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This drum was used by an unknown Argonian slave during one of the many slave rebellions in Shadowfen. Although the owner's name is lost to history, oral tradition says the drum, named Sky-Talker, was used to send messages to different slave gangs during the revolt. "Drum voices" are often described as inspiring the rebels to great deeds.

This drum is a reminder to all bards that even in the worst of times, music can raise the spirit and inspire the soul.

Crafting Motif 70: Elder Argonian Style

Concordia Mercius

I am proud to present, on behalf of Cyrodilic Collections, my findings on pre-Duskfall Argonian raiment and adornment. The similarity of designs and motifs found during our expeditions across Black Marsh suggest that the Argonians once may have had a more unified civilization, or perhaps simply traded more widely.


The only elder axes we have recovered were clearly weapons of war, leading me to believe that mere tools might not have been created with the same care and grade of material. These war axes consist of one or two large shards of volcanic glass mounted in a brassy alloy and adorned with feathers, dyed yarns, and gold. This degree of metalwork is almost nonexistent in contemporary Black Marsh.


Belts were almost entirely decorative, consisting of expertly woven cloth sashes sometimes adorned with gold chains, rings, or colorful cord. Warriors would employ sturdier reptile hide belts over these sashes as an anchor for arms and armor. Emblems, worn at what would be our navel, often bore Sithis iconography.


Elder Argonians used more footwear than many modern tribes, though they still favored open designs that allowed them to keep their feet immersed. Rubber-soled sandals were uniform among all walks of life, though fringed leg wraps, anklets, and shin guards were frequent accompaniments for those of high status.


We still know little about the elder Argonians' relationship with the Hist, but I believe that the bows we've recovered were made from Hist wood. Perhaps they regarded the arrow as an extension of the Hist's will, like some fatal decree, though it might have been just the most readily available source of wood.


Elder Argonians preferred light sashes and wraps over tunics. This might have been to keep their frills and spines uncovered for communication. Armor was almost entirely constructed from bronze splints and mostly covered the shoulders and abdomen, suggesting that their own scales were expected to protect the exposed flanks and back.


Regardless of length, elder Argonian blades were made from a series of volcanic glass shards set in a beaten bronze channel. The prevalence of volcanic glass in so many weapons was quite surprising, given that there isn't any known volcanic activity within Black Marsh itself. That suggests the Argonians may have regularly ventured into what we now call Morrowind.


Much like their descendants, elder Argonians found gloves impractical. They either used a fingerless mitt that hooked upon the thumb, or hand wraps like those favored by pit fighters. Cloth or leather bracers were commonly worn for decoration and protection, some of the latter mounting rigid metal splints for war. Frilled bands around upper arms were also nearly universal adornments.


A simple circlet or headband acted as the base upon which many styles of headwear could be built. Most had prominent ornamentation above the face and employed feather plumes, jewels, and great brass icons as decoration. Impractical as it may seem, these headdresses were even worn into battle over leather hoods.


Where a simple loincloth is one of the more widely preferred pieces of legwear among tribal Argonians now, their ancestors swaddled themselves in elaborate layers. Knee- and ankle-length skirts and pants were often layered with other frilled skirts and dangling drapery. Warriors favored a top layer of rigid leather or woven reeds reinforced by bronze and bone.


War bludgeons we recovered from a sunken foundry were impressive. Made largely of bronze, these weapons must have been wielded by warriors of great stature. Though it is the striking ends that are the most interesting features. Usually styled after Argonian heads, the designs were angular—almost geometric—and familiar, as was the metal it was cast from.


Maybe it was the way the glass teeth along the rim reminded me of a cog, or the orange tinge of the shield's face, or the boxy scrollwork, but the answer to the nagging familiarity I felt with elder Argonian metalwork struck me like one of their maces: Dwarven influence. Black Marsh may not always have been as insular a province as it is these days.


Usually a combination of leather and bronze, shoulder guards consisted of nothing more than a simple curved pad and a strap to loop through the pit of the arm. Rather than being shaped to fit over the shoulder, many simply projected upward—some as high as the wearer's jaw, making them something of a neck-guard as well.


Staves were primarily instruments of the priesthood of Sithis. Many of these bronze rods were capped with icons and symbols of the Great Serpent to whom the priests made their sacrifices, but some bore razor-sharp, glass teeth intended to spill blood in many of their ceremonies. All evidence points toward Sithis playing a more central role in ancient Argonian worship than in modern day, at least among most tribes.


