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Thalmor Dossier: Esbern


Status: Fugitive (Capture Only), Highest Priority, Emissary Level Approval

Description: Male, Nord, late 70s

Esbern was one of the Blades loremasters prior to the First War Against the Empire. He was not a field agent, but is now believed to have been behind some of the most damaging operations carried out by the Blades during the pre-war years, including the Falinesti Incident and the breach of the Blue River Prison. His file had remained dormant for many years, an inexcusable error on the part of my predecessor (who has been recalled to Alinor for punishment and reeducation), in the erroneous belief that he was unlikely to pose a threat due to his advanced age and lack of field experience. A salutary reminder to all operational levels that no Blades agent should be considered low priority for any reason. All are to be found and justice exacted upon them.

Operational Notes:
As we are still in the dark as to the cause and meaning of the return of the dragons, I have made capturing Esbern our top priority, as he is known to be one of the experts in the dragonlore of the Blades. Regrettably, we have yet to match their expertise on the subject of dragons, which was derived from their Akaviri origins and is still far superior to our own (which remains largely theoretical). The archives of Cloud Ruler Temple, which is believed to have been the primary repository of the oldest Blades lore, were largely destroyed during the siege, and although great effort has been made to reconstruct what was lost, it now appears that most of the records related to dragons were either removed or destroyed prior to our attack. Thus Esbern remains our best opportunity to learn how and why the dragons have returned. It cannot be ruled out that the Blades themselves are somehow connected to the dragons' return.

We have recently obtained solid information that Esbern is still alive and hiding somewhere in Riften. Interrogation of a possible eyewitness is on-going. We must proceed carefully to avoid Esbern becoming alerted to his danger. If he is indeed in Riften, he must not be given an opportunity to flee.

Thalmor Dossier: Delphine


Status: Active (Capture or Kill), High Priority, Emissary Level Approval

Description: Female, Breton, mid 50s

Delphine was a high-priority target during the First War, for both operational and political reasons. She was directly involved in several of the most damaging operations carried out by the Blades within the Dominion. She had been identified and was slated for the initial purge, but by bad luck was recalled to Cyrodiil just before the outbreak of hostilities. During the war, she evaded three attempts on her life, in one case killing an entire assassination team. Since then, we have only indirect evidence of her movements, as she has proven extremely alert to our surveillance. She should be considered very dangerous and no move against her should be made without overwhelming force and the most careful preparation.

Operational Notes:
She is believed to still be working actively against us within Skyrim, although we have no location on her. Assumed to be working alone, as no other Blades are known to be active in Skyrim, and she has in the past avoided contact with other fugitive Blades for her own security (one of the reasons she has so far evaded elimination). Her continued existence is an affront to all of us. Any information on her whereabouts or activities should be immediately forwarded to the Third Emissary.

Annals of the Dragonguard

Brother Annulus, ed.

Annals of the Dragonguard


Scribe's Note: I have faithfully copied the following from the Annals of the Dragonguard of Sky Haven Temple for the years 2800-2819 (4329-4338 in the Old Calendar), Brother Annulus, 2E 568.


2801: Emperor Kastav again ordered the Dragonguard to sieze hostages from Markarth and Hroldan to ensure that the jarls meet their conscription quotas. Our Master's official protest was denied, as usual. This will make relations with the local populace more difficult, although the "hostages" are in fact housed and trained with the other acolytes.

2804: Upon the outbreak of the Winterhold Rebellion, our Master refused orders to send the Dragonguard out to help supress the rebellion. The Emperor ordered our supplies cut off, but we have made arrangements with the local Reachmen and are effectively self-sufficient. The Grandmaster supports our Master's action on the grounds that it violates the Oath of Allegiance.

2805: The Temple is besieged. The fool Kalien was sent to Winterhold and sacked the city. There was a reason he was denied entry into the Dragonguard. But the local people do not count the difference between Akaviri. All our years of building up trust with people of Skyrim are now for naught.

2806: We learned of the accession of Reman II (of blessed name) when the siege of the Temple was lifted. We provided the honor guard for the Emperor's first visit to Skyrim, a great boost to the Temple's prestige.

2809: We received reports of a dragon in the east. Scouts were sent immediately, and signs of it were discovered, but it fled at our approach. The survivors have grown wary indeed.

