't really love her? She was a murderer like the rest of us. Paid to kill in the name of Sithis. I really thought we could be together. Make a real family, with real love. But she told me she could never accept your place in my life. So now she's gone. She didn't deserve to live after the horrible things she said about you. I never should have told her, I know. I'm so sorry. It will never happen again, and the others will never find her, don't worry. There's nothing left of her to find.


I did it, mother! I killed them all! I killed them and I cursed them to wander their ship in undeath for all eternity! They came to talk to the old man in the lighthouse. When they saw me, they could have kept walking. But no. They laughed! They laughed at me, mother! They called me names! They said I was strange, that I was a human rat, living here in the cellar of the lighthouse. They did not know who they were dealing with! So I snuck on board, later that night, and I slit their throats. Every last one of them. So there the Serpent's Wake sits. The ghost ship of Anvil they'll call it now! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Some wonderful news, mother! Advancement at last! Lucien Lachance paid a visit to the Sanctuary today, to talk with me! He told me the Black Hand needed my services. One of the other Speakers is looking to replace his assistant, who was killed fulfilling a contract. So Lucien Lachance suggested me! I met with the Speaker, and will serve as his new "Silencer." Ha! Lachance might as well have given me a contract to kill the Night Mother herself! I am now one step closer to realizing our dream. I will learn the Night Mother's identity and tear the heart from her chest. Oh yes, and I have something special planned for Lachance himself...

mommy I so afrade. i mis yu mommy. i just wantyu to kis me agenn

father prayed and guess who came the hooded man in Sithis' name who left but then he came once more to pass through window wall and door I lie in fear my mouth agape as wicked blade did cleave your nape for I was watching 'neath the bed to see the falling of your head and when your face lie on the floor our loving eyes did meet once more and so I pledged to you that day the Brotherhood would dearly pay and just as they took me from you I'd find and kill their mother too but there's someplace I need to start and that's with father's beating heart and when that's done I'll sing and dance to celebrate a dead LaChance


I've been careless! Too careless. The bodies, the burnings. Killing that fool Blanchard was the worst mistake I've made so far. I was seen! I was cloaked and hooded, and escaped into shadow, so no one learned my true identity. But now the Black Hand is suspicious. They suspect treachery, suspect a traitor! I must be more cautious than ever.

when in the snow I like to lie and fold my arms and wait to die

I've been switching them! Switching the dead drops! It was so easy! I tracked Lachance from his lair at Fort Farragut to the first dead drop location. After Lachance placed the orders, when I was sure he was gone, I switched them! It was so easy. Now Lachance's fool Silencer is working for us, mother! Oh, the fun we'll have. One of the Black Hand told me they haven't seen such an ambitious family member since I first joined the Dark Brotherhood. I will use that very ambition to my own advantage. The fool will never question the dead drops, and as I write this is en route to the first target -- one of the very members of the Black Hand! And so it begins. Lachance's silencer will kill one high ranking Brother member, then another, then another, and so on, until the entire family implodes. Eventually, as is the custom, the survivors will consult the Night Mother and seek her guidance. When that day comes, I will be there, ready to punge a blade into that dark whore's fetid heart!

!eid lliw ecnahcaL neicuL

As he travels around Cyrodiil, Alval Uvani can be found at the following locations, on the following days:

Morndas/Tirdas -- Bravil -- The Lonely Suitor Lodge

Middas/Turdas -- Skingrad -- The West Weald Inn

Fredas/Loredas -- Bruma -- Olav's Tap and Tack

Sundas -- Leyawiin -- Alval Uvani's House (rented property)

Keep in mind that there may be some variation based on the time it takes for him to get to the different cities.

BOOK:DESCDarkClaudiusHouseNoteFor public notice: This property has been seized by the Imperial Legion, and its owner imprisoned. Rituals to the Night Mother, or any other attempt to contact the Dark Brotherhood, will not be tolerated! -- Adamus Phillida, Imperial Legion Commander
BOOK:DESCDarkJournalClaudiusEntry 1: I've made up my mind. I don't care what it takes, I'll have my revenge! I've heard the stories about the Dark Brotherhood, about how they'll come to you if you perform some kind of ritual to their Night Mother. I don't know who or what the Night Mother is, and I don't give a damn! If I can do it, I will. I'll give the Dark Brotherhood anything they want, so long as they do what I can't... Entry 2: I've learned how to perform the ritual and have procured the necessary items. The bones and skull were easy enough to get, but the heart and skill were a bit more difficult. I'll make the preparations in the cellar. Entry 3: It worked! Last night I was visited by someone, a representative from the Dark Brotherhood! The Night Mother heard my prayers! The money was exchanged, and the man promised me I would have satisfaction. I don't know where he's hiding, and neither does the Dark Brotherhood, but as soon as he's located, Rufio will die!
BOOK:DESCDarkLachanceNoteYou sleep rather soundly for a cold-blooded killer. That's good. You'll need a clear conscience for what I'd like to propose. For there is much I can offer you. The taking of a life has its own pleasures, of course, but the taking of a life for the Dark Brotherhood is an act worthy of immeasurable reward. If you're intrigued, and I suspect you are, come visit me at the ruins of Fort Farragut. If you survive the descent down to the bottom level where I reside, I'll know you're capable of all the Dark Brotherhood has to offer. L.L.
Are you ready to get your hands dirty, Silencer?

Your next target is a Khajiit nobleman by the name of J 'Ghasta, who can be found at his home in the city of Bruma. J 'Ghasta was recently offered the hand of a prominent Cyrodiil noble's daughter, but turned down the offer when he learned of the girl's rather negligible dowry. The girl's family is outraged, of course, and has hired the Dark Brotherhood to make J 'Ghasta pay for his insolence.

Go to J 'Ghasta's house in Bruma and end his miserable life. But be warned! The Khajiit is rich and bored, and spends most of his time honing his skills in unarmed combat. Any opponent who can kill with merely his hands is not to be trifled with, so tread carefully. Even worse, J 'Ghasta is aware someone may be trying to kill him, and has bribed the guards not to interfere if a fight should spill out into the city streets.

When the target has been eliminated, you will find your next dead drop in a rotten box under the Old Bridge, just south of the Imperial City. The box will contain your reward for killing J 'Ghasta, as well as information regarding your next contract.

J 'Ghasta is dead! Well done! I was right about you, Silencer. You are a useful tool indeed. Let's see if you can continue to impress me.

You must journey now to the Flooded Mine. There you will find Shaleez, an Argonian hunter who was banished from her village near the Black Marsh/Morrowind border for the brutal murder of a Dark Elven family. Relatives of the murdered family members have located Shaleez, and demand retribution. And, since the assignment is a bit far for Morrowind's Morag Tong to handle, the Dark Brotherhood has been commissioned to perform the elimination.

Be warned, Silencer! Shaleez is a skilled and deadly hunter, and will fight like the desperate fugitive she is.

After Shaleez has been eliminated, your reward and another contract will be waiting at the dead drop located in a coffin, just outside the ruins of Fort Redman.
If you're reading this note, Shaleez is dead. You've done the world a great service, Silencer. It's time to continue the good work.

Your next target is a traveling Dark Elf merchant by the name of Alval Uvani, who is currently renting a house in the city of Leyawiin. Uvani is a well-respected tradesman back in his native Morrowind, but his business often takes him very far from home. Therein lies the problem. Alval Uvani's wife has become disillusioned with her husband's repeated, extended absences and wishes to dissolve their marriage, and has sought the Dark Brotherhood's assistance. Lucky for us Cyrodiil is a bit beyond the reach of Morrowind's Morag Tong.

Alval Uvani is currently traveling around Cyrodiil, and is never in one place for more than a couple of days. In this dead drop you will also find a schedule detailing the Dark Elf's whereabouts; use it to locate him and plan your elimination. Be aware, however, that because he is forced to travel alone to the farthest reaches of the Empire, Uvani has learned to defend himself. He is a master of the Destruction school of Magicka, and and is no stranger to killing.

When Alval Uvani lies rotting, journey to the Market District of the Imperial City. There you will find a shop called Stonewall Shields. Your dead drop is located behind that building, in a hollowed-out tree stump. As usual, you will find your reward for the previous contract, as well as information on your next.

Ah yes, I must mention one last detail. Apparently Alval Uvani suffers from a rare Dark Elf condition, a serious allergy to honey. If you could somehow get Uvani to drink the honey-based spirit Mead, perhaps by replacing his food, he would suffer from complete paralyzation. This would certainly make the Dark Elf a bit easier to deal with.

Alval Uvani is dead, just like all the others. You continue to impress me, Silencer, and I am only too eager to indulge your homicidal instincts.

Your next target is a savage Nord barbarian, living alone and exposed at a small campsite on the summit of Gnoll Mountain. This barbarian, Havilstein Hoar-Blood by name, savagely butchered the chieftain of a mead hall on the island of Solstheim. The chieftain's sister has forgone the Nord custom of extracting the monetary retribution of wergild, and instead wants Hoar-Blood to pay with his life. You, dear Silencer, will help put her family at peace.

You are to go to Gnoll Mountain, locate Havilstein Hoar-Blood, and send his soul to Sithis.

When Hoar-Blood has been executed, journey to the Ayleid ruin of Nornal. In the flooded section of that ruin you will find a chest, submerged in the water. As you may have guessed, the chest contains your reward for killing Havilstein Hoar-Blood, and your next contract.

My compliments on another job well done! Havilstein Hoar-Blood was more swine than man, and deserved to die quivering like an animal! You must not stop! You must kill again!

Your next target is a Wood Elf named Ungolim, who resides in the city of Bravil. Bravil is also home to an ancient statue known as the Lucky Old Lady. It is seen as a symbol of good luck and prosperity, and the fools of Bravil often speak to the statue and wish for good tidings. Every night, poor lovestruck Ungolim visits the Lady and pleads desperately for the heart of a young maiden. This maiden is married, and her husband has learned of Ungolim's affection for his bride. He fears the competition, it would seem, and has commissioned the Dark Brotherhood to help in the matter.

You must go to Bravil, locate Ungolim, and kill him. The Wood Elf owns a house in the city, but he spends his days securely locked inside. I recommend you lie in wait at the Lucky Old Lady statue, and then eliminate Ungolim when he arrives for his nightly visit. He's generally there between the hours of 6:00 PM and 1:00 AM.

By all accounts, Ungolim is a deadly archer and a fearless opponent. I also have reason to believe he is expecting trouble, so if Ungolim senses danger, he may attack you on sight. And, like the Khajiit J 'Ghasta, Ungolim has bribed the guards to look the other way if there is a fight, so they won't interfere. Be vigilant, and bring the Wood Elf down! You must not fail!

When Ungolim's body lies broken at the foot of his dear Lady, you must journey to the city of Anvil. Your dead drop is in a barrel located behind the statue in the pond. As is standard, your reward and next contract will be waiting.

Ungolim is dead! Silencer, you have served me far better than I ever could have imagined. Is there no challenge you can't meet? No opponent you can't best? We shall see.

Your next target is a High Elf whore named Arquen. She has been difficult to locate, but you might try asking around the Grey Mare in Chorrol or the Bridge Inn in Cheydinhal.

Like all of your targets, Arquen is a skilled fighter and will not be eliminated easily.

When Arquen is dead, I will have your reward and next contract waiting at the next dead drop -- under one of the beds in the Leyawiin Coast Guard station.
BOOK:DESCDarkLachanceOrdersChorrolThe Necromancer Celedaen is dead, and you are not. That is quite an accomplishment. But your work as a Silencer has just begun.

Your next assignment requires you to eliminate not just one target, but five. An entire family, in fact. The unlucky siblings are Perennia Draconis, Matthias Draconis, Andreas Draconis, Sibylla Draconis and Caelia Draconis. The locations of most of the family members are unknown, so you should begin your search with the family matron, Perennia, who resides at the farm called Applewatch.

You must discern the locations of all the Draconis family members and then systematically eliminate them. I suggest you first speak with the mother and find out if she has any valuable information on the whereabouts of her children, before ending her life.

When every member of the Draconis family lies dead, journey to the city of Skingrad. In the castle courtyard you will find a well containing your reward for the Draconis contract, as well any further assignment I might have.

You are now reading your first dead drop note, here on Hero Hill, which proves to me you were well-appointed to the tasks that lie ahead.

Journey now to Leafrot Cave. There you will encounter an ancient Necromancer who is attempting to escape death by transforming himself into a lich. This Necromancer, Celedaen, has not yet completed his metamorphosis, but is still immensely powerful, possibly too powerful to destroy if confronted directly. Search Leafrot Cave. Necromancers are wizards after all, and wizards are prolific by nature. Celedaen surely has written records, and these records may contain evidence of some kind of weakness. Perhaps there is some other way to destroy Celedaen besides a direct confrontation. But destroy him you must!

When the Necromancer lies dead, journey to the city of Chorrol for your next dead drop. At the foot of the Great Oak, hidden in the bushes, is an old sack. Inside you will find your reward for killing the Necromancer, as well as information regarding your next contract.

Serve me well, Silencer, and there's no telling just how far you might advance.
BOOK:DESCDarkLachanceOrdersSealedEliminator, You have served the Dark Brotherhood well in the short time you have been with us. Indeed, the rate of your advancement has been rather remarkable. Now the Black Hand itself is in need of your abilities. You must proceed with all haste to my private refuge in the ruins of Fort Farragut, located in the forest northeast of the Cheydinhal Sanctuary. When you arrive, we will discuss the nature of your special assignment. I cannot stress to you enough the importance of your swift arrival at Fort Farragut. There are unseen powers working to unravel the very fabric of the Dark Brotherhood. The Black Hand is counting on you to prevent this disaster. Do not share the contents of this message with anyone at the Cheydinhal Sanctuary, including Ocheeva, and make no mention of your journey to Fort Farragut! Also, be warned -- my refuge within Fort Farragut is guarded by denizens who will attack any interloper on sight. Get through these rotting sentinels and you will surely have earned the right to visit my private sanctum. Lucien Lachance

Most Honorable Ocheeva,

As per your instructions, I will, from this day forward, leave the solitude of the Sanctuary and maintain the following posts:

Loredas and Sundas -- I will travel to, and remain in, the city of Leyawiin. There I will spy any and all vessels entering into the Imperial Province by sea. Upon my return to the Sanctuary, I will report on which ships have sailed the Niben northward to the Imperial City.

Tirdas -- I am to spend my day here in Cheydinhal, in the establishment known as the Cheydinhal Bridge Inn. There I will spy the citizens of this city, and report back on anyone I deem a threat to Sanctuary security.

Turdas -- I will remain in Cheydinhal, but keep a watchful eye on the Sanctuary entrance. At the first sign of suspicious activity, I am to report back to you immediately.

My thanks again to you, Ocheeva. Your reliance on my gift for subterfuge will serve the Brotherhood well. Of this I promise.

May we walk always in the Shadow of Sithis.

BOOK:DESCDarkScrollRufioRise, Rufio! Come forth once more to the land of the living, and unleash your vengeance!

Damn that young fool Antoinetta and her experimental recipes! As if the stench of her cooking weren't bad enough, last week she made a particularly offensive dish consisting of mandrake, onions... and garlic! Garlic! I have told her repeatedly of the danger this plant poses to me, but she has obviously not heeded my warnings.

It is strange, this reaction I have to garlic. In all my wanderings, in all my research, I have never encountered another vampire thusly affected. It is true that some popular lore holds that all vampires have an inherent weakness to garlic, but this is simply not the case. My situation, as far as I can tell, is unique. If I were to somehow come into contact with garlic, if it in some way came to be on my person, the results could be catastrophic. I would most certainly suffer from a loss of strength and stamina, and fear my resistance to magic would be nearly completely nullified.

So please, Ocheeva, as mistress of this Sanctuary, I beg you to keep Antoinetta on a tighter leash. I love her as a Sister, of course, but can not be held accountable for my actions should she continue to disregard my own personal safety. The Tenets clearly state that one family member may not kill another; but I don't need to remind you there is no restriction against draining Antoinetta of a few pints of precious life's blood.
[a note written in a trembling hand]

There is no world so great as the world of the mind.

There is no voyager so well-traveled as the traveler in the land of dreams.

There is no abyss so deep as the well of terror that lies within each of us.

I have plumbed its depths.

I have seen the unthinkable. I am unafraid.

Even death's boundaries do not confine me.

I am the lord of limitless space, and the master of place and time.

Through the doors of sleep, the universe lies waiting for me.

I will no longer wait for my dreams to carry me worlds away, to unknowable deeps, to unspeakable vastness.

I shall dwell in the House of Vaermina forever, the Orb my companion.

There is no compass to my destination, no end to my journey.

My mind is the eternal voyager, fearless and wild with wonder in the Halls of Horror.

BOOK:DESCDAVaerminaArkvedNote02[blank crumpled piece of paper with a line written in a trembling hand]

I shall lie here in the dark waiting for death
[blank crumpled piece of paper with lines scratched in a trembling hand]



BOOK:DESCFGD01BrenusAstisJournalVarious Studies on the Fauna of Cyrodiil Brenus Astis, Scholar [much of this journal has become unreadable] ...the Cyrodiilic Rat appears less aggressive than its counterpart in various other provinces. They are prevalent in all parts of Cyrodiil, equally at home in basement dwellings, caves, ruins, or grasslands. They are known to carry disease, and their bites can be painful.... [Illegible] ...though once thought to be intelligent. They are social creatures, often appearing in groups numbering twenty or more. The largest male dominates this clan structure, and seems to have breeding rights with all females of reproductive age. Younger males will often challenge the older, dominant males in a fight to the death. Their horns locked, the two minotaurs will wrestle until one can no longer continue. This often.... [Missing] ...called "Billies" by many of the local farmers. But, is this so-called "land dreugh" actually of any relation to the sea-dwelling dreugh? There certainly seem to be similarities in morphology, especially in the region of the head and thorax. And they produce the same "dreugh wax" found in the aquatic creatures. However, while true dreugh are known to be cunning, even intelligent, these "land dreugh" demonstrate none of the same intelligence. They are violent and aggressive, killing indiscriminately. Some believe them to be of Daedric origins, perhaps related to the Spider Daedra. That, however, is not the opinion of this researcher. It appears more likely that the "land dreugh" are a distant relative of the true dreugh, perhaps an ancestor from far back on the evolutionary timeline.... [Missing] Much has been made of the fact that trolls can be killed only by application of fire, whether it be by spell or torch. This is, in fact, a myth. Trolls do seem to have a weakness to fire and fire-based spells, and a fantastic ability to regenerate tissue, but they can be killed by conventional means. One should note, however, that trolls should absolutely not.... [The rest of this journal is unreadable.]
BOOK:DESCFGD06ViranusJournal[Many of the pages of this journal have been shredded or are too covered in blood to be legible.] Sundas It has been two weeks since Vitellus' death, and I fear that Mother will never truly accept the fact that he is gone. She visits his grave nightly, though I do not believe she knows I have seen her go. She speaks to him there, apologizing for sending him on his last mission. I know in my heart that he would have sought no other end. Better to die fighting for the honor of the Guild than to waste away in a life of relative safety. ... Middas Another day, another day of barracks duty. It's been a full month since I've been given a contract, any contract. My time is spent polishing weapons and training with the new boots. Eduard and I have spoken at length about this. His reasoning, as always, is sound. Mother fears for my safety, and for the safety of the Guild. This is a terrible weight for her to bear. Perhaps when our numbers have risen, she will once again feel comfortable allowing me to perform my duties. ... Morndas Thank the gods for Eduard. I fear without him I would go mad. His constant companionship keeps me hopeful that I will one day be returned to active duty. Until then, we have each other. He has willingly forgone lucrative contracts in order to help me pass the days. A truer companion I could not imagine. ... Loredas Some days I question whether or not I am fit to be a Guild member. Perhaps Mother's fears for my safety not because of Viranus, but because of my own abilities. Am I a failure in her eyes? Does she believe me to be less a man than Viranus? ... Turdas Freedom! Finally, a contract! I was sent with one of our newer members to investigate a disappearance in Nonwyll Cavern. It was nothing glamorous, but I am glad for the opportunity to see some action. I doubt, however, that Mother even knew about the contract, as the order came directly from Oreyn. It is good to see that he still has faith in my skills, and my ability to keep that new boot alive. ... Loredas Again, nothing. It seems my only hope is that Oreyn will find another contract for me, though contracts are harder and harder to come by with the increasing presence of the Blackwood Company in Cyrodiil. Eduard and I spoke of them over breakfast this morning. He believes them to be nothing more than a rogue mercenary band. I fear he is as na�ve as he is beautiful. The Blackwood Company bears watching. ... [date obscured] I've been given another contract, clearing out some trolls that have been troubling miners. And Eduard is to accompany me! I can't think of better news. This is exactly what I need. ... [date obscured] Eduard is dead, along with the rest. I fear I will follow shortly. The fighting grew heavy with the trolls, but was under control. Then came the Blackwood Company. They were like madmen. Trolls, men, mer fell to their blades. It was inhuman [text unreadable] ... [text unreadable] Blackwood Company gone quick as they came Eduard fought bravely. All did. Rest now ... I hear trolls I'm sorry Mother
BOOK:DESCHidingWithTheShadowThere are few professions that require the practitioner to be more self-reliant than that of thief. A thief is by nature a loner. He trusts no one and is trusted by few. He cannot go to a master and become an apprentice. He has no guild to collect and codify how to ply his craft. He does his crimes alone, and in the dark of night. He must hide by day to avoid capture by the authorities.

The only known deity recognized by thieves is Nocturnal. Not truly a goddess, this Daedric lord is none-the-less a potent figure. She is the Mistress of Shadows, holding sway over secrets and stealth. She does not ask for worshippers, nor does she necessarily give blessings to those that do recognize her. In fact there are no known temples to her in Cyrodiil, although there are rumors of a forgotten shrine. In other words, she is perfectly suited to the criminal mind of the thief.

By and large, thieves are a godless lot. They believe only in their own skills and cunning. However, since the existence and influence of the gods and Daedric lords is undeniable, they have an uneasy relationship with Nocturnal. Though some thieves truly worship her, most choose to offer their respect and reverence without fealty.

These criminals recognize that should they offend the Mistress of Shadows, it might go poorly for them. However, true worship and fealty does not have any known benefit. The classic blessing between thieves is "shadow hide you." This is an oblique reference to Nocturnal. However it can also be interpreted to be a non-theistic statement of actual shadows hiding the thief.

Thieves tend to dress in black clothes or dark clothing. While this is a practical thing for their criminal endeavors, it is unnecessary during the daylight hours. Yet many thieves still don these shadowy colors in silent recognition of Nocturnal.

The most shocking link between the nebulous culture of thieves and Nocturnal, is the tale of the Gray Fox. He is the mythical king of thieves. The legend states that he stole the hood off of Nocturnal's cloak. Obviously this is just a story invented centuries ago to bolster their feelings of self-worth. However, it is indicative of the continued link between the Daedric lord and the criminals of the Empire.
BOOK:DESCHouseBravilDiningAreaReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one dining area that will be promptly delivered to your home in Bravil. Said area contains: 2 Chairs 1 Rug Assorted Pottery Thanks for shopping with us! Nilawen The Fair Deal, Bravil
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BOOK:DESCHouseBravilPaintingsReceiptThis entitles the bearer to various wall hangings that will be promptly delivered to your home in Bravil. This set includes: 4 Assorted Paintings 1 Tapestry Thanks for shopping with us! Nilawen The Fair Deal, Bravil
BOOK:DESCHouseBravilRacksReceiptThis entitles the bearer to various racks that will be promptly delivered to your home in Bravil. This set includes: 2 Wine Racks 2 Wall Mount Weapon Racks 1 Free-Standing Weapon Rack Thanks for shopping with us! Nilawen The Fair Deal, Bravil
BOOK:DESCHouseBravilReadingAreaReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one reading area that will be promptly delivered to your home in Bravil. Said area contains: 2 Bookshelves 1 Rug 1 Chair 1 Candelabra Thanks for shopping with us! Nilawen The Fair Deal, Bravil
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BOOK:DESCHouseBrumaBedroomAreaReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one bedroom area on the lower level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Bruma. Said area contains: 2 Wall-Mounted Candle Sconces 1 Clothing Cupboard 1 Dresser 1 Chest 1 Rug 1 Candle Holder Assorted Pottery and Potted Flowers Shop Novaroma where if we don't have it, it's not worth having! Suurootan Novaroma of Bruma
BOOK:DESCHouseBrumaDiningAreaReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one dining area on the upper level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Bruma. Said area contains: 3 Chairs 1 Rug 1 Set of Shelves Assorted Pottery and Utensils Potted Flowers Shop Novaroma where if we don't have it, it's not worth having! Suurootan Novaroma of Bruma
BOOK:DESCHouseBrumaKitchenAreaReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one kitchen area on the upper level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Bruma. Said area contains: 1 Cupboard 1 Wine Rack 1 Chest 1 Fireplace Rack 1 Candle Holder 1 Rug Assorted Bottles and Pottery Shop Novaroma where if we don't have it, it's not worth having! Suurootan Novaroma of Bruma
BOOK:DESCHouseBrumaSittingAreaL2ReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one sitting area on the upper level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Bruma. Said area contains: 2 Tables 1 Bench 1 Chair 1 Rug 1 Candle Holder Potted Flowers Shop Novaroma where if we don't have it, it's not worth having! Suurootan Novaroma of Bruma
BOOK:DESCHouseBrumaStorageAreaL1ReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one storage area and sitting area on the lower level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Bruma. Said area contains: 3 Barrels 1 Chest 1 Set of Shelves 1 Small Table 1 Bench 1 Chair 1 Rug Assorted Pottery Shop Novaroma where if we don't have it, it's not worth having! Suurootan Novaroma of Bruma
BOOK:DESCHouseBrumaStorageAreaL2ReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one storage area on the upper level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Bruma. Said area contains: 2 Chests 1 Set of Shelves 1 Small Table 1 Candelabra Assorted Pottery Shop Novaroma where if we don't have it, it's not worth having! Suurootan Novaroma of Bruma
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BOOK:DESCHouseCheydinhalUpperHallAreaReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one upper hall area that will be promptly delivered to your home in Cheydinhal. Said area contains: 2 Wall-Mounted Candle Sconces 2 Sets of Shelves 2 Candle Holders 1 Bench Assorted Pottery Borba's motto: "Nobody outsells me... nobody!" Borba gra-Uzgash Borba's Goods and Stores
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BOOK:DESCHouseCheydinhalWallHangL2ReceiptThis entitles the bearer to various wall hangings on the upper level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Cheydinhal. This includes: 3 Tapestries 3 Paintings Borba's motto: "Nobody outsells me... nobody!" Borba gra-Uzgash Borba's Goods and Stores
BOOK:DESCHouseChorrolBedroomAreaReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one bedroom area on the middle level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Chorrol. Said area contains: 3 Chairs 1 Bed Upgrade 1 Set of Shelves 1 Dresser 1 Clothing Cupboard 1 Chest 1 Chandelier 1 Desk 1 Rug Northern Goods and Trade "A Stone's Throw from the Great Oak!" Seed-Neeus, Proprietor
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BOOK:DESCHouseChorrolServantsQuartersReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one servants quarters on the middle level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Chorrol. Said area contains: 1 Bed 1 Clothing Cupboard 1 Table 1 Rug 1 Chandelier Assorted Pottery Northern Goods and Trade "A Stone's Throw from the Great Oak!" Seed-Neeus, Proprietor
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BOOK:DESCHouseLeyawiinStorageAreaReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one storage area that will be promptly delivered to your home in Leyawiin. Said area contains: 3 Barrels 1 Chest 1 Basket 1 Rug 1 Broom Come back and see us and again for the best goods and guarantees! Gundalas Best Goods and Guarantees
BOOK:DESCHouseLeyawiinStudyAreaReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one study area on the lower level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Leyawiin. Said area contains: 1 Desk 1 Chair 1 Bookshelf 1 Candelabra Come back and see us and again for the best goods and guarantees! Gundalas Best Goods and Guarantees
BOOK:DESCHouseLeyawiinWallHangReceiptThis entitles the bearer various wall hangings that will be promptly delivered to your home in Leyawiin. This includes: 5 Paintings 2 Tapestries Come back and see us and again for the best goods and guarantees! Gundalas Best Goods and Guarantees
BOOK:DESCHouseSkingradBalconyAreaReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one balcony area overlooking the lower level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Skingrad. Said area contains: 2 Stools 2 Rugs 1 Chair 1 Chest 1 Small Table Assorted Candles We use only the finest wood and craftsmanship in all our products. Please, come back soon! Gunder Colovian Traders
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BOOK:DESCHouseSkingradOldNoteMy love,

I write this with trembling hands. The guards are after me, and I have nowhere else to turn. Soon they will be at the doors to Rosethorn Hall, and nothing will keep them from taking me away back to that horrible prison. I don't know how they found me; perhaps it was that traitor, Delgariun. Whoever told them I was hiding in your home must have known both of us very well. I know Delgariun has eyes for you, I know he's the one that framed me in the first place and had me sent to that dank hole in the Imperial City. He has to be the one. Beware of him, my love. He's treacherous and only wants you to get to the treasure. I didn't give it up to the guards, and I won't give it up to Delgariun. I've hidden the treasure within the walls of Rosethorn Hall. Remember the toy we played with as we ran through this place as children? Remember the riddle we had for it? It was our secret code:

"Two bodies have I, though both joined in one. The more I stand still, the quicker I run."

The key to the treasure lies with the answer. Take care of it, my love. It is your ticket far from Delgariun. Do not fret, I've escaped once, I shall do so again. Soon we will be together, and the sun will shine upon us.

Daravyn the Gray
BOOK:DESCHouseSkingradServantsQuartersReceiptThis entitles the bearer to servants quarters on the basement level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Skingrad. Said area contains: 2 Stools 1 Privacy Screen 1 Bed 1 Clothing Cupboard 1 Table 1 Chest Assorted Candles Assorted Pottery We use only the finest wood and craftsmanship in all our products. Please, come back soon! Gunder Colovian Traders
BOOK:DESCHouseSkingradSittingAreaL2ReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one sitting area on the upper level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Skingrad. Said area contains: 2 Stools 2 Chairs 1 Table 1 Chandelier Assorted Pottery We use only the finest wood and craftsmanship in all our products. Please, come back soon! Gunder Colovian Traders
BOOK:DESCHouseSkingradSittingAreaReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one sitting area on the lower level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Skingrad. Said area contains: 2 Stools 2 Rugs 1 Bench 1 Set of Shelves 1 Table Assorted Pottery We use only the finest wood and craftsmanship in all our products. Please, come back soon! Gunder Colovian Traders
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BOOK:DESCHouseSkingradUpperHallAreaReceiptThis entitles the bearer to one upper hall area overlooking the lower level that will be promptly delivered to your home in Skingrad. Said area contains: 2 Chests 2 Chairs 1 Set of Shelves 1 Small Table 1 Rug Assorted Candles Assorted Pottery We use only the finest wood and craftsmanship in all our products. Please, come back soon! Gunder Colovian Traders
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BOOK:DESCHouseSkingradWallHangL2ReceiptThis entitles the bearer to various wall hangings that will be promptly delivered to your home in Skingrad. This includes: 6 Tapestries 5 Paintings We use only the finest wood and craftsmanship in all our products. Please, come back soon! Gunder Colovian Traders

Rot, decay, and O the worms! The pitiful scrabbling of this mortal shell shall soon be quieted. Vangaril! Fool! Struggle no more. When you read these words, know that your graying skin, your failing breath, know that they are your own doing, your own foil and folly! Soon, you will be no more, and Lich Erandur will consume you, from within. Resign unto your fate; join Us.