We didn't understand why volcanic glass was preferred for blades when the ancient Argonians already possessed the capacity for metalwork. In testing one of the glass swords, we quickly learned that the brutal sharpness was frightening for as long as the glass remained intact. It's also easy to replace in the field and lighter than metal sharpening equipment.

Crafting Motif 69: Dead-Water Style


By Bolu, Reel-Ka of the Dead-Water Tribe

My quill will write the truth words. Dead-Water warriors defend the tribe in both life and death. Many travelers find this tradition morbid. They speak of defiling our fallen kin. It is not so. To craft a weapon from the skin and bones of our warriors, this is honoring.


A proper axe requires a leg bone. This, the Dead-Water know. It is the only bone long and thick enough to support the axe head. Male bones are best for this because of their thickness. Female bones are too flexible, better suited for blades. By wielding this axe with strength, we honor a fallen warrior.


Dead-Water Tribe is not renowned for beautiful creations. This is known. Still, our leatherworkers decorate the belts of our warriors. They carve intricate buckles from amber and stone. I nod in admittance. This is not necessary, but still, it is nice.


The mightiest Dead-Water warriors line their boots with sharp spikes. Useful in close combat. With every kick, we hope to pierce the hide of our foes. My egg-mother was able to behead her enemies with one swift kick. This is why I carry her bones in my weapons. I hope to carry her fighting spirit.


Dead-Water quivers are made from the hardened hide of our fallen. Our bows are lined with their fangs, and our arrowheads created from their bones. After battle, we will salvage what arrows we can. Many will keep broken arrowheads in remembrance.


The Dead-Water bound our warrior hearts in the skin of our fallen. Atop this, we wear hardened scales from lurking beasts: haj mota, wamasu, hackwing. Our hunters have slayed, our leatherworkers have skinned. And now our warriors proudly wear.


Dead-Water daggers are made from bones of the arm or shin. When finally the blade wears, they are used for eating. I regularly eat with a dagger made from the shin of my egg-sire's egg-sire. He has lasted through many seasons. I do not share this with travelers I meet. They do not understand such things.


I flex my hands. Gloves must be supple. I look upon the metal hands of outsiders with questioning. A Dead-Water warrior must strike quickly. And, should all else fail, we will use our claws to rip and tear. To cover our fingers would be to take away such weapons.


I bow my head, displaying a helmet covered in long horns. It strikes fear into the heart of my foes. Dead-Water warriors must always be prepared for battle. So we place horns upon our helmets. This way, we continually display the spine of aggression. A display that all of Murkmire knows to fear.


To the front, hardened scale. Behind, supple leather. Dead-Water leg greaves allow for quick movement during battle. Useful in a swamp where the land itself will swallow you whole. This also enables quiet movement. Useful for sneaking towards our enemies. Again, I eye the metal of travelers with distrust.


Dead-Water maces have rounded, curved edges. This was not always so. In my egg-mother's time, skulls were used. They proved far too brittle. Now we place sharp bones atop the heads. Still we honor our ancestors, but now the maces are more durable for battle.


Dead-Water warriors protect in life and death. Their spirits have returned to the Hist. Flesh and bone remain to aid us in battle. I bow my head in respect. We show this most clearly with our shields. The skin of our fallen are stretched across the wood. Their bones decorate the sides.


Our shoulders proudly display spikes of bone. Should the wamasu try to crush us? Should our foes crash against us? The Dead-Water will drop their shoulders, bringing them up for a mighty blow. With skill, a bone will crack or sinew will tear. I will confess, such spikes also add awe to the look of our armor.


Dead-Water staff is as dangerous as our blades. Its amber gem is soaked in the sap of the Hist. From this, its power is absorbed. Only the bones of our fallen mages will create such weapons. By this, they lend their magical essence to another. Or so it is believed.


Dead-Water swords are only held by our most cunning of warriors. Its jagged back can easily cut its wielder, should they not be careful. I bow in reverence. My blade is a most prized possession. Crafted from the leg bone of my egg-mother. Even still she fights by my side.

Crafting Motif 45: Mazzatun

Armsman Omeeta

Armsman Omeeta, Stormhold Fighters Guildhall

I try to catalogue the arms and equipment of all the deep marsh tribes—it helps our fighters identify who and what we're up against. This Mazzatun gear, with its panoply of plumes and avian and reptilian skulls, is particularly garish. That's fine by me: it makes identifying it all the easier. What follows are brief descriptions of arms and armor of Mazzatun origin, both for the record and for the use of guild fighters in the field.


