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Crafting Motif 20: Yokudan Style

Seeker's Archivist Ibrula

Stored here in the Seeker's Archive are much of the lost history and wisdom of Yokuda, in books and scrolls brought here by the first of the Ra Gada. It will take many lifetimes to catalogue it all, so we shall start simply, with references to the characteristics that make the Yokudan motifs unique and distinctive, such as the so-called "broad arrowhead" design.


Though the Yokudans were dedicated to the sword above all, they recognized the utility of other weapons as well; their axes, for example, were both beautiful and formidable. They often had long, curved cutting edges, giving them some of the virtues of swords.


Yokudan belts tended not to be elaborate, because what mattered was what hung from them: the all-important sword or other weapon, as well as tassets for hip protection. The buckle was usually a strong and simple geometric design.


Yokudan boots were made for combat, of heavy leather with strategically-placed metal plates for protection. But they were also flexible and rugged for marching across the harsh Yokudan terrain.


The Yokudans had little esteem for archery, deeming it less honorable than melee combat, and their gallants and grandees left it to the common foot soldier. A Yokudan archer or light skirmisher was usually armed with a simple self bow adorned with modest metal facings.


For Yokudans, the art of weapon combat was profoundly athletic, so while their cuirasses offered solid central protection for the chest and back, the arm, shoulder, and waist areas were covered with flexible leather for maximum agility.


A Yokudan dagger just looks like a smaller version of a Yokudan sword, and indeed they tended to be large, approaching short swords in size. A large dagger in the off hand was a common choice for Yokudan dual wielders.


Yokudan warriors emphasized sword fighting above all other weapon styles, and in swordplay the hands are always under threat, so Yokudan gauntlets were heavy and multi-layered, with flaring upper sleeves to protect the forearms.


Yokudan helm designs are clearly descended from the turbaned hats of ancient pastoral nomads. They typically had aventails to protect the back of the neck, full visors covering the face, and even horns on the forehead or crest.


Yokudan chausses were strong to protect against low cuts in swordplay, often with metal plates covering both the shin in front and the calves in back, to prevent hamstringing attacks. Pointed knee poleyns were common as well.


The Yokudans were so attached to the idea of edged blades that they even mounted them on the heads of their maces, where you might find spikes or flanges in another crafting style. Some of these edged blades even came to points in the "broad arrowhead" design.


Yokudan shields might be round, oval, or kite-shaped, but all were fitted with blade-turning metal plates around their edges, and round central bosses featuring geometric designs. They appeared to be entirely metal, but were actually made of metallic plates riveted to wooden frames.


Though the shoulders themselves were sheathed in flexible leather to enable acrobatic swordplay, above that the joints were protected by sharp and often elaborate pauldrons, cops that flared at the top to guard the side of the neck.


The rare Yokudan war-wizards employed staves designed to resemble melee weapons to borrow some of the prestige of hand-to-hand combat. Their metallic finials might be round, flared, or pointed in the "broad arrowhead" design.


Though the curved Yokudan swords weren't elaborately embellished, they nonetheless represented the apogee of Yokudan weapon-making, having been forged and re-forged in a long process designed to make them unbreakable and invincible. Yokudan warriors regarded their swords as extensions of their essential selves.

Blasius' Unfinished Manuscript


While conquering the lands called the Deathlands (which later came to be known as Hammerfell), the Yokudans made no secret of their own self-proclaimed greatness. We should be cautious not to mistake such self-mythologizing for actual history, however.

Whatever their claims to greatness, it is apparent from the record that the Yokudans were brutal and thorough in their suppression of local peoples, leaving little more than blood and bones as a testament to the civilizations that preceded them.

It is no wonder then that the Redguard "civilization" still bears the marks of that brutality to this day.

No greater symbol of the Ra Gada's brutality was the self-proclaimed Emperor Tarish-Zi. His followers proclaimed him as deathless. Indeed, he seemed to be born out of Oblivion, so bloody-minded was he.

It's said that his crypt is still located in Craglorn, venerated by his barbaric descendents.

Lady in the Cistern: Zeira's Theory


Silver-Claw - I'm flattered, but the Thieves Guild is more than one person. [Player Name] is proof enough of that.

And the rest of you are wrong - it's Leki, administering her Ephemeral Feint - as sculptors used to depict it, in Hubalajad's time. The statue's left hand is curled, as though to hold a sword. Perhaps it did, long ago, though if it were not stolen it must have long since rusted away.