2812: We finally received permission from the Emperor to begin construction of Alduin's Wall. Craftsmen from Temples across the Empire have arrived and begun the great work, overseen by our own Master, as is only fitting, as she is unmatched in her dragonlore.

2813: Work on Alduin's Wall progresses. The Master dismissed several craftsmen (from a western Temple that I do not need to name, they are so well-known for stiff-necked pride), which has delayed the work, but there must be no compromise. Alduin's Wall is our gift to those that come after us.

2815: The Grandmaster visited the Temple in the summer to view the progress of the Wall. He has received complaints about the expense (there is no doubt where these originate), but he was so impressed by the Wall even in its half-finished state that he gave our Master a Writ of Requisition under the Emperor's seal. There will be no more delays!

Further reports of dragons in the east which could not be verified.

2818: An auspicious year. Alduin's Wall was finished, a dragon was located and slain, and Emperor Reman II visited to officially dedicate the Wall. The Blood Seal was consecrated in the presence of all the Dragonguard of Skyrim, a great honor of which few Temples can boast.

The Rise and Fall of the Blades


There are many that still remember the Blades. There are fewer that can pass down their stories, their origins and their downfall. My father could. In his proudest moments he said to me, "You keep secrets like the Blades."

The Blades were good at keeping secrets. They didn't write down much. They passed information carefully between their spies in every province, to their elite members that protected the Emperors. Even amongst their members, they kept much secret.

Most associate the Blades with their ceremonial Akaviri armor and curved longswords. One can trace the Blades back to the fiercest warriors of Akavir, the Dragonguard. It was there, just as they would do in Tamriel, that they protected rulers and their kingdom. But recent discoveries show it to be much more than that.

Many classic texts tell us of adventures to Akavir, known as the dragon lands of the east. Many from Tamriel have attempted to conquer it, most famously Emperor Uriel V and his Tenth Legion in 3E288 as documented in the Imperial dispatch "Disaster at Ionith." Dragons have long been legend in Akavir, and many believe that their brief appearance in Tamriel's history are those that escaped Akaviri, for it was there they were hunted and killed off by the Dragonguard. The Dragonguard would follow those that fled to Tamriel in the late 1st Era.

Invading from the north, the Dragonguard met not only dragons, but the men of Skyrim, who don't meet invasions with pitchers of mead. The Dragonguard cut a path through Skyrim, and it was not until they were stopped by Reman Cyrodiil during the battle at Pale Pass that the invasion came to an end. It was Reman who united the human lands of Cyrodiil and defeated the Akaviri invaders.

Reman is one of the first documented, and widely accepted, of the mythic Dragonborn; those anointed by Akatosh and Alessia themselves. "Born with the soul of a dragon" is what his followers would say. Reports differ widely on the nature of the battle at Pale Pass. But the end result is the same, that the remaining Dragonguard, upon hearing the voice of Reman Cyrodiil, knelt and swore their lives to him, their conqueror and savior. Fragments of from late 1st era texts refer to the warriors dropping to their knees saying "we were not hunting" (or "did not intend", author - rough translation), continuing "we have been searching, for you."

They protected Reman with their lives, as well as his descendants, as the Reman Dynasty ushered in Tamriel's 2nd era. It was through these years that their reach extended, and their order grew to become the Blades. Their conquest of the dragons complete, they only sought to protect the Dragonborn, and through him, the Empire.

They reached their height late during the 3rd era under the rule of the Septim emprors. Despite their numbers, they kept their secrecy. The most visible and well documented were the members who personally guarded the Emperor, still wearing the original Akaviri armor. But that was the just the tip of the spear, for the Blades were a larger organization, stretching to every corner of Tamriel. These agents were of every race. They were merchants, thieves, craftsman, mages, and warriors, all acting as spies, protecting the Empire as needed, and operating in secret. They often acted alone, but some fragments speak of them meeting in secret fortresses across the continent. The most famous being Cyrodiil's Cloud Ruler Temple, where they hung the swords of those slain protecting the Dragonborn. Other maps speak of Wind Scour Temple under the great expanse of Hammerfell's Alik'r desert, Sky Haven Temple in the mountains of Skyrim, and Storm Talon Temple east of Wayrest.

They were known to have a "Grandmaster", who often lived amongst the people, unknown to others. The nature of their communications, meeting places, and missions were known to only a few elite members. The only two to know all were the Grandmaster himself and the Chronicler, whose only job was to make sure the group's mission was never known, but never lost.