Long have I sought to purge the evils haunting Erandur. Even when his necromantic studies resulted in our mutual expulsion from the Guild of Mages, I persisted in guiding him towards good with a gentle hand. Alas, in our exile, my old friend has mired himself in the foul practice, and in shocking discovery I learned he had become a miserly disciple of the Worm King, a cunning wraith. A Lich.

Frail memory strengthened by dogmatic resolve, the Archmages turned me away when I came to them with my discovery. My pleas for a detachment of battlemages ignored, only my long-past expulsion remembered. And thus, the grave duty falls only to me. I must bear the burden of purging the Lich that was once a friend.

I wander now into the foreboding maw of these catacombs known as the Lost Boy Caverns, far from the climes of common elves and men. With pure spirit and rites of cleansing, I hope to strike down the fearsome Lich and set free the soul of Erandur, but I leave this testament behind, lest I may never return from these depths; as a warning to those who may follow my path.

Faithful, even in Exile,
BOOK:DESCLostBoyCaverns002Each day this cave foils me. I could swear I am near the surface when I awake shaking, cold and in this dank inner keep. Here I must keep notes of the way out.

Three steps forth, five steps right, six steps up and seven for woe.

Eight steps make the children cry, Nine steps pop Khajiit's eyes!

Ten steps mark the Worm King's Wrath, Eleven steps through the gates, of scorched Oblivion!

Worm of Death Take Vangaril
BOOK:DESCLostBoyCaverns003This day, I have struck down the shade of my former friend and ally. With a heavy heart, as the Lich wailed and perished, I performed the rites to extract Erandur's soul from Undeath, and destroy the lich utterly. No dusty text had prepared me for the bizarre events that occurred, but I am confident that I have freed the soul of Erandur.

I feel compelled to investigate this cavern. Perhaps some dark relics here can be used for research to better combat necromancers in the future. I will explore, and perhaps emerge with trophies enough to prove my worth to the guild.

An open letter to the Guild of Mages Respected Archmages, if this letter makes it to your hands, it is either through my miraculous escape from Lost Boy Cavern, or the noble hands of an intrepid explorer, who did not share my gruesome fate. The dire task I undertook alone, when your hands denied me aid, ended in peril. Despite my studies, I failed the casting to banish the Lich befouling the spirit of my dear friend Erandur, and an evil took root within me. Surely your noble countenance will not be furrowed to hear -

A letter for the Once Great Mage's council The words you read now are those of a man sentenced to the icy grip of undeath, so doomed by your hand. Though thy folly was perhaps only to follow protocol, may my fate haunt your dreams. I vigorously trained myself as a spellsword to purge the lich that had dominated the soul of my once-noble friend Erandur, but my pointless expulsion from your misguided coven barred me from the appropriate training; the blame falls upon your brow for my errors in banishing the lich, the blame falls to you for its infestation of my mind... May the Worm King himself usurp you, piteous hounds of -

An open threat to the Guild of Mages Your days are at an end, your blind bureaucracy finished! Your maggot-filled hearts will rot in the eaves of my inner sanctum, your flesh nothing more than tattered mort meat, your paltry souls forfeit. I will consume you, each one. The fell might of Lich ErandurVangaril will be your end! Daedraeka! Mannimarco Daedroth Kvatch Mannimarco Erandur Vangaril Oblivion Tska Tska Takaesh!
BOOK:DESCMG05FingersScrollMy dear helper:

Most of the text you've given me is well beyond your comprehension, I'm afraid. I found one section, however, that had been appended by the keepers of the Imperial Watch, and their notes will be of use to you.
Return to the ruins of Cloud Top. There you should find a section of pillar that looks remarkably unlike any other stonework present. The carvings on this pillar were made by the Ayleids, and the pillar has been infused with significant power.
The following was scribbled in the margins of the book, presumably by the same men who took the pillar from its original resting place. The notes are smeared in places, so I have included what I could decipher. Do note that this sounds rather dangerous, and take whatever precautions you feel are necessary.
"... only seems to function outdoors, where it reacts strongly to magic... terrible power, capable of striking a man dead on the spot..."
"...transported the stone to a secure location, in order to study it more fully..."
"...guild wizards brought in to focus power of stone. Several severely injured; stone finally 'tuned' to react to shock magic..."
"...Welkynd stone necessary to harness stone's power. Success means powers of shock unattainable through other means. "
From these notes, and the original Ayleid inscriptions, it seems that our Imperial friends were attempting to harness some degree of the Ayleid's magical power, and were marginally successful. I suggest you procure a Welkynd stone for yourself (searching Ayleid ruins will likely be the quickest method of acquiring one) and return to Cloud Top to cast a shock spell at the pillar.
What happens then, I think you can comprehend on your own.


An Introductory Text

[The book contains an inordinate number of scrawlings along the margins; the few that are immediately readable suggest they are notes for someone who needs frequent reminders on the basics of spell casting.]

The Beginning Spellcaster
The most powerful mages in Tamriel were once beginners. They all had similar early experiences: exposure to magic kindled an interest and/or unlocked some latent ability, followed by years of hard work. These intrepid souls honed their skills, learned new spells, and vigorously trained their minds and bodies to become the formidable figures they were known as during their later lives.

The Mages Guild of Tamriel has long been the first stop on a long road to knowledge and power for many individuals. Providing magical services to the general public, the Guild offers a wide variety of spells for purchase, and is recommended as a first stop for any aspiring spellcaster. Independent dealers may be found, though their selection of spells is often not as comprehensive as that of the Mages Guild.

Many spells are beyond the capabilities of beginning mages; the ability to render one's self invisible, for example, is an advanced power and is beyond the novice spellcaster. Through practice, a mage may become more skilled in a given school of Magic and find himself proficient enough to begin exploring its more powerful aspects. The fledging mage should not be daunted by his inability to wield certain powers, but should instead use this as a point of focus and a drive for bettering himself. Rather than becoming discouraged, the student should look forward to higher levels of skill, such as the advanced techniques of absorbing spells, summoning lesser (and eventually greater) Daedra and undead -- for research purposes only -- and protection against specific types of spells, such as Fire, Frost, and Shock spells.

Mages wishing to specialize in a particular school of magic are encouraged to learn as many spells of possible within that school, and to practice them frequently. All mages, whether specializing or nurturing a general interest, are encouraged to apply for membership within the Mages Guild. Beyond services available to the general public, the accomplished Guild member has access to many exclusive services such as Advanced Spellcraft and Enchanting. These services have been deemed potentially dangerous to the public at large, and have been restricted to higher-ranked Guild members in good standing by the Council of Mages.

Citizens interested in the further use of magic should consult their local Mages Guild ArchMagister.
BOOK:DESCMG10AyleidReferenceAyleid Inscriptions and their Translations
By Raelys Anine

The following inscriptions were painstakingly transcribed and interpreted over many long years, and are preserved here for all time.

Av molag anyammis, av latta magicka.
"From fire, life; from light, magic."

Barra agea ry sou karan.
"Wear lore as your armor."

Agea haelia ne jorane emero laloria.
"Wisdom learned by pain is a reliable guide in dark times." [literally, "Terrible wisdom never betrayed the loremasters."]

Nou aldmeris mathmeldi admia aurane gandra sepredia av relleis ye brelyeis ye varlais.
"Our exiled Elven ancestors heard the welcoming gifts of peace in the streams and beech trees and stars." ["Mathmeldi" means literally "from-home-driven." ]
Suna ye sunnabe.
"Bless and blessed be."

Va garlas agea, gravia ye goria, lattia mallari av malatu.
"In the caverns of lore, ugly and obscure, shines the gold of truth."
Vabria frensca, sa belle, sa baune, amaraldane aldmeris adonai.
"The foaming wave, so thunderous, so mighty, heralds the lordly Elves."
Brothers and Sisters
of the Worm!

Despair not at the trials we now face, for our time comes swiftly.

The God of Worms watches over our Order, and will deliver us from these troubled times on the Day of Reckoning. Until then, perform His works in secret, serve His needs, and look to the skies for His signs.

The Revenant, the Necromancer's Moon, watches over us all. His Form, ascended to Godhood, has taken its rightful place in the sky, and hides the enemy Arkay from us so that we may serve Him. Watch for the signs: when the heavenly light descends from above, hasten to His altars and make your offering, so that He may bless you with but a taste of His true power. Grand Soul Gems offered to Him will be darkened, and can be used to trap the souls of the unwitting; a feat even the great N'Gasta would marvel at.

Stay faithful to the Order of the Black Worm, and in time your loyalty will be rewarded. Soon, He will return to set the world right in due time, and those who would stand in his way will suffer enternally at his hands, just as those who stood opposed before.

Until that day, you must believe and be patient. Hide in your caves, in your ruined forts, in your secret lairs. Raise your minions, summon your servants, cast your spells. Answer the call of the Order when you are needed. Watch and listen.
BOOK:DESCMG11NotePrimary sites:

The Dark Fissure
Fort Istirius
Fort Linchal

Altars have been raised; Anchorites have been called. Watch the skies; once a week His Grace shines down on us.
BOOK:DESCMG11SoulGemNoteTo the Anchorites:

Place your Grand Soul Gems in the altar. Pray for His Blessing, and strike the altar with your Soul Trap magic. Your gems will become instruments of His Divine Power.


Goods Gods! Don't go crazy on me! You'd think the streets of the Imperial City were filled with rioters and the Legions were being called out to restore order.

We've had no disturbances at all here in Chorrol, and I've heard of nothing at all in the City or in the other towns. People are doing just as Chancellor Ocato said -- staying calm, and honoring the memory of the emperor and his sons by getting along with their lives. Running around like frightened children isn't going to help anyone. I haven't got time to



I know you're upset. But please. I have important duties here at the Priory, and I can't come to the Imperial City and babysit you. Just stay calm, like Chancellor Ocato says, and pray for the Emperor and his sons.



What do you expect me to do about it? Come to the City, track down the assassins, and bring them to justice myself?

And are there assassins banging on your door? Do you have some reason to think they're coming for you next?

Please. Don't panic. These assassinations have upset everyone. But you just have to go on with your life.

I don't know what you're worried about. Everything is fine here. Everyone is getting on with business, like the Chancellor says. The Elder Council has everything under control. Certainly you don't expect me to



Please don't worry. The Elder Council knows what it is doing. Uriel was an old man. They knew he wouldn't live forever, and I'm sure they had plans for the succession. Of course, now with the three princes dead, it's not clear who will be the next emperor, but it's happened before -- there are precedents, I'm sure -- and anyway, Ocato and the Council have been running the Empire for the past 15 years anyway. So there's nothing to worry about. Everything will be fine.

I don't know what you've read or heard, but here at the Priory everyone seems to think it must have been madmen or witches or crazy cultists. It doesn't look at all political. It's horrible and depressing, but the Empire will survive. There will not be rioting or civil war or another Warp in the West. So please. If you like, go stay with Uncle Korr and Aunt Harrah on the farm for a while. But I'm certain you'll be perfectly safe in the City. I'll try to get down to visit as soon as possible. And I hope to hear from you soon.

your loving son,




by Mankar Camoran


reetings, novitiate, and know first a reassurance: Mankar Camoran was once like you, asleep, unwise, protonymic. We mortals leave the dreaming-sleeve of birth the same, unmantled save for the symbiosis with our mothers, thus to practice and thus to rapprochement, until finally we might through new eyes leave our hearths without need or fear that she remains behind. In this moment we destroy her forever and enter the demesne of Lord Dagon.

eader, this book is your door to that demesne, and though you be a destroyer you must still submit to locks. Lord Dagon would only have those clever enough to pause; all else the Aurbis claims in their fool running. Walk first. Heed. The impatience you feel is your first slave to behead.

nter as Lord Dagon has written: come slow and bring four keys. Know that then you are royalty, a new breed of destroyer, whose garden shall flood with flowers known and unknown, as it was in the mythic dawn. Thus shall you return to your first primal wail and yet come out different. It shall this time be neonymbiosis, master akin to Master, whose Mother is miasma.

very quarter has known us, and none bore our passing except with trembling. Perhaps you came to us through war, or study, or shadow, or the alignment of certain snakes. Though each path matters in its kind, the prize is always thus: welcome, novitiate, that you are here at all means that you have the worthiness of kings. Seek thy pocket now, and look! There is the first key, glinting with the light of a new dawn.

ight follows day, and so know that this primary insight shall fall alike unto the turbulent evening sea where all faiths are tested. Again, a reassurance: even the Usurper went under the Iliac before he rose up to claim his fleet. Fear only for a second. Shaken belief is like water for a purpose: in the garden of the Dawn we shall breathe whole realities.

nter as Lord Dagon has written: come slow and bring four keys. Our Order is based on the principles of his mighty razor: Novitiate, Questing Knight, Chaplain, and Master. Let the evil ones burn in its light as if by the excess of our vision. Then shalt our Knowledge go aright. However, recall that your sight is yet narrow, and while you have the invitation, you have not the address.

y own summons came through a book Lord Dagon wrote himself in the deserts of rust and wounds. Its name is the 'Mysterium Xarxes', Aldmeretada aggregate, forefather to the wife of all enigma. Each word is razor-fed and secret, thinner than cataclysms, tarnished like red-drink. That I mention it at all is testament to your new rank, my child. Your name is now cut into its weight.

alace, hut, or cave, you have left all the fog worlds of conception behind. Nu-mantia! Liberty! Rejoice in the promise of paradise!

ndlessly it shall form and reform around you, deeds as entities, all-systems only an hour before they bloom to zero sums, flowering like vestments, divine raiment worn to dance at Lord Dagon's golden feet. In his first arm, a storm, his second the rush of plagued rain, the third all the tinder of Anu, and the fourth the very eyes of Padhome. Feel uplifted in thine heart that you have this first key, for it shall strike high and low into the wormrot of false heavens.

oaring I wandered until I grew hoarse with the gospel. I had read the mysteries of Lord Dagon and feeling anew went mad with the overflow. My words found no purchase until I became hidden. These were not words for the common of Tamriel, whose clergy long ago feigned the very existence of the Dawn. Learn from my mistake; know that humility was Mankar Camoran's original wisdom. Come slow, and bring four keys.

ffering myself to that daybreak allowed the girdle of grace to contain me. When my voice returned, it spoke with another tongue. After three nights I could speak fire.

ed-drink, razor-fed, I had glimpsed the path unto the garden, and knew that to inform others of its harbor I had to first drown myself in search's sea. Know ye that I have found my fleet, and that you are the flagship of my hope. Greetings, novitiate, Mankar Camoran was once you, asleep, unwise, protonymic, but Am No More. Now I sit and wait to feast with thee on all the worlds of this cosmos. Nu-mantia! Liberty!




by Mankar Camoran


hosoever findeth this document, I call him brother.

nswers are liberations, where the slaves of Malbioge that came to know Numantia cast down their jailer king, Maztiak, which the Xarxes Mysterium calls the Arkayn. Maztiak, whose carcass was dragged through the streets by his own bone-walkers and whose flesh was opened on rocks thereon and those angels who loved him no longer did drink from his honeyed ichors screaming "Let all know free will and do as they will!"

our coming was foretold, my brother, by the Lord Dagon in his book of razors. You are to come as Idols drop away from you one by one. You are exalted in eyes that have not yet set on you; you, swain to well-travelled to shatterer of mantles. You, brother, are to sit with me in Paradise and be released of all unknowns. Indeed, I shall show you His book and its foul-and-many-feathered rubric so that you can put into symbols what you already know: the sphere of destruction is but the milk of the unenslaved. I fault not your stumbling, for they are expected and given grace by the Oils. I crave not your downfalls, though without them you might surpass me even in the coming Earth of all infinities. Lord Dagon wishes you no ills but the momentous. And as He wants, you must want, and so learn from the pages of God this: the Ritual of Want:

hisper to earth and earth, where the meddlers take no stones except to blood, as blood IS blood, and to the cracking of bone, as bone IS bone, and so to crack and answer and fall before the one and one, I call you Dragon as brother and king.

ides of dreugh: 7 and 7, draught of Oil, 1 and 1, circles drawn by wet Dibellites: three concentric and let their lower blood fall where it may, a birth watched by blackbirds: Hearthfire 1st. Incant the following when your hearing becomes blurred:

nraptured, he who finally goes unrecorded.

ecorded, the slaves that without knowing turn the Wheel.

nslaved, all the children of the Aurbis As It Is."




by Mankar Camoran


he Tower touches all the mantles of Heaven, brother-noviates, and by its apex one can be as he will. More: be as he was and yet changed for all else on that path for those that walk after. This is the third key of Nu-mantia and the secret of how mortals become makers, and makers back to mortals. The Bones of the Wheel need their flesh, and that is mankind's heirloom.

ath-breakers beware, for their traitors run through the nymic-paths, runner dogs of prolix gods. The Dragon's Blood have hidden ascension in six-thousands years of aetherial labyrinth, which is Arena, which they yet deny is Oathbound. By the Book, take this key and pierce the divine shell that encloses the mantle-takers! The skin of gold! SCARAB AE AURBEX!

oe to the Oath-breakers! Of the skin of gold, the Xarxes Mysteriuum says "Be fooled not by the forlorn that ride astray the roadway, for they lost faith and this losing was caused by the Aedra who would know no other planets." Whereby the words of Lord Dagon instructs us to destroy these faithless. "Eat or bleed dry the gone-forlorn and gain that small will that led them to walk the path of Godhead at the first. Spit out or burn to the side that which made them delay. Know them as the Mnemoli."

very new limb is paid for by the under-known. See, brother, and give not more to the hydra.

eader, you will sense a shadow-choir soon. The room you are in right now will grow eyes and voices. The candle or spell-light you read this by will become gateways for the traitors I have mentioned. Scorn them and fear not. Call them names, call out their base natures. I, the Mankar of stars, am with you, and I come to take you to my Paradise where the Tower-traitors shall hang on glass wracks until they smile with the new revolution.

hat is your ward against the Mnemoli. They run blue, through noise, and shine only when the earth trembles with the eruption of the newly-mantled. Tell them "Go! GHARTOK AL MNEM! God is come! NUMI MORA! NUM DALAE MNEM!"

nce you walk in the Mythic it surrenders its power to you. Myth is nothing more than first wants. Unutterable truth. Ponder this while searching for the fourth key.

nderstood laws of the arcanature will fall away like heat. "First Tower Dictate: render the mutant bound where he may do no more harm. As God of the Mundus, alike shall be his progeny, split from their divine sparks. We are Eight time eight Exarchs. Let the home of Padomay see us as sole exit."

HIM. Those who know it can reshape the land. Witness the home of the Red King Once Jungled.

e that enters Paradise enters his own Mother. AE ALMA RUMA! The Aurbis endeth in all ways.

ndeth we seek through our Dawn, all endeth. Falter now and become one with the wayside orphans that feed me. Follow and I shall adore you from inside. My first daughter ran from the Dagonite road. Her name was Ruma and I ate her with no bread, and made another, which learned, and I loved that one and blackbirds formed her twin behind all time.

tarlight is your mantle, brother. Wear it to see by and add its light to Paradise.




by Mankar Camoran


ay the holder of the fourth key know the heart thereby: the Mundex Terrene was once ruled over solely by the tyrant dreugh-kings, each to their own dominion, and borderwars fought between their slave oceans. They were akin to the time-totems of old, yet evil, and full of mockery and profane powers. No one that lived did so outside of the sufferance of the dreughs.

give my soul to the Magna Ge, sayeth the joyous in Paradise, for they created Mehrunes the Razor in secret, in the very bowels of Lyg, the domain of the Upstart who vanishes. Though they came from diverse waters, each Get shared sole purpose: to artifice a prince of good, spinning his likeness in random swath, and imbuing him with Oblivion's most precious and scarce asset: hope.

eathlessly I intone from Paradise: Mehrunes the Thieftaker, Mehrunes Godsbody, Mehrunes the Red Arms That Went Up! Nu-Mantia! Liberty!

eny not that these days shall come again, my novitiates! For as Mehrunes threw down Lyg and cracked his face, declaring each of the nineteen and nine and nine oceans Free, so shall he crack the serpent crown of the Cyrodiils and make federation!

ll will change in these days as it was changed in those, for with by the magic word Nu-Mantia a great rebellion rose up and pulled down the towers of CHIM-EL GHARJYG, and the templars of the Upstart were slaughtered, and blood fell like dew from the upper wards down to the lowest pits, where the slaves with maniacal faces took chains and teeth to their jailers and all hope was brush-fire.

our Dawn listens, my Lord! Let all the Aurbis know itself to be Free! Mehrunes is come! There is no dominion save free will!

uns were riven as your red legions moved from Lyg to the hinterlands of chill, a legion for each Get, and Kuri was thrown down and Djaf was thrown down and Horma-Gile was crushed with coldsalt and forevermore called Hor and so shall it be again under the time of Gates.

nder the mires, Malbioge was thrown down, that old City of Chains, slaked in newbone-warmth and set Free. Galg and Mor-Galg were thrown down together in a single night of day and shall it be again under the time of Gates.

othing but woe for NRN which has become The Pit and seven curses on its Dreugh, the Vermae NI-MOHK! But for it the Crusades would be as my lord's Creation, Get by the Ge and do as thou wilt, of no fetters but your own conscience! Know that your Hell is Broken, people of the Aurbis, and praise the Nu-Mantia which is Liberty!



Your interest in the writings of the Master has been noted. You are taking the first steps towards true enlightenment. Persevere, and you may yet join the exalted ranks of the Chosen.

If you wish to continue further down the Path of Dawn, you will need the fourth volume of the Master's "Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes." It can be obtained only from a member of the Order of the Mythic Dawn. As your designated Sponsor, I will pass on my copy to you if I deem you worthy.

Study the first three volumes of the Master's writings. Look for the hidden meaning in his words, as best as you are able.

When you are ready, come to the Sunken Sewers under the Elven Gardens in the Imperial City. Come alone. Follow the main tunnel until you reach the room with the table and chair. Sit down. I will meet you there and give you what you desire.

The Sponsor




Jearl -

The Master was pleased to hear of your activities outside of Chorrol. The more gates that we open, the nearer we are to the glorious Cleansing.

The Master has chosen you and Saveri for a most crucial mission, a sign of your advancement through the ranks of the Chosen. We have learned that the Septim heir has gone to ground at Cloud Ruler Temple, the lair of the accursed Blades. The Master has made its destruction the top priority of the Order, and Lord Dagon has committed whatever resources are required.

Pending your report on the Septim's activities at Cloud Ruler Temple, and your assessment of Temple defenses and possible routes of escape, we plan to open a Great Gate in the open ground before Bruma as soon as possible.

Remember: the first three Lesser Gates represent only the preliminary stages of Great Gate Deployment. Do not in any way compromise your cover in defense of these gates. New ones can be quickly and easily reopened. And once the Great Gate is opened, the fall of Bruma is assured. Cloud Ruler Temple cannot stand long after that, and the Septim will be caught like a rat in a trap.

We would welcome any further details you can offer concerning the Imperial agent who rescued Martin from Kvatch, but again, we caution you... do not risk a confrontation. This individual is not to be trifled with.

The Dawn is breaking,

Ruma Camoran


This document hereby states that the bearer is the sole owner and possessor of the domicile currently known as Benirus Manor. Said domicile is located in the township known as Anvil in the territory known as Cyrodiil.

The bearer has full ownership rights to all of the structures, flora and land within the property borders as defined in the Anvil Construction Charter. The bearer is responsible for all matters pertaining to or occurring on said property.

This document also empowers the bearer transfer rights to reassign the property as he sees fit. The bearer may amend this document to rename the manor by submitting the proper forms and payments to the Anvil Construction Charter and by filing duplicate forms with the Documents Division of the Imperial City Archives.

2 Sun's Dawn 3E335
The people of Anvil are worms! How dare they criticize what they don't understand! I shall have my vengeance in a form they cannot possibly imagine. I shall use the souls of the departed to prolong my own life. The Tome is very specific. I must have more bodies... yes... more bodies.

11 Sun's Dawn 3E335
I must protect myself from those meddlers. They shall not interfere in my designs. I have constructed a room in the basement of this manor. It is there I will inter my corporeal self and I will transcend this plane of existence. Only a true-blooded Benirus may open the portal, so if I fail, however unlikely that may be, a descendant may attempt to follow in my footsteps to carry on the true way. To make sure our secret is safe, I have harnessed the spirits of those whose bodies I have defiled to forever guard that place.

15 Sun's Dawn 3E335
The fools think I don't hear them speaking? I can hear their rumor and innuendo. They intend to meddle in powers they can barely comprehend. They call me an old fool and shun me. The young dare each other to step one foot in my yard. I have become the stuff of old wives tales and campfire stories. They dismiss me as an oddity. But soon they will see. When all of Anvil lies in waste around me, when their corpses litter the streets and their blood dampens the earth... only then will my true power be known and feared.


...after taking aboard a few more crates in Leyawiin, Captain Laughton pointed the May north towards the Imperial City. We pleaded with him to wait until the next morn, but he insisted on continuing despite the look of the sky. Let it be known that this decision was his.

Tuesday 14 Last Seed 3E421

Wasn't long before the May hit the storm. It was just as we suspected, far too dangerous to sail through. With the last bit of daylight disappearing, Navigator Quillan spotted an inlet off the starboard bow. The Captain ordered the wheelman to steer towards the inlet in the hopes of getting the May out of Niben Bay. It was at that moment Gable gave me the signal and we struck. He'd always had an eye for the Captain's position, and with the chaos going on, this was a better time than any. Only that idiot, Blakeley was still loyal to the Captain, but the rest of us wanted the May. The fight lasted maybe a minute or two. Blakeley and Laughton knew that fighting was futile. We tossed them down below and now Captain Gable has set the May on course for the inlet. Hopefully we can get her secured for a while and then...

Dearest Isabel and Jenetta,

I should be able to send you another package of money and goods within the month. This posting is proving more lucrative than I'd first suspected. Who knew that Indarys would be so easy to dupe? He doesn't even care. He's so busy wrapped up in his own affairs, and I mean that literally, that he has no time to pay attention to the daily operations of Cheydinhal. I've decided to raise the fines again next month. Then we can begin constructing that summer keep we'd always wanted, my cousins. More to come soon. My love to both of you.


The eighth day has passed, and still there's no sign of the artifact. We've covered most of the remainder of the outer guard tower, and scoured the crumbled gatehouse ruins, but not one clue has arisen as to where it may have been buried.

It's quiet out here, as if the ruins were paying respects to the Ayleid inhabitants that disappeared here long ago. We haven't encountered anything hostile, but if we do, I think we're ready. The Brotherhood's been in worse scrapes before. Bradon paid good money for the information as to our treasure's whereabouts, and I hope it doesn't turn out to be yet another fiasco.

This morning, our camp was set upon by some bandits who were protecting what they claimed was their territory. Considering that we were outnumbered three to one, we did very well. Only Raynil suffered a small wound, but that was easily healed by a potion that Bradon had thoughtfully brought with him on our expedition.

After getting rid of the bandit's corpses, we set out to tackle the largest part of the ruin, the remains of the great keep. Two of the walls of the once-mighty structure were collapsed, scattering the telltale whitish rock so typical of the Ayleid architecture in this part of Tamriel. This made our assault on the ruin difficult, as many of the larger chunks of wall were far too heavy for us to move.

Bradon suggested that we search the center of the building's foundation for any underground entrances, which was typical for this type of keep. His guess paid off, and after several hours of backbreaking work, we managed to clear an opening just large enough for us to squeeze through and enter an ancient stairwell leading down into the ground. We decided to wait until morning's light to begin our descent into the depths of the ruin.

After a restless sleep, all of us were quite excited at the prospect of what might lie ahead. Eagerly, we dipped our torches in a fresh container of pitch, lit them, and entered the inky blackness of the stairwell.

The stale air was choked with dust and fine grit, a sign that no one had entered this portion of the ruins in a very long time. We became excited, as that meant no other tomb robbers had gotten there before us.

The stairwell eventually leveled out into a corridor of sorts that snaked its way to the north. As we carefully walked along, I scanned the floor and walls very carefully for any type of triggers, tripwires or pressure plates; such was my specialty. The Ayleid were well known for their cunning traps protecting their tombs, and I wasn't taking any chances.

Bradon, the scholar of the Brotherhood, was getting more and more excited as we traversed the passage; he was translating the wall carvings and was becoming certain that we had finally found the true location of our prize. After walking for several more minutes, we were overjoyed to see what we were hoping to see: the hallway ended at a metal door with the carving of a spider upon it.

Now came the true test of Bradon's information. The door supposedly had a puzzle lock; by pulling the spider legs in a certain combination, it would unlatch. The wrong combination would spell our deaths, perhaps triggering a collapse of the hallway or some other equally deadly trap. With a shaky hand, I pulled the legs one by one in the order I had memorized: the sixth one, then the first one, the second one, the eighth one, and finally the first one again.

I closed my eyes, as there were a few loud clicks and then the door popped open. We all breathed a sigh of relief. Pushing open the door, I looked in at a huge room with a pedestal at the center. Sitting on the pedestal illuminated by a shaft of sunlight from a tiny hole in the ceiling was our prize.

The floor was covered in a huge mosaic of a stylized spider, all eight of its legs coming to a point and ending up at the door entrance. This was the last of the traps the Ayleid left behind to protect their treasure. Again, if it hadn't been for Bradon's skill at acquiring information, we may never had known how to solve this last line of defense.

I instructed Bradon and Raynil to remain at the entrance and to tie a rope around my waist in case of a sudden pitfall. Carefully, I began to walk on the darkened tiles that formed the third leg of the spider. Sweat beaded on my forehead, as the pathway made by the tiny pieces of ceramic was very narrow at the start, and one slip could again mean instant death.