Much like the ruined city's stone, the war axes of Mazzatun tend to be made from reclaimed detritus. Often they are nothing more than the repurposed splinter of a sword lashed to a hewn branch by leather straps. Crude, but effective enough for butchering unarmored combatants and rebellious captives.


Belts range from sashes of cloth and fur, to intricately woven and braided leather or fibers. One thing is consistent, if not make or material: the spiraling path sigil of Mazzatun is featured prominently at the navel. If there's any significance to that, I'm sure there are eight books on the subject you can reference at the Mages Guild.


Footwear is light, if worn at all. Sandals are the preferred dress of warriors, soled in thick hide or bark. Bone, shell, or other inflexible materials are sometimes strapped around the ankles and shins for protection, but I'd say they're still fair game for a hobbling strike.


Mazzatun missile weapons are mostly thrown, but simple recurved bows are favored by their most keen-eyed warriors. Most are made from flexible swamp reeds, but be on the lookout for plumed wooden bows. They are a sign of distinction among tribal archers and a good indicator to take cover.


The primary protective material of Mazzatun gear is bone, and while it might not seem like much, it's deceptively effective. Layers of bone splints offer protection and flexibility nearly as good as steel scale mail, and thick horns, tusks, etc. will stop even a forceful strike. Mazzatun armorers appear to lack the means to adequately protect the abdomen, so their warriors are most vulnerable at their bellies.


Proper daggers are rare and appear to serve mostly ceremonial purposes. The short blades most likely to be seen in the hands of a warrior are machetes meant for clearing vines and scrub. But I have seen one hack into a sword arm through a steel vambrace, so overextend your guard at your own risk.


A combination of leather bracers and armlets do the heavy lifting for arm protection. These are often reinforced with thick plates of bone and steel bands, but even the lightest armor will add wraps of stone beads for rigidity. They sometimes contain flint used to ignite alchemical concoctions and oil.


A basic leather hood is the foundation of most Mazzatun headgear. Beyond that, the functionality of the helmet falls away in favor of grand displays of personal status based on how many ostentatious layers of skull and plume can be mounted to it. Occasionally these ornamental features happen to serve to protect the skull beneath it all.


Leg protection is minimal, as the inhabitants of Mazzatun favor loincloths as their primary dress. Occasionally a warrior will hang bone plates from their belt or strapped to the front of their knees, but for the most part they leave their legs bare. Take advantage when you can: they move fast over this mucky terrain.


For its simplicity, I can't argue with the design of a Mazzatun mace: a simple hardwood sphere mounted to a wooden shaft and studded with steel. The whole thing vaguely resembles a bird with bright plumes on the back of its head and a steel-spiked "beak" on its face.


Shields are elaborate affairs, combining wood, reed, stone, bone, cloth, feathers, and steel. The face is primarily bone plate stitched together around a central stone stud. The reed construction is light, and durability is questionable. Keep hammering and the whole thing will fall apart eventually. Mind the horns on the rim, or you'll find one jutting into your throat.


I don't know why the Mazzatun gear puts so much emphasis on protecting the collar, but the bulkiest bones tend to find themselves strapped around the neck and shoulder. Sometimes you'll find the entire jaw of a large beast draped there. Maybe a collar is just the easiest thing to wear when you lack modern armoring techniques.


I have yet to identify a meaningful difference between a ceremonial staff and a battle staff among the Mazzatun inhabitants. They typically seem to carve them from fallen branches of their tribe's Hist tree. Animal—and other—skulls are the usual ornamentation for the head of the staff. Usually the skull selected bears some significance to the wielder.


Little of the Mazzatun warriors' weapons and armor contain worked metals, with swords being the primary exception. Obviously they're a favorite for combat, but they also pull double duty as tools. These oversized machetes can hack through most vegetation, and the teeth on the back edge make a passable saw. Between those and the scale-like carving along the flat of the blade, I think the blades are supposed to resemble the native Wamasu.

Murkmire Q&A


Lawrence Schick, ESO’s Lead Loremaster, has been in contact via dreamsleeve transmission with his beeko Jee-Lar, an Argonian emigrant from Murkmire. Jee-lar serves Cyrodilic Collections in the capacity of Black Marsh historian, of which he may be the only one—ever. He has kindly consented to provide answers as best he can to some of your questions.

