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Skyreach Explorer

Reginus Buca, Verita Numida

By Reginus Buca, Historian, University of Gwylim

With an equal measure of excitement and trepidation, I begin this series of journals that will one day form the basis of a scholarly work on Skyreach and the ancient Nedic people. The University of Gwylim has generously funded this expedition, in exchange for the exclusive rights to publish at least two books related to the subject at hand.

Note, however, that these journals are not the finished published work. They contain my observations, theories, and general musings on everything I encounter throughout this trip. The journals will also contain asides by my scholarly partner Verita Numida, whose theories are usually wildly opposite of anything I propose. I like to think that our differing points of view help to create a more complete picture of the past, but I will admit here, within these pages, that she often drives me into an intellectual rage. Without her support and the addition of her lofty credentials alongside my own, however, I'm not sure this expedition would have come to fruition.

Why Skyreach? These ancient ruins, we believe, hold the answers to the question that has intrigued us both since we first started looking into Cyrodiil's past. Namely, who were the ancient Nedes, the people who eventually gave rise to the mighty Imperials? I always imagined them to be uncivilized brutes that were as likely to fight each other as they were their enemies, but Verita has constantly insisted that they had to have a more advanced culture than I gave them credit for. Perhaps deep within the ruins of Skyreach, we will settle our argument once and for all.

* * *
Remarkable! The city of Skyreach appears to extend not only around the Dragontail Mountains, but through them and even beneath them. What an amazing feat of engineering went into the crafting of the place. It appears I have lost at least one argument with Verita. The ancient Nedes were certainly not simply uncivilized brutes. But beyond that, these monoliths have yet to tell us exactly who they were.

We have begun our investigation in a section of the ruined city we have decided to call "The Hold." Our first goal is to explore the area and come to some conclusions about what daily life must have been like in this Nedic metropolis. Did they utilize both the exterior and interior spaces, or were they primarily dwelling within the space carved from the very heart of the mountain? Perhaps the intricate carvings will provide some clue.

On first inspection, I theorize that the Nedes built this massive living structure as a private estate for one of their vaunted High Kings. Perhaps it was even the final residence of Durac, the High King that presided over the fall of the Nedes.

Verita, as usual, disagrees. She posits that the commonfolk lived and worked both inside and outside these now-ruined buildings. The evidence we see for what appear to be areas converted into living spaces, she claims, lend credence to the theory that the Nedes retreated into the mountain as a result of the Yokudan invasion. Her theory may be more sound, on further consideration, but I am not yet ready to concede to her on this. Not yet.

By Reginus Buca, Historian, University of Gwylim

As we saw in the other parts of the city we have already explored, the same odd figures appear throughout the Nedic architecture. Clearly, a serpentine motif is depicted everywhere. I contend that this is proof positive that the Nedes worshipped some sort of serpent god and were so enamored of this deity that they wanted to see him wherever they looked.

Verita says my theory has merit, and I thank her for that. But she insists on offering an alternate opinion. She says it's to make sure all avenues of possibility are explored, but I contend she just wants to be contrary. She does enjoy disagreeing with me at every chance she gets. Her theory is that the snake was simply a popular figure in Nedic culture, not unlike the Friendly Netch, the Brave Little Squib, or the Gift-Giving Guar of our own popular legends.

We must agree to disagree, as the other popular saying goes.

Other images we have spotted over and over again in the stonework include an odd, Orcish face, a stag-skull sort of creature, and a winged serpent, which could be related to the other snake images. Gods? Popular story characters? Simple decorative elements without higher meaning? I believe we are looking upon the Nedic pantheon, for I can't imagine going to all this trouble just to depict imaginary creatures from camp-fire tales.

* * *
We now believe that the catacombs were originally used as the city of Skyreach's graveyard. We have found evidence that the interred came from all walks of life, from commoners to crafters, nobles to royals. We have also developed conflicting theories about why the confines of these catacombs have disturbed us so profoundly.

I believe that it is shared illusion, given substance by lingering legends and fueled by our own fears. We just need to rely on our intellects and strength of will then everything will be fine. Besides, illusions cannot hurt us. Of that, I am fairly certain.