But death never arrived. The information had been correct, and I was able to make it to the pedestal and secure the artifact! Quickly as possible, we made our way back and out into the daylight. Once again, the Brotherhood was triumphant and it was time to return home.

At the tavern that night, we decided to make a pact. We would stash the artifact in a cave not far from Bruma until we researched it further. An item of its magnitude could be very dangerous if mishandled, and we certainly didn't want to sell it without understanding its true value. Bradon agreed to contract a local cooper to construct a chest with three locks. Each of us would hold a key to one of the locks so none would have access to the artifact without the others being present. For the rest of the evening, we drank merrily and sang many a song of adventures passed, and adventures to come.

BOOK:DESCMS12DiaryCopy Day Three

It is with a heavy heart and a trembling hand that I pen this latest entry. It has been several days since I have seen anyone else on the road from our garrison at Grey Ridge. The road is lonely and treacherous. I am rationing my supplies to prepare for a tough path ahead. As long as Reman Cyrodiil's army hasn't located our headquarters at Pale Pass, the journey should be fairly uneventful. I admit, I am nervous. It is an honor to be selected to carry these orders to our fort, but sending me alone is a calculated risk. While it is not my own life I am worried about, it is the importance of the contents of the orders that aggrieves me. If they are somehow lost, the fort will not know that their supplies are going to be delayed by a month. Without that knowledge, the fort may choose to press the attacks on the front line as their supplies dwindle. They are counting on those supplies to be there sooner. I must not fail getting this message there. The slate rock that the orders have been carved upon for safety weighs me down; it is a constant reminder of the more than physical burden that I carry.

Day Seven

It has been two days, and I have finally arrived at Dragonclaw Rock. The huge formation is a welcome and invigorating sight. The giant stone appears to reach down from the north and strike at the heart of Remus' forces like our armies have been doing for the better part of a year now. I have still encountered no one else on this trail. I hope that as I head due west along the narrow path, I will find someone who can give me some news as to how our men are faring in the war.

Day Eight

After winding my way westward, I have come within sight of The Sentinel: a huge statue placed there by some unknown artist many years ago. It stands watch pointing north, as if daring anyone to cross the borders into the Imperial nation. Remus would be quite angry if he knew we used this very statue as a waypoint into his domain. Last night, I encountered another one of our messengers who had been beset by a pack of mountain wolves. His leg was hurt badly, but I managed to help heal it with an ampoule of medicine I carried with me. He said his name was Sylaj, and he was on his way from Pale Pass to request more supplies. I discussed with him the irony of our meeting, and he decided to travel with me back to the fort since his mission would be needless. We plan to leave at nightfall.

Day Nine

I am using much of my remaining strength writing this. As we had made our way north from The Sentinel, we were attacked by perhaps the same pack of wolves that had attacked Sylaj. He had chased them off earlier after being bitten, but now that they had tasted blood, they had returned in greater number. Fighting back to back, Sylaj and I slew at least 8 of the beasts, but not before one of them clawed my gut and left a terrible wound. We were able to drive them off, but now I am bleeding badly, and the only medicine I had I gave to Sylaj. We have decided to continue north until we reach the portal to the Serpent's Trail and seek cover inside. I will try to write more soon, but I must sleep. I am so very tired.

Day Eleven

This is the last entry I shall be able to write. We entered the Serpent's Trail nearly a day ago, seeking shelter from the elements and the wolves. What we did not foresee was the creatures that had decided to make the Serpent's Trail their home. I did not see them clearly, but they were huge and strong. Sylaj died instantly as one of them cleaved off his head with a single stroke. There were three of these huge, ugly man-like creatures. I ran as fast as I dared through the dark tunnels trying to escape. But as I fled, one of them hurled a boulder at me and struck me square in the back. I managed to crawl through a smaller opening and escape the lumbering monsters, but I soon realized that crawling is all I would be able to do. I think the boulder shattered my spine. I can no longer feel my legs. My wound from the wolf attack has reopened and I have lost much blood. I fear that this is as far as I shall be able to go. I have failed my mission. I have been unable to get these orders to the fort at Pale Pass. I am so close, yet it may as well be leagues away since I can no longer walk and my strength is draining. If a fellow messenger or soldier picks up this diary, please get the orders to the fort before it is too late. And please tell my wife, Vata, that Xhaferi will always love her.


As my servant no doubt has already explained, I am an avid collector of Ayleid antiquities. As such, your recent sale of a rare Ayleid statue piqued my interest. I am most eager to acquire more of these statues for my collection, and will be happy to remunerate you handsomely for your efforts.

I would be pleased to welcome you to my home in the Imperial City, in order to discuss this matter in more detail, at your earliest convenience.

I remain, most sincerely,


Umbacano Manor
Talos Plaza District
Imperial City


Ref "Chronicles of the Brothers of Marukh, Vol. III," p. 22.



Set up camp out of sight and keep an eye out for strangers. Umbacano thinks to cheat us, as usual, so we'll play it cautiously. Do NOT enter the ruin until I arrive. We may not need to risk our necks this time.


PS Keep an eye on S'razirr. He's acting even twitchier than usual. Maybe he finally realized he isn't getting a full cut. But I think he's good for one more job, and he's the best I could come up with on short notice.


My dearest Roland,

I cannot wait for you to return from Bravil. My heart swells with joy as I know we will once again soon be together. I yearn for you every night that I look beside me in my bed, and you are not there. How I wish I could have taken the journey with you, but I understand that these are dangerous times, and I would only slow you down. When you return, perhaps we should get away from the chaos of the Imperial City. Let's go back to that cabin in the woods. The one where you said we would always be safe from the world. The one where you took me in your arms and sang songs of moonlight and happiness. The one where you said "I love you."

Hurry, my love,

BOOK:DESCMS26AudensNoteI used to be somebody. I was a captain of the guard in the Imperial City until that fleabitten hero decided to poke his nose in my business. I have a plan to get out of the Imperial prison. Apparently there is a secret escape tunnel used by the royal family. When I get out I'm going to settle the score with that hero. Then I'll take care of those two snitches Ruslan and Luronk. The sweetest of all will be Itius Hayn. I'll make him squeal first.
BOOK:DESCMS29MacabreManifest Recently Deceased

Ferdelus Wagariun - Imperial City
Quilted Doublet
Green Silk Pants
Gold Trimmed Shoes
Gold Ring

K'sirr - Cheydinhal
Green and Blue Outfit
Green Velvet Shoes
Silver Amulet with Blue Stone
Silver Ring

Nodur Cloud-Seeker - Bruma
Fine Silk Robe
Silk Shoes
Fine Ashen Cane with Inlaid Copper
Gold Ring

Nodaria Wythel - Bravil
Blue Dress
Blue Suede Shoes
Fine Silver Necklace
Gold Ring with Polished Stones
Gold Ring with Red Stone

Kaylah Swinchell - Bravil
White Dress with Floral Pattern
Gold Trimmed Cow Hide Shoes
Gemmed Necklace
Gold Ring with Onyx Stones

Dondlar - Leyawiin
Green Brocade Doublet
Green Silk Pants
Green Velvet Shoes with Gold Thread Trimming
Polished Wood Box with Silver Fittings
Small Polished Staute of Azure Stone (in box)

Holithanius - Cheydinhal
Decorative Leather Armor with Gold Buckles
Silver Longsword (Personalized)
Soft Leather Boots
Glass Ring

Oford Gabings - Anvil
Travel Cloak with Silver and Green Leaf Fastener
Enchanted Shortsword with Inlaid Writing
Gold Ring with Inscription (Cursed?)
Leather Bound Travel Journal

Sellina Rotona - Imperial City
Red Velvet Dress
Red and Gold Velvet Shoes
Silver Necklace with Locket
Silver Ring with Blue Stones


Your instructions are to make your way to the bottom deck of the ship and secure all of the rooms there. Make sure you don't disturb Minx. She's to be left alone to do her assignment. Remember, after the ship is scuttled, we'll meet back in Bravil in three days. Make sure you destroy this note after you memorize it.

BOOK:DESCMS37Knightfall(Excerpt from "Knightfall," Tales of Heroism and Chivalry Edited by Kirellian Odrenius)

The Legend of Garridan Stalrous as told by Jaren Aethelweald, Squire and Friend

And so it came to pass, that on the first month before the harvest, nary a decent crop could be found in the drought-ridden fields of Farmantle Glens. Twenty-seven families, their bellies sunken and empty, turned to their lordship who had been so fair to them in hard times before. The man ruled not with an iron gauntlet, but with the soft touch of silken kindness: my lord, Garridan Stalrous, Knight-Errant of Farmantle Glens.

I watched sadly as my lord Garridan looked out at the withered fields before him from his meager stone keep and cursed the luck that tainted the skies and stopped the rain from falling. The families in his charge would not last the winter, which was always bitter and cold in the northern reaches of the Jerals. His own supply of grain was already picked clean; there was barely enough to sustain him for the months ahead. I know if my lord had the food there, he would have shared it gladly, allowing his charges to pay him back in whatever time or manner they could afford... and in some cases, to those in dire need, give it to them without costs. Something had to be done; and it had to be done soon.

Sparing not a drake, Garridan paid for the best sages he could find and used the rest to buy as much surplus grain as he could wrest from the neighboring domains. A month passed, and nothing surfaced. Winter's icy tendrils would soon creep across Farmantle Glens, causing the green to disappear from the landscape. Families would have to huddle close to their hearths, keeping warm and rationing the bits of food Garridan had given them. I could see Garridan's patience, which was immense mind you, wearing thin. He told me he'd considered selling his keep... his belongings... anything to keep his people alive. If only the harvest would yield more, they'd be saved.

Then, as if Mara herself had answered his prayers, a sage entered Garridan's keep with the answer. Legend told of a vessel of sorts from which water would pour endlessly known as the Everflow Ewer. Some said the Divines themselves created it; others thought perhaps a powerful sorcerer enchanted it. Wherever it was from, Garridan knew this could be his chance. Following the directions from the sage, my lord and I set out to recover the Ewer and rid Farmantle Glens of the drought.

It took days to reach the entrance to the place. After we passed through a winding passage, we finally came to an odd door covered in mystical symbols. As the sage instructed, my lord touched some Refined Frost Salts to the door. The ancient stone door opened, and we proceeded into the glade. A cave cut into a hillside led into a small glade of trees. In the center of the glade, flanked by two standing stones, was a stone altar. On the altar, seemingly glowing with inner light was the Ewer. Cut from crystal, the vessel was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. Water filled it to the very top, and as legends held, would never diminish as the liquid decanted from it. Eager to return to his domain, Garridan grasped the Ewer in hand.

Suddenly, the ground trembled as though the mountains themselves were angered. The sky changed from sunlit blue to dreary grey. Even the ring of trees forming the glade seemed to bend away slightly from the altar, as if fearing what was to come. Then, with no warning, one of the standing stones cracked and exploded! My gaze froze and my heart fell as I looked upon the guardian of the glade. A huge creature seemingly cut from the very same crystal as the Ewer stepped forth and growled menacingly at my master. The air around it became very cold, as if it was born from the glaciers of the northern mountains. This was a being of ice... living breathing ice!

Garridan shouted at me to run as he drew his blade. Still clutching the Ewer in one hand, he gave a mighty swing at the ice creature. When the forged steel struck home, it gave a resounding ring and merely chipped the beast as a spike would when driven against the hardest of rocks. Never showing fear, my lord swung again and again, each blow being harmlessly deflected away. Then, a single and mighty blow from the ice creature knocked my lord down. His blade slid away, and he lay on the forest floor looking up into the crystalline eyes of his death. The ice creature raised its arm again for the fatal blow, and brought it down hard at Garridan's prone form.

I don't know why he did it. Perhaps it was instinct, perhaps a moment's lapse in judgment. But my lord lifted the Everflow Ewer defensively as he got up to a kneeling position. The blow from the creature connected with the vessel, creating an ear-splitting crash. There was the sound of water splashing and a horrible cracking noise as the sundered pitcher sent waves of freezing water in all directions. Even as I watched, the liquid covered the ice creature and my poor master. They seemed suspended in place as if frozen solid. At the time, I didn't know how true my thoughts had become. As I watched in horror, they were encased in a tomb of pure ice. I could see Garridan's face as the ice overtook him, and I could swear he was crying. A few of his tears froze and fell to the ground at his feet like beautiful blue crystals. He knew he'd failed his mission. His people would starve, and he was responsible. Frost and ice covered everything in the glade now... the trees, the rocks, the soil... everything.

It was then I became aware that the very air around me began to freeze. It was like a cold winter's night at first, and then it rapidly became worse. The cold was so bad, it turned into a sort of frozen heat... it began to burn. My throat became tight and breathing became difficult. I began to lose feeling in my arms and legs, and my vision was beginning to blur. I had to escape this icy glade and tell Garridan's story. It was the least I could do for such a noble man. With every bit of strength I could muster, I ran from the frostfire and back through the cave. I barely escaped with my life.

My journey back to the domain of Garridan was a sad one. My heart was heavy, my mind clouded with misery. He was a good man, the greatest I'd ever known. To die like that was no way for such an honorable knight to end his life. When I finally reached the outskirts of Farmantle Glen, the farmers were waiting for me. I was ready to tell them the sad news, but they raised a cheer of great joy! They told me that only a week ago, a strange, bluish glowing rain fell on their fields and that the next day the crops began to grow as if there had never been a drought. A week ago was exactly when my master was frozen in that horrible glade... and his tears froze like bluish raindrops frozen in time! I looked up at the heavens and the twinkling lights suddenly gave me great comfort. I thanked Mara, and headed home.

Good news! I may still have a chance. Found someone to help me today. A stranger who can move freely. Hope to have proof against Bernadette Peneles by tonight!


Bernadette Peneles is guilty, as I thought! My new agent has proved trustworthy and efficient. We must move quickly before the conspiracy learns that I am no longer alone. I should have proof against Toutius Sextius by tonight.


Bernadette Peneles is not involved in the conspiracy! At least so my new acquaintance tells me. I hope it is true, but my instincts are rarely wrong. But I have no reason to suspect treachery, yet. The report on Toutius Sextius should help me decide where my new friend's loyalties lie.


Proof against Toutius Sextius, at last! I chose my helper well. Now to gather evidence against Davide Surilie, and the conspiracy will at last be laid bare. If we can preserve the element of surprise, we may still have a chance!


Toutius Sextius is blameless, it seems. I am glad to know that at least one of my fellow-citizens is not involved in the conspiracy. When my new friend delivers proof of Davide Surilie's guilt, I can finally take decisive action with a clear conscience.


I fear the conspiracy spreads further than I thought. The supposed stranger in town appears to be involved. Is it likely that both Bernadette Peneles and Toutius Sextius are blameless? But I must not act without proof. I have always held myself to a higher standard than my enemies. The report on Davide Surilie will tell the tale. I fear that the end is near. But I will not go down without a fight! They will know that Glarthir, at least, did not submit to their yoke quietly!!


Mondas: Today I caught Bernadette Peneles watching me. I have very little doubt now that she is one of them. This saddens me. I had thought her one of the few to show me kindness in this nest of treachery. But now it seems that it was all a lie.


Current thoughts on the conspiracy:

Maruhkati Selectives -- Most likely!! Ruthless and secretive. I have undoubtedly earned their enmity by my vigilance numerous times.

The Blades -- Supposedly the guardians of the Empire. Question: Do they know that I know their dark secret? Everything hinges on that!

Mythic Dawn -- Need to learn more about them!!! Obscure hints from various sources suggest they could be the most dangerous of the three. Question: Why do they want me dead?


Observation of Davide Surilie:

Morndas: Watched him from my upstairs window. He pretends to work, but I can tell that he is really watching my house. Spent several hours whispering to his brother. Could Gaston be involved as well?

Tirdas: Followed him to his vineyard. Don't think he saw me. He went off by himself once -- could have been burying secret evidence? NOTE: Go back tonight and search for this. Could be the break I need to finally learn the truth!

Middas: Too sick to go out today, but noticed him staring at my window.

Turdas: Searched the vineyard tonight. Found nothing, but the ground had clearly been disturbed. He must have learned I was spying on him and removed it! NOTE: Need to find someone from out of town to help me. My movements are too closely watched!

Fredas: Davide watched my house again. He doesn't even try to hide it anymore. They are becoming more brazen now. Think I am as good as caught in their net. I must strike back before it's too late! But are desperate measures called for yet? Do I have enough proof to justify acting?


Loredas: Toutius Sextius may be one of them. Noticed him staring at me today near the Low Gate. I am tempted to stop going out, but that might tip my hand. They must NOT know I am aware of their agents, or they may finally move against me!

Yes. Toutius Sextius lives alone. No one knows what goes on in that big old house of his. Could it be the headquarters of the conspiracy? If only my movements were not so closely watched!


These people MUST be killed! There is no choice, they are definitely conspiring against me.

Bernadette Peneles
Toutius Sextius
Davide Surilie (THE RINGLEADER -- kill him first!)

Come back and see me (make sure you are NOT followed) once it is done and I will give you your reward.



Bernadette Peneles MUST be killed! There is no choice, she is definitely conspiring against me.

Come back and see me (make sure you are NOT followed) once it is done and I will give you your reward.



These people MUST be killed! There is no choice, they are definitely conspiring against me.

Bernadette Peneles
Davide Surilie (THE RINGLEADER -- kill him first!)

Come back and see me (make sure you are NOT followed) once it is done and I will give you your reward.



These people MUST be killed! There is no choice, they are definitely conspiring against me.

Bernadette Peneles
Toutius Sextius

Come back and see me (make sure you are NOT followed) once it is done and I will give you your reward.



Davide Surilie MUST be killed! There is no choice, he is definitely conspiring against me.

Come back and see me (make sure you are NOT followed) once it is done and I will give you your reward.



These people MUST be killed! There is no choice, they are definitely conspiring against me.

Toutius Sextius
Davide Surilie (THE RINGLEADER -- kill him first!)

Come back and see me (make sure you are NOT followed) once it is done and I will give you your reward.



Toutius Sextius MUST be killed! There is no choice, he is definitely conspiring against me.

Come back and see me (make sure you are NOT followed) once it is done and I will give you your reward.



This brings me to my next subject, the glowing root known as Nirnroot.

Although the oddly tenacious root grows almost anywhere a significant body of water is present, this root is extremely rare, and I believe soon to become extinct. I myself have yet to come across one of the gnarled shoots, as they're rarely in sight of the roads that cross Cyrodiil. According to the records of the noted Imperial Herbalist Chivius Regelliam, the Nirnroot once flourished and could be found all over the country, but he suspected a cataclysmic event severely stunted their growth. Although many scholars reject the proposal that the Sun's Death event of 1E 668 catastrophically affected plant life, Chivius feels that the Nirnroot's lineage was damaged by the lack of sun for a full year. Whereas other plant species tend to "find a way," the Nirnroot's mysterious magical nature made it especially susceptible to this climate shift. While this may or may not be the case, it's certainly true that the recorded sightings of Nirnroot are declining as the years pass.

The most perplexing facet of Chivius's studies is that his notes describe the root as having a yellowish glow. Contrary to this fact, the Nirnroot of today has a soft bluish or blue-white glow. Unfortunately, since not many studies of the Nirnroot were performed from Chivius's day until now, it's unknown when or why this occurred. What I'm proposing today is that the Nirnroot, even though merely a plant, sensed impending extinction and therefore changed its own nature to survive. One of the more obvious facets of today's Nirnroot that supports this theory is the fact that it can now survive underground without any sunlight at all. While it's true that generally only mosses and fungi grow in these environments, I have two signed depositions by persons claiming that they sighted the Nirnroot in deep caves. Not once in Chivius's copious notes is a subterranean Nirnroot mentioned. But how could this be? How could a surface dwelling plant suddenly begin appearing in new locations radically different from its normal habitat?

The answer, my fellow alchemists, is nestled within Chivius's own notes. Although he spends a great deal of time with the Nirnroot in his laboratory, the one thing he neglected to test at a high enough level of detail was the soil. As stated previously, Chivius felt that the Sun's Death, the eruption of Red Mountain, contributed to the demise of the Nirnroot. Agreed. My amendment to that proposal is that the ash that fell from the sky that entire year mixed with the soil, and again, due to the magical nature of the root, contributed to the aforementioned changes. The ash became a catalyst of sorts, forcing a change in the very makeup of the Nirnroot. Although very little ash from that dark time remains, I have done tests on newer ash samples sent to me from Vvardenfell. They show little to no magical properties, certainly none of which could affect a plant to that magnitude. However, the rare occurrence of what's known as Ash Salt in the normal ash does contain very potent magical abilities. In fact, some native Dunmer are said to harness that ability to create a cure for the Blight, which pervaded their realm many years ago. I feel this magic, meshed with the Nirnroot's inherent magic caused the radical change... in essence; the root "healed itself."

To surmise, my two proposals are certainly linked. The plant needed to survive, and therefore used a byproduct of its destructor to do so. No other plant in nature has ever come close to this metamorphosis. I feel the Nirnroot has accomplished in a relatively short amount of time what it would take other species millions of years to complete.

Whatever the case may be, one thing is certain; the Nirnroot is on a path to destruction. It contains untapped potential to create potions the likes of which have never been seen in our day. I propose to you today that we divert a small portion of our funds to an expedition to collect some of these roots to study. I have outlined this proposal for your perusal after this section of the Symposium. Please, seriously consider this proposal before it becomes too late, and the Nirnroot becomes nothing but a memory.

Thank you for your time.

Given to me by the Chief of the Deep Ones. He taught me his language and his runes. This is the ancient lore of his people which we shall follow from now until forever.

Signed in the presence of twelve witnesses,

Irlav Moslin
3E 345

so cxiumonataj kunvenauw, sed nature ankoix pri aliaj aktuasoj aktivecauw so societo. Ne malofte enahkstas krome plej diversaspekta materialo eduka oix distra.

So interreta Kvako (retletera kaj verjheauw) ahkstas unufsonke alternativaj kanasouw por distribui so enhavon so papera Kva! Kvak!. Sed alifsonke so enhavauw so diversaj verjheauw antoixvible ne povas kaj ecx ne vus cxiam ahksti centprocente so sama. En malvaste cirkusonta paperfolio ekzemple ebsos publikigi ilustrajxauwn, kiuj pro kopirajtaj kiasouw ne ahkstas uzebsoj en so interreto. Alifsonke so masoltaj kostauw reta distribuo forigas so spacajn limigauwn kaj permahksas pli ampleksan enhavon, por ne paroli pri gxishora aktualeco.

Tiuj cirkonstancauw rahkspeguligxos en so aspekto so Kvakoa, kiu ja cetere servos ankoix kiel gxeneraso retejo so ranetauw.


[This is apparently the diary of a young Argonian named Dar-Ma. Most of the book deals with personal but mundane details of her life in Chorrol. The only interesting entry is the last one:]

Arrived in Hackdirt after dark, due to Blossom throwing a shoe on the way -- the road was REALLY rough! hardly more than a track -- doesn't anyone else ever come down here?!

The trader's shop was closed, and she wouldn't come to the door even though I could see a light in the upstairs window -- RUDE!!! But at least this inn was open (although the proprietor is kind of creepy -- kept giving me these weird grins when he thought I wasn't looking -- ugh.) And what's wrong with his face??

Seems like I'm the only one staying here tonight. I didn't see much of the town since it was already dark, but I admit to being kind of spooked -- but I'll never admit that to Mother! Or she'd never let me go on another one of these deliveries. She still thinks I'm just a baby (she would probably say "hatchling," and in front of my friends too!) Remember to ask her about the creepy innkeeper when I get home.

Well, the candle is almost burned down (they don't even provide a lantern in this horrible old inn!), so I guess I'd better try to get some sleep. If I CAN even sleep with all the creaking in this old place! I keep thinking I hear footsteps outside the door, I'm so on edge -- GROW UP, Dar! I'm sure in the morning it will all seem quaint and charming. Good night, Diary!


12th of Rains Hand: Today I begin my great project on the spontaneous generation of life. I expect that there will be difficult days ahead, but if I succeed, my place among the great mages of history will be assured.

23rd Rains Hand: Still not able to even reproduce Empedocles's results with maggots. I'm beginning to think his reputation is overblown.

3rd Second Seed, Tirdas: Empedocles was right! The mistranslation of "sunlit" to "scorching heat" explains my earlier problems. From now on I will work only in the original daedric, despite the risks.

Fredas (mid Second Seed?): Local peasants came by to complain about the noise. I promised them that all that was behind me. A pleasant if dull-witted crew.

Morndas (I think): The experiment today went better than expected. Although the number of rats produced was surprising, they were all remarkably docile, just as Malham predicted (although only I have ever proven it empirically!).

Middas: Villagers again. More complaints. You would think they'd never seen a rat before! They are starting to become a real nuisance.

I've run into a terrible snag. Galerion's Ninth Law appears immutable! If the total life generated cannot exceed the cube of the source, this line of research may prove a dead end. I must reread Empedocles for any hint that he was able to circumvent this barrier.

Next day: The locals are becoming insufferable! While I was walking in the woods, some of them broke into my laboratory and spilled the solution I was preparing -- nearly a full quart of purified imp gall wasted! They did not seem to grasp the absurdity of a crowd of unwashed peasants with dung on their boots complaining about the smell. It is well past time I did something about this problem.

Two days later: I dug up the notes from my permanent invisibility thesis. No time like the present to put theory into practice!

Today: The spell worked! Not perfect invisibility, of course (Vanto's Third Law), but it was more powerful than I expected. And there were none of the side effects that Professor Traven had predicted. Ha ha, even in my youth I was already outstripping my elders. Now I can get back to my real work in peace.

BOOK:DESCMS47ReverseInvisibilityScrollAncotar's Reverse Invisibility
BOOK:DESCMS52LordJournalEntry 1. Beauty! Pure and sublime. That is the only way to accurately describe my love, the maiden gro-Malog. True, the Orcs of Tamriel are often vilified by the other citizens of the Empire, and rarely would they be considered a pleasure to look upon. So, is my maiden Luktuv a rare breed of Orc, unlike the rest of her kin in physical appearance? Nay. In fact, she is the perfect representative of her race, green skin, muscular frame and all. But beautiful she is, all the same. For who am I to judge? Who am I to criticize when so many would condemn my very existence? I can only hope my love is as understanding when she learns of my unique condition, for I have yet to reveal that most precious of secrets. Entry 2: Damn the politics of my station! Taxation and trade negotiations and meetings with disingenuous aristocrats -- it's sometimes enough to make me regret my birthright altogether. I've spent the latter half of my life hiding my identity, guarding my secret. But now I am faced with an even greater challenge, for if word were to get out that I have fallen in love with a servant -- and an Orc, no less -- I would be all but ruined! Such is the life of the Cyrodilic nobleman. Entry 3: Curse me for a coward, but I have not yet found the strength to tell my beloved Luktuv the truth. Perhaps it's for the best, for what benefit is there in her knowing? She would share all of my fears but none of my abilities. Her life would become one of doubt and uncertainty. Still, if she is to spend her remaining mortal days with me, she has the right to know the truth. Entry 4: Joy and exaltation! She is with child! My beloved Luktuv is carrying my child! The midwives predict a boy, and we have already settled on the name Agronak. In truth, I never realized such miracles were even possible, but the Divines have granted us their blessing, and so shall it be. I must wonder, of course, if my dear child will share in my Dark Gift. Only time will tell. Entry 5: Tonight the truth will be revealed. I will tell my beloved Luktuv everything. She will know who and what I am, and we will decide how best to raise the precious child that grows in her womb. Entry 6: Betrayal! Foul and loathsome harlot! How dare Luktuv question my motives, question the love I have for my own unborn child! When she learned the truth, that I, the Lord Lovidicus, am no longer human, that I have walked Tamriel as a vampire for the past two hundred years, how quickly she judged me! So, I am a monster, am I? Perhaps I should have proven her right. Perhaps I should have drained her dry when I had the chance! But I loved her, as deeply as a man has ever loved a woman, and I wanted nothing more than to bring our baby into this world and embrace my new role as father. Perhaps when Luktuv has come to her senses -- for she refuses to come out of her room -- we can have rational discourse about our future. I do not, however, retain much hope. Entry 7: Imprisoned! Imprisoned in my own home! While I slept, Luktuv locked me in my own private chambers. She called to me through the doors, told me of her plan to escape with our unborn child. She means to keep my baby from me! When I get free, I will find the traitorous whore and rip the child from her very womb! Entry 8: Two weeks. Two weeks have passed since Luktuv locked me in my quarters. Try as I might, I cannot free myself. I cannot breach the doors! If I don't feed soon, I feel I will go mad. Entry 9: Food blood blood blood blood I need it I need blood need blood Entry 10: ...
BOOK:DESCMS92NoteBrugo's take -- 300 ducks. Ready for Middas pickup, after midnight.
14 of Heartfire 3E362

I guess you found the message I told you about, old friend. We've traveled together for so long, and you're the only one I trust with the ring and my story.

I knew climbing into the window of that wizard's house was a mistake, but the bounty on the ring was just too enticing to pass up. They said it was worth thousands of drakes... enough to keep me comfortable for a while as I lay low. They also said Ortharzel was out of town at some meeting of wizards or some such.

They were wrong on both counts. You'd think I'd be used to this by now, dealing with the unpredictable in our line of work. But after trying to fence the ring all over Cyrodiil, no one would touch it. Worse still, Ortharzel was pursuing me the entire time. I had to call in many favors to stay one step ahead of him.

I decided to strike north and make for Skyrim. As I was crossing the Jeralls, he finally caught up to me. Two fireballs later, I found myself tumbling down a steep snowy slope into a valley. Don't know where I am, but there are ruins of some old fort here. Luckily, that fetcher didn't follow me down; I assume he gave me up for dead.

I think I'm going to stash the ring in this valley, make for Skyrim, and return later when I feel it's safe. I've used some old chests I found in the ruins to make sure nobody stumbles across the ring by mistake; you know, the old key to a key thing like we used to do. If I don't make it back here, and you're reading this message, then the ring is all yours, my friend. Use it well and remember me.

BOOK:DESCSE02LoveLetter My beloved Sheogorath,

Forgive me, it's been so long I can't remember the last time I've written.

I can only hope these letters reach you. I know your duties keep you busy, but any message from you would be welcome, even if it is given through that fool, Haskill. If it is not possible, fear not, my love is constant. I can remember the day you brought me to your realm as if it were yesterday. But I miss you terribly.

You should see the supplicants mucking about in the Fringe these days. A few I think will be ready soon -- the rest, who can say? If it weren't blasphemous, I might venture to say that the world has been slowly going sane. I can almost feel in my bones a chilling presence approaching, like a devouring emptiness. That does not bode well, but I trust in my Lord's power to keep our spirits well nourished from his bounteous showers of inspiration.