Greetings, dryskins and fellow Argonians, Jee-Lar welcomes you to this inquiry-dance! Studying many things and remembering what I’ve learned is what I do, so I hope to be able to answer your many questions, and that’s a fact!

Does the term "Saxhleel” (a word the Argonians use to describe themselves) also apply to the Nagas? - Legoless

Indeed it does! "Saxhleel” in our Jel language is the term for all the people you dryskins commonly call Argonians. Sometimes other Tamrielic mortals are confused that we come in a variety of shapes, but that is just the will of the Hist, and therefore cannot be otherwise. All humanoid lizard-folk exist due to the gloor, the pervasive will/desire/need of the Hist to engender multiple inevitabilities. Right-right? "Hist gloor, Saxhleel become.” It’s obvious!

Why is Murkmire home to creatures that bear such a close resemblance to Morrowind’s native species? – Zebendal

Good question, but tail-forward! To fix: why are so many Morrowind beasts clearly related to creatures from southern Black Marsh? The answer is outside the realm of the records of history, but consider these general facts and draw your own conclusion. One: many regions of Morrowind, I am told, are damp due to climate and warm due to volcanism, creating a wholesomely muggy environment much like that of our subtropical swamps! Two: for several thousand years the Dark Elves have been raiding our borders for slave labor, and in the process picked up and took with them anything else that was portable and might be valuable, including livestock and critters. Does the picture emerge now from the mist?

I've heard Vicecanon Heita-Meen speaking of Murkmire as being part of the Ebonheart Pact, together with Shadowfen and Thornmarsh. If this is true, why is this small patch of Black Marsh in the far south part of the Pact, while most of the region is not? - Saleel

I cannot speak for the vicecanon, but I would assume her remarks were more aspirational than descriptive, for though there are certainly Pact envoys in Murkmire working to add our region to their confederacy, the area at present remains autonomous, and that’s a fact! The additional fact that Murkmire has no central authority that could sign with the Pact might also have something to do with it.

Has there been a point in history when Argonians were more unified than in the Second Era (given they’re members of the Ebonheart Pact)? - Jeancey

Ah ha, a two-part question! Though the second part isn’t really a question, more of a statement that needs slight correction, so I’ll start with that. Black Marsh is a land of many tribes, mostly self-ruled, and the tribes that have joined the Pact, which are largely in the northern region, are still in the minority. (I think; no one keeps an exact count of these things, you know.)

As to when we Argonians "in history” (ha ha!) have been more unified than now, the answer is never, because we have no "history” as such! That said, there are tales and legends going back to mythic times of the tribes joining together to repel invasions and threats. Some may be true!

I've heard you're rather knowledgeable regarding the Murkmire region of Black Marsh, so I'd like to know where the Lilmothiit are! Or, at least, if there's anything leftover since they supposedly lived in that region? - Ta’asi

Ah, the answer to your question is sad-sad! Our vulpine neighbors the Lilmothiit had been in decline for many of their generations, the closest clans having withdrawn from the coastal areas inland toward the city of Blackrose, just north of Murkmire. Alas, the Knahaten Flu, so dreadful for dryskins, struck the Fox-Folk with near-total lethality. No one I’ve spoken to in Murkmire has seen a living Lilmothiit for many swims.

I am just beginning my adulthood, and I have recently undertaken a foray into the land of my people, Black Marsh. They call me a "Lukiul." I've never tasted the sap of the Hist, and while now I have the opportunity, I find myself frightened by the prospect of coming under the control of a force I do not understand and how it might impact my afterlife. I am told I do not have a soul until I join myself to the Hist. Is this true? When I join the Hist, what will happen to me? Do I lose my individual self? – Echoes-of-Starlight

As a part-time Lukiul myself, it moistens my scales to be able to give a reassuring answer to this one! I was born in the tribe the dryskins call Bright-Throats because of our colorful neck wattles, and communed happily with our Hist since egg-birth. Even when I felt the calling to wander, which would take me beyond daily contact with our Hist, I felt no fear, for I always knew that I would be welcomed whenever I returned—and that’s how it’s been! My wattles may fade when I’m in Cyrodiil for many swims, but they regain their hue once I return to Murkmire.