Verita, of course,  has a differing opinion. She believes that the legends concerning Virmaril the Betrayer, who we know of only through the remains of a text now called the Perenaal Fragment,have at least a grain of truth to them. It is her belief that Virmaril was indeed a necromancer, and that somehow he has defied the laws of nature and still exists in one form or another somewhere deep within this labyrinth. I say balderdash, but as I agreed to let her join this expedition, I feel somewhat obligated to allow her to express her theories - no matter how outlandish they may be.

It is Verita's contention that Virmaril has been asleep these long aeons, and we have somehow begun the process of awakening him from his eternal slumber. Just to be on the safe side, we have decided to cut our exploration of the catacombs short and move on to the next site in the complex. Perhaps we shall return to these ruins at a later time, after our heads have cleared.

By Reginus Buca, Historian, University of Gwylim

Today we made our first foray into the undercroft known as Skyreach Catacombs. It is evident that the dead of the Nedic city were interred within this vast labyrinth. However, we have not yet been able to determine if all classes of citizens were allowed to make use of these facilities or if it was just a place for the rich and powerful. We will begin examining a sampling of the graves at once. Who knows what relics we might find buried with each Nedic corpse?

Some of the guards and workers in our party have begun to complain about this place. They say these catacombs are haunted. One of my students actually reminded me of the legend of Virmaril the Betrayer. I usually don't hold with such nonsense, but I must admit that a feeling of dread has settled over me. And like some of the others, I imagine I'm hearing a voice whose words are spoken just low enough that I can't make them out. Perhaps we're just frightening each other with these wild tales. Still, the faster we complete our study, the faster we can exit this dismal place.

(I've taken up the quill again, as Reginus appears to be almost frozen with fear at the moment. We haven't actually seen any spirits or walking dead yet, but more and more of our crew are complaining about the strange voices in their heads. I'm going to ignore them for the moment and talk about the amazing chamber we just came across. This must have been where the legendary meeting of the Nedic kings took place! Each of the kings appear as they must have looked in their last moments of life, sitting in their thrones as if about to enter into a grand debate.-Verita N.)

I don't know what came over me, but I have shaken off the feeling of doom and retrieved my quill from our fanciful Verita. I must document the position of each of these ancient kings so that our record of this discovery is complete. Though their names have been lost to history, we know the titles of each of the kings spread out around the High King Durac. They include such luminaries as the Forest King, the Spirit King, and the Frost King. We don't know why they carried these titles, but I'm sure it had something to do with the region of the Nedic realm they ruled. Or perhaps it had something to do with their own personal portfolios of power.

(Give me that quill! Who cares what they were called. I think this chamber demonstrates the true state of Virmaril the Betrayer's mind. I don't think he was trying to raise an undead army. I think he was more of a collector. I think this place is now his collection! It makes a certain amount of sense if you look at the evidence before us. -Verita N.)

Nonsense! Virmaril is nothing more than a legend. And ghost stories do nothing to advance the cause of knowledge and history. Let's move on before we all succumb to these imaginary voices.

By Reginus Buca, Historian, University of Gwylim

Supplemental Notes by Verita Numida, Ancientist, University of Gwylim

Reginus needed a rest and some juniper tea so I've taken up ink and quill to continue the record of our exploration of Skyreach Hold. (I love how he hates that I have a more friendly and exciting writing style than he does! Smashing!)

I'm coming more and more to the certainty that the Nedes possessed an advanced society. Perhaps even more advanced than our own in certain ways. The engineering skills that were required to construct these massive spaces within the mountain are almost too much to fathom. I'm not sure if our best engineers and crafters wouldn't be hard-pressed to duplicate the effort. The intricate gardens, the vaulted ceilings, the ingenious waterways and fountains - it all points to a level of sophistication and aesthetic that rivals or exceeds the best Cyrodiil has to offer.

I think that the overall skill and craftsmanship demonstrated in the stonework that surrounds us clearly shows that the Nedes were much more than war-loving savages. I'm sorry, Reginus, but I have to record it as I see it. The architecture demonstrates that they treated stonework and masonry as an art form. The carvings are more than simple decoration. They tell a story of a proud and powerful people, of a culture reaching for the stars that was then cut short by jealous invaders. Even in ruins, there is a grandeur here that leaves me breathless.