Our child continues to destroy those pesky adventurers who come seeking treasure and glory.

I have been sojourning here in Passwall, tutoring Nanette Don as an apprentice. She is one of the hopefuls that I believe will bloom soon. In the meanwhile, I can visit our child -- I go see him every night around midnight, when the world is quiet, when it belongs to memory and imagination. He is strong and powerful like his father. Would that you visited us some time. It's almost cruel, the way you keep aloof from me. Sometimes I can't even bear to look at him, because I can remember when we created him, your glistening body in the pool, lovingly blending the components of flesh that would become our child -- and afterward you tortured me in your sweet embrace. But now when I visit him, I can't help but weep like a little girl. I know how unlike me it seems... I just can't help it. To make matters worse, it seems my tears burn my poor creature. It agitates that Daedric soul bound in his body, threatening to sever the warding magic weaved into him. I didn't realize how badly that soul would seek release from the shell I grew in my gardens. But the flesh is pure. Perfect! Perhaps it is my own tears that hold the imperfection...

But I shouldn't be bothering you with these petty concerns. Our child, your Gatekeeper, stands guard over the Gates of Madness, mighty and powerful. No harm shall come to him.

Yours truly and forever,


3 Rain's Hand 3E431

We were finally able to convince that idiot rogue Lewin that it was time to give up that strongbox of money he stole from Lelles' Quality Merchandise in Anvil and ditch it outside the castle. All the heat he brought on the group was starting to chafe. Syndelius pretty much sat him down and made him do it, because I was ready to put my foot in his face. I know he's a rogue, but we're adventurers; we get our loot from raiding old crypts, and ruins, and places that ain't got guards. He can be a real horse's ass sometimes, I'll tell ya.

12 Rain's Hand 3E431

What a bad Fredas we've had. We hit what was left of old Fort Wariel, and after slaughtering a bunch of no good Marauders and grabbing their loot, made our way north. We came to the ruins of Trumbe. Syndelius said they were Ale Lid or Eyelid or some kind of old civilization, but all I cared about was how loaded with gold they were. He said usually they were, so in we went. What a mistake! The place was crawling with skeletons and ghosts. Those things give me the creeps. How can I fight something that ain't even alive? Lewin took a few good hits and had to pop all his potions, Syndelius broke his arm when a trap almost crushed him to death and I got a nice nasty scar across my forehead. Close call. Best of all, when we got to the treasure horde, Lewin was out of lockpicks! Why do we even keep him with us? We had to drag the damn container out of Trumbe and all the way back to Camp Atrene. Now I'm sitting here staring at a stupid metal box wishing I could use Lewin's head to bash it open. What a dolt.

13 Rain's Hand 3E431

After a night of deciding whether or not to snap off Lewin's legs and use them as firewood, I sent Syndelius and Lewin to Anvil to buy more lockpicks while I guarded the box. They came back in a few hours and Lewin picked the lock in the first try. Good thing too, I was still pretty mad at the guy. I don't like sitting around all day. Anyway, Syndelius got all excited when he saw something wrapped up in some sort of fancy cloth. Inside the cloth was a bunch of stuff, but the best was the sword. What a beauty! Blade looks like a mouth with teeth, handle like golden snakeskin and the gem in the middle of it... a perfect fiery orange and red, like the sky at dawn. Syndelius was going crazy and I asked him what was all the noise for. He told me it was Akaveery or something like that and made by the Snake People or the Sayessie or whatever. Syndelius says Sayessie starts with a T just now when he saw me writing this, but that doesn't make any sense. T-s-a-e-s-c-i. Fine, there, I wrote it. By the Nine, Syndelius is nosy sometimes. Well, anyway, the best was yet to come. Right as the sun was setting the sword vanished for a moment and was suddenly replaced by another weapon that looked almost the same, but the gem on it was deep blue and purple. Syndelius said he was certain that at dawn, it would change back to the orange and red gem! Well, this was good enough for me. That alone made the sword the best thing I had ever seen. Lewin muttered something about Akaveery magic, but I told him to shut up. I decided to call the sword Dawnfang when it was orange and red and Duskfang when it was blue and purple.

14-16 Rain's Hand 3E341

Things are getting better and better with my new sword in these last few days. I found out Dawnfang is a fire blade and Duskfang is a frost blade... handy for extra killing power! But the best was what I found out when a Minotaur decided to jump us and I landed the killing blow. I heard a voice in my head. Or maybe a thought? I dunno. It was weird. But it felt like the sword knew it had just killed the Minotaur, like it was counting or something. At first I thought maybe I was just tired, but after tearing through a camp of Bandits, it kept counting. After the twelfth kill, it told me its thirst was satisfied. At least, I think it told me. Then it stopped. Syndelius said it's possible the sword was a blood drinker... my kind of sword... but he didn't know what would happen. It didn't take that long to find out. When dusk came around, and the blade changed... I almost fell off the campfire log. The new blade was still Duskfang... but it somehow seemed stronger. I could just tell. I couldn't wait to try it out! I ran right out and looked for something to kill. Didn't take long to come across a few of those stupid imps. Sure enough, not only did it do more frost damage than normal, but also I could feel the energy from the creature transfer to me every time I hit it! What a weapon this was! Yeah! Duskfang Superior! That's what I'll call it. Sometimes I amaze even myself. Syndelius said he was sure Duskfang would blood drink too and I could power up Dawnfang with it. I spent all night looking for twelve things to kill, and when the sun came up, he was right! Dawnfang Superior is to be this one's name. It's like having four blades in one!

17-19 Rain's Hand 3E341

It's been the most fun I have ever had in my life cutting a bloody swath across the ruins of Cyrodiil with my new double sword. Syndelius and Lewin are even more confident now that we have such a powerful weapon among us. We've gathered tons of loot in the last three days, but nothing compares to this. We're going to head north and explore the area around Niben Bay today. I hope that something else like this turns up on our adventures. Then I'm going to retire!
BOOK:DESCSE03ManualofXedilianBookOn the subject of Xedilian's construction, Lord Sheogorath, let me begin by extending the warmest regards to you and your noble being. The construction was completed on time and well under budget as you demanded ("under pain of fun," I believe you are quoted as saying) and with only the most infinitesimal loss of life. I am proud to say that by harnessing the energy of that most unusual crystalline formation, Xedilian should maintain itself for years to come (with proper maintenance of course). At your request, I have included the full operation instructions for each section of the site. If you have any other questions, please feel free to bother me anytime (like when you originally thought of this idea in the middle of the night).

The heart of Xedilian is its power source, the Resonator of Judgment. By tuning this huge chunk of crystal with the Attenuator of Judgment (a "tuning fork" of sorts), we have released a wave of siren-like sound that will draw anyone from outside the Isles. Three Focus Crystals have been placed throughout the site to assist in keeping this wave of sound even and stable. This site will not function without all three Focus Crystals running in unison, so it's important to keep them clean and safe on their "cradles" (which I have called their Judgment Nexus). The Focus Crystals are irreplaceable at this time, so take proper precautions guarding the site when not in use.

Xedilian is split into three encounter areas all linked with the latest in arcane transport technology. As the hapless "Xedilianites" (it was fun to experiment on them, thank you for that) make their way through each room, they are subjected to a test based either on the Manic philosophy or that of the Demented... whichever suits your whim at the time. All you need do is push a single button, then sit back with your favorite wine (we've provided luxurious observation platforms from which to enjoy the show) and watch the results.

Each encounter area has a unique theme that matches your requests as close as we could provide. I think you'll be pleased with the results. Below I have detailed each room and the effects you can expect from them (in brief, as I know your lordship is busy):

Chamber of Conversion

A fairly empty room with a large grating on the floor and single, half-sized "harmless" Gnarl wandering in the center.

Manic Result
Our small, harmless Gnarl will be grown in size to nearly thrice that of the average Xedilianite. Most we observe run around in an attempt to escape the lumbering creature. Eventually, it will stop and fade away. The magic of the room is enhanced by the spore gas we pump in through the grating.

Demented Result
Our tiny friend Gnarl is joined by a small swarm of its brethren and they attack our surprised guests! Genius!

Chamber of Avarice

In this room, a huge mound of treasure sits atop a half-ziggurat inside a securely locked cage (to which there is no key).

Manic Result
We drop several hundred keys to the ground that are all exact duplicates. It's amusing to watch Xedilianites scramble through the keys for the correct one. Some spend days. Amazing.

Demented Result
When the Xedilianite reaches the top of the ziggurat; we blast them with a highly concussive flame spell. The blast always sends them flying... good fun for all, discounting those that do not survive.

Chamber of Anathema

As you requested, we saved this one for last. The Xedilianite that has the mettle to make it this far now faces the toughest challenge of all. This room features freshly killed corpses, blood, and plenty of hanging bodies (for your darker moods, my lord).

Manic Result
We kill the Xedilianite, and cause a specter of his former self to rise from the body. Not many Xedilianite minds can handle this one... most go insane this far into the site. I must confess, this room is a favorite of mine.

Demented Result
Nothing better than a good old-fashioned battle! We raise at least double the number of zombies as there are Xedilianites and let them all have at it! Simple, elegant, and deadly.

I hope you are pleased with the results of Xedilian. I know you'll have just as much fun using it as we had fun constructing it. Strangely, we have yet to receive payment for the site, but I am sure it is just a minor oversight and it will be corrected as soon as your lordship has a mome...
BOOK:DESCSE05NoteI haven't got much time. She's coming for me.

Nelrene asked me to hold on to this sword. Said I should give it to Anya and have her do the deed, but Anya wouldn't. Now maybe it can find a better use as evidence. Syl will recognize it.

Muurine is in charge. She's the one telling Nelrene what to do. If I'm not around, I hope this is enough evidence to bring her in.

I hope I'm alive to see it.
BOOK:DESCSE09RelmynaLog1 Project Limb Removal
Day 12 Observations and Summary Conclusions

Day 12
Removing an arm from the young wood elf female made her fight all the harder for her life, despite being clearly outmatched. In previous battles, she fought much less bravely and to lesser effect. She lasted a full minute against my most angry of hounds before her throat was ripped out and I had to revive her.

However, removing just the feet of the middle-aged Nord male made him despondent and without any will to defend himself, even against a lesser foe. So pitiful was the look on the face of his corpse, that I decide to leave him be, rather than resurrect him. After so many years of scientific study, I still cannot abide apathy. I'm sure that my aversion to pity has colored my findings, as I only make use of strong-willed test subjects. Though I suppose, flawed as my research may be, it is still more revealing and faithful than any other has done before me.

Summary Conclusions
After studying the various combats between the test subjects in this project, I have concluded that, much as the pain threshold is inconsistent within a given species, so too is the effect of dismemberment. Whether beast or man, the removal of a limb, be it functional as a hand, or peripheral as a tail, has varying effects on the subject, having to do more with individual temperament than any biological or cultural endowment. Whatever the particular effect, it is substantial. Whether it enhances a subject's tendency toward aggressiveness or passivity, or swings them to the other extreme, removing a limb has a profound effect on behavior.

After reviewing my notes, I will attempt to catalogue all the similarities and differences between the subjects and their responses. I may be able to offer Lord Sheogorath a guidebook detailing how to craft a better kingdom by removing various appendages from the bodies of its people.
BOOK:DESCSE09RelmynaLog2 Unproductive Musings
Today I intended to continue my research into the effect of pain on the host of the unborn (in this case the middle-aged pregnant Breton female), and yet, no matter how many times she was ripped apart and resurrected, I simply could not bring myself to the requisite attentiveness serious study demands.

Rather than the usual precision of observation, my faculties seemed possessed of a peculiar poetic sensibility. So that, rather than dutifully logging each scream and twitch of agony, I seem transported by her cries to some other place.

I became sheltered within a tapestry of tranquility, woven from the screams of the Breton's anguish warped against the grunts and clacking of the beasts and shambles that toyed with her.

It was there, in that spot, my soul naked and clean, that I came to a sense of clarity. And like all - dare I say - religious experiences, returning to my mundane senses, I am left with little more than a faded memory of supernal knowledge, like a burned parchment on which once were written words of wisdom and understanding, of which now only torn and blurred fragments remain.

The harder I try to remember that innate knowledge, the more it seems to recede from me. The essence that remains is this:

Pain is a force that purifies, ennobles, and uplifts. It is the Fire that burns away impurities, that melts away imperfections.

Death is not the sign of weakness, nor bodily constitution the sign of strength. It is what happens to soul when brought into the Fire that determines the mettle of men.

Those with inner strength are forged into weapons of devastating keenness by Pain's Fire. Those who are undeserving and weak turn to dark and lifeless ash in Its heat.

And there it stands in all its inscrutability - so much for an unproductive day. Perhaps tomorrow will lead to more fruitful experiments.
BOOK:DESCSE09RelmynaLog3 Project Hound's Blood

Day 7 observations

My theory stated before trial is thus:
"Blending the most recent concoction of hound blood with that from a headless zombie will result in a beast with greater fury and resistance to pain."

Test 1

Subject 1 has the current concoction, and Subject 2 has the new mixture.

Battle 1:
Subject 1 lasted approximately one minute before expiring, having done average amount of injury to Subject 2. Subject 2 seemed not to notice most of the injuries it received.

Battle 2:
After a drawn out combat, Subject 1 killed Subject 2, but suffered near fatal wounds. Subject 2 fought to the bitter end with the same energy it started with.

Battle 3:
Subject 1 went out very quickly.

Battle 4:
Subject 1 lasted less that a minute. Subject 2 took little injury.

Test 2

Subject A and B both have the standard blood. Subject C and D both have the new blood.

Battle 1 (A vs. B):
Lasted just over a minute, both hounds suffering grievous injury, and somewhat bothered by their wounds.

Battle 2 (A vs. B):
Nearly identical results.

Battle 3 (C vs. D):
Lasted over two minutes, both hounds suffering grievous injury. Neither seemed very winded or bothered by their wounds.

Battle 4 (C vs. D):
Lasted under 1 minute, both suffering grievous injury. Neither seemed very bothered by their wounds.

It seems my original theory was correct. In future trials I will try watering down the headless zombie blood before adding it to the mixture, to gain some insight into the actual potency of the blood itself and determine how much of the additional effect is coming from its combination with the existing ingredients.
BOOK:DESCSE09RelmynaLog4 Experiment Setup and Hypothesis
Reptilian Appetite Conditioning

I have raised these Baliwogs and Scalon together, from hatchling to adult. I inflicted great pain on them when they were aggressive towards each other, and rewarded them when they showed aggression towards others. They have since acquired an almost familial bond, normally expressed in warm-blooded creatures. See previous experiment logs for details.

For the last month, I have been starving them in separate cages, allowing them occasionally to eat, but only tiny amounts of reptilian flesh.

I have procured a fatty Breton of previously luxurious lifestyle. There is not an ounce of muscle on him. He should be a most tempting snack, indeed. But we shall see!

I shall return soon to run the experiment. There is still some time left to starve the reptiles until they are most desperate.
BOOK:DESCSE09RelmynaLog5 Experiment Setup and Hypothesis
Week-old blood

I have paired up a hound and shambles of equal fighting capacity. However, I have recently drained the hound of its zombie blood, and replaced it with blood extracted from a Breton corpse, which had lain for a week, rotting in the hot sun. When I return, having let it acclimate to its new supply of vital fluid, I expect the hound will perform with much less efficiency than normal.
BOOK:DESCSE09RelmynaLog6 Experiment Setup and Hypothesis
Hunger vs. Shambles, with elven catalyst

While generally an even match, these two Shambles versus a single Hunger, previous experiments have indicated that the presence of a warm body causes the Hunger to increase its ferocity. This territorial hunting imperative is completely lacking in the shambles. They seek to destroy life, not to devour it.

In this case I have confined a Hunger to his cage, while leaving an unspoiled high elf female in viewing distance. Hungers seem to have a particular thirst for elf maiden blood. And this one, on the verge of flowering, should be a particularly irresistible morsel.

I hypothesize that the hunger will fight with greater force and precision in the up coming battle, after I let the creature and elf maiden stew awhile in each other's proximity.

I shall return in a few days to run the experiment.

Amber Armor

I, Dumag gro-Bonk, Master Smith of New Sheoth, am honor and duty bound by oath to my beloved mentor, to forge weapons and armor for any hero who brings me Amber. I will create magical versions of these weapons and armor if the hero can, along with the Amber, return to me the appropriate matrix, which my mentor has scattered throughout the land, to soak in the magical essence of the Shivering Isles. The amount of Amber required to make items is listed below:

1 piece ---- Arrows (per 25)

2 pieces ---- Bow

4 pieces ---- Hammer

2 pieces ---- Mace

3 pieces ---- Sword

2 pieces ---- Boots

5 pieces ---- Cuirass

2 pieces ---- Gauntlets

3 pieces ---- Greaves

2 pieces ---- Helmet

2 pieces ---- Shield


Madness Armor

I, Cutter, Master Smith of New Sheoth, by tradition and sacred pledge to my deceased mentor, must forge weapons and armor for any hero who brings me Madness Ore. I will create magical versions of these weapons and armor if the hero provides the needed Ore and the appropriate matrix, which my mentor has hidden throughout the land, drinking in the mystical essences, the blood of the Shivering Isles. The amount of Madness Ore required to make items is listed below:

1 piece ---- Arrows (per 25)

2 pieces ---- Bow

4 pieces ---- Claymore

2 pieces ---- War Axe

3 pieces ---- Sword

2 pieces ---- Boots

5 pieces ---- Cuirass

2 pieces ---- Gauntlets

3 pieces ---- Greaves

2 pieces ---- Helmet

2 pieces ---- Shield

BOOK:DESCSE36Note I've wanted to die for quite some time. Things just aren't going right. Never have gone right, really. No one seems to care either, nor even notice I exist. Not that I'd have much to say even if someone had wanted to be my friend. I'd make a lousy friend anyway. I'm probably even boring the person reading this. I'm certainly boring myself. Not that anyone will ever find this note. Oh, but if they do!

If they do it means that I've been granted my greatest wish! To be released from this mortal coil. This isn't a suicide note, no. That would mean I've taken my own life, and we all know what that means. Who wants that kind of existence, to be reborn on a hill every day, reset as if nothing ever happened? That's even worse than the life I'm living. Life I've lived! Yes, yes, yes! I'm sure I'm happy now. The dead me. The me writing this note isn't happy at all. Never have been happy, really.

Anyway, the purpose of this note is to say to the man or woman who has killed me: "Thank you!"

All I really have is this queer little ring. A wizard gave it to me once, said I reminded him of his dead son. I guess I resemble his dead son even more now. Anyway, he said it would make me happy. Lift the weight of the world off my shoulders or some such thing. Come to think of it, it's the only time anyone has ever given me anything. Personally, I think the thing is worthless. Just like me.

I tried it for a while, the "Happiness Ring," but eventually I couldn't wear it anymore. It made me feel odd -- not myself. I didn't like feeling that way so I locked it away. It's pretty enough, though. It might fetch a few gold coins at the merchant. Sorry not to leave much more behind. But, my life never really amounted to much anyway, did it?

Yours very truly,

Hirrus Clutumnus, deceased
BOOK:DESCSE37MiriliListI, Mirili Ulven of Highcross, will pay for samples of the following items, the sum of 10 coins each. As I only need one sample of each, I shall not pay for duplicates.

Alocasia Fruit
Aster Bloom Core
Black Tar
Blister Pod Cap
Congealed Putrescence
Digestive Slime
Elytra Ichor
Flame Stalk
Fungus Stalk
Gas Bladder
Gnarl Bark
Grummite Eggs
Hound Tooth
Hunger Tongue
Hydnum Azure Giant Spore
Pod Pit
Rot Scale
Scalon Fin
Screaming Maw
Shambles Marrow
Swamp Tentacle
Thorn Hook
Void Essence
Watcher's Eye
Withering Moon
Worm's Head Cap
BOOK:DESCSE39CindanweNotebook The sun listens to my greenness. But where did the moon frown? The sky is empty of children, and the earth eats strawberries. Yet, why do the worms taste of bitter-plumb?

Everyone is bereft of spores. Or the spores have devoured us all and we are left with nothing. Or everything is inside us, though we find ourselves swimming in rock, where strange things remain, and known things fall outside of their own selves - let alone from each of us!

Why play the paintbrush against her? She always stands close to being far away. And what of the farm then? Shall it twinkle in the breeze of lyricism? How should I know?

What I do know is this: the grass drinks flower dust like a glass bead swallowed tastes nothing like water. And furthermore, wherever one finds the absence of something, that something surely exists someplace else, or else how could it be absent. There is wisdom in this!

Yes, and everything has its place, and every place its thing belonging to it. It is the way of all things. Even those things misplaced know where they belong. They long to be. That is the whole point of belonging, is it not? And yet we are never so lonely as the stars, as when we find ourselves possessed. Of love? Of death? Of what then? Life?

But they call me Enemy, even as they exalt me. Yet even the wind is slave to the clouds... But the rain? It bounces against the sky like apples in a basket, and for what? What shall become of us when the pod pits die?

I would like to think that the bleak summer does not herald the death of the rain. But who is to say one way or the other? If the butterflies make up the walls, how does one see inside a room at night? Perhaps the room is already inside us and we are the ones who need occupants, and our occupants are the ones needing the light.

But I digress.

The spoon that slays monsters is always the last to enter the mouth, and the first to leave. Nor do eyes in the back of one's head mean that one can walk backwards... do the knees bend that way? Do the shoes point heavenward? No, we are stuck falling forward until we smash against the door of eternity. That is the essence of life. To be devoured in our own banality, though we wish to be something more.

I love this life, but I hate the aftertaste. Like waking from a dream with someone's fingers in your mouth. How did they get there? Whose hand do they belong to? Whose hand do any of us belong to, really?

It always comes back to belonging, does it not? It does. As the question knows the answer, the answer belongs to the question. And that is the whole point, I think: to know the question, and thus to belong to the answer.

That is why I must write in this book. Everyday. Sometimes twice. The others are jealous of the windflowers that bloom in these pages. They desire to swallow the ink through their nostrils, tasting the bitterness of all that life has in store for them... but it is my life that belongs to me. Even as my house belongs to the things inside it. And insides belong to outsides, and outsides are never quite as free to do as they think they are.

Always this. One thing after another, but not some things. Some things are better left where they think they are, not where they really are. Not all places are equal, nor all things belonging to the same spot. How could that be? No. Surely not.

When my sun shines through the moon's teeth, then it will be time. But not until. Until then I shall continue to smash my head through windows so that I might see. Where I am. Where here is. Where I belong. And all things being just so, so I be just. And justice is important in this life, is it not? How else can a life be justified, but by this?

The sun is forever moving. I must get back to work. I am grateful I have this place to put my thoughts, lest they become lost and confused as I am (though I'll never let the others see that... they think I have everything in control)...


An Elytra's Life
by Karmelle
t is a strange life that I have chosen, here amongst the beasts of these Shivering Isles. These Elytra -- a most gentle creature if ever there were a gentle creature - they have welcomed me among their brood as one of their own. I have made my life and home in their tunnels as if they were my own humble cabin, and indeed, I have been invited into their warm family unit.

Many who encounter the Elytra are initially set to unrest by their appearance. Their size alone is sufficient to unsettle most of the humanoid races. The enlarged thorax can grow to be as large as a human male and nearly a full span in girth. When I first encountered my insectoid friends, I believed the enlarged thorax to be a method to manufacture the ichor that is vital to the lives of the Elytra. In truth, the thorax is the precious womb where their noble lives begin.

However, one cannot discount the significance of the ichor that gathers at the spike near the base of the thorax. This precious substance emits a smell that most will describe as acidic and sour (although I find it to be a delight). The ichor serves the most brilliant purpose of the Elytra. It is used to paralyze living tissue of other creatures, rendering them unable to resist the advances of the Elytra. Here is where the true brilliance takes place.

When choosing a suitable host, the Elytra will impose itself on the creature. Any creature that draws breath seems to be biologically suitable for this purpose. I myself have witnessed Elytra Matrons choose creatures that range from simple wolves to a brilliant Khajiit alchemist. Each time, the host is chosen carefully. Oh, I know that the superstitious farmers of the Isles will say that the Elytra will attack any creature, but after what I've seen, I know that they approach each host with the utmost care.

The host is injected and their body becomes enriched with the flowing sweetness of the ichor. They relax and quickly expire as the magical nature of the Elytra's sting takes ahold of the host in its gentle grasp. After the host moves on, the Elytra nests its eggs in the still warm shell of the host. There, the eggs warm and grow over a period of mere days, feeding on the giving flesh of the host. Soon after, the hatchlings emerge and stumble forward into the world.
BOOK:DESCSEBookBarkAndSapBark and Sap:
The Root System and the Ecology and Culture of the Gnarl

[The editors wish to express that the views contained herein belong solely to the author and have been printed posthumously and anonymously.]

Before this present volume, little existed detailing the Root System tunnels and Gnarl but rumors, superstitions, and outright falsities. After consideration of such rumors, and after much research and expedition into the Root Systems to see the Gnarl in their natural habitat firsthand, this author will elucidate the ecology and culture of the Gnarl, the nature of the Root System, and their symbiotic relationship.

The Root System:
Commonly believed to be a series of natural caverns and rock formations with roots and foliage growing within, the Root System tunnels are, in fact, part of a giant living organism. Not only are these tunnels a living organic root-like entity, but each of the so-called "root dungeons" represents a smaller piece of a larger whole. The roots of all the trees (indeed of most the plant life on the Isles) all connect directly to the large Root System.

The various twisting and turning tunnels have been created slowly over past millennia. Indeed, the growth and motion of the roots is imperceptible, though definitely recordable. The very fastest-growing tunnels increase at a rate of a few feet every month, and the slowest a few inches every few decades.

Amber is a colorful resin formed from hardened sap. Much like skin bleeds and scabs over to protect a wound, the Root System tunnels "bleed" a sap that congeals and hardens into Amber deposits. Even still, the walls of the roots are very resilient; swinging a sword at the wall is not enough to puncture it. The large fissures that cause the appearance of Amber are the result of the massive pressures and frictional forces encountered by the giant roots as they push through tons of rock and dirt.

The Gnarl:
The current and best theory describes the Gnarl as the caretakers and stewards of the Root System. The creatures tend to the general maintenance and cleaning of the tunnels, clearing away excess Amber. This behavior has been observed directly, but observation time was limited due to the aggressive nature of the Gnarl. However, the abundance of Amber found on the corpses of the creatures further supports this view.

There has been some conjecture, though at present very little evidence to support the claim, that as Gnarl grow, they eventually become too large to maneuver the tunnels, and eventually fuse with the walls, becoming themselves part of the Root System. As to the recent claims of giant Gnarl, it should be noted that no creditable sources exist to corroborate. However, even were these reports to be true, the rarity of such sightings would suggest that only a very few Gnarl ever grow large enough to ascend to this root-state.

Little is known about the natural life span of the Gnarl or their social behavior, since observational expeditions into the Root System are difficult at best. We do know with certainty that they are very territorial. The Gnarl are so protective of their tunnels that they will respond aggressively to anyone who comes within sight, which makes studying their social systems nigh impossible. This behavior has, however, provided us with an abundance of corpses to study at our leisure.

When we analyze the corpses of dead Gnarl, we can see clearly that these creatures are made entirely of plant material. They are covered in bark and leaves, and over time they decompose similarly to other plant detritus. All attempts to "plant" Gnarl or parts thereof into the ground have been proven simple folly. To date, we don't actually know how the Gnarl reproduce.

Upon examination, we have found nothing that looks like a brain as found in other sentient creatures. This does lend credence to the symbiotic caretaker theory, suggesting a kind of hive mentality -- though there have been no substantiated sightings of any such "queen-Gnarl" who might be controlling the drones. The other available explanation is that it is magic that animates these creatures, though this author finds resolving difficult questions in this manner to be counter-productive to the development of a rational theory.

The complex Root is a living organism that grows little by little each month, tunneling beneath the land. Virtually all the plant life on the Isles is connected to this Root System. Severe trauma to the system walls results in the formation of Amber deposits as part of its natural defense mechanism. The Root System has a symbiotic relationship with the Gnarl, who act as its protectors and caretakers, and who may be phyletically and physiologically connected to the Root System itself. In short, we have a living system, with its own dedicated staff of protector-caretakers, growing and developing largely unnoticed beneath our very feet.

[Here the editors wish to acknowledge that the author was found dead near the entrance to one of the "root dungeons." We again wish to remind the reader that the opinions expressed by this author are his own. While we do not dismiss the rational method employed by the author in his studies, we certainly do not deny that magic is explanation enough for Our Lord Sheogorath's many wondrous Blessings. We did, however, carefully consider omitting this clearly treasonous second half. We have decided to include it for journalistic integrity and at the request of his generous widow.]

And now, I will venture towards that theoretical discussion which draws near heresy (which I daresay will one day be the end of me), but which I must put forward, for good or ill.

The common belief is that our Lord Sheogorath has blessed our land with two temperaments, Mania and Dementia. However, after much study and reasoning, I believe that it is the very realm itself that imposes upon us these two spheres of polar extremes!

I have devised a clever experiment, whereby I seek to prove this theory. If you take a flower from a common plant, cut it and place its stem in water with dye in it, you will notice that the petals will slowly take on the color of the dye. Clearly, the veins of the plant transport the color to the leaves.

Now, when we look at the Dementia side of the land, colors are muted and dark, and in the Mania side bright and colorful. I believe the Root System, and the Gnarl that serve it, are draining the color from the land of Dementia and giving it to the land of Mania!

For what purpose, it isn't clear, but my experiment shows how color is transported through plant veins, and what bigger system of plant veins is there than the giant Root System tunnel network? Is it not then obvious that this System is the conduit of the forces of Mania and Dementia?

And do we not eat the plants and the fruit of the trees that connect to the Root System and the beasts that feed on them, and drink the waters that fall from their leaves? Do we not breathe the air that carries their spores and seeds? Do we not throw our own waste onto the ground to be absorbed into the soil? Thus, are we not intimately connected to the giant Root System under our feet? Surely, we are one with it!

Clearly, the Root System is feeding those of us in the Mania brilliant color, giving us our mood swings, filling our hearts with passions and sensations, and giving us powerful urges by stealing these things from our fellows in Dementia, leaving them dark, desperate, angry, violent, and disturbed!

Sheogorath is not the source of our "gifts." It is the land itself that has unbalanced us so!

The Gnarl are the servants and lifeblood of this parasitic process.

If we were to kill all the Gnarl, the balance would be restored!

Mania would be less bright, true, but so would Dementia be less dark.

We and our world would become whole again!

Let go of your belief in the collective fantasy of Sheogorath!

Let go of your belief in your own special "gifts!"

We must destroy the Gnarl and the Root System!

