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Daughter of the Niben

Author: 
Sathyr Longleat

BRAVIL

Daughter of the Niben

By
Sathyr Longleat

Bravil is one of the most charming towns in Cyrodiil, sparkling in her simple beauty, illustrious by her past. No visit to the southern part of the Imperial Province is complete without a walk along Bravil's exciting river port, a talk with her friendly native children, and, of course, in the tradition of the village, a whispered word to the famous statue of the Lucky Old Lady.

Many thousands of years before the arrival of the Atmorans, the native Ayleid people had long lived in the vicinity of modern day Bravil. The Niben then, as now, provided food and transportation, and the village was even more populous than it is today. We are not certain what they called their region: as insular as they were, the word they used would be translated to simply mean "home." These savage Ayleids were so firmly entrenched that the Bravil region was one of the very last areas to be liberated by the Alessian army in the second century of the 1st era. Though little remains of that era culturally or archeologically, thank Mara, the tales of debauchery and depravity have entered into the realm of legends.

How the Ayleids were able to survive such a long siege is debated by scholars to this day. All, however, grant the honor of the victory to one of the Empress Alessia's centurions, a man called Teo Bravillius Tasus, the man for whom the modern town is named.

It was said he invaded the village no less than four times, after heavy resistance, but each time upon the morning dawning, all his soldiers within would be dead, murdered. By the time more centuria had arrived, the fortified town was repopulated with Ayleids. After the second successful invasion, secret underground tunnels were found and filled in, but once again, come morning, the soldiers were again dead, and the citizens had returned. After the third successful siege, legions were posted outside of the town, watching the roads and riverway for signs of attacks, but no one came. The next morning, the bodies of the invading soldiers were thrown from the parapets of town's walls.

Teo Bravillius Tasus knew that the Ayleids must be hiding themselves somewhere in the town, waiting until nightfall, and then murdering the soldiers while they slept. The question was where. After the fourth invasion, he himself led the soldiers in a thorough inspection of every corner, every shadow. Just as they were ready to give up, the great centurion noticed two curious things. High in the sheer walls of the town, beyond anyone's ability to climb, there were indentations, narrow platforms. And by the river just inside the town, he discovered a single footprint from someone clearly not wearing the Imperial boot.

The Ayleids, it seemed, had taken two routes to hide themselves. Some had levitated up to the walls and hidden themselves high above, and others had slipped into the river, where they were able to breathe underwater. It was a relatively easy task once the strange elves' even stranger hiding holes had been discovered to rout them out, and see to it that there were no more midnight assassinations of the Empress's troops.

It may seem beyond belief that an entire community could be so skilled in these spells hundreds and hundreds of years before the Mages Guild was formed to teach the ways of magicka to the common folk. There does, however, appear to be evidence that, just as the Psijics on the Isle of Artaeum developed Mysticism long before there was a name for it, the even more obscure Ayleids of southern Cyrodiil had developed what was to be known as the school of Alteration. It is not, after all, much of a stretch when one considers that other Ayleids at the time of Bravil's conquering and even later were shapeshifters. The community of pre-Bravil could not turn into beasts and monsters, but they could alter their bodies to hide themselves away. A related and useful skill, to be sure. But not so effective to save themselves in the end.

Very little is left of the Ayleid presence in Bravil of today, though archetectural marvels of other kinds are very evident. As beautiful and arresting as the Benevolence of Mara cathedral and the lord's palace are, no manmade structure in Bravil is as famous as the statue called The Lucky Old Lady.

The tales about the Lady and who she was are too numerous to list.

It was said she was born the illegitimate daughter of a prostitute in Bravil, certainly an inauspicious beginning to a lucky life. She was teased by the other children, who forever asked her who her father was. Every day, she would run back to her little shack in tears from their cruelty.

One day, a priest of Stendarr came to Bravil to do charitable work. He saw the weeping little girl, and when asked, she told him the cause of her misery: she didn't know who her father was.

"You have kind eyes and a mouth that tells no lies," replied the priest after a moment, smiling. "You are clearly a child of Stendarr, the God of Mercy, Charity, and Well-Earned Luck."

The priest's thoughtful words changed the girl forever. Whenever she was asked who her father was, she would cheerfully reply, "I am a child of Luck."