With the death of Uriel Septim VII and his son, Martin, the 3rd era came to a close with the Blades fortifying themselves deep within Cyrodiil's Cloud Ruler Temple, as they waited for a Dragonborn to return when they would be called upon again.

The Empire of the 4th era no longer saw the Blades openly protecting it, or the Emperors. That role is now filled by the Penitus Oculatus, a purely Imperial organization. But the Blades continued their secret work, to watch for the Dragonborn and guard against future enemies. The Blades were among the first to see the signs that the Thalmor of the Aldmeri Dominion would not remain isolated within their borders forever. They could do what the Penitus Oculatus, servant to Imperial policy, could not, and thus earned the lasting hatred of the Thalmor.

The warnings of the Blades were proved right, as is well known to all. The Great War between the Empire and the Thalmor consumed the Empire and nearly destroyed it. Emperor Titus Mede II eventually brokered peace with the Thalmor, but at a price many of us still bear.

The reach and destructive nature of the Thalmor is known to many (author's note - in my family firsthand). They are not fools. They knew early on that the Blades were an enemy. So they hunted them throughout the Great War. Some were killed defending their Temples, others as they slept in their hideaways, alone. Some fought, some ran, some hid. But the Thalmor found them all.

There are those that say the Blades still exist around us, in hiding from the Thalmor. Waiting as they have done time and time again, for a Dragonborn to return. For one to protect, for one to guide them.

The Warp in the West

Ulvius Tero

A Report Compiled By Ulvius Tero, Blades Archivist

* Secret: For Your Eyes Only *

Let me offer my congratulations to Your Lordship for your recent appointment as ambassador to the Court of Wayrest.

Your Lordship asked me for a review of existing Blades accounts from 3E 417 concerning 'The Warp in the West', and for a summary of the current state of affairs there.

Since Your Lordship was in Black Marsh serving in the staff of Admiral Sosorius at the time, you probably know of these events only from Imperial proclamations and Chapel declarations, which identify this period as the 'Miracle of Peace'. During the 'Miracle of Peace', according to official accounts, the formerly war-wracked Iliac Bay region was transformed overnight from a patchwork of squabbling duchies and petty kingdoms into the peaceful modern counties of Hammerfell, Sentinel, Wayrest, and Orsinium. The 'Miracle of Peace', also known as the 'The Warp in the West', is celebrated as the product of the miraculous interventions of Stendarr, Mara, and Akatosh to transform this troublesome region into peaceful, well-governed Imperial counties. The catastrophic destruction of landscape and property and the large loss of life attending upon this miracle is understood to have been 'tragic, and beyond mortal comprehension.'

In as much as this account confirms and validates the current borders of these counties, and identifies the rulers and boundaries of these counties as 'ordained by the Nine', the 'Miracle of Peace' serves Imperial objectives of peaceful consolidation of ancient petty states and sovereigns into manageable Imperial jurisdictions. The other remarkable features of these events -- mass disappearances, armies mysteriously transported hundreds of miles or completely annihilated, titanic storms and celestial phenomena, apparent local discontinuities of time -- fit comfortably into the notion that these events are part of a vast, mysterious divine intervention.

However, this is only the public account of these events, and, as you may suspect, it conflicts with many other accounts. In short, while this explanation suits Imperial policy, it has little historical validity.

Your Lordship should know that the Blades have concluded there is no plausible historical account of these events, and despairs that a plausible historical account shall ever be produced. The Blades have concluded that a 'miracle' occurred, insofar as the events are inexplicable, but the Blades strongly doubt the miracle was of divine origin.

There is good reason to believe that the ruling families of the four modern Iliac Bay counties had forewarning of the event. There is also some evidence that some of these ruling families may have been directly or indirectly responsible for the event. We do not know the exact sequence of actions that produced the event, although we are confident that the 'Totem' artifact was involved, and that a Blades agent was involved in employing that artifact. We unfortunately lost contact with that agent immediately after the event; his report might have gone some way to resolving the contradictory and paradoxical accounts of the event.

The Blades have on file few reports from agents dating from the "Warp in the West" period. Most of our agents were lost in the initial dislocations, and others were lost in the confusion after the event. I present a few of these reports to give you a general sense of their limitations, including the report of your diplomatic predecessor, Lord Strale. You will have had access to other private and rumored accounts of the period. I believe you will agree that these documents raise more questions than they answer.