We must destroy those who shackle us to belief in some haughty and aloof ruler, who toys with our emotions and well-being!

To arms, brothers and sisters!

To arms!


The 13 Blessings of Sheogorath
For Our Lord Sheogorath, without Whom all Thought would be linear and all Feeling would be fleeting.

Blessed are the Madmen, for they hold the keys to secret knowledge.

Blessed are the Phobic, always wary of that which would do them harm.

Blessed are the Obsessed, for their courses are clear.

Blessed are the Addicts, may they quench the thirst that never ebbs.

Blessed are the Murderous, for they have found beauty in the grotesque.
Blessed are the Firelovers, for their hearts are always warm.

Blessed are the Artists, for in their hands the impossible is made real.

Blessed are the Musicians, for in their ears they hear the music of the soul.

Blessed are the Sleepless, as they bask in wakeful dreaming.

Blessed are the Paranoid, ever-watchful for our enemies.

Blessed are the Visionaries, for their eyes see what might be.

Blessed are the Painlovers, for in their suffering, we grow stronger.
Blessed is the Madgod, who tricks us when we are foolish, punishes us when we are wrong, tortures us when we are unmindful, and loves us in our imperfection.

itharn: the Fall
Chapter I

In which the Keep Vitharn is established and passes from the first generation of rule to the second.

Count Vitharn, who built and appointed his keep from the mud of Dementia, gathered to himself any who would pledge themselves as liege. Nearby tribes of Fanatics were united as vassals to protect his lands and line, and thus the Count lived out his days in the Isles. He and his Countess Mawean bore Csaran and Nweala, the first son and daughter of Vitharn.

Csaran's mother and father believed that with the proper political influence, Csaran could certainly usurp Sheogorath and carry the Shivering Isles into a prosperous age. For his part, Count Vitharn refused even to acknowledge Sheogorath, thinking himself and his heirs irrefutable rulers of the Isles.

This, of course, amused the Madgod to no end, and so he allowed the marriage of Csaran to Sheen-in-Glade, daughter of an Argonian midwife who believed that the mortal sphere would afford her daughter nothing but hatred and oppression.

Sheen-in-Glade was as excellent a Countess to Csaran as any in the Isles could ask for, wanting nothing but to bring pride and honor to her adopted house and Court. For years her mind was untouched, even living as she did in the heart of Dementia. Alas, none may reside too long in the Isles without the blessing of Lord Sheogorath, and so Sheen-in-Glade was finally pushed to the brink by the infidelity of her Husband, the Count.

Csaran was obsessively nepotistic, and distrustful of anyone with whom he shared no blood relation including his bride. Though Sheen-in-Glade bore a son by the Count (who disappeared from the Isles in his twentieth year), it is known that the two shared their bed with decreasing frequency as Csaran's paranoia grew, and he found himself in the arms of his birth-sister Nweala, who bore of their incestuous affair the heir apparent, Cesrien. There are those of us who remember personally the reign of Cesrien, and his contribution to the fall of Vitharn.

Chapter II

In which the birth of Count Cesrien heralds a glorious, bloody, and brief age for Vitharn.

Violent-natured and quick of temper, Cesrien sought enemies where there were none. His early days on the seat of Vitharn saw the extermination of every tribe of man, mer, or beast within sight of the keep, until none were left.

During his brief reign, much of the southeastern coastline of Dementia was unsafe to travel, littered with the corpses of trespassers in the lands of Vitharn, staked to trees as territorial markers. Beside his sadistic temper, Count Cesrien of Vitharn was known also for his slow wit and ailing health.

Indeed, Cesrien was born with legs that seemed mismatched in length, and breathed with a laborious rasp. As a youth, tutors were hard-pressed to school the dull boy. Midwives and nurses surrounded him, attending his every ailment with balms and vapors from every corner of the Isles, but when he came of age he sent them away, often becoming violent in their dismissal.

Perhaps showing the influence of his father, Cesrien became increasingly introverted, allowing only a select few courtiers in his presence. He was seen in pubic only when organizing his vassal Fanatics for yet another raid on the countryside.

Atypically adhering to the desperate counsel of his advisors, Cesrien paused in his plundering to take a wife and ensure the continuation of Vitharn's noble line. The increasingly ill Count chose a vibrant peasant women as his betrothed, from a Heretic Commune in the wilds of Mania. Indeed, Countess Jideen could not have been any more his opposite. Vassal Fanatics, long loyal to their ancestral agreement with Count Vitraen, were inflamed by this heresy, and tensions grew as the health of Cesrien finally failed, and his young son, Cirion, ascended the throne of Vitharn.

Chapter III

In which conflict besets Vitharn and the Irenic Count Cirion is overwhelmed.

Young Count Cirion had scarcely been seen in public before his hasty coronation in the bailey of Vitharn Keep. Some say he still bore bruises from beatings at the feeble hand of his father during his final hours during the ceremony. Had Cirion been old enough to govern, his gentle, reserved demeanor may have been enough to ease the seething tension among the Vassal tribe, but his mother, Countess Jideen was forced to assume many of the duties her husband had so long ignored.

By all accounts, Jideen was a fit Countess; loved by her people -- but the leaders of the Vassal Fanatics could not contain indefinitely their personal sentiments of outrage at her Manic heritage. Despite her exceedingly tactful attempts at diplomacy, the animosity against her was deep-seated, and grew over the years. It is perhaps admirable that the Vassals remained true to the oaths so long.

When Cirion finally came of age to rule, the sheepish boy-Count tried in earnest to ascend gracefully, but his fear of the world was so great that even the shadow of a passing bird would startle him visibly. He was all but unable to address the people publicly, and when he attempted to placate the Vassals -- still outraged by his Mother's heritage -- he could scarcely contain his fright, and some say that he even soiled himself before fleeing the throne chamber.

Certain as the march of fate, the tolerance of the Vassal Fanatics snapped, and warriors encircled Vitharn. The Count's personal guards were ill-suited to repel the attack and the siege lasted a single day. Since the day of that battle, no living soul has wandered away from Vitharn. Local myth tells of a tireless struggle between the spirits of the Fanatic vassals and Vitharn's meager defenders, damned by the treachery of Fanatics and the cowardice of Cirion to replay their final moments in perpetuity.
From Frog to Man
by Meekus Ralbrek

The life cycle of the Grummite is rather unique. They appear to be a deviant version of frogs and may even be distantly related to Argonians, although I have no direct evidence of that. Like the humble frog, the Grummite is born from eggs found in or near water. The eggs hatch into tiny pollywogs, no bigger than my hand.

The pollywog grows quickly, and inside of a few weeks grows limbs and changes into an amphibious Baliwog. The Baliwog will live for up to two years, growing to be larger than a man in both length and weight.

Eventually, the adult Baliwog will feel the urge to seek out deep water and bury itself in the mud. It hibernates there for many months, gestating into a Grummite. I have been unable to determine the exact time of gestation. The Grummite emerges from the mud fully grown.

New Grummites never leave the water and are consumed with the urge to mate. Females leave the water to hang their eggs. They are hung over the water to keep them out of reach of aquatic predators, while still allowing the pollywogs to fall into the water when they hatch.

Once a female has laid her eggs, she turns her back on them. She will live her life more on land than in the water, although never far from it. The male's mating urges subside after six months to a year. He too takes to the land and like the female does nothing to protect his eggs.

Adult Grummites have a sort of primitive culture. Kraften Highbrow maintains that they are cunning craftsman that make jewelry and weapons, even mining ore. This is plainly ridiculous. Although I have not determined the source of their tools and adornments, I am certain that they trade with other civilized races for such things.

As for tales of magic casting Grummites, that is even more ludicrous. While their primitive brains are surprisingly large, they clearly do not have the intelligence to learn the arcane crafts. I do not know how Kraften managed to train his pet Grummite to cast spells, but I assure all my readers that it is a trick of some sort.


A Traveler's Guide to New Sheoth and the Shivering Isles
Brenith Aralyn

New Sheoth is generally recognized as the jewel of the Shivering Isles, the culinary and cultural epicenter of the entire realm. Founded at the whim of Our Lord Sheogorath, the city is a model of the Madgod's own perfect vision.

First-time visitors to New Sheoth are often impressed by the warmth, generosity, and general good humor of its residents. Visitors are welcomed with open arms, and generally made to feel as if they are a part of the large New Sheoth family. The sheer scope of the sights and sounds in the city can be daunting to the new visitor, and this Guide aims to make the transition as easy as possible for newcomers.

Visitors will find the city is divided into three main sections: Bliss, Crucible, and the Palace. Bliss and Crucible house the majority of residential and commercial buildings in the city, while the Palace area houses the magnificent Palace of Sheogorath, as well as the residences of the reigning Dukes of Mania and Dementia.

Though located in the same city, visitors will find that the Bliss and Crucible areas of New Sheoth offer distinct experiences. The shining parapets and golden roads of Bliss stand in stark contrast to the rustic buildings and unpaved streets of Crucible. Travelers interested in a bustling nightlife and fine cuisine might prefer time spent in Bliss, renowned for its extravagant galas and spirited affairs. Visitors who seek a quieter experience would do well to spend their time exploring Crucible, where Dark Seducer patrols encourage a more serene way of life.

No matter your tastes, New Sheoth promises an experience like no other. This Guide will give advice on how to best navigate the oft-confusing, though ultimately rewarding channels of this magnificent city.

Arriving in New Sheoth
Travelers to New Sheoth will arrive at its gates from either the highlands of Mania or the swampy lowlands of Dementia. Many make the mistake of hurrying directly to the gates of the city without exploring the beautiful and majestic countryside outside the city walls. This is certainly a mistake, as the forests and glades of the Shivering Isles are unlike those found anywhere else in all the realms. Some discussion of these areas is warranted, as exploring them is vital to experiencing all that the region has to offer.

Mania, Vibrant Land of Towering Flora
Walking amongst the giant mushroom trees of Mania is an experience any new visitor to the Shivering Isles is not soon to forget. Hours spent wandering in the forests of spore trees, breathing deeply of the spore-laden air-these are the times destined to remain a part of you forever. Feelings of peace and contentment wash over the body and calm the soul. It can seem as if you haven't a care in the world.

Take the time to examine the beautiful plant life found in the region. Treat yourself to Alocacia Fruit, which is known to have restorative properties, or pluck an Aster Bloom Core, which some locals believe has the ability to ward off the attacks of evil spirits.

If you plan on spending some time in the Mania countryside, consider visiting the small community of Hale. The residents are mostly local artists, and are very welcoming to weary travelers. Be sure to explore the lovely areas surrounding Hale, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere.

A cautious traveler is a safe traveler, though, even in the idyllic lands of Mania. While the paths that wind through the scenic countryside are generally safe, the surrounding regions pose some danger for the careless traveler. Mania is home to a number of indigenous animal species, some of which could be threatening to a less-seasoned adventurer. We recommend sticking to the clearly marked paths when traveling anywhere within the Shivering Isles.

The Slow Grace of Dementia
It is often said, "Time spent in Dementia is time not spent elsewhere." Truer words were never spoken.

Many have spent days roaming the small islets of Dementia, enjoying the scenic views over the majestic lowlands. Travel over the quaint bridges that span the small islands of southern Dementia, and enjoy a beautiful sunset among the moss-covered trees.

If you're looking for a place to relax while exploring the lands of Dementia, we suggest a visit to Deepwallow. The small community is a working farm, where the residents use a unique method of raising crops of some of the extraordinary local plant life. The residents of Deepwallow are private people, so care should be taken in approaching them. Once you've learned their customs, we've found them to be a most interesting group with whom to spend some time.

Tip: For an exciting day trip, visit the Hill of Suicides, a site unlike any other in all the Shivering Isles. Located in central Dementia, travelers should not pass up the opportunity to take in the sights at this unique and fascinating location. There is no fee to visit the Hill, though some travelers have found it almost impossible to leave.

Getting to the Shivering Isles
Arrival to the Shivering Isles is solely at the discretion of Our Lord Sheogorath, Prince of Madness.

Getting Around
The best way to explore the Shivering Isles is by foot. Take the time to meander along the paths that stretch across the beautiful landscape. A weary traveler can often find a place to rest at one of the many campsites found dotted across the world.


The Choosy Beggar, Bliss. Raven-Biter and his wife, Sheer-Meedish run a fine restaurant and Inn in the Bliss district of New Sheoth. The rooms are nicely appointed, and the food is above-average for the area. We highly recommend trying the wine-it's some of the best in the city. Many travelers find lunch to be an especially good time to visit the Choosy Beggar. Though the prices are no lower, the earlier hour often finds Sheer-Meedish in a more accommodating mood.


Sickly Bernice's Taphouse, Crucible. Don't let the name fool you: Sickly Bernice's Taphouse is exactly what you'd expect from an inn located in downtown Crucible. The lodgings, while not as opulent as those found at the nearby Choosy Beggar, are satisfactory. Sickly Bernice is an affable hostess, when she is well enough to work. The food is palatable, as are the beverages. After a visit, make sure to see Earil at Earil's Mysteries. He sells a wide assortment of magicks, including some wonderful, low-cost Cure Disease spells.

Common Treasures, Bliss.

If you're looking for... well... anything, Common Treasures in Bliss is a good place to start. Trader Tilse Arelith has a wide assortment of wares available to the discerning customer. She's also more than willing to negotiate a good price for those unwanted items you may find in your travels.

Cutter's Weapons, Bliss.

There's not a finer weapon shop to be found in all of New Sheoth. Cutter runs a fine establishment, and usually keeps a good variety of weapons in stock and ready for use. She'll do repairs for you on the spot, and she seems to take extra-special care with your bladed weapons. This shop is not to be missed.

Books of Bliss, Bliss.

If you're looking for reading material on your journey, this is the place to get it. Sontaire is a very, very friendly bookseller with a keen eye for more than just books. You won't be disappointed if you spend some of your hard-earned gold in this establishment.

The Missing Pauldron, Crucible.

If it's armor you're in the mood to buy, look no further than The Missing Pauldron in Crucible. Recently re-opened under new manager Dumag gro-Bonk, the shop seems to be doing quite well. Dumag will be happy to sell you some new armor, repair you old favorites, or just sit a while and tell you the rather long and interesting story of his life.

Earil's Mysteries, Crucible.

Many adventurers don't like to travel without a full spell book, and Earil's is the place to go in New Sheoth to stock up on the latest in spellmaking. It sometimes seems time stands still as you browse through the excellent selection of spells. Highly recommended.

Things Found, Crucible.

It's an odd assortment of items, to be sure, but it's never a dull day when you visit Things Found in Crucible. Owner Abhuki has scoured the realm in search of the most intriguing and varied assortment of magical items to be found almost anywhere. Take some time and browse around-you never know what you might find!

Heretical Thoughts

Zealotry is an abomination that must be wiped from the Shivering Isles. We cannot suffer their beliefs to spread to even one more soul. They name us Heretics for our lack of belief. We gladly accept the name, and will make a honorable one.

It is not heresy to speak truth. It is not heresy to speak out against an unjust lord. It is not heresy to take arms and action in defense of true belief. We are the so-called Heretics of the Shivering Isles, but we do not speak heresy. We speak the truth.

Our Lord, Sheogorath, is but a man. He is only flesh and blood, not a god, and certainly not a Daedric Prince. There are no princes in the realms of the Daedra, only vile servitors such as the Hungers that we summon to do our bidding.

Sheogorath the False is a mad despot. Years of dabbling in foul magic and consorting with Daedra have driven him mad. He is not a fit ruler, let alone divine. He perverts the teachings of Arden-Sul, He Who Gave His Heart's Blood.
When the truth of our cause is common knowledge among the people, we will drive him from New Sheoth and put that cesspool to the sword. His four limbs will be scattered to the four winds. His head will rest upon the Hill of Suicides and his heart shall be burnt in the flames of freedom. His entrails shall be fed to the dogs.

We will make all the people of the Shivering Isles wear the robes of the Heretics. By these robes we know each other to be true non-believers. The people shall return to the wilderness and live among the wild things, as we do. They will see the wisdom and purity of the life we lead and they will hail us as saviors.
The Ravings of Fenroy

[The following pieces were gathered from the author's cell shortly before his untimely death at his own hands. Written primarily on bedsheets and the bare stone of his floor, using only his own bodily fluids for ink, some of the transcriptions represent the editors' best guesses at the author's true intent.]

Mother said there was no reason
It's just the way it is
Mother lies
I can see rain, I can feel rain
I can only feel wind
Someone is hiding

If I walk through the forest, the birds stop singing. They're talking about me. I'm sure of it. They're just too scared to do it to my face.


He touches me when I'm not looking

Sometimes I hear the people talking about their days. They talk about family and the weather and yesterday and tomorrow. They say What a good day it was and How was your day and Have a nice day. I say talk talk talk talk. How can you enjoy your day when you share it with everyone? Time is a private thing. The dragon hides it from us all, parceling it out in dribs and drabs. Save your time. Save your time. I keep mine locked up tight. Where no one can find it. Not even Him.

Hold me now
Rock me gently
My tears are burning, dear
Don't jinx it
Don't jinx it
Hold your breath, one big one now
One last gasp
And we're done

He talks all the time, but his words are useless. Talking, talking. Let's talk. Never doing. Always talking. Words become meaningless. They float on the air. Dissipate like passed gas. Make him stop talking. Make him stop talking to me.

Always take care when dealing with women. They see things we do not. A smile. A glance. They mean nothing to us, everything to them. They twist their smiles to meet our own. They avert a gaze just so. Watch them closely. They rule the world; they just don't know it.

Am I indecisive? Yes and no.

They came to bring me food today. I ate it, though I know it was poisoned. They lace it with black flour and edgeroot. They think it keeps me quiet, sedate. I know better. Sometimes I chew up the bread and spit it into the corners of my cell. No one notices, and the rats eat it after a time. It keeps them quiet, sedate. When I eat the rats, the poison is more dilute. And I gain their memories.

I don't believe it's fair that I'm forced to deal with the stupid. Or the obtuse. Or the pedantic. Yet they give me rules, like Go here and Do that and Eat this and Kill that. They don't know that I know their names. Eventually I'll get to them. And I'll make the rules.

Just You wait and see
Good Gods come and go, but
All Lords eventually fall
A God can wake up mortal.

If I learn from my mistakes, will I eventually stop making them? Is there a balance I can achieve, a perfect harmony with my self? Shall I seek that point where there are no more mistakes to be made? All the lessons learned? When that happens, do we die? Do we become gods? Do the gods even want us?

Maybe all dogs go outside deliberately. Maybe a decision gets overly deliberate. Might a dream grow overly demented? He knows. He knows. He knows.

Stories are for children and dreamers. Poetry is for weaklings and madmen. Epics glorify the vile and vilify the glorious. Read minds, not words.

I think it's time to go. He's still in my head, but I think he might leave if I'm quiet. Shh. Shh.

Sentinels of the Isles: A treatise on Golden Saint / Dark Seducer culture and history within the Shivering Isles
By Andoche Marier

Author's Note

This volume attempts to catalogue and analyze known, suspected, and rumored facts about the two races that serve to maintain order within the Shivering Isles. It is by no means intended to serve as the authoritative work on the matter; rather, it is a personal effort on the part of the author to better understand these unique creatures.

In the Service of the Lord

It is beyond the scope of this work to determine the origins of the Golden Saints and Dark Seducers. They are Daedra, and as such their base existence is a mystery to those mortal-born. The commonly held belief that all Daedra are incapable of Creation suggests that even Lord Sheogorath himself is not responsible for the genesis of these races. Yet, it is worth noting that the Prince of Madness has motives and powers that none may guess; to attempt to do so would only confuse the subject further.

It is enough, then, to see that they exist and know that it is so. Beyond this knowledge, however, it is curious that the Saints and Seducers serve Lord Sheogorath unerringly. This allegiance is ultimate and eternal, from all indications, but its source is unknown. Could it be that they themselves were tricked into service by the Madgod? Or do they simply ally themselves with the greatest power in the realm? Previous literary works suggest that Daedra choose to serve their masters so they might find protection and safe harbor. Clearly the Saints and Seducers have this in the Shivering Isles; indeed, they have fortresses which few not of their race are allowed to enter. They have power in the realm, acting as guardians of those who serve Lord Sheogorath. Constantly they vie for the favor of Our Lord, fighting any who oppose him and, at times, even each other. It is reasonable to assume, then, that they have made a willing choice to take up their role in the Isles.

Character and Society

The immediate image called to mind when hearing the name "Golden Saint" suggests an angelic figure, elegant and benevolent. It is ironic then, that while the Golden Saints embody this image in form, their behavior is in stark contrast to it. The Saints are a proud, arrogant race, quick to anger and cruel in their punishment. There is no question that they view all in the Isles as inferior, and make no effort to hide this in their interactions.

Dark Seducers also exhibit little beyond their appearance to match their names. While they too assert their superiority over all others in the realm, they appear to have a more patient, introspective nature about them. They often appear humble in their dealings with mortals, and are known to be patient with the "lesser races."

In fact, the terms "Golden Saint" and "Dark Seducer" are external constructs. While the two groups recognize and respond to these names, they have their own names for their races: The Aureal and the Mazken, respectively. It is possible the Daedra simply have no concern for the names and titles given to them by lesser beings, or perhaps they find amusement in the names. Further research into this subject is necessary but daunting, as the Saints and Seducers do not freely offer personal information about themselves.

Other information can be gathered from observation. It is easy to see that the two groups are strongly militaristic in their societal structure; one's strength and discipline determines one's place in society. Military commanders, for example, are revered by their subordinates. With further observation, a second distinction becomes apparent: both societies are Matriarchal in nature. Females lead the guards within New Sheoth, and have the highest positions of power. Males, while not openly denigrated, are clearly subservient to their female superiors. It is unclear where this practice began, but has been wholly integrated into the daily lives of both races.

Conflict and Conquest

Any resident of the Shivering Isles can confirm that it is unwise to provoke the Golden Saints and Dark Seducers. They thrive on conflict and warfare, and are quick to punish any and all who disobey. Acting in their capacity as guardians of the realm does not satisfy them, however, and so they often engage in combat with one another, despite being garrisoned in areas where they are unlikely to interact. It is possible that this is more than an outlet for aggressive behavior; repeated engagements between the two races may be an effort to gain favor with Lord Sheogorath. If one can triumph over the other, it would prove superiority and a right to gain sole control over the realm. The battle for Cylarne is of particular interest, as both sides have been locked in combat with no hope of resolution for time beyond memory. Does this combat serve to sharpen the skills of the two sides, or weaken them when they could be directed elsewhere? If the conflict cannot be resolved, why then does Lord Sheogorath not step in and settle it himself?

Religion and Ceremony

Little is known about the private customs of the Golden Saints and Dark Seducers. They are reclusive when it comes to matters specific to their race, particularly regarding the mysterious process by which they return to the realm in the unlikely event of their death.

It is common knowledge that Golden Saints and Dark Seducers, as Daedra, cannot be killed. The Animus of the Daedra is cast back into the darkness of Oblivion, and can return to the realm to take form once more. But reports of the time it takes for a Daedra to return to the realm from the Waters of Oblivion are anecdotal and inconclusive; the process by which this return occurs remains shrouded in mystery. Based on behavior patterns and strength of numbers, it can be deduced that the stronghold for each race plays some major part in this process. Common phrases in language (such as "May the chimes call you home") suggest that rather than merely a metaphor, sound may play some role in the sequence of events. It is believed that the chimes referenced by Saints and Seducers do indeed exist and are considered almost holy relics. Attempts to gain information about these chimes, or the process by which they are used, has been met with exceptional hostility and so have been abandoned.

Any and all information regarding the Golden Saints and Dark Seducers, particularly relating to private customs and origins, should be brought to the attention of the author immediately. The greater the scope of our knowledge, the better our ability to understand these compelling creatures.
Myths of Sheogorath
By Mymophonus

Sheogorath Invents Music

In the earliest of days, in a time when the world was still raw, Sheogorath decided to walk amongst the mortals. He donned his guise of Gentleman With a Cane, and moved from place to place without being recognized. After eleven days and eleven nights, Sheogorath decided that life among mortals was even more boring than his otherworldly existence.

"What can I do to make their lives more interesting?" he said to himself. At that same moment, a young woman nearby commented wistfully to herself, "The sounds of the birds are so beautiful."

Sheogorath silently agreed with her. Mortals could not make the beautiful and inspired calls of birds. Their voices were wretched and mundane. He could not change the nature of mortals, for that was the purview of other Daedric Princes. However, he could give them tools to make beautiful sounds.

Sheogorath took hold of the petulant woman and ripped her asunder. From her tendons he made lutes. From her skull and arm bones he made a drum. From her bones he made flutes. He presented these gifts to the mortals, and thus Music was born.

Sheogorath and King Lyandir

King Lyandir was known to be an exceedingly rational man. He lived in a palace that was a small, simple structure, unadorned with art and ugly to look upon. "I do not need more than this," he would say. "Why spend my gold on such luxuries when I can spend it on my armies or on great public works?"

His kingdom prospered under his sensible rule. However, the people did not always share the king's sense of practicality. They would build houses that were beautiful to look upon, although not necessarily very practical. They devoted time and energy to works of art. They would celebrate events with lavish festivals. In general, they were quite happy.

King Lyandir was disappointed that more of them did not follow his example and lead frugal, sensible lives. He brooded on this for many years. Finally, he decided that his subjects simply didn't understand how much more they could accomplish if they didn't waste time on those frivolous activities. Perhaps, he reasoned, they just needed more examples.

The king decreed that all new buildings must be simple, unadorned, and no larger than was necessary for their function. The people were not happy about this, but they liked their king and respected the new law. In a few short years, there were more plain buildings than ornate ones. The citizens used the money saved to make and buy even more lavish art and hold even more excessive celebrations.

Once again, King Lyandir decided to provide them a strict example of how beneficial it would be to use their time and resources for more practical purposes. He banned all works of art in the city. The people were quite put out by this, but they knew that their king was doing what he thought was best for them. However, human nature is not so easily denied. In a few more years the city was filled with plain, simple buildings, and devoid of any sort of art. However, the people now had even more money and time to devote to their parties and festivals.

With a heavy heart, King Lyandir decided that his people were to be treated like children. And like all children, they needed rules and discipline laid down by great figures of authority to make them understand what was truly important in life. He decreed that there should be no revelry in the city. Singing, dancing, and music were all banned. Even food and drink were limited to water and simple foodstuffs.

The people had had enough. Revolt was out of the question, since King Lyandir had a very well trained and equipped army. They visited the shrines and temples in droves, praying to all the gods, and even to some of the Daedric Princes, that King Lyandir would revoke these new, oppressive laws.

Sheogorath heard their pleas and decided to visit King Lyandir. He appeared to the king in his dreams as a field of flowers, each with arms instead of petals and the face of the Madgod in the center. "I am Lord of the Creative and Lord of the Deranged. Since you have no use for my gifts of creativity, I have decided to bless you with an abundance of my other gift."

From that day forward, every child born in the city was born into madness. Since infants do not reveal illnesses of the mind, it was several years before this was realized. The king's own son was among the victims, suffering from seizures and delusions. Yet, King Lyandir refused to change his ways.

When his son, Glint, was 12 years old, he stabbed his father while Lyandir was sleeping. With his dying breath, King Lyandir asked, "Why?" His son replied, "It is the most practical thing I could do."

The new, young king ordered all the palace servants slaughtered. He ordered a grand festival to celebrate his new reign and the repeal of Lyandir's laws. He served the crowds a stew made from the carcasses of the palace servants. He ordered the east facing walls of every building painted red, and the west facing walls painted in stripes. He decreed that all citizens wear ornate masks on the backs of their heads. He then burned down the palace and began construction of a new one.

In the new palace, the young king ordered his personal chambers to not have any doors; for fear that small woodland creatures would attack him. He ordered that it have no windows for fear that the sun and moon were jealous of him and plotting his death.

And thus ended the line of King Lyandir. The people of the city returned to their grand works of art and raucous celebrations. They talked and acted as if they still had a living king, and even kept up the palace, using it to house and care for their mad children. Sheogorath was mightily pleased with this outcome. From that day forward the city was blessed with more than the normal number of gifted artists and deranged citizens.

The Contest of Wills

A mighty wizard named Ravate once walked the Winds of Time to find Lord Sheogorath. His intent was to win a favor from this most capricious of the Daedric Princes. Upon finding Sheogorath, Ravate spoke humbly to him, "Lord Sheogorath, I beg a favor of you. I would gladly drive a thousand men mad in your name if you would but grant me the greater magical powers."

Fortunately for Ravate, Sheogorath was in a playful mood. He proposed a game, "I will grant your wish, if you are still sane in three days. During that time, I will do my utmost to drive you mad. It shall be great fun."

Ravate was not so certain that he liked this new deal. He had been really looking forward to driving a thousand men mad. "Lord Sheogorath, I regret having disturbed you with my shallow, selfish request. I withdraw my unfortunate plea and will humbly leave this place."

Sheogorath just laughed, "Too late, mighty Ravate. The game is afoot, and you must play." Ravate fled, only to find that all exits from the Daedric realm were now sealed. He wandered aimlessly, constantly looking over his shoulder, jumping at every noise. Each moment brought new terror as he waited for Sheogorath to begin.

After three days, Ravate was convinced that every plant and animal was a tool of Sheogorath. He hadn't eaten or drunk for fear that Sheogorath had poisoned the food or drink. He hadn't slept for fear of Sheogorath invading his dreams. (Which was foolish, as dreams are the domain of Vaermina, may She grant us Restful Sleep.)

It was then that Sheogorath appeared to him. Ravate cried out, "You have set the whole world to watching me! Every creature and plant are doing your bidding to drive me mad."

Sheogorath replied, "Actually, I have done nothing. You have driven yourself mad with your fears. Your delusions prove that you are truly deranged, and therefore I win. While you wanted to make a thousand men mad, I only wanted to break one man's mind, yours."

From that day forward Ravate served Sheogorath's every whim. Whenever daring travelers try to approach Sheogorath, Ravate warns them, "Sheogorath is already inside each of us. You have already lost."

The Shivering Apothecary
Author: Cinda Amatius

Many, many things.

Wet things and dry things. Things from plants, things from animals, things from stone and sky and tree and man and mer.

So many beautiful things for potions. All of them there for the taking, waiting to be plucked and put to use. "Grind me! Take my essence and turn me into something new, something wonderful!" they cry out to me.

I have given my life to finding so many of the wondrous things of Tamriel, and now the things that lie beyond. The realm of the Madgod, dangerous and beckoning, has so many new things to offer that I have trembled with excitement over it. I stop to take note of what I have found, so that I may not forget it in the coming days when I spend my time searching, mixing, and discovering.