Note the similarities to the massive statue of Hubalajad just south of the Abah's Landing's harbor. He commissioned a colossal, idealized sculpture of himself, embraced by a sep adder. Enormous, ridiculous, and (for some reason) shirtless, as though nothing can harm him.

Yet the sculptor who hid Leki away in this cistern refuted him. The robes conceal intention, allowing her to strike with little warning. The Saint of the Spirit Sword accomplished so much more than Prince Hew, yet doesn't need to be taller than a ship's mast to prove it. Even more, she does not need to declare herself to the entire town. She is content to do what she must from the shadows.

And the sep adder sash is delightful. A real thumb in the eye to Prince Hew.


Plea for Open Eyes

The Unveiled Azadiyeh

Tall Papa, whose fingers brush the scattered stars, whose shadow stretches beyond horizons seen and unseen, whose authority commands the spirits of the last world and the next, have mercy on your children. It pains my soul to see my brothers and sisters clutched in the coils of the snake. They flee your blessed teachings, spitting on the face of the shame they should feel and driving their rusted blades into the heart of our traditions. They have been fooled and tempted by the fat life of emperors, and here I lay bare the transgressions upon the Old Ways. O Ruptga, I pray they should realize the hideous visage of these sins and repent, eyes open and seeing.

We know the truth, for it has been told. "Honor your ancestors. He who permits their words and deeds to languish breaks his own blade and casts it to the burning wind." Yet in Sentinel, musical words in Yoku do not echo through palace halls. The tales are of foreign heroes, spoken in harsh tongues. The words of our fathers' fathers cry out for sweet water, but the legends they once carried crumble to dust. If we do not tend to them, we know that a new Ending Time, worse again than those before, draws near.

We know the truth, for it has been told. "No pity or mercy shall be afforded the wretch who stands against the Warrior Wave." Yet our brothers and sisters meekly accept the Pariah Folk as equals and allies, polluting our honor with their mud-covered feet and staining our annals for all time. If it hurts one loyal songbird such as I to see this arrangement permitted, then how it must bring stinging tears to Tava's eyes and inflame Diagna's very sword-arm with the Crimson Rash of Betrayal!

We know the truth, for it has been told. "Give your obedience to none save the gods of Yokuda. The Far Shores recede from he who leans upon thin-blooded shoulders, scornful of his feeble grasp." Yet a mild king of green lands commands our children. He sends them to die in his quest to claim White-Gold. He will step upon their strong backs to ascend. His gods' fingers reach into our heart, and Morwha shakes her head.

Read this, O brothers and sisters. You have turned your left side to duty and closed your eyes to the searing sun. Your honor blackens as the memory of Yokuda-now-sunken fades. All is not yet lost. Take up the sword strengthened by our ancestors' ways, forged in the fires of righteousness and keen with true honor. Renounce these misguided New Movements and return to your family, who will accept you despite your misdeeds. Return while you still may.

Crafting Motif 28: Ra Gada Style

Lady Cinnabar of Taneth

The Ra Gada or "Warrior Wave" of settlers from Yokuda actually occurred in four successive waves in the First Era's ninth century. This catalogue focuses on the second, or "Tavan" wave, so-called because it was spearheaded by the Hattu Metropoles brigade, which revered holy Tava, Lady of the Air. Thus the Tavans' arms and armor are replete with bird imagery. This second wave primarily settled on the southern coast of Hammerfell, and almost three millennia later their structures can still be found jutting from the coastal dunes. And one doesn't have to look far to see the influence of these ancient settlers on modern Redguard society.


Axe-wielders among the Tavans were taught with an emphasis on the "Singular Cleave" attack, intended to cleave a target in twain with a single blow. That's why these Ra Gada axes feature one large, heavy blade.


The belt is the central cincture of a much broader girdle, which provided an extra layer of protection to the Ra Gada's abdomen and lower back. The large, round buckle is embossed with air-current symbols.


Ra Gadan boots are cobbled from heavy leather, usually camel hide, with thick soles as insulation against hot sand and stones. The traditional turned-up toes conceal metal caps to protect the soldier's vulnerable feet.


Aggressively avian in design, the bow of the Ra Gada is faced with two brazen ibis-heads that can be employed as parrying edges in the heat of melee. It's a compound bow, and the entire front is faced with horn, often painted a metallic color.