Even more impressive are the spaces that are open to the sky. These open ceilings let in fresh air and sunshine, and were perfect for observing the night sky - a practice we know the Nedes were fond of thanks to ancient texts and tablets such as the Perenaal Fragment and others. I believe that the Nedic obsession with the stars isn't simply because they worshipped or had some other deep connection to the Celestials. I believe that the Nedes were somehow involved in the very creation of the whole concept of the Celestials. I plan to find proof of this during our explorations of this space and the neighboring ruins.

Of course, Reginus strongly disagrees with my proposition. He even demands that I return the quill to him. Historian, indeed! He wouldn't know a fact from a fantasy if it walked up and said "hello." Oh, very well. My hand was beginning to cramp, anyway.

By Reginus Buca, Historian, University of Gwylim

Supplemental Notes by Verita Numida, Ancientist, University of Gwylim

Reginus stepped into a crack in the stone walkway and sprained his ankle. He's currently resting at the base camp with a cup of hot juniper tea. He reluctantly agreed to allow me to explore the pinnacle ruins without him, as we can't afford to waste time waiting for his ankle to heal to complete our examination of the Skyreach complex.

Here I am, inside the highest accessible point within the Skyreach ruins. A long, winding corridor leads deeper into the structure, though I have yet to see any evidence that would allow me to formulate a theory about the purpose of this place. I do have the unnerving feeling that I'm not alone in here. Well, in addition to my guards and research assistants. I wonder if it has something to do with the faces staring out from the carvings in the pillars and walls?

Anyway, the corridor into the ruins appears to have seen damage in the past. Parts of the walls have fallen away, and sections of the approach appear to consist of natural cave instead of worked stone. Perhaps an earthquake caused the damage and even opened natural passages through the ruins? And it still feels as though I could turn around and look into the face of an ancient Nede - or something even stranger - at any moment.

As I reached the end of the corridor and it opened into a vast, finished chamber, I wondered whether or not the passage I entered the ruins by was ever meant as an original accessway. It appeared to bisect the main chamber almost as an afterthought, as though someone or something dug their way into this section of the ruins at some point after the fall of Skyreach and I was now following the path of previous explorers or tomb robbers.

I need to think about that a bit before I write any additional comments.

By Reginus Buca, Historian, University of Gwylim

Supplemental Notes by Verita Numida, Ancientist, University of Gwylim

I continue my commentary on my exploration of Skyreach Pinnacle while Reginus lounges around back at the base camp, nursing an injured ankle and cursing his bad run of luck on this expedition. But now that I think about it, maybe he was just getting tired of crawling around in dusty, old ruins and decided he needed a break. I wouldn't put it past him to have me do all of the work around here.

I've reached the main chamber of this portion of the ruins. It was obviously a ceremonial room of some sort, perhaps associated with the Nedic religion or arcane practices. Four summoning circles or ritual stones of some sort occupy key positions around the room. I'm not an expert on arcane rituals by any means, but I wouldn't be surprised if these stone platforms were wards of some sort. I'll make etchings of the stones and see what Reginus thinks they represent.

The center of the chamber appears to be decorated with an engraved ritual circle that seems to depict an alien visage of some kind. Is it another of the supposed Nedic gods that we have yet to fully identify? I'll put that it the definite "maybe" category. I do get a sense of foreboding in this ancient space, as though something of great consequence took place here. I wish I could find a text or something that would just explain everything to me, but then I guess I'd have no work to do for the university, would I?

The raised platform at the far end of the chamber contains two interesting and noteworthy features. First, a fifth summoning circle (ward stone?) is embedded in the floor of the platform. Second, a huge opening in the wall provides a view into the night sky. Could this have been an astronomical tool of some sort? Does a particular pattern of stars appear in this portion of the sky on a given day? I'll need to see how I can research that avenue of study, but in the meantime, I really don't like the sense I'm getting in this chamber. The place feels angry. Like a hornet's nest of dark emotions waiting to explode.