The Apprentice will find that Marrow from the Shambles and fins from Scalons merge to make a deadly poison that strikes at one's very heart, damaging the health of those who ingest it. Many a blade did I sink into wet flesh and dry bone to learn this, but what I have found pleases me.

Flame stalks and the very essence of Flesh Atronachs can be mixed by even a Novice to counter that damage, as one can drink a potion made from these two to feel healthy again. The Expert may find that rather than risk himself against those walking monstrosities, the Screaming Maw can be used instead.

For Magicka (and without Magicka where would I stand now?) the ichor of an Elytra can be mixed with Withering Moon by a Novice or Thorn Hook by a Journeyman. No explorer in the Shivering Isles should venture forth without looking for these.

The tongue of a Hunger -- by itself a marvel of anatomy -- can be eaten to cure poisons or matched with Withering Moon to cure disease. (I cannot help but wonder what disease would be so dire as to risk one's life against a Hunger....)

I have been most pleased to find that to the Expert Alchemist, Rot Scale, and Worm's Head Caps can be mixed to paralyze one's enemies. This has proven most useful in extracting ingredients from the Isles' less cordial residents.

Namlir's Shivering Bestiary
Namlir Esprink

For my good friend and colleague Venristwie, who protected the creatures of all the Realms.

Although my early education involved extensive research into all forms of fauna, nothing prepared me for the surprises I've uncovered while exploring the Shivering Isles on the Great Expedition. Even though I've lived here all of my life, I am just now discovering how wonderful and unique the creatures of the Isles can be.

The Expedition was an extensive six-year exploration of every nook and cranny of the Isles in an attempt to categorize the indigenous fauna and record this information back for posterity and science. Below, I've done my best to describe each creature in detail. Please note that this information was obtained at the cost of many lives, and this work should be regarded as the most complete and definitive reference of its kind.


The Baliwog is an extraordinarily ugly aquatic-dwelling creature that frequents the lakes, rivers and bogs of the Shivering Isles. Although the Baliwog, or "Wog" as some of the locals call it, walks on all fours, it should by no means be considered stupid or docile. A fully-grown adult Baliwog can deliver a nasty blow from its claws or a potentially deadly bite from its razor-sharp teeth. The lethality of this beast comes not from the actual damage it can deliver, but from the horrible diseases it seems to generate. Also of note is the Baliwog's uncanny ability to regenerate when immersed in water. From our observations, it's best just to avoid these brutes, although it's said some of them carry flawless pearls in their bodies, though it is not known why they would swallow them, or what use they may serve to the creatures.


The Elytra are large insect-like creatures indigenous to much of the Isles. Although there is a marked color difference between the Northern (Mania) Variety and the Southern (Dementia) Variety, they are remarkably similar in behavioral patterns and physical makeup. The Elytra pose a serious threat to the casual traveler, as they have two interesting mechanisms that benefit them in combat. The first is their uncanny ability to block weapon attacks. Through my observations, I have deduced that they utilize their antennae as an early warning system to detect incoming attacks, say from a sword blade or an arrow. The antenna sends a signal to their brains, and they instinctively lift their arms to block. Their second ability is natural venom in their sting. This venom is very deceiving, as it is very low yield, but its real deadly nature comes from its duration. Gone unchecked, the venom can slay the average man over a period of hours. Especially deadly is the Elytra Matron's venom, which can last much longer than the poisons found on the lesser varieties of the creature.

Flesh Atronach

One of the most unusual creatures in the Isles, the Flesh Atronach appears as a sewn-together conglomeration of skin and muscle adorned with mystical symbols and wearing an iron collar. Although it's uncertain whether Sheogorath or some other Daedric Prince created this creature, it's obvious that the intent was to use them as guardians. Usually found inhabiting underground ruins, the Flesh Atronach will defend areas it's set to guard until it's destroyed. A unique visual feature of this creature is the energy spots located on its body. These colored areas seem to glow with an inner light and denote the power of the Atronach. In increasing order of magnitude, these seem to be Yellow, Purple, and Red. The function for these spots is still a mystery, but from my observations, I suspect them to be a magic dampening gland of some kind. As expected, the Flesh Atronachs are all completely impervious to disease and poison and highly resistant to fire and frost. Shock magic seems to affect them adversely, which appears to be their largest weakness. The Purple and Red varieties also seem to possess innate magic abilities, including healing and fireballs.


Perhaps the strangest creature of all is the Gnarl, or "Walking Tree" as it's sometimes called. Like the Elytra, this animated plant can be found roaming almost anywhere on the Isles. One of Sheogorath's truly unique creations, the Gnarl has the most unusual trait of being able to use magic cast upon it, and harness that power to bolster its own defense. Once struck with fire, frost or lightning, the Gnarl grows physically larger and becomes resistant to just that element for short time. Interestingly, this is where the Gnarl's vulnerability comes into play. At the same time the Gnarl is resisting that element it was struck with, it becomes vulnerable to all of the other elements. Our guide on the expedition demonstrated this by striking the Gnarl with a flame arrow then a frost arrow and then back to a flame arrow and so on.


The Grummite represents the only native weapon-wielding creature in the Shivering Isles. These primitive aquatic-born humanoids are organized in a tribal-like system, though it is uncertain who or what they worship. It would be presumed the Grummite worship Sheogorath, their creator, but their religious totems don't seem to bear the Madgod's likeness. What is known is that they maintain a simple hierarchy, including Shaman and Boss Grummites who seem to command the rest. The Grummite have mastered the art of spellcasting as well, evidenced by the Magus Grummite, which can be quite deadly. Curiously, the Grummite possess a defense mechanism similar to the Baliwog: when immersed in water, the Grummite will begin to regenerate damaged flesh. Unlike the Baliwog, this regeneration extends to rain as well, making them quite formidable on a stormy day. This aquatic healing ability leads me to believe the Baliwog and Grummite are somehow related, but even in my extensive research, I was unable to come up with a solid connection.


If any creature represents the darker side of Sheogorath, it's the Hunger. These are pure-born Daedric creatures placed here on the Isles as servitors and guards. The Hunger is not to be trifled with; it boasts superior speed and lightning reflexes along with its primary ability of draining its victim's fatigue. My best advice when encountering this horrible creature is to give it a wide berth or slay it quickly. Be wary, as it is said that conjuration magic exists that is able to summon the Hunger and unleash it upon the caster's foes.


Another aquatic native of the Shivering Isles is the Scalon. Looking strikingly similar to an upright Baliwog, the Scalon features large fin-laden appendages and dorsal spines. These creatures are usually quite fearsome, lumbering slowly after its prey. Don't mistake its speed for its weakness, as the Scalon has an incredible leaping attack that allows it to strike at its victims from a surprising distance. Another connection that it shares with the Baliwog is the fact that its bite or claws can transfer disease to its victim. It's recommended that these creatures be dealt with at extreme range with spells or missiles, as the can be quite ferocious in close proximity.


The Shambles appears to be some sort of an undead construct made of bone and lashed together with wire or bits of cloth. Oddly, the bones used in their makeup appear to have no correlation to one other. They might have skulls for kneecaps or leg bones for arms, to cite a few examples. The Shambles may be undead, but they pursue any victim as if they were a predator chasing down its prey. Like its undead bony brethren, the Shambles is fully resistant to disease, poison and paralysis; however, they possess a unique resistance to all frost magic. Furthermore, upon death, the Shambles will explode in a spectacular shower of frost. This ability seems to have been added by its creator as an interesting last-ditch defense mechanism. This fact was initially unknown to me, and one of our best guides was lost when his hammer struck the fatal blow. If you intend to combat these undead creatures, be certain to carry frost protection or destroy them at range.

Skinned Hound

These nasty undead beasts are generally encountered inside and around the ruins that dot the Isles. The Skinned Hound is extremely fast and agile, and has an insatiable hunger for flesh. Like the Flesh Atronach, it appears to be all skin and muscle that is roughly sewn together, but I am uncertain whether they are summoned or merely constructed. The Skinned Hound is not an adversary to be taken lightly; they feature an incredible invisible charging attack not unlike a ghost, limited frost resistance, and a complete immunity to disease and poison. This beast's weakness is fire. They don't seem intelligent enough to be frightened by it, but it's certainly very efficient at dispatching them quickly.

Although this work only touches upon the combat related aspects of the creatures, I feel this is of primary importance to any traveler within the confines of the Shivering Isles. In future works, I will touch upon the other aspects of these creatures such as reproduction or creation, magical origins, and even some delicious recipes I've discovered in my travels. My best advice when walking the roads and paths of the Isles is to remain ever vigilant and always be prepared. Knowing your foe can mean the difference between a gruesome death and survival.

Sixteen Accords of Madness
Volume XII
alacath's Tale

In the days before the Orsinium's founding, the spurned Orc-folk were subjected to ostracism and persecutions even more numerous and harsh than their progeny are accustomed to in our own age. So it was that many champions of the Orsimer traveled, enforcing what borders they could for the proliferation of their own people. Many of these champions are spoken of yet today, among them the Cursed Legion, Gromma the Hairless, and the noble Emmeg Gro-Kayra. This latter crusader would have certainly risen to legendary status throughout Tamriel, had he not been subject to the attention of certain Daedric Princes.

Emmeg Gro-Kayra was the bastard son of a young maiden who was killed in childbirth. He was raised by the shaman of his tribe, the Grilikamaug in the peaks of what we now call Normar Heights. Late in his fifteenth year, Emmeg forged by hand an ornate suit of scaled armor, a rite of ascension among his tribe. On a blustery day, he pounded the final rivet, and draping a heavy cloak over the bulky mantle, Emmeg set out from his village for the last time. Word of his exploits always returned home, whether defending merchant caravans from brigands or liberating enslaved beast folk. News of the noble Orc crusader began to grace even the lips of Bretons, often with a tinge of fear.

Less than two years after ascending to maturity, Gro-Kayra was making camp when a thin voice called out from the thickening night. He was surprised to hear the language of his people spoken by a tongue that obviously did not belong to an Orc.

'Lord Kayra', said the voice, 'tales of your deeds have crossed the lips of many, and have reached my ears.' Peering into the murk, Emmeg made out the silhouette of a cloaked figure, made wavy and ephemeral by the hazy campfire. From the voice alone he had thought the interloper an old hag, but he now decided that he was in the presence of a man of slight and lanky build, though he could discern no further detail.

'Perhaps,' the wary Orc began, 'but I seek no glory. Who are you?'

Ignoring the question, the stranger continued, 'Despite that, Orsimer, glory finds you, and I bear a gift worthy of it.' The visitor's cloak parted slightly, revealing nothing but faintly glinting buttons in the pale moonlight, and a bundle was withdrawn and tossed to the side of the fire between the two. Emmeg cautiously removed the rags in which the object was swathed, and was dazzled to discover the item to be a wide, curved blade with ornately decorated handle. The weapon had heft, and Emmeg realized on brandishing it that the elaborate pommel disguised the more practical purpose of balancing the considerable weight of the blade itself. It was nothing much to look at in its present condition, thought the Orc, but once the tarnish was cleaned away and a few missing jewels restored, it would indeed be a blade worthy of a champion ten times his own worth.

'Her name is Neb-Crescen' spoke the thin stranger, seeing the appreciation lighting Gro-Kayra's face. 'I got her for a horse and a secret in warmer climes, but in my old age I'd be lucky to even lift such a weapon. It's only proper that I pass her on to one such as yourself. To possess her is to change your life, forever.' Overcoming his initial infatuation with the arc of honed steel, Emmeg turned his attention back to the visitor.

'Your words are fine, old man,' Emmeg said, not masking his suspicion, 'but I'm no fool. You traded for this blade once, and you'll trade for it again tonight. What is it that you want?' The stranger's shoulders slumped, and Emmeg was glad to have unveiled the true purpose of this twilight visit. He sat with him a while, eventually offering a stack of furs, warm food, and a handful of coins in exchange for the exotic weapon. By morning, the stranger was gone.

In the week following Emmeg's encounter with the stranger, Neb-Crescen had not left its scabbard. He had encountered no enemy in the woods, and his meals consisted of fowl and small game caught with bow and arrow. The peace suited him fine, but on the seventh morning, while fog still crept between the low-hanging boughs, Emmeg's ears pricked up at the telltale crunch of a nearby footfall in the dense snow and forest debris.

Emmeg's nostrils flared, but he was upwind. Being unable to see or smell his guest, and knowing that the breeze carried his scent in that direction, Emmeg's guard was up, and he cautiously drew Neb-Crescen from its sheath. Emmeg himself was not entirely sure of all that happened next.

The first moment of conscious memory in Emmeg Gro-Kayra's mind after drawing Neb-Crescen was the image of the curved blade sweeping through the air in front of him, spattering blood over the virginal powder coating the forest floor. The second memory was a feeling of frenzied bloodlust creeping over him, but it was then that he saw for the first time his victim, an Orc woman perhaps a few years younger than himself, her body a canvas of grisly wounds, enough to kill a strong man ten times over.

Emmeg's disgust overwhelmed the madness that had overtaken him, and with all his will enlisted, he released Neb-Crescen from his grip and let the blade sail. With a discordant ringing it spun through the air and was buried in a snowdrift. Emmeg fled the scene in shame and horror, drawing the hood of his cloak up to hide himself from the judging eyes of the rising sun.

The scene where Emmeg Gro-Kayra had murdered one of his own kind was a macabre one. Below the neck, the body was flayed and mutilated almost beyond recognition, but the untouched face was frozen in a permanent expression of abject terror.

It was here that Sheogorath performed certain rites that summoned Malacath, and the two Daedric Lords held court in the presence of the disfigured corpse.

'Why show me this, Mad One?' began Malacath, once he recovered from his initial, wordless outrage. 'Do you take such pleasure in watching me grieve the murder of my children?' His guttural voice rumbled, and the patron of the Orismer looked upon his counterpart with accusing eyes.

'By birth, she was yours, brother outcast,' began Sheogorath, solemn in aspect and demeanor. 'But she was a daughter of mine by her own habits. My mourning here is no less than your own, my outrage no less great.'

'I am not so sure,' grumbled Malacath, 'but rest assured that vengeance for this crime is mine to reap. I expect no contest from you. Stand aside.' As the fearsome Prince began to push past him, Lord Sheogorath spoke again.

'I have no intention of standing between you and vengeance. In fact, I mean to help you. I have servants in this wilderness, and can tell you just where to find our mutual foe. I ask only that you use a weapon of my choosing. Wound the criminal with my blade, and banish him to my plane, where I can exact my own punishment. The rights of honor-killing here belong to you.'

With that, Malacath agreed, took the wide blade from Sheogorath, and was gone.

Malacath materialized in the path of the murderer, the cloaked figure obscured through a blizzard haze. Bellowing a curse so foul as to wilt the surrounding trees, the blade was drawn and Malacath crossed the distance more quickly than a wild fox. Frothing with rage, he swung the blade in a smooth arc which lopped the head of his foe cleanly off, then plunged the blade up to its hilt in his chest, choking off the spurts of blood into a steady, growing stain of red bubbling from beneath the scaled armor and heavy cloak.

Panting from the unexpected immediacy and fury of his own kill, Malacath rested on a knee as the body before him collapsed heavily backwards and the head landed roughly upon a broad, flat stone. The next sound broke the silence like a bolt.

'I - I'm sorry...' sputtered the voice of Emmeg Gro-Kayra. Malacath's eyes went wide as he looked upon the severed head, seeping blood from its wound, but somehow kept alive. Its eyes wavered about wildly, trying to focus on the aspect of Malacath before it. The once-proud eyes of the champion were choked with tears of grief, pain, and confused recognition.

To his horror, Malacath recognized only now that the man he had killed was not only one of his Orismer children, but very literally a son he had blessed an Orc maiden with years hence. For achingly long moments the two looked upon each other, despondent and shocked.

Then, silent as oiled steel, Sheogorath strode into the clearing. He hefted Emmeg Gro-Kayra's disembodied head and bundled it into a small, grey sack. Sheogorath reclaimed Neb-Crescen from the corpse and turned to walk away. Malacath began to stand, but kneeled again, knowing he had irreversibly damned his own offspring to the realm of Sheogorath, and mourned his failure as the sound of his son's hoarse pleas faded into the frozen horizon.

Sixteen Accords of Madness
Volume VI

ircine's Tale

Ever proud and boastful, Oblivion's Mad Prince stood one fifth day of mid year among the frigid peaks of Skyrim, and beckoned forth Hircine for parlay. The Huntsman God materialized, for this was his day, and the boldness of Sheogorath intrigued him.

Wry without equal, Sheogorath holds in his realm giggling loons, flamboyant auteurs, and craven mutilators. The Mad Prince will ply profitless bargains and promote senseless bloodshed for nothing more than the joy of another's confusion, tragedy, or rage. So it was that Sheogorath had set a stage on which to play himself as rival to Hircine.

Without haste, the coy Prince proffered his contest; each Prince was to groom a beast to meet at this place again, three years to the hour, and do fatal battle. Expressionless behind his fearsome countenance, Hircine agreed, and with naught but a dusting of snow in the drift, the Princes were gone to their realms.

Confident, but knowing Sheogorath for a trickster, Hircine secretly bred an abomination in his hidden realm. An ancient Daedroth he summoned, and imbued it with the foul curse of lycanthropy. Of pitch heart and jagged fang, the unspeakable horror had no peer, even among the great hunters of Hircine's sphere.

In the third year, on the given day, Hircine returned, where Sheogorath leaned, cross-legged on a stone, whistling with idle patience. The Prince of the Hunt struck his spear to the ground, bringing forth his unnatural, snarling behemoth. Doffing his cap, sly as ever, Sheogorath stood and stepped aside to reveal a tiny, colorful bird perched atop the stone. Demurely it chirped in the bristling gusts, scarcely audible.

In a twisted, springing heap, the Daedroth was upon the stone, leaving only rubble where the boulder had been. Thinking itself victorious, the monster's bloodied maw curled into a mock grin, when a subdued song drifted in the crisp air. The tiny bird lightly hopped along the snout of the furious Daedroth. Sheogorath looked on, quietly mirthful, as the diminutive creature picked at a bit of detritus caught in scales betwixt the fiery eyes of the larger beast. With howling fury, the were-thing blinded itself trying to pluck away the nuisance. And so it continued for hours, Hircine looking on in shame while his finest beast gradually destroyed itself in pursuit of the seemingly oblivious bird, all the while chirping a mournful tune to the lonesome range.

Livid, but beaten, Hircine burned the ragged corpse and withdrew to his realm, swearing in forgotten tongues. His curses still hang in those peaks, and no wayfarer tarries for fear of his wrathful aspect in those obscured heights.

Turning on his heel, Sheogorath beckoned the miniscule songbird to perch atop his shoulder, and strolled down the mountain, making for the warm breezes and vibrant sunsets of the Abecean coast, whistling in tune with the tiniest champion in Tamriel.

Sixteen Accords of Madness
Volume IX
aermina's Tale

Darius Shano found himself running as fast as he could.

He had no idea what he was running from or towards, but he didn't care. The desire saturated his mind -- there was nothing in the world except flight. He looked around for landmarks, anything to place himself or to use as a target, but to no avail -- the featureless grasslands through which he was sprinting extended as far as the eye could see. "Just have to keep running", he thought to himself. "I have to run as fast as I can". On and on he ran, with no end in sight or in mind....

Standing over Darius Shano while he lay quietly in his bed were his mistress, Vaermina the Dreamweaver, and the Madgod Sheogorath. Vaernima looked down with pride at this disciple of hers, and was boastful of her little jewel.

"Such potential in this one! Through dreams of inspiration, I have nurtured literary talent into fruition, and now he stands in acclaim as an emerging bard and poet! He will gain much favor before I tire of him." Sheogorath, too, gazed at the young Breton artist and saw that he was indeed famous among the other mortals.

"Hmmm," mused Sheogorath, "but how many are there who hate this mortal whom you have built? It is the hatred of the mortals which confirms greatness, and not their love. Surely you can accomplish this as well?"

Vaernima's eyes narrowed. "Yes, the mortals are indeed often foolish and petty, and it is true that many of their most bold have been despised. Do not worry, mad one, for I have the power to achieve many forms of greatness with this one, hatred among them."

"Perhaps, Dreamweaver, it would be amusing to show who has this power? Inspire foolish, arrogant hatred of this mortal for ten years, and then I will do the same. We shall see whose talents are most efficient, free of aid or interference from any of the Daedra."

At this, she relaxed into confident pleasure. "The Madgod is indeed powerful, but this task is suited to my skills. The mortals are repulsed by madness, but rarely think it worthy of hate. I shall take pleasure in revealing this to you, as I bring the more subtle horrors out of this mortal's subconscious."

And so, in the 19th year of his life, the dreams Darius Shano had been experiencing began to change. Fear had always been part of the night for him, but now there was something else. A darkness began to creep into his slumber, a darkness that sucked away all feeling and color, leaving only emptiness behind. When this happened, he opened his mouth to scream, but found that the darkness had taken his voice as well. All he had was the terror and the void, and each night they filled him with a new understanding of death. Yet, when he woke, there was no fear, for he had faith that his Lady had a purpose.

Indeed, one night Vaernima herself emerged from the void. She leaned in close to whisper into his ear.

"Watch carefully, my beloved!" With that, she pulled the void away, and for hours each night she would reveal to Darius the most horrible perversions of nature. Men being skinned and eaten alive by other men, unimaginable beasts of many limbs and mouths, entire populations being burned -- their screams filled his every evening. In time, these visions gnawed at his soul, and his work began to take on the character of his nightmares. The images revealed to him at night were reproduced on the page, and the terrible cruelty and hollow vice that his work contained both revolted and fascinated the public. They reveled in their disgust over every detail. There were those who openly enjoyed his shocking material, and his popularity among some only fed the hatred of those who found him abhorrent. This continued for several years, while the infamy of Darius grew steadily. Then, in his 29th year, without warning, the dreams and nightmares ceased.

Darius felt a weight lifted, as he no longer endured the nightly tortures, but was confused. "What have I done to displease my Mistress?", he wondered aloud. "Why has she abandoned me?" Vaernima never answered his prayers. No one ever answered, and the restless dreams faded away to leave Darius in long, deep sleeps.

Interest in the works of Darius Shano waned. His prose became stale and his ideas failed to provoke the shock and outrage they once had. As the memory of his notoriety and of his terrible dreams faded, the questions that raced in his mind eventually produced resentment against Vaernima, his former mistress. Resentment grew into hatred, from hatred came ridicule, and over time ridicule became disbelief. Slowly it became obvious -- Vaernima had never spoken to him at all; his dreams were simply the product of a sick mind that had righted itself. He had been deceived by his own subconscious, and the anger and shame overwhelmed him. The man who once conversed with a deity drifted steadily into heresy.

In time, all of the bitterness, doubt, and sacrilege focused in Darius a creative philosophy that was threaded throughout all of his subsequent work. He challenged the Gods themselves, as well as the infantile public and corrupt state for worshiping them. He mocked them all with perverse caricatures, sparing no one and giving no quarter. He challenged the Gods in public to strike him down if they existed, and ridiculed them when no such comeuppance was delivered. To all of this, the people reacted with outrage far greater than they had shown his previous work. His early career had offended only sensibilities, but now he was striking directly at the heart of the people.

His body of work grew in size and intensity. Temples, nobles, and commoners were all targets of his scorn. Finally, at age 39, Darius wrote a piece entitled "The Noblest Fool," ridiculing The Emperor God Tiber Septim for integrating into the pathetic Nine Divines cult. The local King of Daenia, who had been humiliated by this upstart in the past, saw his chance -- for his sacrilege against the Empire, Darius Shano was executed, with a ceremonial blade, in front of a cheering crowd of hundreds. His last, bitter words were gurgled through a mouthful of his own blood.

20 years after their wager was first placed, Vaernima and Sheogorath met over Darius Shano's headless corpse. The Dreamweaver had been eager for this meeting; she had been waiting for years to confront the Daedric Prince over his lack of action.

"I have been deceived by you, Sheogorath! I performed my half of the bargain, but during your ten years you never contacted the mortal once. He owes none of his greatness to you or your talents or your influence!"

"Nonsense," croaked the Madgod. "I was with him all along! When your time ended and mine began, your whispers in his ear were replaced with silence. I severed his link to that from which he found the most comfort and meaning, and withheld the very attention the creature so desperately craved. Without his mistress, this man's character could ripen under resentment and hatred. Now his bitterness is total and, overcome by a madness fueled by his rage, he feeds me in my realm as an eternal servant."

Sheogorath turned and spoke to the empty space by his side.

"Indeed; Darius Shano was a glorious mortal. Despised by his own people, his kings, and even by the Gods he mocked. For my success, I shall accept three-score followers of Vaernima into my service. And the dreamers will awaken as madmen."

And thus did Sheogorath teach Vaernima that without madness, there are no dreams, and no creation. Vaernima will never forget this lesson.


The Standing Stones
by Anonymous

Any visitor to the Shivering Isles will soon come across the dreadful shape of a tall, crystalline stone looming over them like an accusing finger. Variously known as standing stones or obelisks, they cannot be avoided in traveling the Shivering Isles, no matter how hard you might try.

There are many theories on the origin and purpose of these stones. (Purpose? Can a stone have a purpose? Is it a sentient being, or an inanimate object? Is it listening to you - watching you - whispering to you?). Some claim they are simply interesting geological formations. Not so. Not so. They cannot be chipped or cracked or even scorched. Believe me, I've tried. Nothing harms them. (Although perhaps they still feel the blows. They seemed angry for a while. I sang to them and that seemed to soothe them. I can't say why.) And if you've tried to dig one up, as I have, you know that they go down forever. (Months I spent, digging down. No matter how deep, there it was, still gleaming in the secret darkness beneath the earth. They know the secrets, even those that are buried deep.)

I have spent many years trying to understand these stones. (Avoiding doesn't work. As I said, they're everywhere. So try for understanding, as I have. What is the humming? What do the whispers mean?) I can't say that I know everything about them, but I have learned many things, some of which I can share with you. (But I don't know what they want. Not yet. Perhaps if I knew what they wanted, I wouldn't be so afraid. They whisper secrets to me, but I promised not to tell. They know many secrets. They're always watching. They never sleep. Not even at night, in the dark of the moon.)

I know they are old, older perhaps than the world itself. They have seen civilizations rise and fall. And they hate us. They are waiting for their master to return. (They won't tell me who, or when. If they hate me so, why do they tell me their secrets? Is it because they know my secrets already?)

You may not believe me. Most don't, but most have not spent the time that I have in trying to learn about these stones. I have spent days listening to their secret whispers and learning their language. (They talk, you know. To each other, mostly. But now to me.) At first it was just a humming, which you can hear if you lean against a stone and listen very closely. It may take hours, or days, but you will hear them. And once you hear the voice of the standing stones, you will never be able to shut it out.
BOOK:DESCSEBookTheLiturgyofAfflictionThe Liturgy of Affliction: A Collection Of The Writings Of Vexis Velruan
Transcribed by Anias Gael

Dearest reader, the tome that you hold in your hand is a chronicle of pain, of torment, and of discovery. In these memoirs, I shall impart to you an autobiography of a foolish and failed attempt to achieve a great power. Walk with me as I break the bonds of propriety, throw off the restraints of the ancient laws of the arcane, and cast aside the bonds of magical ethics. For contained herein, you shall find the dying words of Vexis Velruan.

Let it be known to you, loyal reader, that I remain until my dying moment, a student of Magicka. But no typical apprentice, am I. I am one who has forged a unique path to the deeper understanding of the mechanics of Magicka. Through the infliction of destruction magic upon my own flesh, I have accomplished more than any student before me has.

It is by that folly that I come to you now, lucid as ever, fully alert in my faculties, and acutely cognizant of the sacrifices that I have made in my quest. I have long since lost the capacity to feel any physical sensation beyond absolute agony. I've become so accustomed to it, so detached from the feeling, that to me, pain is simply always there. You do not think of the air around you as a sensation, do you?

How is it, you ask, that I came to be what I am? It began innocently enough. I was once a healer, one of the most promising students of the temple. Which one? It doesn't matter. I was eventually expelled. Fools. You see, we had a number of patients interred in our humble sanctuary who had been infected with the Red Fever. My attempts to use the magical arts to turn the disease on itself were less than successful in their early stages. For trying to find a cure, I was cast out.

It was not long after my exile that I discovered the means to eradicate infection using the destructive energies of magicka. In my explorations of the school of Destruction I discovered that by pulling the elemental energies through my own body, I was able to increase the raw output of energy. From the experience of a lighting bolt surging through my own body, I was able to deepen my understanding of the raw forces of magicka.

At first, the pain was bearable. I directed only a minor amount of the energy back in towards myself. I learned to couple the destruction with restorative energies. It helped to abate the damage done to my body, but did nothing to stop the pain itself.

As my tolerance for the pain increased, I began to channel more and more through my own body. My understanding of Destruction outgrew my knowledge of Restoration. While it could still lessen the damage, it could not stop it. My skin became charred and blackened; it dried, flaked off, and cracked. I stunk of cooked meat. But I could not resist the draw of more and more energy.

I became like a skooma fiend of the worst sort. I no longer used magic for any practical purpose. I simply sought out more and more energy -- I relished the pain. Anticipated the moment when the energy and the pain would wash over me as one, freezing my flesh, burning it beyond recognition. My skin became a network of scars, sores, lesions, and burns. But it was never enough. Never. I needed more. More pain. More power.

I lost my sight. My eyes melted into boiling pools of vitreous humor so hot that they left streaks of blistered skin as they ran down my face like burning tears. My right hand froze solid and shattered into a thousand pieces, when I carelessly bashed it against a doorjamb in terror, once I realized what had happened. The bones of both my legs shattered outward like broken glass, shredding the flesh and muscle surrounding them.

While this may sound like a fate of terrible consequence, my dearest reader, I can assure you that you will never know what it is to be a creature of flesh and bone like I have. You will never have the degree of knowledge of frailty of the flesh that I have grown to know. I achieved a level of understanding of Magicka beyond that of the grand masters of the guild, but that accomplishment pales in comparison to the grander discoveries that this experience has bestowed upon me.

People like you think that pain is to be avoided. Hidden from. Feared. Through my suffering and the numbness that now robs me of the ability to feel it, I can say this to you: Pain is a simple factor of human existence. It affords us the opportunity to feel -- to appreciate the temporary shell that our spirits occupy. Pain is the greatest gift that the gods have ever given mortal man.

And now, as I tell you this story by way of a scribe, I am a stump of a man, wrapped in seeping bandages, never to know pleasure again. Even still, I have but one message to impart to you: Embrace what you are.