The Ra Gada were sword-fighters, and their cuirasses were solid and sturdy to enable their wearers to withstand blows in close melee. They are covered with swirling air-current symbols, and most feature the distinctive Tavan bird-wing back banners.


The daggers of the Tavan Ra Gada echo the scimitar-like curve of the second-wave sword blades. The Tavans didn't use daggers for parrying, preferring to use shields on their off-arms, so their daggers lack crossguards. They are, however, weighted for throwing.


Ra Gada warriors, particularly those wielding two-handed weapons, were trained to parry with their heavily-armored forearms rather than with their weapons' crossguards. Their gloves, therefore, are basically reinforced upper gauntlets that leave the fingers free for deft weapon manipulation.


The Tavan Redguards' headgear was typically a turban wound around a sturdy steel cap, usually embossed with the near-universal wind-current symbols. Most of the face was concealed by mouth and cheek guards, as much to intimidate foes as to keep out blowing dust and sand.


Stiff and sturdy armor to protect the front of the lower legs was standard gear for the second-wave Ra Gada, echoing the form and function of the reinforced gauntlets on the forearms. Layers of heavy hide covered the back of the calves.


Ra Gada maces were made to deal with well-armored opponents, their heads heavy and spiked for crushing and puncturing their targets. The weight of these bludgeons necessitated development of the "Terminal Blow" style, similar to the "Singular Cleave" used by Tavan axe-wielders.


Ra Gada shields were wide and heavy to provide maximum coverage, not just to the bearer but also, at need, to his nearest ally. Besides the usual embossed wind-current symbols, the bottom of the shield was wrought to resemble a hawk's broad tail.


The so-called "pagoda pauldrons" of the Ra Gada are quite distinctive, but the three layers of cops are not as rigid as they appear: they are articulated underneath, allowing the cops to swivel to follow the warrior's arm movements.


Ra Gada spellcasters often tipped their staves will finials in the shape of Tu'whacca's sacred ibis, as the Tricky God was (and is) the patron of mages. Nowadays being suspicious of magic is regarded as a hallmark of Redguard culture, but this was not always so pronounced.


The Tavans came from the Yokudan sword tradition that called for edging only one side of the blade, so the backing can be thicker and stronger. This gives the curved Ra Gada swords, both one- and two-handed, the weight to hack through a target in one slash - and single-move attacks have always been celebrated by Redguards as the epitome of fencing elegance.                                                                                                  

Zakhin's Many Heroes Questions

The Unveiled Azadiyeh

August 1st, 2014

I was reading the book Glinting Talons, but the numerous references to light and the sun seemed out of place, given what we know about Tava being the Yokudan version of Kynareth. I was reminded of a discussion that mentioned a possible relationship between Merida and Kyne. Due to Meridia's position among the Ayleids and their cultural identification with birds and feathers, I was wondering if the book Glinting Talons purposefully drew parallels between these deities, thus making Tava the ‘missing link,’ so to speak. – Phil W.

The Unveiled Azadiyeh says: “Be not misled, O Phil, by the confused misunderstandings of the Tamrielics, whose minds are clouded by blood and darkness. Tava, as spirit of the air and goddess of weather, has dominion over all elements of sun and storm, save only for the stars, which belong to Ruptga (may praises ever follow his name). Kyne and Kynareth are but her shadows, images seen dimly through the dust of Cyrodiil and the snow of Skyrim. Of course, it is praiseworthy for the Nedelings and Nordlings to worship the gods in any manner, even if their understanding is faulty and misguided. We can but hope that they come to the True Way before Satakal returns to take us all.

As for Meridia, speak not the name of a daemon in consanguinity with that of a god. She is an intruder from beyond Mundus, and no part of our world. Go, O Phil, contemplate your mistake, and step no more upon the Path of Error.

I read somewhere that the Maormer ruler King Orgnum is said to be ‘the Serpent God of the Satakal.’ What does this mean for Yokudan mythology and history? We know the Maormer are obsessed with serpents, and Redguards are, too. Maybe there's a link between the Left-Handed Elves and the Maormer? – MareloRyan

The Unveiled Azadiyeh says: “It may be as you say, Marelo at-Ryan, for your words waft the aroma of wisdom, but as to their Full-Truth, I am unable to aver it. We speak no more of the Left-Handed Elves (may curses follow them into the Eight Abysses), for to recall their abominations but darkens our days—and who can say how many each of us shall have before Tu’whacca beckons us, save that they will be too few?