She grew up to be a barmaid, it was said, kind and generous to her customers, frequently allowing them to pay when they were able to. On a particularly rainy night, she gave shelter to a young man dressed in rags, who not only had no money to pay, but was belligerent and rude to her as she fed him and gave him a room. The next morning, he left without so much as a thank you. Her friends and family admonished her, saying that she had to be careful, he might have even been dangerous.

A week later, a royal carriage arrived in Bravil, with an Imperial prince within. Though he was scarcely reconizable, it was the same young man the Lady had helped. He apologized profusely for his appearance and behavior, explaining that he had been kidnapped and cursed by a band of witches, and it wasn't until later he had returned to his senses. The Lady was showered with riches, which she, of course, generously shared with all the people of Bravil, where she lived to a content old age.

No one knows when the statue to her was erected in the town square, or who the artist was, but it has stood there for thousands of years, since the first era. To this day, visitors and Bravillians alike go to the Lucky Old Lady to ask for her to bless them with luck in their travails.

Just one more charming aspect of the charming, and very lucky village of Bravil.

The Seat of Sundered Kings: Cyrodiil

Author: 
Imperial Geographical Society

Map of Cyrodiil

Like the diamond in the center of the Amulet of Kings, Cyrodiil is the heart of the Septim Empire and Tamriel. Still largely forested and almost landlocked, the beauty of the land has been sung of since time immemorial. Three Empires have wielded their power from the strategic center of the continent, so it is little wonder that Cyrodiil is widely known simply as The Imperial Province.

History

The early Aldmeri settlers to Tamriel established strongholds on the islands of Summerset and along the coasts, but did not venture far inland. Only oral histories and the fragmented ballad of Topal the Pilot offer glimpses of the ancient beast races that inhabited the land, but they are shadowy, mist-drawn portraits of time before reckoning. It is not until the coming of the Ayleid that Cyrodilic history truly begins.

Imperial RaceThe Ayleids were ancient Aldmer, cousins of all the elven races that exist to this day. Over time, they became a distinct people, crafting a civilization whose ruins still puzzle and fascinate modern archeologists and adventurers. The ancient Nedic people, spreading south from Skyrim, became the slave labor for their ambitions, centered around the White Gold Tower.

The slave rebellion of Alessia in the 242nd year of the First Era is a seminal event in the history of Cyrodiil, and all of Tamriel. While humans and Elves had been battling in Skyrim for some time and the Slave Queen's revolt could not be called the first victory of men over mer, it represents a turning point in the continental power structure. The heart of Tamriel was going to belong to these former slaves, present day Cyrodilics or Imperials, forever more.

With the aid of the Nords of Skyrim, the Cyrodilics consolidated their power, forming a loose alliance between the two sometimes disparate regions: the rich Nibenay Valley and the remote, rough Colovian Highlands. While the Alessian Empire continued to push westward towards the Direnni lands in High Rock, the greatest change was a cultural and religious one. The prophet Maruhk's teachings both brought identity to Cyrodiil, codifying the pantheon most civilized Tamriellians worship to this day, and brought conflict due to the more severe strictures he espoused.

The next great transformation of the land came from distinctly external forces. The foiled Akaviri invasion of 2703 brought about a new dynasty, and a new spirit of cooperation among independent nations, dedicated to fighting the common threat. Under the Emperor Reman I, Cyrodiil became truly cosmopolitan, incorporating aspects of High Rock, Colovia, Nibenay and the sophisticated if strange culture of the defeated Akaviri into a common whole. The Cyrodilic Empire, also called the Second Empire, began again the process of expansion, founding a strong single nation, if not actually succeeding in conquering the entire continent.

The assassination of Reman III and his son and heir Juilek at the end of the Four Score War with Morrowind marked the end of an era, if not the end of the Second Empire. Under the Akaviri Potentates, the system of governing continued to evolve throughout the Second Era, progresses that abruptly ended with the assassination of the last Potentate in the year 2E 430.

CyrodiilThe rest of the Second Era was a time of great darkness and chaos throughout Tamriel, nowhere moreso than in Cyrodiil. Without a central government, Nibenay and Colovia split apart, farms fell fallow, villages were left in ruin and the former Imperial highways became no man's land, the realm of bandit kings. The Imperial City itself became the prize for an endless series of would-be emperors, fought over for centuries until its glory was only a faded shadow of the great days when it ruled Tamriel.