Now, to your situation: like all Argonians, you are descended from a particular tribe, even if you were born away from that tribe and its Hist. Find out to which tribe your fore-lizards belonged, travel to their domain, and you will be welcomed "home” as if you had never been anywhere else! Unless, of course, your parents were from one of those tribes that abhors Lukiuls and slays them on sight, but there aren’t many of those, so why worry? It just makes your spines droop.

If I understood well, impermanence is a concept that is pervasive in Argonian culture and way of living. How does someone originating from such a culture come to be a historian, whose function is to preserve relics, to extract knowledge from the past, and give it a form of permanence in collective memory? Or do you think your purpose isn’t that? How do you think of the word "historian” itself? Are you a "History-an” or a "Hist-orian”? – Oilbhreis Wind-Hearkener

Ha ha ha! Jee-Lar finds your Tamrielic wordplay amusing, though of course the joke cannot be translated into Jel as our language lacks cognates for the terms in your so-very-funny jest! But the first part of your question is as serious as a fleshfly swarm, so I will address it seriously. Impermanence is pervasive in Argonian culture, and that’s a fact! So pervasive that even impermanence lacks permanence, and Black Marsh will occasionally erupt in phases where certain Saxhleel decide to build in stone or declare inflexible dogma. It happens! And it happens that I am an Argonian of a mindset that perceives patterns of cause and effect and itches to string them together on a timeline, much like my uncle Nomeesh feels compelled to string colored beads on gruntweed fibers to create mosaic shoulder sashes. Right-right?

Murkmire Q&A - Part 2


Famed Argoinian “historian” Jee-Lar returns to once again answer your Murkmire-themed questions about the Saxhleel people, their culture, and their history. If you missed it, don’t forget to check out part one of this series as well!

Greetings, dryskins and fellow Argonians, Jee-Lar welcomes you again to the inquiry-dance! Studying many things and remembering what I’ve learned is what I do, so I hope once more to be able to answer your many questions, and that’s a fact!

Since it’s established that the Lamia are intelligent sentient creatures capable of fluent speech and verbal communication, why haven't they established more permanent dwellings? They have hands capable of making and using tools, so what's stopping them from advancing? – Arch Mikem

I’m not sure where in Tamriel you hail from, Beeko Arch, but it must be one of those provincial locales where a temporary economic uptick has resulted in a construction boom, which in turn has led the local mortals to conclude that “building” equals “advancement” of some sort. How wry! How fanciful! Really, I love you dryskins. Anyway, as it happens, you have come to the right Saxhleel with your question, for I once met a lamia on the border of Blackwood and had a long conversation with her, during which many subjects were addressed. I came across her in some Barsaebic ruins where she was drowsing in the sun, belly distended and leisurely digesting—well, I didn’t think it would be tactful to ask what. I asked her why lamias so often resided in ruins, and she flicked her tongue and hissed, “Where else? Are there not more civic scars in Tamriel than solid structures? The humans and Elveses, so silly, they set up city after city, surrender to struggle and discord, and succumb to the scourge of strife. The sequel? Expanses of ruins, all set for snatching. It’s simple! Edifice assembly is for suckers.”

This one holds an artisanal bakery of sweet and sugary specialties and has heard stories about a delicious ingredient from Argonia called “daril.” What is it exactly? Do you know of recipes mixing daril and sugar? Surely there are coins to be made, yes? - Hazazhun-dar the Bittersweet

Ah, daril, so much fun-fun! One drop on a Saxhleel tongue, and vossa-satl tangos taste like peppermint prickly pears, and an egg-sibling can dance all night with a torchbug! But rare, not easy to get, oh no, for you must first catch a moon-adder and express its venom, and then ferment it for many swims in a swamp jelly gas bladder. Also, no-no fun for dryskins because it kills them instantly, so if you have some daril, Baker-Beeko, you should not taste it but instead save it for Jee-Lar. Right?

When I was a hatchling, I played amongst places that often were forbidden by the grownup dull-scales. I remember one time I saw drawings that looked old of half-Saxhleel, half-tree creatures. Was this symbolic to show the bond between us and the Hist, or was there a time when we were of a different form? It is also said that even if a human consumes Hist-sap and grows up with it, that they are also Argonian enough. Are the Hist so generous to all? – Hunts-for-Wisdom

Ah, Hunts-for-Wisdom, it sounds like your youthful self stumbled upon some lithographs of the Parable of Becoming, albeit in a crude and ambiguous depiction, which may be why your elders tried to steer you clear of it. You know the story I mean: the allegory of the Hist perceiving humans and Elves, admiring “their walking legs and clever hands,” and then molding and re-molding the swamp’s Useful Lizards until they found they had made Argonians.