Yes I'm done here. Let's see if Reginus can make any sense of what we've discovered here.

Saradin’s Diary


From the Diary of Saradin,
Daughter of High King Durac

My father and Virmaril spent another day and most of the night in the catacombs beneath Skyreach. They share a fascination for the dark arts, but sometimes I wonder if their friendship isn't too complicated. Father bears such a burden as the Nedic High King, and I fear that every time he asks Virmaril for advice he passes a bit of that burden onto my beloved.

* * *
We haven't told father of our love as yet,  but Virmaril assures me that he will ask father for my hand in marriage in the very near future.

* * *
Father was furious. Despite his long friendship with Virmaril, he wasn't at all happy with the idea of his beloved daughter marrying a High Elf. I'm heartbroken over this, but I must remain strong. I am the High King's daughter, after all, and I have a duty to my father and my people. No matter how much this outcome pains me. And poor Virmaril. I've never seen him look so … shattered.

* * *
I'm going to marry King Kestic. Father arranged the marriage to help strengthen ties with Kestic and the northern clans. I still have powerful feelings for Virmaril, but I have to put them behind me. Our love is forbidden, and this marriage will make the Nedic clans stronger. I wonder if Virmaril has moved on with his own life yet?

* * *
The barbaric Yokudans gather at our doors. I saw Virmaril and father together today. They both seemed worried. Oh, they try not to let it show, but I know them both so well. Virmaril says he has a plan to repel the invaders. He thinks father will support the idea. They just need to convince the other Nedic kings.

* * *
Virmaril was watching me throughout tonight's feast. There was a ... hunger ... in his eyes that I hadn't seen before. Perhaps I'm imagining things, but I could swear that Virmaril had no thoughts about invaders or armies or wars this night. He only had eyes for me.

* * *
Virmaril came to me in the royal chambers. I was hesitant to talk to him at first, but I didn't want to seem distant. He told me that he still loved me. Asked me to run away with him. I laughed at the idea, assuming he was joking. But I could see in his eyes, his feelings for me were as strong as ever. I turned away before my own emotions betrayed me.

* * *
Virmaril was cold today, distant. When I asked if he was well, he just said that I had helped him decide his next course of action. As soon as the meeting of the council of kings is over, I'll find Virmaril and apologize. I never meant to hurt him.

I'm sure he'll understand.

Nedes of the Deathlands

Argus Mender

Is it possible then that everything they taught us as children was wrong? That buried beneath rock and sand, hidden from view by the monuments of conquering Yokudans, is more than just the detritus of a barbaric and underdeveloped people?

This is the claim Sali'ma at-Muhay makes in his latest work of scholarship on the Nedes and their presence in Hammerfell, and he presents some compelling new evidence to support this claim. In studying the mage towers in Elinhir closely, he has concluded that these towers are not of the right age to be of Yokudan fabrication, nor do they use the same stone-crafting techniques employed by the Ayleids. In some regards, they resemble Dwemer handiwork, but only in a crude way. From this, at-Muhay concludes that these towers were not a lost form of high Yokudan architecture transplanted from the Yokudan homeland, but are in fact, the remnants of a Nedic civilization.

If at-Muhay's conclusions are right, then the Nedes were much more organized and advanced than historians have previously thought. Elinhir's towers could only have been crafted by an advanced culture adept at stonework.

These towers have been occupied since the Blackcaster mages established their academy in Elinhir—so why is at-Muhay the first to propose this startling theory?

This author posits that historians are not without their blind spots, and that the Nedes are certainly among the biggest. The reasons for this are many:

In the first, the Nedic people had a history of falling prey to conquering armies. The Dwemer, the Ayleids, and the Yokudans all proclaimed themselves masters of the Eastern Hammerfell Nedes at some point. It was in the interests of these conquering peoples to justify their conquests by proclaiming the Nedes a backward people worthy only of enslavement.

In the second, the Nedes as a distinctive people disappear from the historical record shortly after Ra Gada, and by then the records that exist are few and scattered. By the time the first Yokudans set foot on the shores of Hammerfell, the Nedic culture was already fading, and the people were scattered and broken. Most of the Nedes had long since migrated and intermingled with the other races of Tamriel, virtually fading from existence.