The rise of Tiber Septim has been amply documented in the history, and in a hundred books besides. In Cyrodiil, his influence could not be overemphasized. He gave the land back its traditional power and more, and became the symbol of it. He founded the dynasty that reigns to this very day. Cyrodiil, of course, helped Tiber Septim as much as he helped it. It gave legitimacy and a sense of history to his legend, which grew even ahead of his conquests.

The Imperial City and Cyrodiil rose again in splendor, occasionally tarnished by the weakness of some of Septim's descendants, the war of the Red Diamond and the Imperial Simulacrum, but never again did it loose its luster.

Current Events

The Imperial Province has continued to be the stable heart of the Empire, offering a model to its satellites of a government that settles disputes by diplomacy, not by force of arms. The recent marriage of Lady Alessia, daughter of the Countess of Chorrol to Count Marius Caro of Leyawiin typifies this, a perfect blend of love and sound political judgement.

Nevertheless, there have been a few frightening moments in Cyrodiil in the recent years. A suspected outbreak of the Knahaten Plague, a threat for the first time in hundreds of years, sparked panic along the southern border with Black Marsh. It was revealed to be a hoax, perhaps created by Argonians fighting back against Imperial excursions led by the Blackwood Company, and the fear was dissipated. Family strife in Kvatch claimed the lives of both sons of Count Haderus Goldwine, vying for the inheritance. While peace has been restored, the Count, at the time of this writing is still in mourning and has not designated a new heir.

In the Imperial Court, there is thankfully no such tragedy. While the Emperor chose not to remarry following the Empress death more than fifty years ago, she left to him three healthy boys who have spent their adult years learning the arts of politics from their masterful liege and father. Crown Prince Geldall has already taken many of Uriel's responsibilities, and has impressed one and all with his acumen. As the heart of the Empire is solid, all of Tamriel is strong.

Trials of St. Alessia

Author: 
Anonymous

[from the Trials of St. Alessia]

Akatosh 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.'

And 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.

So 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

 

Cyrodiil

Author: 
Imperial Geographical Society

pge01_cyrodiil.gif

 

Cyrodiil, Dragon Empire, Starry Heart of Nirn, and Seat of Sundered Kings... Indeed, if the history of the Nords is the history of humans on Tamriel, then Cyrodiil is the throne from which they will decide their destiny. It is the largest region of the continent, and most is endless jungle. Its center, the grassland of the Nibenay Valley, is enclosed by an equatorial rain forest and broken up by rivers. As one travels south along these rivers, the more subtropical it becomes, until finally the land gives way to the swamps of Argonia and the placid waters of the Topal Bay. The elevation rises gradually to the west and sharply to the north. Between its western coast and its central valley there are all manner of deciduous forest and mangroves, becoming sparser towards the ocean. The western coast is a wet-dry area, and from Rihad border to Anvil to the northernmost Valenwood villages forest fires are common in summer. There are a few major roads to the west, river paths to the north, and even a canopy tunnel to the Velothi Mountains, but most of Cyrodiil is a river-based society surrounded by jungle.

Cyrodilic history truly begins by the middle of the Alessian Reformation (see sidebar, Alessian Order), when civilization and cultivation had allowed the region to emerge as a discernible Tamrielic power. Its culture and military strength centered in the sacred Nibenay Valley, a grassland expanse with a vast lake at its heart. Several small islands rose from this lake, and the capital city sprawled across them, crisscrossed with bridges and gondola ferries. Rivers connected the city-state to both its profitable outlying territories and the friendly inland ports of Skyrim and Pellitine. Rice and textiles were its main exports, along with more esoteric treasure-goods, such as hide armor, moon-sugar, and ancestor-silk. The sheer size of Cyrodiil's physical theater, and frequent intervals of Elven tyranny, made its unification as a whole a slow and oft-interrupted process. At the height of Alessian influence, its western arm enjoyed a brief autonomy as the Colovian Estates, a demarcation that still colors an outsider's view of the Empire today; often, Cyrodiil has two faces, East and West, and any discussion of its later social history must first be tempered with a summary of this early divergence.