As for the effects of Hist sap on dryskins, I have heard that certain ill-advised High Elves tried to experiment with this but were prevented by Others. Probably for the best, right-right?

What is a name of your Province in Jel? Now it is known as Argonia, or worse, Black Marsh. Both names are alien, and both are given by other races, but then why do all guides and scholarly works use alien names for your beautiful and mysterious land? It is unfair! Therefore, I ask you to write a true name, given by Saxhleel! – Maximus Ferras

That is not as easy to answer as you might think, Maximus! First of all, “province” is an Imperial concept that most Argonians struggle with, though I think I’ve finally got it. I mean, why use a single name to describe so much varied difference? An Argonian’s idea of their home place rarely extends beyond their Hist’s farthest root-hairs. I did hear a Gee-Rusleel once use the wide-swamp gesture along with the term “kronka-thatith,” roughly everything-egg, and that may be as close to a province name as you’re going to get in Jel.

This one hopes you can tell him about the general history between Argonian and its Imperial neighbors, and maybe even between Argonian and its Khajiit neighbors. Are relationships overall good? – Recremen

Alas and woe, we are in sad-sad times, Recremen, because the mild illness we called the Half-Swim Sniffles passed out of our marshes and into the lands of the dryskins, who called the illness the Knahaten Flu and did not find it mild at all, oh, no. Your people, the furred ones who live to our west, were struck particularly hard—perhaps you have been traveling? The Khajiiti folk suffered greatly, and blamed us Saxhleel for inflicting the epidemic upon them. Which is so terribly, terribly unfair! We would never wish such a thing upon our friends the furred ones! The Gray Elves, sure, but that’s different, nobody likes them.

Being a priestess of our loving Mother Mara, I’m trying to find as much information on Tamrielic wedding traditions as I can. However, when I tried to learn about Argonian wedding traditions, I was rather confused after discovering a horrible book! It stated that Argonians don’t have weddings at all, and that mating is a simple call to procreation. Moreover, it said mating is a kind of annual trial event – only trial winners are allowed to mate. I always imagined an Argonian wedding as a complex, delicate, and ethereal ritual. Please, let me know the truth, whatever is it, in name of our loving Mother! – Leonidas Tavicus

Oh, yes, well—“weddings.” We don’t have an exact cognate of that word in Jel, probably because the concept of procreational partnership varies so much from tribe to tribe. There’s, let’s see, “uvastuxith,” nest-becoming, and there’s “tumjum,” or house-weaving, which is more allegorical, and “thtithatei,” which is, er, egg-stomach. And so many more! The gloor of its Hist mandates each tribe’s pattern of affection-sharing and egg-quickening. And as Argonians are adaptable-by-induction to their Hist’s gloor, numerous possibilities eventuate! And as for inter-tribal bonding rites, well, anything can happen! You can believe Jee-Lar when he says that no Saxhleel who reaches the age of interfertility is bored. We have even adopted the dryskins’ quaint custom of gifting each other with Rings of Mara, a practice we find surprisingly moving. Anyway, good question, Leonidas, but I sense my Deer-Naza erecting the spine of… um, must go now! Later! Xuth!



By Tsojei, Reel-Ka Warrior of the Dead-Water Tribe

There we stood, calf-deep in ooze and blood. I looked left to see Kuseem drowning in voriplasm. He died well, but could not utter his final death-curse. He just made a gurgling sound, like a guar with its throat cut. His face, once sharp and covered in bright red war-paint, sloughed off his skull like a wet rag. All in one piece. Dissolving in a pool of green slime, right before my eyes.

On my right, Tlek fought like a tailless wamasu, filled with righteous Naga fury--desperate to kill what she could before blood-loss and fatigue claimed her life at last.

Slime-covered ghouls approached from all sides. I crushed and cleaved, just as my root-mother, and her root-mother before her, had done. But my weapon, becoming coated in corrosive slime, sagged and cracked, growing weaker with every strike. Weaker and weaker. Just like Tlek. Just like me.

As I prepared to charge headlong into the Dread-Father’s arms one last time, I heard a hiss and a roar behind me. It was Jaxsik-Orrn. In that moment, I knew we would survive.