As for the Maormer, whatever their burden of association with the Sinistral Mer, they come not north of Stros M’Kai, for our fearless sea-warriors have taught them to keep well clear of the shores of Hammerfell. Orgnum, their so-called ‘Immortal Monarch,’ will find he is not so deathless at the coming of the true Satakal (may it be long from today, inevitable though it is).

Are there any other somewhat isolated Redguard communities like the Ash'abah? I also have another question, what is the official name of the nomads of Alik'r? Are they just called the Alik'r? – WaywardSwordsman

The Unveiled Azadiyeh says: “The Ash’abah, though an unclean tribe of pariahs, nonetheless perform a function blessed by Tu’whacca, and they have sibling-tribes in southern Hammerfell as well. I have heard tell of a wayward tribe of Redguards far in the chilly north known only as the Horsemen, but this may be merely legend. Then, of course, there are the Exiled Sun-Eaters of Numaneh, but to tell their tale is forbidden.”

Arms and Armor of the Redguard Champion, Namasur At-Hamisam

Longinus Attius

When tracking the undead, Namasur the Ash'abah prefers light armor and flowing robes, but he occasionally dresses in the heavy ceremonial marine armor and wields the heavy scimitar of his youth, as this contingent of skeletons found at their cost.

Though the skilled war practitioners of our Glorious Empire might rightly disagree, many seem under the misapprehension that the Redguard warriors are the most naturally gifted. While their stature and fleetness of foot allow them to excel in the fields of scouting or skirmishing, their misplaced independence and fierce pride mean these desert dwellers take to direction from their betters with the obstinate detachment of a stubborn pack horse.

Although our champion has donned the finest heavy armor of the province, most sword folk of the Redguard persuasion prefer their garments billowing, pale in color, and perchance with scalp-shading head attire and calf sandals. When leather is discarded in favor of metal, it is clasped together as an outer skin, wrapping the body tightly, but with flexibility of design (such as the fronded tasset allowing for bending and dexterous combat agility). Redguards never miss a chance to fuse gemstones to their breastplates or poleyns, as if commanded to by Tall Papa himself.
The majority of Redguard weaponry shares a similar construction and filigree. Turquoise and amethyst gems are embedded into a staff's zenith or a sword's pommel and provide decoration to shields. Steel and gold embossing is common. Pieces are heavily wrapped with guar or kagouti leather, which, with their hard-wearing nature and pleasing brown hue, are stitched to the grip and tang. Also expect ever more elaborate carving on the weightier or more finely forged blades, patterns harking back to Yokudan traditions of the sword saint. The Redguard favor quickness over mass in their oddly curved swords; they are light to hold, compared to the weapons a Breton or a Nord might clash with. Blunt or chopping instruments have fallen out of favor with our dark-hued friends, but are still forged for those not besotted with "the old ways."

Aside from the scimitar, these examples of Redguard weaponry are rarely used. Expect carvings of lions, horses, water, and Satakal, the self-devouring snake.


This Text Property of Leki's Blade

Sima the Edged Scholar

The Four

There are few warriors, even in legend, who match the Sword Saints of old Yokuda. But among that elite cadre, the Four—Mamireh, Akamon, Roshadon, and Rok'dun the Flame, rise above the rest.

They were among the most prominent Yokudan warriors of the first invasion of Nedic homelands.

Legend has it, the three were inestimably powerful, wielding sword movements lesser Sword Saints only saw in dreams. They single-handedly captured Nedic fortifications, breached Nedic walls as easily as hopping streams, cut whole armies to ribbons with a swing of their spirit swords.

That's what the myths claim, anyway. The greatest Redguard warriors of today seem like elderly statesmen in comparison.

The legends elaborate further that, among all the formidable Ansei serving the Yokudan effort, the Four had special favor from the Warrior Stars. They had meditated so fully on that constellation that they could reach through those windows, to whatever lay beyond. Thus, they grasped greater skill.