Glory to lord Sheogorath, for he has opened my eyes.
The Living Woods

he Gnarl is a creature of the forest like no other. Away from the walls of New Sheoth, they are called the Walking Trees. Gnarl are known for their affinity with the elements. If a Gnarl is struck by elemental forces of fire, frost, or shock, it uses that energy to grow stronger and larger. Fortunately, this effect only lasts for a short time.

It is the will of Sheogorath that the Gnarl confuse and bewilder the unwary mage. To that end, it gains resistance to the element it is struck with, but becomes weaker to the other two. The wily mage will quickly switch between elemental spells to take advantage of this. Lesser wizards will suffer if they continue to use the same spell over and over.

In recent years there have been rumors of smiths that are able to use the amber sap extracted from Gnarl to make sturdy armor and weapons. As of yet, this gossip has not been confirmed.

More is not known about the Gnarl than is known. No-one has been able to determine the gender of Gnarl, or if they even have them. Young or immature Gnarl have never been seen. One academic suggested that Gnarl are born full-formed from trees that are struck by lightning. This absurd suggestion has not been confirmed.

Similarly, we have no knowledge of their diet or social habits. Presumably they feed directly from the sun and earth, like trees do. There are no reported cases of them communicating, even among each other. However, they do seem to have a truce of sorts with other woodland creatures such as the Baliwog and Elytra.
BOOK:DESCSEBookTheMadnessOfPelagiusThe Madness of Pelagius
By Tsathenes

The man who would be Emperor of all Tamriel was born Thoriz Pelagius Septim, a prince of the royal family of Wayrest in 3E 119 at the end of the glorious reign of his uncle, Antiochus I. Wayrest had been showered by much preference during the years before Pelagius' birth, for King Magnus was Antiochus' favorite brother.

It is hard to say when Pelagius' madness first manifested itself, for, in truth, the first ten years of his life were marked by much insanity in the land itself. When Pelagius was just over a year old, Antiochus died and a daughter, Kintyra, assumed the throne to the acclaim of all. Kintyra II was Pelagius' cousin and an accomplished mystic and sorceress. If she had sufficient means to peer into the future, she would have surely fled the palace.

The story of the War of the Red Diamond has been told in many other scholarly journals, but as most historians agree, Kintyra II's reign was usurped by her and Pelagius' cousin Uriel, by the power of his mother, Potema -- the so-called wolf queen of Solitude. The year after her coronation, Kintyra was trapped in Glenpoint and imprisoned in the Imperial dungeons there.

All of Tamriel exploded into warfare as Prince Uriel took the throne as Uriel III, and High Rock, because of the imprisoned Empress' presence there, was the location of some of the bloodiest battles. Pelagius' father, King Magnus, allied himself with his brother Cephorus against the usurper Emperor, and brought the wrath of Uriel III and Queen Potema down on Wayrest. Pelagius, his brothers and sisters, and his mother Utheilla fled to the Isle of Balfiera. Utheilla was of the line of Direnni, and her family manse is still located on that ancient isle even to this day.

There is thankfully much written record of Pelagius' childhood in Balfiera recorded by nurses and visitors. All who met him described him as a handsome, personable boy, interested in sport, magic, and music. Even assuming diplomats' lack of candor, Pelagius seemed, if anything, a blessing to the future of the Septim Dynasty.

When Pelagius was eight, Cephorus slew Uriel III at the Battle of Ichidag and proclaimed himself Emperor Cephorus I. For the next ten years of his reign, Cephorus battled Potema. Pelagius' first battle was the Siege of Solitude, which ended with Potema's death and the final end of the war. In gratitude, Cephorus placed Pelagius on the throne of Solitude.

As king of Solitude, Pelagius' eccentricities of behavior began to be noticeable. As a favorite nephew of the Emperor, few diplomats to Solitude made critical commentary about Pelagius. For the first two years of his reign, Pelagius was at the very least noted for his alarming shifts in weight. Four months after taking the throne, a diplomat from Ebonheart called Pelagius "a hale and hearty soul with a heart so big, it widens his waist"; five months after that, the visiting princess of Firsthold wrote to her brother that "the king gripped my hand and it felt like I was being clutched by a skeleton. Pelagius is greatly emaciated, indeed."

Cephorus never married and died childless three years after the Siege of Solitude. As the only surviving sibling, Pelagius' father Magnus left the throne of Wayrest and took residence at the Imperial City as the Emperor Magnus I. Magnus was elderly and Pelagius was his oldest living child, so the attention of Tamriel focused on Sentinel. By this time, Pelagius' eccentricities were becoming infamous.

There are many legends about his acts as King of Sentinel, but few well-documented cases exist. It is known that Pelagius locked the young princes and princesses of Silvenar in his room with him, only releasing them when an unsigned Declaration of War was slipped under the door. When he tore off his clothes during a speech he was giving at a local festival, his advisors apparently decided to watch him more carefully. On the orders of Magnus, Pelagius was married to the beautiful heiress of an ancient Dark Elf noble family, Katariah Ra'athim.

Nordic kings who marry Dark Elves seldom improve their popularity. There are two reasons most scholars give for the union. Magnus was trying to cement relations with Ebonheart, where the Ra'athim clan hailed. Ebonheart's neighbor, Mournhold, had been a historical ally of the Empire since the very beginning, and the royal consort of Queen Barenziah had won many battles in the War of the Red Diamond. Ebonheart had a poorly-kept secret of aiding Uriel III and Potema.

The other reason for the marriage was more personal: Katariah was as shrewd a diplomat as she was beautiful. If any creature was capable of hiding Pelagius' madness, it was she.

On the 8th of Second Seed, 3E 145, Magnus I died quietly in his sleep. Jolethe, Pelagius' sister took over the throne of Solitude, and Pelagius and Katariah rode to the Imperial City to be crowned Emperor and Empress of Tamriel. It is said that Pelagius fainted when the crown was placed on his head, but Katariah held him up so only those closest to the thrones could see what had happened. Like so many Pelagius stories, this cannot be verified.

Pelagius III never truly ruled Tamriel. Katariah and the Elder Council made all the decisions and only tried to keep Pelagius from embarrassing all. Still, stories of Pelagius III's reign exist.

It was said that when the Argonian ambassador from Blackrose came to court, Pelagius insisted on speaking in all grunts and squeaks, as that was the Argonian's natural language.

It is known that Pelagius was obsessed with cleanliness, and many guests reported waking to the noise of an early-morning scrubdown of the Imperial Palace. The legend of Pelagius while inspecting the servants' work, suddenly defecating on the floor to give them something to do, is probably apocryphal.

When Pelagius began actually biting and attacking visitors to the Imperial Palace, it was decided to send him to a private asylum. Katariah was proclaimed regent two years after Pelagius took the throne. For the next six years, the Emperor stayed in a series of institutions and asylums.

Traitors to the Empire have many lies to spread about this period. Whispered stories of hideous experiments and tortures performed on Pelagius have almost become accepted as fact. The noble lady Katariah became pregnant shortly after the Emperor was sent away, and rumors of infidelity and, even more absurd, conspiracies to keep the sane Emperor locked away, ran amok. As Katariah proved, her pregnancy came about after a visit to her husband's cell. With no other evidence, as loyal subjects, we are bound to accept the Empress' word on the matter. Her second child, who would reign for many years as Uriel IV, was the child of her union with her consort Lariate, and publicly acknowledged as such.

On a warm night in Suns Dawn, in his 34th year, Pelagius III died after a brief fever in his cell at the Temple of Kynareth in the Isle of Betony. Katariah I reigned for another forty six years before passing the scepter onto the only child she had with Pelagius, Cassynder.

Pelagius' wild behavior has made him perversely dear to the province of his birth and death. The 2nd of Suns Dawn, which may or may not be the anniversary of his death (records are not very clear) is celebrated as Mad Pelagius, the time when foolishness of all sorts is encouraged. And so, one of the least desirable Emperors in the history of the Septim Dynasty, has become one of the most famous ones.
The Predecessors

Being an Examination of the Curious Ruins of the Shivering Isles and Their Terrible Significance for our Future

by Yngvar the Wanderer

The ancient ruins that dot the countryside are a familiar sight to the inhabitants of the Shivering Isles. So familiar that their true significance has escaped notice of most, until now. I have recently uncovered the terrible secret hidden in these ruins, and I will now share this secret with you. But be warned - this knowledge may be too much for some, as you will know the awful fate that lies in store for you, but will be powerless to do anything to prevent it. If you are strong enough of mind to withstand the psychic shock of having your grim future laid bare, read on.

My interest in the ruins began with a simple observation: all the ruins visible on the surface appear to be of roughly the same age and architectural style. Who created these once-mighty structures, and what happened to them?

Further investigation revealed an even stranger truth: although the ruins superficially all appear to derive from the same era, they are in fact of wildly differing ages. Many thousands of years separate the ruins of Cylarne (by far the oldest extant on the surface, despite its relatively well-maintained state) from the ruins of Ebrocca, which at almost 1,000 years old is one of the youngest sites in the Isles. For those who would dismiss this conclusion, I invite you to visit the ruins and examine the evidence for yourselves: the depth of strata covering the buried portions of the structures; the weathering of the exposed stone; the growth of vegetation on and around the structures; etc. (I have compiled the evidence in a separate monograph, "Dating the Predecessor Ruins: Shocking New Evidence Comprehensively Explained," which is presently unpublished, though I will gladly make it available for those scholars wishing to delve further into the minutiae of this subject.)

Once I began to accurately establish the dates of the various ruins, a disturbing pattern emerged. The ruins fell into distinct periods, each period separated by exactly 1,000 years from the other (although Cylarne remains the exception, being many thousands of years older than the next oldest extant ruin - suggesting only that the ruins from many earlier eras lie waiting to be discovered, or have been lost to the ravages of time).

What could account for this process of destruction, repeating itself every 1,000 years without fail? The legend of the Greymarch sprang immediately to mind, that ancient tale of a vengeful god venting his wrath upon the land. What if it were more than a legend? What if it were the dimly-remembered account of a real event?

I suddenly realized the significance of the dating of the most recent ruin that I had discovered: Ebrocca, which my tests proved to be about 1,000 years old. Yes, Dear Reader, we come to it at last. The Cataclysm is upon us again. I have dated the ruins of Ebrocca to great accuracy; I know the very year of our Doom. I refrain from publishing the exact date, as this knowledge is a terrible burden that I would not inflict on others.

For a long time I hesitated from issuing even this general warning, fearful of inciting panic or despair. But I have concluded that it is better to have time to prepare for the End in whatever way one sees fit than to have it thrust upon them unawares. I no longer doubt that the legend of the Greymarch is based on historical events, and that the last days of our civilization will be terrible - the blasted and tumbled stones of the mighty cities of bygone eras are testament enough to that. But I find it strangely comforting to know that our end is already written in the stones of our Predecessors, and that struggling against our Doom is as pointless as shouting against the incoming tide. I hope that at least a few of my readers will find equal solace in this bleak foreknowledge.

BOOK:DESCSEBookTheProphetArdenSulThe Prophet Arden-Sul
Volume II
The Sacellum

When one approaches the walls of New Sheoth, the eyes are unavoidably drawn to a magnificent sight: a mystical flame rises from a simple tower that juts from a circular building. To some, the flame is a beacon of strength and guidance, to others, a mockery of their beliefs. It is the epicenter of a most interesting conflict; two sides of the same coin vying for the favor of their God. It is an unremarkable building with a most remarkable past. It is the Sacellum Arden-Sul.

Although the Sacellum itself predates Arden-Sul's life, both the Manics and the Demented contest the history of the Sacellum heavily. The Manics believe that on that very spot before New Sheoth existed, Arden-Sul was first afflicted with the Grand Enlightenment and became blinded. The Demented postulate that the Sacellum was the location where Arden-Sul endured the Hundred Day Torture. However, it was not these purported events of Arden-Sul's life that aligned the Sacellum with the prophet's name... it was his death.

Here again, the Manics and the Demented are divided. The Manics story of Arden-Sul's death begins with a night of superlative revelry in the Sacellum. The event was replete with a seemingly inexhaustible supply of Greenmote and spirits. Arden-Sul and his 213 followers engaged in a veritable orgy of merrymaking and overindulgence, a night fraught with a profusion of singing, dancing, and fornicating. As the celebration reached a crescendo and the event reached its whirlwind apex, one by one, Arden-Sul's followers began to drop to the ground--their lifeblood draining from their bodies until the ground was soaked a crimson red. The excesses of their hedonism had taken its toll and had caused their very hearts to explode. Although details are uncertain, it was said Arden-Sul was the last to die with the look of pure bliss upon his face.

The Demented have a radically different story of the events leading to Arden-Sul's demise. Fearing that one of his followers would one day turn traitor and bury a blade in his back, Arden-Sul sought a method to see deep into a man's soul and reveal his true feelings. After an exhaustive search, he uncovered the secrets of visceromancy, the science of divination through the observation of the entrails of others. Armed with this knowledge, he summoned his flock to the Sacellum. After imbibing the wine Arden-Sul gave them, his followers suddenly felt themselves paralyzed... aware of their surroundings but unable to move. Then, one by one, Arden-Sul cut out the still-beating hearts of his followers and read their lifeblood. After removing all 213 hearts, he still hadn't located the traitor. Furious, he reached into his chest and tore out his own heart. Before the light faded from his eyes, Arden-Sul was reported to have realized the ironic truth; he was the traitor, destined to kill himself.

Whether or not one chooses to take either of these stories seriously is of little import. The truth remains that the Sacellum is a significant location of a highly regarded prophet's death. To this day, the building is still shared among the Manics and the Demented, and depending on Lord Sheogorath's whim, the favored side becomes its ruling body.

Little boys shouldn't summon up the forces of eternal darkness unless they have an adult supervising, I know, I know. But on that sunny night on the 5th of First Seed, I didn't want an adult. I wanted Hermaeus Mora, the daedra of knowledge, learning, gums, and varnishes. You see, I was told by a beautiful, large breasted man who lived under the library in my home town that the 5th of First Seed was Hermaeus Mora's night. And if I wanted the Oghma Infinium, the book of knowledge, I had to summon him. When you're the new king of Solitude, every bit of knowledge helps.

Normally, you need a witches coven, or a mages guild, or at least matching pillow case and sheets to invoke a prince of Oblivion. The Man Under the Library showed me how to do it myself. He told me to wait until the storm was at its height before shaving the cat. I've forgotten the rest of the ceremony. It doesn't matter.

Someone appeared who I thought was Hermaeus Mora. The only thing that made me somewhat suspicious was Hermaeus Mora, from what I read, was a big blobby multi-eyed clawed monstrosity, and this guy looked like a waistcoated banker. Also, he kept calling himself Sheogorath, not Hermaeus Mora. Still, I was so happy to have successfully summoned Hermaeus Mora, these inconsistencies did not bother me. He had me do some things that didn't make any sense to me (beyond the mortal scope, breadth, and ken, I suppose), and then his servant happily gave me something he called the Wabbajack. Wabbajack. Wabbajack.


Wabbajack. Wabbajack. Wabbajack. Wabbajack. Wabbajack. Wabbajack.

Maybe the Wabbajack is the Book of Knowledge. Maybe I'm smarter because I know cats can be bats can be rats can be hats can be gnats can be thats can be thises. And that doors can be boars can be snores can be floors can be roars can be spores can be yours can be mine. I must be smart, for the interconnective system is very clear to me. Then why, or wherefore do people keep calling me mad?

Wabbajack. Wabbajack. Wabbajack.


Zealotry of Sheogorath

he self-proclaimed Zealots of Sheogorath believe our liege lord to be not just a man of mysterious and wondrous powers, but a living god. They believe his will sustains the lands and his whim supports all things in it. They believe Arden-Sul, Who Reads the Winds in Our Entrails, was the mortal aspect of Lord Sheogorath, and will come again to cleanse the Realm. Since these claims are clearly ridiculous, it can be assumed that all Zealots are quite mad.

The Zealots cannot be reasoned with. They cannot be treatied with easily. They attack almost anyone on sight, assuming them to be heretics or non-believers. They fight to the death, reveling in the carnage.

The reader might ask, then how does one join the Zealots? After much research, I discovered that Zealots sneak into settled areas and leave sets of robes behind. Anyone inclined toward Zealotry can don these robes and approach the Zealots safely. It is said that Zealot leaders can see the true heart of a supplicant, even if he wears the robes, and will slay any false supplicants.

Even then, the Zealots have painful rituals meant to prove their fealty to Sheogorath. Only the most devout supplicants are accepted into their ranks. Those who fail these tests are put to death.

Once a supplicant is accepted as a Zealot, he is taught ceremonies and sorcerous secrets. The best known of these is summoning Flesh Atronachs to do their bidding. These powerful creatures are formidable foes.

BOOK:DESCSECrucibleRoofNoteI don't think I'll live much longer. My wine supply is thinning, only one bottle left. Bernice's wine is worthless! I would have lasted longer on Gnarl bark. I'd go back home to resupply, but Brithaur, that maggot, has stolen my house. It's not just him, though, it's also the others. I can't leave the safety of the roof. They have a plan for me, I see it in their eyes. Caldana, Earil, Cutter, ALL OF THEM!

They don't know I'm up here, watching. Not much longer, though. At least they won't find me or my stash. I've put all my favorite things in an urn, and sunken it in the sewage near the back of Bernice's dive.

I think I'll drink that last bottle to celebrate.
Sheogorath, Prince of Madness, Lord of the Never-There, Sovereign of the Shivering Isles, does, on this day, hence-forth make this decree:
Robert Wisnewski
Citizen of the Shivering Isles, Resident of Bliss, and Honored Madman
has broken the laws and covenants of the Shivering Isles and offended the austere personage of Our Lord, through the following actions:
Attempting the Growth of a Beard, an Action Deemed Unseemly in the Eyes of Our Lord
It is further decreed that the actions of this citizen merit the strictest of punishments to be meted out at the earliest possible hour, in a manner to be chosen according to the Whims and Fancies of Our Lord Sheogorath
BOOK:DESCSERooftopRulesLiturgy of the Duelists

We purge ourselves in the duel.
Sheogorath will mend us.
We purge our friends in duel.
Sheogorath will mend them.
We purge our enemies in war.
Sheogorath will abandon them.

Speak not of the Duelists
Speak only of the duel
Speak not of the combatant
Speak only of the combat
By Reven

f the reader has not yet had the pleasure of reading the first volume in these series on the life of Eslaf Erol, 'Beggar,' he should close this book immediately, for I shan't recap.

I will tell you this much, gentle reader. When we last saw Eslaf, he was a boy, an orphan, a failed beggar, running through the wildy winter woods of Skyrim, away from his home of Erolgard. He continued running, stopping here and there, for many more years, until he was a young man.

Eslaf discovered that among the ways of getting food, asking for it was the most troublesome. Far easier was finding it in the wilderness, or taking it from unguarded market stalls. The only thing worse than begging to get food was begging for the opportunity to work for the money to buy it. That seemed needlessly complicated.

No, as far as Eslaf was concerned, he was best off being a scavenger, a beggar, and a thief.

He commited his first act of thievery shortly after leaving Erolgard, while in the southern woods of Tamburkar in the rugged land near Mount Jensen just east of the village of Hoarbeld. Eslaf was starving, having not eaten anything but a rather scrawny raw squirrel in four days, and he smelled meat cooking and then found the smoke. A band of minstral bards was making camp. He watched them from the bushes as they cooked, and joked, and flirted, and sang.

He could've asked them for some food, but so many others had refused him before. Instead, he rushed out, grabbed a piece of meat from the fire, and wincing from the burns, scrambled up the nearest tree to devour it while the bards stood under him and laughed.

'What is your next move, thief?' giggled a fair, red-headed woman who was covered with tattoos. 'How do you intend to disappear without us catching and punishing you?'

As the hunger subsided, Eslaf realized she was right. The only way to get out of the tree without falling in their midst was to take the branch down to where it hung over a creek. It was a drop off a cliff of about fifty feet. That seemed like the wisest strategy, so Eslaf began crawling in that direction.

'You do know how to fall, boy?' called out a young Khajiiti, but a few years older than Eslaf, thin but muscular, graceful in his slightest movements. 'If you don't, you should just climb down here and take what's coming to you. It's idiotic to break your neck, when we'd just give you some bruises and send you on your way.'

'Of course I know how to fall,' Eslaf called back, but he didn't. He just thought the trick of falling was to have nothing underneath you, and let nature take its course. But fifty feet up, when you're looking down, is enough to give anyone pause.

'I'm sorry to doubt your abilities, Master Thief,' said the Khajiiti, grinning. 'Obviously you know to fall feet first with your body straight but loose to avoid cracking like an egg. It seems you are destined to escape us.'

Eslaf wisely followed the Khajiiti's hints, and leapt into the river, falling without much grace but without hurting himself. In the years that followed, he had to make several more drops from even greater heights, usually after a theft, sometimes without water beneath him, and he improved the basic technique.

When he arrived in the western town of Jallenheim on the morning of his twenty-first birthday, it didn't take him long to find out who was the richest person, most deserving of being burgled. An impregnable palace in a park near the center of town was owned by a mysterious young man named Suoibud. Eslaf wasted no time in finding the palace and watching it. A fortified palace he had come to learn was like a person, with quirks and habits beneath its hard shell.

It was not an old place, evidently whatever money this Suoibud had come into was fairly recent. It was regularly patrolled by guards, implying that the rich man was fearful of been burgled, with good reason. The most distinctive feature of the palace was its tower, rising a hundred feet above the stone walls, doubtless giving the occupant a good defensive view. Eslaf guessed that that if Suoibud was as paranoid as he guessed him to be, the tower would also provide a view of the palace storehouse. The rich man would want to keep an eye on his fortune. That meant that the loot couldn't be directly beneath the tower, but somewhere in the courtyard within the walls.

The light in the tower shone all night long, so Eslaf boldly decided that the best time to burgle was by the light of day, when Suoibud must sleep. That would be the time the guards would least expect a thief to pounce.

And so, when the noon sun was shining over the palace, Eslaf quickly scaled the wall near the front gate and waited, hidden in the crenelations. The interior courtyard was plain and desolate, with few places to hide, but he saw that there were two wells. One the guards used from time to time to draw up water and slake their thirst, but Eslaf noticed that guards would pass by the other well, never using it.

He waited until the guards were distracted, just for a second, by the arrival of a merchant in a wagon, bearing goods for the palace. While they were searching his wagon, Eslaf leapt, elegantly, feet first, from the wall into the well.

It was not a particularly soft landing for, as Eslaf had guessed, the well was not full of water, but gold. Still, he knew how to roll after a fall, and he didn't hurt himself. In the dank subterranean storehouse, he stuffed his pockets with gold and was about to go to the door which he assumed would lead to the tower when he noticed a gem the size of an apple, worth more than all the gold that was left. Eslaf found room for it down his pants.

The door did indeed lead to the tower, and Eslaf followed its curving stairwell up, walking quietly but quickly. At the top, he found the master of the palace's private quarters, ornate and cold, with invaluable artwork and decorative swords and shields on the walls. Eslaf assumed the snoring lump under the sheets was Suoibud, but he didn't investigate too closely. He crept to the windows and looked out.

It was going to be a difficult fall, for certes. He needed to jump from the tower, past the walls, and hit the tree on the other side. The tree branches would hurt, but they would break his fall, and there was a pile of hay he had left under the tree to prevent further injury.

Eslaf was about to leap when the occupant of the room woke up with a start, yelling, 'My gem!'

Eslaf and stared at him for a second, wide-eyed. They looked alike. Not surprising, since they were brothers.

Eslaf Erol's story is continued in the book 'Warrior.'

A Dance In Fire, Chapter I
by Waughin Jarth

Scene: The Imperial City, Cyrodiil
Date: 7 Frost Fall, 3E 397

t seemed as if the palace had always housed the Atrius Building Commission, the company of clerks and estate agents who authored and notarized nearly every construction of any note in the Empire. It had stood for two hundred and fifty years, since the reign of the Emperor Magnus, a plain-fronted and austere hall on a minor but respectable plaza in the Imperial City. Energetic and ambitious middle-class lads and ladies worked there, as well as complacent middle-aged ones like Decumus Scotti. No one could imagine a world without the Commission, least of all Scotti. To be accurate, he could not imagine a world without himself in the Commission.

"Lord Atrius is perfectly aware of your contributions," said the managing clerk, closing the shutter that demarcated Scotti's office behind him. "But you know that things have been difficult."

"Yes," said Scotti, stiffly.

"Lord Vanech's men have been giving us a lot of competition lately, and we must be more efficient if we are to survive. Unfortunately, that means releasing some of our historically best but presently underachieving senior clerks."

"I understand. Can't be helped."

"I'm glad that you understand," smiled the managing clerk, smiling thinly and withdrawing. "Please have your room cleared immediately."

Scotti began the task of organizing all his work to pass on to his successor. It would probably be young Imbrallius who would take most of it on, which was as it should be, he considered philosophically. The lad knew how to find business. Scotti wondered idly what the fellow would do with the contracts for the new statue of St Alessia for which the Temple of the One had applied. Probably invent a clerical error, blame it on his old predecessor Decumus Scotti, and require an additional cost to rectify.

"I have correspondence for Decumus Scotti of the Atrius Building Commission."

Scotti looked up. A fat-faced courier had entered his office and was thrusting forth a sealed scroll. He handed the boy a gold piece, and opened it up. By the poor penmanship, atrocious spelling and grammar, and overall unprofessional tone, it was manifestly evident who the writer was. Liodes Jurus, a fellow clerk some years before, who had left the Commission after being accused of unethical business practices.

"Dear Sckotti,

I emagine you alway wondered what happened to me, and the last plase you would have expected to find me is out in the woods. But thats exactly where I am. Ha ha. If your'e smart and want to make lot of extra gold for Lord Atrius (and yourself, ha ha), youll come down to Vallinwood too. If you have'nt or have been following the politics hear lately, you may or may not know that ther's bin a war between the Boshmer and there neighbors Elswere over the past two years. Things have only just calm down, and ther's a lot that needs to be rebuilt.

Now Ive got more business than I can handel, but I need somone with some clout, someone representing a respected agencie to get the quill in the ink. That somone is you, my fiend. Come & meat me at the M'ther Paskos Tavern in Falinnesti, Vallinwood. Ill be here 2 weeks and you wont be sorrie.

-- Jurus

P.S.: Bring a wagenload of timber if you can."


"What do you have there, Scotti?" asked a voice.

Scotti started. It was Imbrallius, his damnably handsome face peeking through the shutters, smiling in that way that melted the hearts of the stingiest of patrons and the roughest of stonemasons. Scotti shoved the letter in his jacket pocket.

"Personal correspondence," he sniffed. "I'll be cleared up here in a just a moment."

"I don't want to hurry you," said Imbrallius, grabbing a few sheets of blank contracts from Scotti's desk. "I've just gone through a stack, and the junior scribes hands are all cramping up, so I thought you wouldn't miss a few."

The lad vanished. Scotti retrieved the letter and read it again. He thought about his life, something he rarely did. It seemed a sea of gray with a black insurmountable wall looming. There was only one narrow passage he could see in that wall. Quickly, before he had a moment to reconsider it, he grabbed a dozen of the blank contracts with the shimmering gold leaf ATRIUS BUILDING COMMISSION BY APPOINTMENT OF HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY and hid them in the satchel with his personal effects.

The next day he began his adventure with a giddy lack of hesitation. He arranged for a seat in a caravan bound for Valenwood, the single escorted conveyance to the southeast leaving the Imperial City that week. He had scarcely hours to pack, but he remembered to purchase a wagonload of timber.

"It will be extra gold to pay for a horse to pull that," frowned the convoy head.

"So I anticipated," smiled Scotti with his best Imbrallius grin.

Ten wagons in all set off that afternoon through the familiar Cyrodilic countryside. Past fields of wildflowers, gently rolling woodlands, friendly hamlets. The clop of the horses' hooves against the sound stone road reminded Scotti that the Atrius Building Commission constructed it. Five of the eighteen necessary contracts for its completion were drafted by his own hand.

"Very smart of you to bring that wood along," said a gray-whiskered Breton man next to him on his wagon. "You must be in Commerce."

"Of a sort," said Scotti, in a way he hoped was mysterious, before introducing himself: "Decumus Scotti."

"Gryf Mallon," said the man. "I'm a poet, actually a translator of old Bosmer literature. I was researching some newly discovered tracts of the Mnoriad Pley Bar two years ago when the war broke out and I had to leave. You are no doubt familiar with the Mnoriad, if you're aware of the Green Pact."

Scotti thought the man might be speaking perfect gibberish, but he nodded his head.

"Naturally, I don't pretend that the Mnoriad is as renowned as the Meh Ayleidion, or as ancient as the Dansir Gol, but I think it has a remarkable significance to understanding the nature of the merelithic Bosmer mind. The origin of the Wood Elf aversion to cutting their own wood or eating any plant material at all, yet paradoxically their willingness to import plantstuff from other cultures, I feel can be linked to a passage in the Mnoriad," Mallon shuffled through some of his papers, searching for the appropriate text.

To Scotti's vast relief, the carriage soon stopped to camp for the night. They were high on a bluff over a gray stream, and before them was the great valley of Valenwood. Only the cry of seabirds declared the presence of the ocean to the bay to the west: here the timber was so tall and wide, twisting around itself like an impossible knot begun eons ago, to be impenetrable. A few more modest trees, only fifty feet to the lowest branches, stood on the cliff at the edge of camp. The sight was so alien to Scotti and he found himself so anxious about the proposition of entering the wilderness that he could not imagine sleeping.

Fortunately, Mallon had supposed he had found another academic with a passion for the riddles of ancient cultures. Long into the night, he recited Bosmer verse in the original and in his own translation, sobbing and bellowing and whispering wherever appropriate. Gradually, Scotti began to feel drowsy, but a sudden crack of wood snapping made him sit straight up.

"What was that?"

Mallon smiled: "I like it too. 'Convocation in the malignity of the moonless speculum, a dance of fire --'"

"There are some enormous birds up in the trees moving around," whispered Scotti, pointing in the direction of the dark shapes above.

"I wouldn't worry about that," said Mallon, irritated with his audience. "Now listen to how the poet characterizes Herma-Mora's invocation in the eighteenth stanza of the fourth book."

The dark shapes in the trees were some of them perched like birds, others slithered like snakes, and still others stood up straight like men. As Mallon recited his verse, Scotti watched the figures softly leap from branch to branch, half-gliding across impossible distances for anything without wings. They gathered in groups and then reorganized until they had spread to every tree around the camp. Suddenly they plummeted from the heights.

"Mara!" cried Scotti. "They're falling like rain!"