She set upon the voriplasms with such rage and strength that even I, her egg-brother, felt a hatchling’s fear well up in my throat-sac. Grave-stakes that the dead-not-dead wielded like clubs crashed against her armor, shattering in a spray of splinters and blood. Voriplasms lashed at her legs, leaving ragged wounds on her calves and thighs. But no injury, large or small, slowed Jaxsik-Orrn’s assault.

In the end, nothing remained of our enemies but broken bones and clumps of slowly fading ooze. Despite her seeping wounds, my sister lurched toward what remained of Kuseem, knife in hand. “Fight on, root-brother,” she whispered reverently, before prying what remained of his head from his ragged corpse.

“Stake the rest,” she rasped. Tlek and I did as we were told—pressing Kuseem’s grave-stake deep into his chest and pinning him to the thick mud under the water.

My egg-sister lowered her head and pressed her fist to her chest. “Glory in dying,” she hissed.

“Glory in death,” we replied.

In those days, Jaxsik-Orrn was just a hunter like us. But as we stood there, covered in blood, we saw her true heart--the heart of a war-captain. A hero. And one day, a legend.

The Seasons of Argonia

Jekka-Wass Paxalt

By Jekka-Wass Paxalt, Keeper of the Xinchei-Konu

Time is immutable. An engine that drives the will of change, inevitable, primordial. An ever-moving force in an ever-constant cycle. To mark the progression of that change is a thing most sacred to the Saxhleel. Each month marks a particular aspect of the yearly cycle, and is thus celebrated accordingly. The months and their respective meanings are as follows:

Vakka (Sun)
As the first month of the cycle, Vakka is associated with the primordial origin of existence, or origins in general. We are encouraged to show extra respect to the tribal elders during this time.

Xeech (Nut)
Also known as the hiding time, Xeech is a month of planting both seeds and ideals. Swamp bulbs are buried, planting sprouts. Elders pass down their knowledge, implanting knowledge. This is a time of hope, but also of melancholy. It is the first of the Three Mournings, for once a thing it is planted, it is hidden and gone. What emerges will not be something new: the nut is lost forever.

Sisei (Sprout)
Sisei stands for newness, possibility, and youthful excitement. The Hist has shed its sleeping life and now is truly alive. Many hatchling festivals take place during this time. It is also known as the "leaping season," for this month is also full of sport and competition. The virtues of strength, speed, and willpower are all venerated and celebrated.

Hist-Deek (Hist Sapling)
Hist-Deek is, for good or ill, dedicated to the challenge of authority and the power of individual agency. Many use this month to highlight injustices, with intra-tribal conflict often resulting. Needless to say, it is a very controversial time. Many also take this time to analyze their agency apart from the Hist; to reflect upon our worship, and see it as bond rather than bondage.\

Hist-Dooka (Mature Hist)
Serving as the counter-balance to the turbulent Hist-Deek, the Hist-Dooka is centered on the ideas of family, tradition, and obligation. Young Saxhleel are given more responsibility, and many adolescents take on the Chukka-Sei, a trial of maturation, to prove themselves worthy of being called an adult. Those who pass the trials are gain full tribal membership, and the month typically ends with a great celebration.

Hist-Tsoko (Elder Hist)
Perhaps the holiest month of the year, Hist-Tsoko is dedicated to the ideas of knowledge, wisdom, and fullness of potential. Many gatherings this month are solemn affairs, the most important being the Root Talk, where the tribal elders recite the history of the Saxhleel. This month also stands as the Second Mourning, due to the fact that the Hist has stopped growing and all of its individual potential is expended.

Thtithil-Gah (Egg-Basket)
Thtithil-Gah is a month of foolishness and frivolity, often a welcome respite from the oppressive solemnity of the Hist-Tsoko. Hatchling-like wonder, youthful joy, and mild confusion are all venerated. Many traveling entertaining troupes make the majority of their profit during this time. Festivals and feasts are nearly constant.

Thtithil (Egg)
The Egg month is associated with mystery, anticipation, and (perhaps oddly) finality. For most tribes, the connection is literal; much egg-laying takes place during this month.

Nushmeeko (Lizard)
The lizard symbolizes swift and quiet labor. Nushmeeko celebrates the thankless tasks of everyday life, and work is near constant. Cleaning, building, repairing, and preparing; every member of the tribe puts their snout to the grindstone and pushes.