The Report of Hammerfell Agent 'Briarbird'

'I was on assignment in the Alik'r Desert, a few miles south of Bergama on the 9th of Frostfall. I was encamped, as it was still early morning, when I felt the ground shake so violently, I was thrown to the ground. Dazed, I was aware of a great roar of a sandstorm, which alarmed me, as I had been on a high dune and had seen nothing like that on the horizon. It was on me before I was even on my knees, burying me and my camp.

When I crawled my way out of the sand, I realized that I must make haste and get to Bergama as soon as possible, as all my food and water had been swept away. The sun was just rising as I began, like I said. When I reached Bergama, it was nightfall. The town was in chaos, filled with the soldiers of Sentinel. The Lord of Bergama's fortress was in ruins.

There had been an attack, but no one had seen it, only the invasion that followed it. The soldiers of Queen Akorithi of Sentinel refused to be interviewed about how they had accomplished this sneak attack, but I came to learn that the whole of northern Hammerfell now belonged to them. Even stranger, I discovered that my walk from sunrise to sundown had not taken me not one day, but two. It was now the 11th day of the month, not the 10th. I had lost a day somewhere, and so apparently had everyone else... except Akorithi's soldiers, who somehow were aware of the correct date.

I since have concluded that they had received advance warning, and so were better prepared to deal with the strange confusion of time and dates associated with the Warp.'


The Report of High Rock Agent 'Graylady'

'I was, at the time of the Warp, undercover as a witch in the Skeffington Coven of Phyrgias, in central High Rock. In order to give my report, I had volunteered for an expedition to gather supplies, which would allow me the freedom to reach my contact in Camlorn. I was traveling north-east along the foothills of the Wrothgarian Mountains, on the 9th of Frostfall, when I felt a great heat behind me, like a fire. I turned, but I regret to say I cannot tell you what I saw. The healers tell me my eyes were burned out of my sockets.

I think I must have fallen into a state of semi-consciousness, for I distinctly remember falling as the ground seemed to give way beneath me. Then there was a series of explosions in the distance, to the south, and I heard high whistling noises that were getting louder, coming closer. I had my shield with me, and fortunately anticipated that volleys of some sort were falling from the sky. Though I could not see them, I could hear them coming from a distance away, and was able to use my shield to block them from striking me.

The assault stopped suddenly, and I could smell smoke. I learned later that most of the forest of Ykalon and Phygias had caught fire, in an inferno that started further south in Daenia and the Ilessan Hills. Fortunately, I kept my bearings, and moved north, finally reaching a temple in the wilderness where my wounds were healed, as well as they could be.

It was there I learned that there had been a three-way clash between Daggerfall, Wayrest, and Orsinium not far from where I had been, and that the land midway between their kingdoms had been decimated.'


The Report of Ambassador Lord Naigon Strale

'His Imperial Majesty had sent me on a delicate errand, the details of which I cannot convey in this unsecure report, but my official capacity was to be the Emperor's ambassador to the court of Wayrest. From there, I was to meet with an old friend, Lady Brisienna, who was already in the vicinity. Forgoing any attempt at stealth, I was on an Imperial barge, sailing westward on the Bjoulsae, the morning of the 9th of Frostfall. I remember it was a slightly chilly day, but the sky was very blue.

'We had just passed the delightful riverside village of Candlemass when the captain sounded the alarum. There, in front of us, was a colossal wall of water, at least thirty feet high. It smashed our barge to splinters before any of us had a chance to react. I woke up on the shore, having been rescued by one of my servants who had miraculously not lost consciousness. He and I and one other man were the only survivors.

I thought at first that it was suspiciously similar to what happened to another agent of ours in High Rock but a short time before, where a freak storm had shipwrecked him in the Iliac Bay near Privateer's Hold. Furious and determined to see if similar forces were at work, I began a quick march to Wayrest.

The march, however, was not so terribly quick. The villages all along the Bjoulsae were on fire, and battles raged between the orcs of Orsinium and the soldiers of King Eadwyre in the formerly independent principality of Gauvadon, just east of Wayrest. I am an accomplished mage, and quite able to defend myself, but it took the better part of a week to make it those few miles to Wayrest.

King Eadwyre and his queen Barenziah were celebrating their great victories when I arrived. By then, I had gathered the barest facts of the matter, that simultaneously there were seven great battles in the Iliac Bay, and no one could describe them at all, only their bloodsoaked aftermath.