Traditionally, the East is regarded as the region's soul: magnanimous, tolerant, and administrative. It was in the rain forests of the Nibenay Valley that the original Cyro-Nordic tribes, the Nibenese, learned a self-reliance that separated them culturally and economically from Skyrim. The Elven harassment of the First Empire gave rise to an elite form of support troop for the Valley armies, the battlemage1. By the time the Alessian Doctrines filtered down from the north along the river trade ways, these mages had become the ruling aristocracy. They were quickly superseded by the Alessian priesthood, whose inexplicably charismatic religion found purchase in the lower classes. The traditional Nordic pantheon of Eight Divines was replaced by a baroque veneration of ancestor spirits and god-animals, practices encouraged by the mutable-yet-monotheistic doctrines of the Alessian faith. The doctrines eventually codified nearly every aspect of Eastern culture. Restrictions against certain kinds of meat-eating, coupled with the sentiments of the blossoming animal cults, soon made agriculture and husbandry nearly impossible. Thus, many of the Eastern Cyrodiils were forced to become merchants, which, over time, allowed the Nibenay Valley to become the wealthiest city-state in the region. Yet, under Alessian rule, no matter how rich or powerful the merchant class became it was still a tenanted citizenry, and the tithes they were forced to pay the priesthood were constant reminders of the state's true masters.

The West is respected as Cyrodiil's iron hand: firm, unwavering, and ever-vigilant. The Cyro-Nords that settled it had relinquished the fertile Nibenay Valley long ago, determined to conquer the frontier. Their primitive ferocity was disinclined to magic or the need for industry, preferring bloody engagement and plunder instead. After they had captured the Nedic port-cities of the Strident coast, the Westerners embarked on a mastery of the sea. Their earliest voyages took them as far as the Iliac Bay and the Cape of the Blue Divide, whose ports they annually raided until the (then) superior Yokudan navies arrived, ca. 1E810. By the time of the Alessian Reformation, the Westerners were firmly in a position, both geographically and socially, to resist its doctrines. Hammerfell, its northern border state, was now protected by its own holy-avenging order, the Ra Gada, whose bloody intolerance for foreigners acted as West Cyrodiil's buffer against the Alessian priesthood. The pantheon of Eight Divines, therefore, survived unchecked in Western Cyrodiil, and relations with the increasingly Alessian East became strained. Ultimately, the West isolated itself from the theocratic hegemony of the Nibenay Valley, establishing an autonomous government, the Colovian Estates.

Things persisted in this vein until the Thrassian Plague of 1E2200 (see Free Regions- Thras), which decimated more than half of Tamriel's population, particularly the western coastlands closest to Thras. After Bendu Olo, the Colovian king of Anvil, led the All Flags Navy to victory over the slugfolk of Thras, the glory of the Cyrodilic people became known throughout the world. The Colovian Estates began to overshadow the richer, more populous East then, which eventually lead to the War of Righteousness that ended Alessian rule. Control of the Nibenay Valley reverted to a mercantile-magocracy that was still far too arcane for Western tastes to entertain a reunification of Cyrodiil. Four hundred years would pass before that would happen, when Reman I, another proud son of the West, rallied the Valley's army to join his own and fight the Akaviri Invasion of 1E2703. The Cyrodilic forces engaged the Akaviri in every region of the north, eliciting their surrender at last in the Pale Pass of Skyrim. By war's end, the Cyrodiils found themselves not only united as a nation, but, too, responsible for the further protection of the northern human kingdoms at large. When the Elves of the Summerset Isles took umbrage at what they perceived as a renewed human imperialism, Reman was forced to prove them right. In order to prevent the Elves from attacking2 the already weakened northern kingdoms, he offered the captive Akaviri Horde amnesty in his future dominions if they would serve as the nucleus of the Army of the Second Empire of Men. Reman's own dynasty lasted for two hundred years, and in that span it conquered all the kingdoms of Tamriel except for Morrowind. Indeed, the Dark Elven Morag Tong were the doom of Reman's heirs, and the death of the last true Cyrodilic Emperor heralded the beginning of the Common Era.