"Probably seed pods," Mallon shrugged, not turning around. "Some of the trees have remarkable --"

The camp erupted into chaos. Fires burst out in the wagons, the horses wailed from mortal blows, casks of wine, fresh water, and liquor gushed their contents to the ground. A nimble shadow dashed past Scotti and Mallon, gathering sacks of grain and gold with impossible agility and grace. Scotti had only one glance at it, lit up by a sudden nearby burst of flame. It was a sleek creature with pointed ears, wide yellow eyes, mottled pied fur and a tail like a whip.

"Werewolf," he whimpered, shrinking back.

"Cathay-raht," groaned Mallon. "Much worse. Khajiti cousins or some such thing, come to plunder."

"Are you sure?"

As quickly as they struck, the creatures retreated, diving off the bluff before the battlemage and knight, the caravan's escorts, had fully opened their eyes. Mallon and Scotti ran to the precipice and saw a hundred feet below the tiny figures dash out of the water, shake themselves, and disappear into the wood.

"Werewolves aren't acrobats like that," said Mallon. "They were definitely Cathay-raht. Bastard thieves. Thank Stendarr they didn't realize the value of my notebooks. It wasn't a complete loss."
A Dance in Fire, Chapter 4
by Waughin Jarth

ighteen Bosmeri and one Cyrodilic former senior clerk for an Imperial building commission trudged through the jungle westward from the Xylo River to the ancient village of Vindisi. For Decumus Scotti, the jungle was hostile, unfamiliar ground. The enormous vermiculated trees filled the bright morning with darkness, and resembled nothing so much as grasping claws, bent on impeding their progress. Even the fronds of the low plants quivered with malevolent energy. What was worse, he was not alone in his anxiety. His fellow travelers, the natives who had survived the Khajiit attacks on the villages of Grenos and Athay, wore faces of undisguised fear.

There was something sentient in the jungle, and not merely the mad but benevolent indigenous spirits. In his peripheral vision, Scotti could see the shadows of the Khajiiti following the refugees, leaping from tree to tree. When he turned to face them, the lithe forms vanished into the gloom as if they had never been there. But he knew he had seen them. And the Bosmeri saw them too, and quickened their pace.

After eighteen hours, bitten raw by insects, scratched by a thousand thorns, they emerged into a valley clearing. It was night, but a row of blazing torches greeted them, illuminating the leather-wrought tents and jumbled stones of the hamlet of Vindisi. At the end of the valley, the torches marked a sacred site, a gnarled bower of trees pressed closed together to form a temple. Wordlessly, the Bosmeri walked the torch arcade toward the trees. Scotti followed them. When they reached the solid mass of living wood with only one gaping portal, Scotti could see a dim blue light glowing within. A low sonorous moan from a hundred voices echoed within. The Bosmeri maiden he had been following held out her hand, stopping him.

"You do not understand, but no outsider, not even a friend may enter," she said. "This is a holy place."

Scotti nodded, and watched the refugees march into the temple, heads bowed. Their voices joined with the ones within. When the last wood elf had gone inside, Scotti turned his attention back to the village. There must be food to be had somewhere. A tendril of smoke and a faint whiff of roasting venison beyond the torchlight led him.

They were five Cyrodiils, two Bretons, and a Nord, the group gathered around a campfire of glowing white stones, pulling steaming strips of meat from the cadaver of a great stag. At Scotti's approach, they rose up, all but the Nord who was distracted by his hunk of animal flesh.

"Good evening, sorry to interrupt, but I was wondering if I might have a little something to eat. I'm afraid I'm rather hungry, after walking all day with some refugees from Grenos and Athay."

They bade him to sit down and eat, and introduced themselves.

"So the war's back on, it seems," said Scotti amiably.

"Best thing for these effete do-nothings," replied the Nord in between bites. "I've never seen such a lazy culture. Now they've got the Khajiiti striking them on land, and the high elves at sea. If there's any province that deserves a little distress, it's damnable Valenwood."

"I don't see how they're so offensive to you," laughed one of the Bretons.

"They're congenital thieves, even worse than the Khajiiti because they are so blessed meek in their aggression," the Nord spat out a gob of fat which sizzled on the hot stones of the fire. "They spread their forests into territory that doesn't belong to them, slowly infiltrating their neighbors, and they're puzzled when Elsweyr shoves back at them. They're all villains of the worst order."

"What are you doing here?" asked Scotti.

"I'm a diplomat from the court of Jehenna," muttered the Nord, returning to his food.

"What about you, what are you doing here?" asked one of the Cyrodiils.

"I work for Lord Atrius's building commission in the Imperial City," said Scotti. "One of my former colleagues suggested that I come down to Valenwood. He said the war was over, and I could contract a great deal of business for my firm rebuilding what was lost. One disaster after another, and I've lost all my money, I'm in the middle of a rekindling of war, and I cannot find my former colleague."

"Your former colleague," murmured another of the Cyrodiils, who had introduced himself as Reglius. "He wasn't by any chance named Liodes Jurus, was he?"

"You know him?"

"He lured me down to Valenwood in nearly the exact same circumstances," smiled Reglius, grimly. "I worked for your employer's competitor, Lord Vanech's men, where Liodes Jurus also formerly worked. He wrote to me, asking that I represent an Imperial building commission and contract some post-war construction. I had just been released from my employment, and I thought that if I brought some new business, I could have my job back. Jurus and I met in Athay, and he said he was going to arrange a very lucrative meeting with the Silvenar."

Scotti was stunned: "Where is he now?"

"I'm no theologian, so I couldn't say," Reglius shrugged. "He's dead. When the Khajiiti attacked Athay, they began by torching the harbor where Jurus was readying his boat. Or, I should say, my boat since it was purchased with the gold I brought. By the time we were even aware of what was happening enough to flee, everything by the water was ash. The Khajiiti may be animals, but they know how to arrange an attack."

"I think they followed us through the jungle to Vindisi," said Scotti nervously. "There was definitely a group of something jumping along the treetops."

"Probably one of the monkey folk," snorted the Nord. "Nothing to be concerned about."

"When we first came to Vindisi and the Bosmeri all entered that tree, they were furious, whispering something about unleashing an ancient terror on their enemies," the Breton shivered, remembering. "They've been there ever since, for over a day and a half now. If you want something to be afraid of, that's the direction to look."

The other Breton, who was a representative of the Daggerfall Mages Guild, was staring off into the darkness while his fellow provincial spoke. "Maybe. But there's something in the jungle too, right on the edge of the village, looking in."

"More refugees maybe?" asked Scotti, trying to keep the alarm out his voice.

"Not unless they're traveling through the trees now," whispered the wizard. The Nord and one of the Cyrodiils grabbed a long tarp of wet leather and pulled it across the fire, instantly extinguishing it without so much as a sizzle. Now Scotti could see the intruders, their elliptical yellow eyes and long cruel blades catching the torchlight. He froze with fear, praying that he too was not so visible to them.

He felt something bump against his back, and gasped.

Reglius's voice hissed from up above: "Be quiet for Mara's sake and climb up here."

Scotti grabbed hold of the knotted double-vine that hung down from a tall tree at the edge of the dead campfire. He scrambled up it as quickly as he could, holding his breath lest any grunt of exertion escape him. At the top of the vine, high above the village, was an abandoned nest from some great bird in a trident-shaped branch. As soon as Scotti had pulled himself into the soft, fragrant straw, Reglius pulled up the vine. No one else was there, and when Scotti looked down, he could see no one below. No one, that is except the Khajiiti, slowly moving toward the glow of the temple tree.

"Thank you," whispered Scotti, deeply touched that a competitor had helped him. He turned away from the village, and saw that the tree's upper branches brushed against the mossy rock walls that surrounded the valley below. "How are you at climbing?"

"You're mad," said Reglius under his breath. "We should stay here until they leave."

"If they burn Vindisi like they did Athay and Grenos, we'll be dead sure as if we were on the ground," Scotti began the slow careful climb up the tree, testing each branch. "Can you see what they're doing?"

"I can't really tell," Reglius stared down into the gloom. "They're at the front of the temple. I think they also have ... it looks like long ropes, trailing off behind them, off into the pass."

Scotti crawled onto the strongest branch that pointed toward the wet, rocky face of the cliff. It was not a far jump at all. So close, in fact, that he could smell the moisture and feel the coolness of the stone. But it was a jump nevertheless, and in his history as a clerk, he had never before leapt from a tree a hundred feet off the ground to a sheer rock. He pictured in his mind's eye the shadows that had pursued him through the jungle from the heights above. How their legs coiled to spring, how their arms snapped forward in an elegant fluid motion to grasp. He leapt.

His hands grappled for rock, but long thick cords of moss were more accessible. He held hard, but when he tried to plant his feet forward, they slipped up skyward. For a few seconds, he found himself upside down before he managed to pull himself into a more conventional position. There was a narrow outcropping jutting out of the cliff where he could stand and finally exhale.

"Reglius. Reglius. Reglius," Scotti did not dare to call out. In a minute, there was a shaking of branches, and Lord Vanech's man emerged. First his satchel, then his head, then the rest of him. Scotti started to whisper something, but Reglius shook his head violently and pointed downward. One of the Khajiiti was at the base of the tree, peering at the remains of the campfire.

Reglius awkwardly tried to balance himself on the branch, but as strong as it was it was exceedingly difficult with only one free hand. Scotti cupped his palms and then pointed at the satchel. It seemed to pain Reglius to let it out of his grasp, but he relented and tossed it to Scotti.

There was a small, almost invisible hole in the bag, and when Scotti caught it, a single gold coin dropped out. It rang as it bounced against the rock wall on the descent, a high soft sound that seemed like the loudest alarm Scotti had ever heard.

Then many things happened very quickly.

The Cathay-Raht at the base of the tree looked up and gave a loud wail. The other Khajiiti followed in chorus, as the cat below crouched down and then sprung up into the lower branches. Reglius saw it below him, climbing up with impossible dexterity, and panicked. Even before he jumped, Scotti could tell that he was going to fall. With a cry, Reglius the Clerk plunged to the ground, breaking his neck on impact.

A flash of white fire erupted from every crevice of the temple, and the moan of the Bosmeri prayer changed into something terrible and otherworldly. The climbing Cathay-Raht stopped and stared.

"Keirgo," it gasped. "The Wild Hunt."

It was as if a crack in reality had opened wide. A flood of horrific beasts, tentacled toads, insects of armor and spine, gelatinous serpents, vaporous beings with the face of gods, all poured forth from the great hollow tree, blind with fury. They tore the Khajiiti in front of the temple to pieces. All the other cats fled for the jungle, but as they did so, they began pulling on the ropes they carried. In a few seconds time, the entire village of Vindisi was boiling with the lunatic apparitions of the Wild Hunt.

Over the babbling, barking, howling horde, Scotti heard the Cyrodiils in hiding cry out as they were devoured. The Nord too was found and eaten, and both Bretons. The wizard had turned himself invisible, but the swarm did not rely on their sight. The tree the Cathay-Raht was in began to sway and rock from the impossible violence beneath it. Scotti looked at the Khajiiti's fear-struck eyes, and held out one of the cords of moss.

The cat's face showed its pitiful gratitude as it leapt for the vine. It didn't have time to entirely replace that expression when Scotti pulled back the cord, and watched it fall. The Hunt consumed it to the bone before it struck the ground.

Scotti's own jump up to the next outcropping of rock was immeasurably more successful. From there, he pulled himself to the top of the cliff and was able to look down into the chaos that had been the village of Vindisi. The Hunt's mass had grown and began to spill out through the pass out of the valley, pursuing the fleeing Khajiiti. It was then that the madness truly began.

In the moons' light, from Scotti's vantage, he could see where the Khajiiti had attached their ropes. With a thunderous boom, an avalanche of boulders poured over the pass. When the dust cleared, he saw that the valley had been sealed. The Wild Hunt had nowhere to turn but on itself.

Scotti turned his head, unable to bear to look at the cannibalistic orgy. The night jungle stood before him, a web of wood. He slung Reglius's satchel over his shoulder, and entered.

The Black Arrow
Part I
By Gorgic Guine

was young when the Duchess of Woda hired me as an assistant footman at her summer palace. My experience with the ways of the titled aristocracy was very limited before that day. There were wealthy merchants, traders, diplomats, and officials who had large operations in Eldenroot, and ostentatious palaces for entertaining, but my relatives were all far from those social circles.

There was no family business for me to enter when I reached adulthood, but my cousin heard that an estate far from the city required servants. It was so remotely located that there were unlikely to be many applicants for the positions. I walked for five days into the jungles of Valenwood before I met a group of riders going my direction. They were three Bosmer men, one Bosmer woman, two Breton women, and a Dunmer man, adventurers from the look of them.

"Are you also going to Moliva?" asked Prolyssa, one of the Breton women, after we had made our introductions.

"I don't know what that is," I replied. "I'm seeking a domestic position with the Duchess of Woda."

"We'll take you to her gate," said the Dunmer Missun Akin, pulling me up to his horse. "But you would be wise not to tell Her Grace that students from Moliva escorted you. Not unless you don't really want the position in her service."

Akin explained himself as we rode on. Moliva was the closest village to the Duchess's estate, where a great and renowned archer had retired after a long life of military service. His name was Hiomaste, and though he was retired, he had begun to accept students who wished to learn the art of the bow. In time, when word spread of the great teacher, more and more students arrived to learn from the Master. The Breton women had come down all the way from the Western Reach of High Rock. Akin himself had journeyed across the continent from his home near the great volcano in Morrowind. He showed me the ebony arrows he had brought from his homeland. I had never seen anything so black.

"From what we've heard," said Kopale, one of the Bosmer men. "The Duchess is an Imperial whose family has been here even before the Empire was formed, so you might think that she was accustomed to the common people of Valenwood. Nothing could be further from the truth. She despises the village, and the school most of all."

"I suppose she wants to control all the traffic in her jungle," laughed Prolyssa.

I accepted the information with gratitude, and found myself dreading more and more my first meeting with the intolerant Duchess. My first sight of the palace through the trees did nothing to assuage my fears.

It was nothing like any building I had ever seen in Valenwood. A vast edifice of stone and iron, with a jagged row of battlements like the jaws of a great beast. Most of the trees near the palace had been hewn away long ago: I could only imagine the scandal that must have caused, and what fear the Bosmer peasants must have had of the Duchy of Woda to have allowed it. In their stead was a wide gray-green moat circling in a ring around the palace, so it seemed to be on a perfect if artificial island. I had seen such sights in tapestries from High Rock and the Imperial Province, but never in my homeland.

"There'll be a guard at the gate, so we'll leave you here," said Akin, stopping his horse in the road. "It'd be best for you if you weren't damned by association with us."

I thanked my companions, and wished them good luck with their schooling. They rode on and I followed on foot. In a few minutes' time, I was at the front gate, which I noticed was linked to tall and ornate railings to keep the compound secure. When the gate-keeper understood that I was there to inquire about a domestic position, he allowed me past and signaled to another guard across the open lawn to extend the drawbridge and allow me to cross the moat.

There was one last security measure: the front door. An iron monstrosity with the Woda Coat of Arms across the top, reinforced by more strips of iron, and a single golden keyhole. The man standing guard unlocked the door and gave me passage into the huge gloomy gray stone palace.

Her Grace greeted me in her drawing room. She was thin and wrinkled like a reptile, cloaked in a simple red gown. It was obviously that she never smiled. Our interview consisted of a single question.

"Do you know anything about being a junior footman in the employment of an Imperial noblewoman?" Her voice was like ancient leather.

"No, Your Grace."

"Good. No servant ever understands what needs to be done, and I particularly dislike those who think they do. You're engaged."

Life at the palace was joyless, but the position of junior footman was very undemanding. I had nothing to do on most days except to stay out of the Duchess's sight. At such times, I usually walked two miles down the road to Moliva. In some ways, there was nothing special or unusual about the village - there are thousands of identical places in Valenwood. But on the hillside nearby was Master Hiomaste's archery academy, and I would often take my luncheon and watch the practice.

Prolyssa and Akin would sometimes meet me afterwards. With Akin, the subjects of conversation very seldom strayed far from archery. Though I was very fond of him, I found Prolyssa a more enchanting companion, not only because she was pretty for a Breton, but also because she seemed to have interests outside the realm of marksmanship.

"There's a circus in High Rock I saw when I was a little girl called the Quill Circus," she said during one of our walks through the woods. "They've been around for as long as anyone can remember. You have to see them if you ever can. They have plays, and sideshows, and the most amazing acrobats and archers you've ever seen. That's my dream, to join them some day when I'm good enough."

"How will you know when you're a good enough archer?" I asked.

She didn't answer, and when I turned, I realized that she had disappeared. I looked around, bewildered, until I heard laughter from the tree above me. She was perched on a branch, grinning.

"I may not join as an archer, maybe I'll join as an acrobat," she said. "Or maybe as both. I figured that Valenwood would be the place to go to see what I could learn. You've got all those great teachers to imitate in the trees here. Those ape men."

She coiled up, bracing her left leg before springing forward on her right. In a second, she had leapt across to a neighboring branch. I found it difficult to keep talking to her.

"The Imga, you mean?" I stammered. "Aren't you nervous up at that height?"

"It's a cliche, I know," she said, jumping to an even higher branch, "But the secret is not to ever look down."

"Would you mind coming down?"

"I probably should anyhow," she said. She was a good thirty feet up now, balancing herself, arms outstretched, on a very narrow branch. She gestured toward the gate just barely visible on the other side of the road. "This tree is actually as close as I want to get to your Duchess's palace."

I held back a gasp as she dove off the branch, somersaulting until she landed on the ground, knees slightly bent. That was the trick, she explained. Anticipating the blow before it happened. I expressed to her my confidence that she would be a great attraction at the Quill Circus. Of course, I know now that never was to be.

On that day, as I recall, I had to return early. It was one of the rare occasions when I had work, of a sort, to do. Whenever the Duchess had guests, I was to be at the palace. That is not to say that I had any particular duties, except to be seen standing at attention in the dining room. The stewards and maids worked hard to bring in the food and clear the plates afterwards, but the footmen were purely decorative, a formality.

But at least I was an audience for the drama to come.

The Mystery of
Princess Talara, Part I
By Mera Llykith

he year was 3E 405. The occasion was the millennial celebration of the founding of the Breton Kingdom of Camlorn. Every grand boulevard and narrow alley was strung with gold and purple banners, some plain, some marked with the heraldic symbols of the Royal Family or the various principalities and dukedoms which were vassals of the King. Musicians played in the plazas great and small, and on every street corner was a new exotic entertainer: Redguard snake charmers, Khajiiti acrobats, magicians of genuine power and those whose flamboyant skill was equally impressive if largely illusion.

The sight that drew most of the male citizens of Camlorn was the March of Beauty. A thousand comely young women, brightly and provocatively dressed, danced their way down the long, wide main street of the city, from the Temple of Sethiete to the Royal Palace. The menfolk jostled one another and craned their necks, picking their favorites. It was no secret that they were all prostitutes, and after the March and the Flower Festival that evening, they would be available for more intimate business.

Gyna attracted much of the attention with her tall, curvaceous figure barely covered by strips of silk and her curls of flaxen hair specked with flower petals. In her late twenties, she wasn't the youngest of the prostitutes, but she was certainly one of the most desirable. It was clear by her demeanor that she was used to the lascivious glances, though she was far from jaded at the sight of the city in splendor. Compared to the squalid quarter of Daggerfall where she made her home, Camlorn at the height of celebration seemed so unreal. And yet, what was even stranger was how, at the same time, familiar it all looked, though she had never been there before.

The King's daughter Lady Jyllia rode out of the palace gates, and immediately cursed her misfortune. She had completely forgotten about the March of Beauty. The streets were snarled, at a standstill. It would take hours to wait for the March to pass, and she had promised her old nurse Ramke a visit in her house south of the city. Jyllia thought for a moment, picturing in her mind the arrangement of streets in the city, and devised a shortcut to avoid the main street and the March.

For a few minutes she felt very clever as she wound her way through tight, curving side streets, but presently she came upon temporary structures, tents and theaters set up for the celebration, and had to improvise a new path. In no time at all, she was lost in the city where she had lived all but five years of her life.

Peering down an alley, she saw the main avenue crowded with the March of Beauty. Hoping that it was the tale end, and desirous not to be lost again, Lady Jyllia guided her horse toward the festival. She did not see the snake-charmer at the mouth of the alley, and when his pet hissed and spread its hood, her charge reared up in fear.

The women in the parade gasped and surged back at the sight, but Lady Jyllia quickly calmed her stallion down. She looked abashed at the spectacle she had caused.
"My apologies, ladies," she said with a mock military salute.

"It's all right, madam," said a blonde in silk. "We'll be out of your way in a moment."

Jyllia stared as the March passed her. Looking at that whore had been like looking in a mirror. The same age, and height, and hair, and eyes, and figure, almost exactly. The woman looked back at her, and it seemed as if she was thinking the same thing.

And so Gyna was. The old witches who sometimes came in to Daggerfall had sometimes spoke of doppelgangers, spirits that assumed the guise of their victims and portended certain death. Yet the experience had not frightened her: it seemed only one more strangely familiar aspect of the alien city. Before the March had danced it way into the palace gates, she had all but forgotten the encounter.

The prostitutes crushed into the courtyard, as the King himself came to the balcony to greet them. At his side was his chief bodyguard, a battlemage by the look of him. As for the King himself, he was a handsome man of middle age, rather unremarkable, but Gyna was awed at the sight of him. A dream, perhaps. Yes, that was it: she could see him as she had dreamt of him, high above her as he was now, bending now to kiss her. Not a one of lust as she had experienced before, but one of small fondness, a dutiful kiss.

"Dear ladies, you have filled the streets of the great capitol of Camlorn with your beauty," cried the King, forcing a silence on the giggling, murmuring assembly. He smiled proudly. His eyes met Gyna's and he stopped, shaken. For an eternity, they stayed locked together before His Highness recovered and continued his speech.

Afterwards, while the women were all en route back to their tents to change into their costumes for the evening, one of the older prostitutes approached Gyna: "Did you see how the King looked at you? If you're smart, you'll be the new royal mistress before this celebration ends."

"I've seen looks of hunger before, and that wasn't one of them," laughed Gyna. "I'd wager he thought I was someone else, like that lady who tried to run us over with her horse. She's probably his kin, and he thought she had dressed up like a courtesan and joined the March of Beauty. Can you imagine the scandal?"

When they arrived at the tents, they were greeted by a stocky, well-dressed young man with a bald pate and a commanding presence of authority. He introduced himself as Lord Strale, ambassador to the Emperor himself, and their chief patron. It was Strale who had hired them, on the Emperor's behalf, as a gift to the King and the kingdom of Camlorn.

"The March of Beauty is but a precursor to the Flower Festival tonight," he said. Unlike the King, he did not have to yell to be heard. His voice was loud and precise in its natural modulations. "I expect each of you to perform well, and justify the significant expense I've suffered bringing you all the way up here. Now hurry, you must be dressed and in position on Cavilstyr Rock before the sun goes down."

The ambassador needn't have worried. The women were all professionals, experts at getting dressed and undressed with none of the time-consuming measures less promiscuous females required. His manservant Gnorbooth offered his assistance, but found he had little to do. Their costumes were simplicity itself: soft, narrow sheets with a hole for their heads. Not even a belt was required, so the gowns were open at the sides exposing the frame of their skin.

So it was long before the sun had set that the prostitutes turned dancers were at Cavilstyr Rock. It was a great, wide promontory facing the sea, and for the occasion of the Festival of Flowers, a large circle of unlit torches and covered baskets had been arranged. As early as they were, a crowd of spectators had already arrived. The women gathered in the center of the circle and waited until it was time.

Gyna watched the crowd as it grew, and was not surprised when she saw the lady from the March approaching, hand-in-hand with a very old, very short white-haired woman. The old woman was distracted, pointing out islands out at sea. The blonde lady seemed nervous, unsure of what to say. Gyna was used to dealing with uneasy clients, and spoke first.

"Good to see you again, madam. I am Gyna of Daggerfall."

"I'm glad you bear me no ill will because of the whores, I mean horse," the lady laughed, somewhat relieved. "I am Lady Jyllia Raze, daughter of the King."

"I always thought that daughters of kings were called princess," smiled Gyna.

"In Camlorn, only when they are heirs to the throne. I have a younger brother from my father's new wife whom he favors," Jyllia replied. She felt her head swim. It was madness, speaking to a common prostitute, talking of family politics so intimately. "Relative to that subject, I must ask you something very peculiar. Have you ever heard of the Princess Talara?"

Gyna thought a moment: "The name sounds somewhat familiar. Why would I have?"

"I don't know. It was a name I just thought you might recognize," sighed Lady Jyllia. "Have you been to Camlorn before?"

"If I did, it was when I was very young," said Gyna, and suddenly she felt it was her turn to be trusting. Something about the Lady Jyllia's friendly and forthcoming manner touched her. "To be honest, I don't remember anything at all of my childhood before I was nine or ten. Perhaps I was here with my parents, whoever they were, when I was a little girl. I tell you, I think perhaps I was. I don't recall ever being here before, but everything I've seen, the city, you, the King himself, all seem ... like I've been here before, long ago."
Lady Jyllia gasped and took a step back. She gripped the old woman, who had been looking out to sea and murmuring, by the hand. The elderly creature looked to Jyllia, surprised, and then turned to Gyna. Her ancient, half-blind eyes sparkled with recognition and she made a sound like a grunt of surprise. Gyna also jumped. If the King had seemed like something out of a half-forgotten dream, this woman was someone she knew. As clear and yet indistinct as a guardian spirit.

"I apologize," stammered Lady Jyllia. "This is my childhood nursemaid, Ramke."

"It's her!" the old woman cried, wild-eyed. She tried to run forward, arms outstretched, but Jyllia held her back. Gyna felt strangely naked, and pulled her robe against her body.

"No, you're wrong," Lady Jyllia whispered to Ramke, holding the old woman tightly. "The Princess Talara is dead, you know that. I shouldn't have brought you here. I'll take you back home." She turned back to Gyna, her eyes welling with tears. "The entire royal family of Camlorn was assassinated over twenty years ago. My father was Duke of Oloine, the King's brother, and so he inherited the crown. I'm sorry to have bothered you. Goodnight."

Gyna gazed after Lady Jyllia and the old nurse as they disappeared into the crowd, but she had little time to consider all she had heard. The sun was setting, and it was time for the Flower Festival. Twelve young men emerged from the darkness wearing only loincloths and masks, and lit the torches. The moment the fire blazed, Gyna and all the rest of the dancers rushed to the baskets, pulling out blossoms and vines by the handful.

At first, the women danced with one another, sprinkling petals to the wind. The crowd then joined in as the music swelled. It was a mad, beautiful chaos. Gyna leapt and swooned like a wild forest nymph. Then, without warning, she felt rough hands grip her from behind and push her.

She was falling before she understood it. The moment the realization hit, she was closer to the bottom of the hundred foot tall cliff than she was to the top. She flailed out her arms and grasped at the cliff wall. Her fingers raked against the stone and her flesh tore, but she found a grip and held it. For a moment, she stayed there, breathing hard. Then she began to scream.

The music and the festival were too loud up above: no one could hear her - she could scarcely hear herself. Below her, the surf crashed. Every bone in her body would snap if she fell. She closed her eyes, and a vision came. A man was standing below her, a King of great wisdom, great compassion, looking up, smiling. A little girl, golden-haired, mischievous, her best friend and cousin, clung to the rock beside her.

"The secret to falling is making your body go limp. And with luck, you won't get hurt," the girl said. She nodded, remembering who she was. Eight years of darkness lifted.

She released her grip and let herself fall like a leaf into the water below.

A Game At Dinner
by An Anonymous Spy

Forward From The Publisher:
The history behind this letter is almost as interesting and dark as the story it tells. The original letter to the mysterious Dhaunayne was copied and began circulating around the Ashlands of Vvardenfell a few months ago. In time, a print found its way to the mainland and Prince Hlaalu Helseth's palace outside Almalexia. While the reader may conclude after reading this letter that the Prince would be furious about such a work, impugning his highness with great malevolence, quite the reverse was true. The Prince and his mother, Queen Barenziah, had it privately printed into bound copies and sent to libraries and booksellers throughout Morrowind.

As matter of record, the Prince and the Queen have not officially stated whether the letter is a work of pure imagination or based on an actual occurrence. The House Dres has publicly denounced the work, and indeed, no one named Dhaunayne, despite the suggestions in the letter, has ever been linked to the house. We leave the reader to interpret the letter as he or she believes.

-- Nerris Gan, Publisher

Dark Liege Dhaunayne,

You asked for a detailed description of my experience last night and the reasons for my plea to House Dres for another assignment. I hope I have served you well in my capacity as informant in the court of Prince Helseth, a man who I have stated in many previous reports could teach Molag Bal how to scheme. As you know, I've spent nearly a year now working my way into his inner circle of advisors. He was in need of friendship when he first arrived in Morrowind and eagerly took to me and a few others. Still, he was disinclined to trust any of us, which is perhaps not surprising, given his tenuous position in Morrowind society.

For your unholiness's recollection, the Prince is the eldest son of Barenziah, who was once the Queen of Morrowind and once the Queen of the High Rock kingdom of Wayrest. At the death of her husband, Prince Helseth's stepfather, King Eadwyre, there was a power struggle between the Prince and Eadwyre's daughter, the Princess Elysana. Though details of what transpired are imperfect, it is clear that Elysana won the battle and became Queen, banishing Helseth and Barenziah. Barenziah's only other child, Morgiah, had already left court to marry and become Queen of the Summurset Isle kingdom of Firsthold.

Barenziah and Helseth crossed the continent to return to Morrowind only last year. They were well received by Barenziah's uncle, our current king, Hlaalu Athyn Llethan, who had taken the throne after Barenziah's abdication more than forty years ago. Barenziah made it clear that she had no designs on reclaiming the throne, but merely to retire to her family estates. Helseth, as you know, has lingered in the royal court, and many have whispered that while he lost the throne of Wayrest, he does not intend to lose the throne of Morrowind at Llethan's death.

I've kept your unholiness informed of the Prince's movements, meetings, and plots, as well as the names and characters of his other advisors. As you may recall, I've often thought that I was not the only spy in Helseth's court. I told you before that a particular Dunmer counselor of Helseth looked like a fellow I had seen in the company of Tholer Saryoni, the Archcanon of the Tribunal Temple. Another, a young Nord woman, has been verified to visit the Imperial fortress in Balmora. Of course, in their cases, they might well have been on Helseth's own business, but I couldn't be certain. I had begun to think myself paranoid as the Prince himself when I found myself doubting the sincere loyalty of the Prince's chamberlain, Burgess, a Breton who had been in his employ since his days in the court of Wayrest.

That is the background on that night, last night.

Yesterday morning, I received a curt invitation to dine with the Prince. Based only on my own paranoia, I dispatched one of my servants, who is a good and loyal servant of the House Dres, to watch t