One must assume they eventually perished, of course. If not at the pikes and axes of Nedic defenders, then from natural causes. But the graves of these Yokudan elite have never been found. This old scholar has searched the entirety of Craglorn, looked in every corner of every Yokudan crypt, and found no sign of the Four. Unless they returned to a sinking Yokuda, perhaps they never existed at all,

Elenaire's Journal


Morning Star 2nd,

Today is the day I set off—fitting for a Scour Day, I suppose. New Life, new roads, and all! I wonder if the Yokudans had an equivalent celebration, for it is the Yokudans I pay a visit:

I quest for the Hel Ra Citadel, a fabled fortress built by those vicious and mysterious ancestors of the Redguard. As the Ayleid ruins serve to my people as a window to my ancestors, so, too, do I expect the Citadel to teach me about Redguard culture.

They say no one has entered the Citadel in many lifetimes, though rumors of the cultural treasures waiting inside have reached my ears. I flush to think of them.

Sun's Dawn 3rd,

And so I arrive! The roads of Tamriel are as treacherous as ever—the wildlife especially. The Welwas of Craglorn are akin to my Bosmer cousins: fetid, petulant, and possessing of lethal denture. But at last I spy the stone spires of Yokudan architecture. The Citadel must be just up ahead.

Sun's Dawn 4th,

I can barely keep the quill straight as I pen this, but, for the first time in what must be a millennia, the antechamber that precedes the Citadel has opened! I'll see to it that someone alerts the Mages Guild, the Merethic Society, the Stargazers—all of Tamriel! Once I survey it, of course.

One of the many legends that surround Hel Ra Citadel claims the Yokudans used it as a training ground for their Ansei (literally "sword saints")—blade masters capable of dazzling feats. In myth, the Ansei required much meditation and training to form their Shehai, supernatural blades constructed out of sheer force of will.

I think the antechamber preceding the road to the Citadel gives credence to the story, as do the ancient weapons left on the dais here (and not a single one marred by rust—perhaps a magical property of the chamber?) According to legend, Ansei wishing to earn the elite title of First Rank were required to give up their most treasured weapons and war materiel before undertaking the grueling initiation ritual. If they succeeded, they would no longer need conventional weapons.

My friends say I have spent too much time researching the Yokudans and that I should find a husband. I think they are envious of my magnificent brain.

Yokeda- Leader? Lord of war?
Hel Shira- Blade Noble?
Yarban- A measurement of time? Unsure. Archaeologist, not a bean counter.
Anka-Ra- Former warrior? Old warrior?
Kotu- Weapon? Edge?

Sun's Dawn 5th,

Fascinating as the antechamber has proven to be, it's time I gleaned the Citadel itself. What could await me there? Mirimdin's Ninth Blade? The Shehai of a First-Rank Ansei? I carry no sword, but I shall leave my journal here, as the Ansei left their swords. Perhaps, like them, I'll find the means to form my own Shehai.


Zakhin's Many Heroes

The Unveiled Azadiyeh

On Morndas, young Zakhin hastened home over the scorching sands from his drills, the bright flame of legends driving his steps, and proclaimed, “Mama! When I am grown, I will be like Hafseta-Who-Moved-Dunes! I will train until I am stronger than all of my friends, no matter how long I must toil, and then great glory can come to our house and all will know my name.” His mother smiled, for she knew her son had begun to understand strength and perseverance.

Tirdas of the next week, Zakhin’s joyful voice reached her ears even before the door opened. “Mama! When I am grown, I wish to be like The Unbowed Memyireh. I will fight an army all alone to save my friends! I will never leave them to the mercy of the enemy, even if one calls me a name, such as when Sameq called me sand-pants.” She smiled again, proud that tales of loyalty and forgiveness made a home in his heart.

One Middas hence, Zakhin returned home shouting once more. “Mama, do you know who I will be now? I will be like Rajmahar of the Nine Golden Towers, and I will ride a sable horse with silver hooves to drive bandit lords from their caves and build a home for the poor from their spoils!” So pleased was she to hear this admiration of honor and charity that he was allowed two extra figs that eve.

The following Turdas, Zakhin flew back home, alight with new inspiration. "I will be like Frandar Hunding! I will make my blade sing and lead a mighty army. No enemy will stand against my strategies, for I will consider all possibilities.” Her pride blossomed the more, for all mothers pray their sons will aspire to leadership and careful contemplation.

On Fredas, young Zakhin returned home from drills with a sparkle in his eye. He did not shout or profess a new hero, but came in from the heat and sat wordless upon his favorite cushion, looking at his mother the whole time. "Well," she questioned, "who will you be today?" She hardly finished before he pounced to answer. "I will be a new hero, and they will tell of my deeds to the little children during drills!"

Only then did she shed a tear.