The Cyrodilic Empire endured for another four hundred years under the auspices of the Akaviri Potentate (see sidebar, The Second Empire), fell, and suffered a similar span of years in the insurrections, misrules, and loss of power known as the Interregnum. Yet, the remnants of the Cyrodilic Empire refused to die, even though both East and West had become fragmented beyond measure. A petty king of the Colovian Estates, Cuhlecain, came to power and appointed an Atmoran as General of his legions. General Talos had studied in Skyrim, and used the thu'um. He could rout armies with his battle-cry and shout lesser men off their feet. A year later more than half of the Cyrodilic Empire was reclaimed or consolidated, and Cuhlecain saw fit to move into the Nibenay Valley, capture the capital city, and proclaim himself Emperor. By this point, High Rock and Skyrim, which bitterly opposed a return to Cyrodilic rule, gathered their armies for a joint invasion of the Colovian West. Talos met them on the field of Sancre Tor. The Nords that had come to cripple the Empire soon joined the General's forces, for when they heard his thu'um they realized he was Skyrim's Son and the Heir to the Empires of Men. The Bretons were sent back to High Rock with tales of Cuhlecain's new General, where they decided to combat the Emperor's sorcery with their own. In CE854, a nightblade from the Western Reach made his way to the Imperial Palace at Nibenay. There, the Witchman assassinated the Emperor, caught the Palace on fire, and slit the throat of General Talos. "But from the smoldering ruin he came, one hand to his neck and with Cuhlecain's Crown in the other. The legions wept at the sight. His Northern magic had saved him, but the voice that led them would be more silent from that night on. His word could no longer rout an army with a roar, but he could still command one with a whisper. He took for himself a Cyrodilic name, Tiber Septim3, and the Nordic Name of Kings, Ysmir, the Dragon of the North. And with those names he took, too, the Red Diamond Crown of the Cyrodiils, and became their True Emperor." Thus was born the Third Empire of Men.

Cyrodiil in the Third Empire is the young, vital embodiment of its ancient heritage. Internally, it has undergone an incredible restoration-- reconstruction of the ruined sections of the Imperial City is nearly complete, roads and cities destroyed in the Interregnum have been rebuilt, East and West are unified for the first time in four centuries. Cyrodiil's present stability and strength have not been seen since the Reman Dynasty; indeed, they were born under similar circumstances - a Westerner winning the Eastern throne, forging them both into the greatest power in Tamriel. And now, in but twenty years time, Tiber Septim has secured Imperial authority in High Rock, Skyrim, and Hammerfell. Every human region stands with him against the Elven menace4. The Emperor has gracefully attributed his success to his peoples, the Colovians and the Nibenese, whose cultures we shall now treat in their current incarnation.

The Colovians6 today still possess much of the frontier spirit of their ancestors. They are uncomplicated, self-sufficient, hearty, and extremely loyal to one another. Whenever the East would tremble under the weakness of a leader, the Colovians would withdraw unto themselves, always believing they were keeping the national spirit safe until the storm passed. They realize that the Nibenay Valley is the heart of the Empire and the cultural center of its civilization, but it is a fragile center that only can be held together by the strength of character of its Emperor. When he falters, so do the Colovians. Yet when he is mighty, like Tiber Septim, they are his legions. Today, West Cyrodiils make up the majority of the soldiers in the Ruby Ranks. The Colovian nobility, all officers of the Imperial Legions or its West Navy, do not allow themselves the great expenditure of courtly life as is seen in the capital city. They prefer immaculate uniforms and stark standards hanging from the ceiling of their austere cliff-fortresses; to this day, they become a little perplexed7 when they must visit the grandly decorated assault of color that is the Emperor's Palace.

[TRAVELER: "Colovian officers have traditionally been appointed as provincial governors to the human regions of the Empire, as these often need the most forthright of the Emperor's men."]*

By contrast, the Eastern people of Cyrodiil relish in garish costumes, bizarre tapestries, tattoos, brandings, and elaborate ceremony. Closer to the wellspring of civilization, they are more given to philosophy and the evolution of ancient traditions. The Nibenese find the numinous in everything around them, and their different cults are too numerous to mention (the most famous are the Cult of the Ancestor-Moth, the Cult of Heroes, the Cult of Tiber Septim, and the Cult of Emperor Zero). To the Colovians, the ancestor worship and esoteric customs of the East can often be bizarre. Akaviri dragon-motifs are found in all quarters, from the high minaret bridges of the Imperial City to the paper hako skiffs that villagers use to wing their dead down the rivers. Thousands of workers ply the rice fields after the floodings, or clear the foliage of the surrounding jungle in the alternate seasons. Above them are the merchant-nobility, the temple priests and cult leaders, and the age-old aristocracy of the battlemages. The Emperor watches over them all from the towers of the Imperial City, as dragons circle overhead.