It's vital that we take this new theory about the Nedes seriously. I suspect that the remote region of Craglorn will bear much fruit for future researchers interested in exploring the extent of Nedic civilization, as it has undergone the least change in the time since the last Nedes disappeared.

Defaced Nedic Prayer Book


A Prayer for Mercy

To the heavens above, we raise our eyes, our hands, and our hearts.

Do not turn your light away from us, not in our hour of need,

Instead, send forth the brightness of Aetherium and illuminate the darkness of the night.

You who bring order to the seasons,

Ever-shining Guide to the weary traveler.

Have mercy on us.

Protect us from the invader who ravages, the famine that wastes, the fire that burns,

And lead your faithful ones toward your promised glory.


A Prayer for Those Who Have Pledged Their Souls to the Stars

These Souls we offer, the light of frail bodies

To the ever-burning light of the heavens.

Guide these Souls through the long night

And let them not stumble in their ascent

Up the Golden Stair.

Take these Souls, freely given,

As an offering of holiness,

And a pledge of faithfulness from your people.

Do not forget us in our hour of need,

But be for us Guardians,

As long as faithfulness endures.


Warrior's Prayer

Greatest Guardian, Shining Warrior

Gird your armies with strength,

And let their spears fly true.

For the strength of your arms is great,

And the enemy trembles at the sight of your mighty shoulders.

Do not let us succumb to fear,

But only set your aegis before us and we shall stand unconquered.


Thief's Prayer

[The remaining pages have been torn out. In the back of the book, someone has scrawled the following:]

Oh, bastard stars,

Born in a brothel.

Your mother was a lewd woman.

Your father had a disease.

Men worshipped you and lost the appetite for love.

Women cried out to you and grew beards.

You led your children into pits,

And let them wander into snares.

The Elves slaughtered them and took their women for concubines.

The Mer mocked them and took their men for slaves.

Their blood is on your hands,

It runs in rivers from your lips.

Oh silent stars, oh merciless stars,

Behold your reckoning is at hand;

At hand is the judgment for your transgressions.

The Mother of the Water has risen in the desert

And the Deathlands have brought forth flowers.

Let the people turn away from false lights;

Let them embrace true mercy.

For I have slept a thousand nights and never dreamed,

But by day I have heard the glorious singing

Of Shada and her Daughters, hope to all the Nedes.


Knahaten Flu Confirmed

Shaman Chirah

My worst fears are confirmed. Despite our isolation, Stillrise Village experienced its first outbreaks of Knahaten Flu. It began with the traders' twin apprentices, Abaaleb and Sana, a day after their return from Mud Tree Village.

Abaaleb succumbed first. His master noticed a bright, red rash on the boy's forearms. Sana's sickness went undetected for another day, until her mother found her coughing up blood.

Both apprentices passed within two days of discovering their first symptoms. Now, many of us show the signs. I've noticed an ache in my joints. It feels as though penning this short entry was like writing a volume.

None of the usual treatments have any effect. I begin to think the ancient shrine may be our only hope, but Chieftain Suhlak resists. Perhaps War Chief Helushk can convince her.

Shaman Chirah
13th of Sun's Dawn, 2E 561

The Brothers of Strife

Nili Omavel

My fellow scholars would have you believe the Elves of the Ashlands are unstoppable. They point to Red Mountain and other triumphant, if hard-fought, battles against the Dwemer as proof. But once long ago, our people were as fair as a mountainside in Skyrim. In that distant time, we were driven to the edge of defeat.
In the time before Red Mountain, we were known as the Chimer. We were just another race of mer eking out a living on the edge of the Inner Sea.

Then came the Nedes. Though the Nords of today are allies, the Nedes were adversaries of the darkest nature. They sought only land, conquest, and spoils. We extended open hands of diplomacy, which they lopped off. Any Elf in the horde's path was fair game—man, woman, or child.

The greatest generals of the age were brothers. Balreth and Sadal led armies of willing warriors against the horde. At first, this was an attempt to drive them from the ash. As the war went on, their actions turned purely to defense and redirection. If a force of Chimer could spend their blood allowing a village to evacuate, then that was blood well spent.