Shaja-Nushmeeko (Semi-Humanoid Lizard)
This month, like Hist-Deek earlier, is another of mystery and debate. There is significant controversy about what the humanoid-lizard actually represents. Is it a hatchling emerged from the egg, or a representation of our cultural origins? Unifying concepts such as change, becoming, and shifting values are all contemplated. Appropriately, many adolescent gatherings take place during this time, resulting in various romantic entanglements. The awkwardness of youth is often associated with this month.

Saxhleel (Argonian)
Saxhleel is a month associated with the true passions of our culture. Given that the hunting and harvesting season has passed, tribe members are free to focus on pursuits such as pottery, woodcarving, and other creative pastimes. A sense of things coming to a close is pervasive, and in many tribes there is a large gathering of elders at the end of this month. The intent of the festival is to prepare both our elders and community for the impending deaths to come. Dryskins often find this a morbid tradition.

Xulomaht (The Deceased)
Like many traditions, Xulomaht is a month of apparently conflicting ideas. It is associated with the Third Mourning, the most powerful of the three given the literal ending of the year. Tribes look back on the events of the year and come to terms with its passing. However, it is also a time of celebration and remembrances. Great festivals are held in honor of all who have passed from their old life and into a new one. Much of the month is spent planning and preparing for these festivities.

Ku-Vastei: The Needed Change


By Lights-the-Way, Mystic of the Mages Guild

It is hard to describe the culture of my people. Often my tongue stumbles as I try to explain, but it is my hope that ink and quill will give me time enough to gather my thoughts. And perhaps, though such writing, I will finally connect the parts of me that now feel so divided; my homeland of Murkmire and my new life within the Mages Guild.

These journals are to become my ku-vastei. And, as I write that, I can think of no better topic to begin with.

Ku-vastei roughly translates to "the catalyst of needed change," though such a direct translation in no way does justice to the original meaning. Another translation could be "that which creates the needed pathway for change to occur" or even "the spark which ignites the flame which must come into being."

Perhaps a more direct analysis should be first presented. Ku-vastei is a noun, a thing or person. Vastei directly translates to change, an important part of my culture. Ku is harder to speak of. It is that which leads to change, though not that which creates change. An important role, as stagnation is a fate worse than death.

Take a boulder which sits atop a cliff, teetering in place. It must fall eventually. The ku-vastei does not push the boulder off the cliff; rather, it picks the pebble which holds the rock in place. And so it falls, not by a push, but by a pathway cleared.

Ku-vastei is revered, just as change itself is revered, for to look back at what was means to stumble as you move forward. Sometimes, a little push in the right direction is all someone needs to remember such wisdom. Other times, they may need to be shoved.

Rhymes and Chimes

Chak-Shushu (translator)

Compiled and translated by Chak-Shushu

Egg-Tender's Lullaby (unattributed)

Little Thtithil, Little Thtithil
Drink up your sap
Little Thtithil, Little Thtithil
Its time for your nap

Little Thtithil, Little Thtithil
Rest in your shell
Little Thtithil, Little Thtithil
We'll keep you well

Little Thtithil, Little Thtithil
Gently you turn
Little Thtithil, Little Thtithil
Grow hard and firm

Hist Hymn (unattributed)

Among the roots where we are born,
Bathed in your sap to shape our form,
We gather here to sing your praise,
And give our thanks for those you raise.

Wind ring your chimes with its caress,
Mud hold you firm through all distress,
Rain reach your roots past golden rays,
Sun kiss your leaves for all your days.

Bless your every branch and bough,
Beneath which we make each our vows.
Bless your tender bark and flowers,
Blessed are we to call you ours.

Hatchling's Rhyme by Mimme

Tinkle, tinkle, hollow chime,
Singing with me as I rhyme
For our darlings in their nest,
Drifting off to well-earned rest.

How you sway and dance with ease,
On the evening's gentle breeze.
Conjure thoughts of lazy streams,
Ferry them to pleasant dreams.

Tinkle, tinkle, hollow chime,
Singing with me as I rhyme.
Guide us through the evening mist,
Home to the roots of our Hist.

Tender Roots by Chak-Shushu

As I lie beneath you
Nestled in your embrace
I am moist with morning dew
From the time we spend enlaced

Basking under the sun's golden kiss
I am hot as humid air,
My breath exhales as mist
Until the warmth is more than I can bear

I wet my scales, slick with mud
Shaded by your caring boughs
Among your loving roots I cool my blood
And then begin to drowse

You sing me a gentle lullaby
Of chimes in the breeze
To plant your seed in my mind's eye
And give me dreams of trees.