 

Alessian Order

This monotheistic religion was once very popular, but today only remnants of its faith remain. It started in the coastal jungle of what is now the Colovian west, where a prophet named Marukh, who had spoken to the "Enlightened One," Saint Alessia, began to question the validity of Elven rule. These sentiments led to an increasingly abstract and unknowable depiction of a Single God. The Alessians were wise enough to realize that they had to incorporate the ancient polytheistic elements into their new religion for it to find a wide acceptance. The divine aspects worshipped by the various humans and Aldmeri were recognizable in the guise of the myriad saints and spirits of the evolving Alessian canon. It wasn't long before the Order was the authority on every religion in Tamriel, and their power grew to earthshaking proportions. Nearly a third of the First Era passed under their theocratic rule. When its priesthood had become too widespread to support itself, the Order began to fight among itself. With the severance of the territories of West Cyrodiil from the Empire, too much money and land had been lost. The War of Righteousness broke out, and the Order which had almost ruled the world undid itself in a ten year span.

 

The Second Empire

The Second Empire is divided into two stages: the Reman Dynasty and the Akaviri Potentate. As mentioned in the text, after the Akaviri raiders had been defeated, Reman recruited many of them into his service. Later Cyrodiils traditionally kept a House Guard of Akaviri, and the Emperor's chief advisor, the Potentate, was usually of Akaviri descent. Other Akaviri slaves played a significant part in establishing the administrative structures of the Second Empire, as well as in the training of its military. The restructured Imperial legions, which learned an unparalleled measure of coherence, logistics, and discipline from the Akaviri, began to easily overwhelm the other regional armies; soon every region in Tamriel belonged to Cyrodiil except for Morrowind. After the assassination of Reman's last heir by the Dark Elven Morag Tong during the disastrous Four Score War, control of the Empire reverted to the Akaviri Potentate. They have left a visible mark on the Empire of today. The high crafts of daikatanas and dragonscale armor came from Akavir, as did the banners and military dress of Septim's shock troops, the Blades. The Red Dragons that have come to represent the Empire and the Imperial City were originally Akaviri war mounts. Akaviri surnames are rare and prized possessions among the Cyrodilic citizenry of today, and there are trace facial features of the Akaviri in many distinguished Cyrodilic families. Some colonies of "true Akaviri" still exist in both the Empire and its border regions, but they are named so only for their practices and customs than for the purity of their blood.

 

The Song of Tiber Septim5

From the Odes:

"He was born in Atmora as Talos, 'Stormcrown' in the language of the ancient Ehlnofey, and it was from that shore he sailed. He spent his youth in Skyrim among the Nords. There he learned much from the Tongues and their chieftains and their ways of war. At twenty he led the invasion of Old Hrol'dan, taking it back from the Witchmen of High Rock and their kinsmen.

"Soon the Greybeards made known that they were restless. Already the storms had begun from their murmurs. The Greybeards were going to Speak. The surrounding villages were abandoned as the people fled the coming blast.

"The villagers warned Talos to turn back, for he was marching to the mountain where the Greybeards dwelt.

"Inside he went, and on seeing him they removed their gags. When they spoke his name the World shook.

"The Tongues of Skyrim told the son of Atmora that he had come to rule Tamriel and that he must travel south to do so.

"And it is true that Talos did come to Cyrodiil shortly after the Battle of Old Hrol'dan.

"And it is true that a great storm preceded his arrival."