The Nedes, after a few short years, controlled most of what we now call Stonefalls. The Chimer armies were cut off from the Inner Sea and reinforcements from Vvardenfell. The brothers retreated again and again until finally, they were left with a small elite force of sorcerers and troops. This force then took shelter in an ancient Daedric ruin.

What happened at that ruin has been lost to time, but the massive statues that now mark the site endure as a mute testament. The death of the Chimer generals ended the war, but at what cost?

At this ruin, the so-called Brothers of Strife were born. My research shows that Chimer mages from Vvardenfell eventually bound the beasts, but not before the Brothers ended the lives of hundreds of men and mer. One of the darkest chapters in our people's history followed. The unstoppable beasts made the ash run red with blood, Chimer and Nede alike.

We can only speculate what brought the Brothers to Nirn. Perhaps a Daedric Prince summoned them to that ruin. Maybe it was Sheogorath having a laugh or a grim survival test from Boethiah.

When the two beasts were finally bound into the twin spires of Stonefalls, they went to their rest with the blood of history staining their claws. We must hope and pray to the Three that their like will never be seen in the Ashlands again.

Journal of Culanwe


It seems fitting that the servant of the Queen of Dawn and Dusk should try to broker peace between the Nedes and the Ayleids. Her realm is between times, between places, and between realities. If I can help two peoples who have such hatred of each other find peace, I will have accomplished something, at least, in my time in this mortal realm. I sense Azura guiding me, and her strength flows within me, but it is her wisdom I need now.

23 Sun's Height
Did I say I needed Azura's wisdom? Nay, I need her patience. Only an immortal could put up with these … people! The Nedes are well-named. Yes, they spent many years shackled and tormented by the Ayleids, but none alive today remember that suffering first-hand! The recompense they demand continues to escalate, even as the pride of the Ayleids swells. I sense they will break off negotiations any day now, and we may go from uneasy peace to outright war.

Ah, Azura—keep me from speaking with them! The power of my voice can change their reality, but that would be a bandage on an infected wound. Nothing but true change can allay the anger between these peoples.

27 Sun's Height
The worst has happened. One of the Ayleids is dead, a messenger killed while running errands. The Ayleids suspect the Nedes and they do not deny it. Rather, they take umbrage … as if the death of one messenger cannot be measured against the long suffering they endured. This will not go well. My voice may be the only answer.

29 Sun's Height
I stand amazed. I did use my voice, but only … adjusted reality somewhat, to forestall conflict. The true miracle came from a Nede and an Ayleid. Both outsiders to the negotiation, they joined together to solve the mystery of the murdered messenger … and found the culprit neither Nede nor Ayleid! A servant of Molag Bal was responsible, his aim to sabotage these negotiations!

The two heroes have done what I could not. They've brought Nede and Ayleid together against a common foe. I foresee hostilities between these two peoples ended.


2 Last Seed
With the wedding of the two heroes, the breach has been closed. But I cannot imagine Molag Bal will let this go unchallenged. I will seek an answer … a way to shield these peoples in Azura's name. As long as I live, the Harvester of Souls shall not touch what we have created here today. Azura, give me strength. Let my voice change the world as long as I am in it.

Kurt Kuhlmann's Posts

Kurt Kuhlmann

On the usage of -mer and -meri suffixes in the 3rd era (08/17/99)

"[x]mer" Can stand for either singular and plural. It is confusing, but is an artifact of the oral form.

"[x]meri" The adjectival. So a High Elven dagger is an Altmeri dagger. EXCEPT in the case of proper names, in which it can be all three, adjectival, singular, and plural. Example: He is a Direnni, they are the Direnni, that looks of Direnni manufacture.

IN FACT, the current third era proper name usage is an artifact of all previous era's usages. To whit, the Pocket Guide to the Empire, which uses [x]mer and [x]meri (and all their usages) interchangeably.