To summarize: on the 9th of Frostfall, there had been forty-four independent kingdoms, counties, baronies, and dukedoms surrounding the Iliac Bay, if one includes the unconquered territories of the Wrothgarian Mountains, the Dragontail Mountains, the High Rock Sea Coast, the Isle of Balfiera, and the Alik'r Desert. On the 11th of Frostfall, there were but four - Daggerfall, Sentinel, Wayrest, and Orsinium - and all the points where they met lay in ruins, as the armies continued to do battle.

I was determined to find the truth from the King, even if I had to be a most undiplomatic diplomat to do it.

Eadwyre, though a generally jovial sort, had blustered, saying he did not want to give out military secrets. The Queen, ever calm with those unreadable red eyes of hers, told me, 'We do not know.'

I think it is safe to assume that Barenziah did not tell me everything, but the facts of her story - which I later verified after pointed interviews in Daggerfall, Sentinel, and Orsinium - was that they had learned that a certain powerful, ancient weapon was going to be activated. I shan't give the name of it here. Out of fear that it would be used against Wayrest, the King had attempted to buy it from the young adventurer who had discovered its wherebouts. Eadwyre believed, as it turns out quite rightly, that other powers in the Bay had also attempted to win ownership of this device.

What happened then, as Barenziah said, 'We do not know.'

The morning of the 9th and the morning of the 11th somehow merged through some sort of Warp in the West, and Wayrest found themselves at war. Their land had expanded three-fold, but they were under attack by Daggerfall to the west, Orsinium to the east, and Sentinel to the south. There had been no time to understand what had happened, the King said. They had simply reacted, sending their armies to defend their lands against these enemies whose kingdoms had also gained great territorial advantage.

The battles continue on, now months later, as I return to the Imperial City to make my report. What more do I have to say? They are bloody, violent clashes, as is always the case with modern warfare, but I have been to the blackened, desolate no-man's land between the four remaining kingdoms. No mortal army caused that devastation.

I can say that the force that shook the Iliac Bay on the 10th of Frostfall 3E 417 was infinitesimally greater than the power these mighty kingdoms are wielding today.

I can say that there were other strange events on that day which kept the kingdoms from breaking free of the Empire, and accomplished likely more besides.

And I can say there is nothing left of it - this power, this weapon - in the Bay. The Warp that it created swallowed it up.'


Current Political Affairs in the Iliac Bay

Almost twenty years have passed, and the region, though transformed, has stabilized. There are no more disputed territories, and the kingdoms of Daggerfall, Wayrest, Sentinel, and Orsinium hold their new borders in relative peace.

Wayrest spreads across the eastern coast of the Bay, stretching from the land formerly called Anticlere to half of Gauvadon. Eadwyre has passed on to his ancestors, leaving his kingdom in the hands of his daughter, Elysana, who has two children by her royal consort, and seems likely to hold her father's lands. Your Lordship may also choose to communicate directly with King Helseth and Queen Barenziah in Mournhold. Their primary preoccupations are, of course, with Morrowind's affairs, but they may still have useful observations upon Wayrest's ruling families and political environment that may aid you in your understanding of the court of Queen Elysana.

King Gortwog of Orsinium controls much of the Wrothgarian Mountains as well as the profitable rivercoast of the Bjoulsae. He persists in his demands that Orsinium be recognized as an Imperial province separate from High Rock. The Elder Council treats Gortwog as a recognized king, and collects taxes directly from Orsinium, but officially Orsinium remains a county of High Rock, though technically it spans both the provinces of High Rock and Hammerfell.

Sentinel has gained the most land, sprawling across the entire southern Iliac Bay from Abibon-Gora, beyond the Dragontail Mountains, to the edge of Mournoth, Orsinium's territory. Queen Akorithi at her death left her enormous kingdom to her only surviving son, Lhotun, who is now surely one of the most powerful kings in Tamriel.

Daggerfall is still ruled by the Breton King Gothryd and the Redguard Queen Aubk-I. Their land now encompasses all of western High Rock, from the border they share with Wayrest at Anticlere to the east, to Ykalon to the north. They have four children now, and are much beloved in their realm.

If there are other repercussions of the mysterious Warp in the West, they have not yet come to our attention in the course of twenty years of observation.