 

The Cult of the Ancestor-Moth

For long the Cyro-Nordics had exported ancestor-silks to other regions, simple yet exotic shawls woven from the silks of an indigenous gypsy moth and inscribed with the requisite genealogy of its buyer. Under the Cult, however, ancestor and moth became synonymous: the singing and hymnal spirits of one's forebears are caught in a special silk-gathering ritual, the resource of which is used to create any manner of vestment or costume. The swishing of this material during normal movement reproduces the resplendent ancestral chorus contained therein-it quickly became a sacred custom among the early Nibenese, which has persisted to the present day. Monks of the higher orders of the Cult of the Ancestor-Moth are able to forego the magical ritual needed to enchant this fabric, and, indeed, prefer instead to wear the moths about the neck and face. They are able to attract the ancestor-moths through the application of finely ground bark-dust gathered from the gypsy moth's favorite tree, and through the sub-vocalization of certain mantras. They must chant the mantras constantly to maintain skin contact with the ancestor-moths, a discipline that they endure for the sake of some cosmic balance. When a monk interrupts these mantras, in conversation for example, the moths burst from him in glorious fashion every time he speaks, only to light back upon his skin when he resumes the inaudible chant.

 

The Cult of Emperor Zero

This cult, started by Tiber Septim himself, was established in the honor of Cuhlecain, the Emperor Zero. Though Cuhlecain did not technically recapture all of Cyrodiil's holdings during his time, he is worthy of worship for the wisdom he showed in appointing Talos as his General, and the bravery he showed when retaking the Imperial City, two events that were crucial in restoring the glory of the new Cyrodilic Empire. He is therefore to be remembered in our prayers. The topiary-mages have begun to shape his aspect in the Palace gardens, where in the future Cuhlecain may share his insights with Tiber Septim in the same manner as the rest of the blessed hedgery heads of Green Emperor Road.

 

Places of Note:

The Imperial City8

Refayj's famous declaration, "There is but one city in the Imperial Province,--" may strike the citizens of the Colovian west as mildly insulting, until perhaps they hear the rest of the remark, which continues, "--but one city in Tamriel, but one city in the World; that, my brothers, is the city of the Cyrodiils." From the shore it is hard to tell what is city and what is Palace, for it all rises from the islands of the lake towards the sky in a stretch of gold. Whole neighborhoods rest on the jeweled bridges that connect the islands together. Gondolas and river-ships sail along the watery avenues of its flooded lower dwellings. Moth-priests walk by in a cloud of ancestors; House Guards hold exceptionally long daikatanas crossed at intersections, adorned with ribbons and dragon-flags; and the newly arrived Western legionnaires sweat in the humid air. The river mouth is tainted red from the tinmi soil of the shore, and river dragons rust their hides in its waters. Across the lake the Imperial City continues, merging into the villages of the southern red river and ruins left from the Interregnum.

The Emperor's Palace is a crown of sun rays, surrounded by his magical gardens. One garden path is known as Green Emperor Road-here, topiaries of the heads of past Emperors have been shaped by sorcery and can speak. When one must advise Tiber Septim, birds are drawn to the hedgery head, using their songs as its voice and moving its branches for the needed expressions.


Annotations by YR:

1. "Our old students forget themselves"
2. "Ha!"
3. "Even those humans who revile Talos as a traitor, oathbreaker, and scoundrel pay homage to his skill in obtaining his ends without resort to warfare ~"
4. "Truly, a doubtful statement"
5. "It is certain that the tale of Talos' conquest of the Cyrodiil through use of his voice is not literally true ~ that kind of thu'um is now forbidden. The is all obviously a poetic reference, crafted to satisfy the popular human lust for blood and magic. This young myth is perhaps inspired by Talos' reputation for shrewd diplomacy, attested by even his greatest critics, which permitted him to scheme and bargain his way into the capital city - which he lacked the armies or funds to conquer by dint of force ~"
6. "An observation: Colovians feel superior to Nibenese as a people, yet, because the East is the Empire's "heart", the Westerners ar often neglected in Cyrodiil ~ Even though the throne is taken continually by Kings from the West, the Nibenese quickly assimilate them into their ranks ~"
7. "Author oddly sympathetic to the West - a Colovian scribe, perhaps?"
8. "Of course no mention of the Aldmeri Citadel the capital city was built upon ~ or the crimes perpetrated there in the previous era..."


*. This annotation does not exist in the final version of Pocket Guide from TESA: Redguard.