THAT, my friends, is why, when Slave Queen Alessia overthrew the Ayleids (Wild Elves, don't ask) and established Slave's Cant (eventual Cyrodilic) as the lingua franca, Cyrodiil c. 1E240, she said: "Enough of this! He's an Elf, they are Elves, and their Elven tyranny is over!"

On the origin of Nedes

The usual Imperial arrogance. The hoary old "Out of Atmora" theory has been widely discredited (no reputable archaeologist would publicly support it these days), but the Imperial Geographers continue to beat the drum of the Nordic Fatherland in the best tradition of the Septim Empire. They seem to think that the imprimature of officialdom gives their outdated scholarship added weight -- which, unfortunately, it appears to in the eyes of the ever-gullible public which continues to snap up the latest Pocket Guides along with the rest of their Imperial Certified pablum. (HA)

Michael Kirkbride's influence on Skyrim (10/08/11)

We all try not to take it to heart that only MK can save Skyrim from the trash heap - but I can say that even without directly writing any books, I'd say there's more of his influence on Skyrim than Oblivion. Probably a lot more - if you look at the chapter from the PGE on Skyrim, (pretty sure that was one of his - I can't remember any more who wrote which one, it's Bilbo and Strider all over again), and that chapter is the foundation for the whole setting. And if you look really hard, you might even find a painted cow. (No comment on flying whales.)

Painted cows in Skyrim (14/11/11)

It's a damn shame the Civil War mission to befriend a giant by bringing him a painted cow didn't survive... but at least the painted cow got into the game.

Ysgramor is a dragon? (08/03/12)

An interesting theory. But as usual, the credulous minds gravitate to the most outlandish theories.

If Ysgramor was indeed a "dragon", most likely he was a Dragon Priest - in the Late Merethic Era, it would be unlikely for a leader of Ysgramor's reported stature to be unconnected to the Dragon Cult. But connecting the Nord hero Ysgramor with the now-reviled Dragon Cult is of course anathema to those who favor chauvinism over historical truth.

Other possibilities are that Ysgramor was not an individual but an amalgamation of several people - his reported exploits encompass an unreasonable amount of time for a single individual. At the time, anyone of high stature or great prowess in battle would have been considered a "dragon" (the highest compliment imaginable). This does not mean that Ysgramor was in fact an actual dragon, but I have no doubt that the literal-minded among us will not hesitate to jump to the most obvious conclusions. True scholars will of course be more circumspect.  -Hasphat Antabolis



Frontier, Conquest, and Accommodation

University of Gwylim Press

Frontier, Conquest
and Accommodation:
A Social History of Cyrodiil

University of Gwylim Press
3E 344

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

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

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

But beyond this "zone of conflict," the other Nedic peoples continued to merge with their Elven neighbors. When the Nord armies of the First Empire finally entered High Rock and Cyrodiil, they found Bretons and proto-Cyrodiils already living there among the Elves. Indeed, the Nords found it difficult to distinguish between Elf and Breton, the two races had already intermingled to such a degree. The arrival of the Nord armies upset the balance of power between the Nedic peoples and the Elves. Although the Nords' expansion into High Rock and Cyrodiil was relatively brief (less than two centuries), the result was decisive; from then on, power in those regions shifted from the Elves to the Humans.


Imperial Geographical Society

For hundreds of years in the Merethic Era, raiders crossed the Sea of Ghosts to invade Tamriel from the frozen lands of Atmora, becoming after generations of living in our land the Nords, Cyrodiils, and the Bretons of today. The last invasion - if that is the word for two ships, largely laden with corpses, begging to make port - occurred in the 68th year of the First Era. The description of the land these raiders had left changes radically over the years, leaving many to believe that it was gradually dying, smothered by frost. Expeditions to Atmora in modern times describe a place of permanent winter, with little life and no sign of human habitation. Whatever population did not succeed in fleeing to Tamriel doubtless succumbed to the ever-worsening climate many centuries ago.

Even before the frost fall, Atmora was apparently not a temperate place. The early Nedic peoples who came from Atmora were hunters with no knowledge of agriculture. A land where every denizen was a predator doubtless insured that only the most brutal and savage survived. It is easy to see how these traits passed the raider men and down to the nature of the Arena of Tamriel.