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Glinting Talons

Author: 
Ablahar at-Tunal

When the mighty Ra Gada first drove back the Orcs, one sect of warriors employed a fighting style so aggressive, so fierce, that the tales tell of enemies standing stunned, falling to flashing blades in a daze before they realized an attack was upon them. These champions revered Tava as well as Diagna, engraving their blades with the wings of a hawk. The bird's keen sight, accuracy, and rending claws inspired their sword-songs, and references to the sun and light are numerous. Sadly, little remains of their tradition, aside from what I have pieced together from crumbling tablets and monuments deep in the desert.

It is clear that these warriors, the Glinting Talons, wielded a sword in each hand. They are mentioned often in inscriptions dating to the arrival from Yokuda for their great deeds—driving off warbands of Orcs when sorely outnumbered, capturing strongholds in surprise attacks, and many other heroic tales. Of their style, though, very little is known. This partial inscription I located at the site of the Battle of Six Hands is all that has been recovered regarding their way of the blade:

"Face the burdensome sun. Carry its weight face-wise. Submit to the endless edges twinned.
Master these strikes in the morning; cleave the light and leave the foe in darkness:
"Two Blades Become Four
"Lion's Teeth Exposed in Thunder
"Five Arrows Split the Sky
"The Screech of Descent upon Helpless Prey
"Master these strikes in the evening; chase the enemy and burn its flesh."

I can find no other references or descriptions of these strikes, and it saddens me to think that such knowledge of the blade has been lost. I have no greater desire than to restore this lost way of the blade, but the fragments are so few. The mystery compels me to continue my travels in hopes that, perhaps, I will be led by Tava's grace to discover more, and return this shamefully lost knowledge to our people.

Blessed, Blessed Satakalaam

Author: 
The Unveiled Azadiyeh, Songbird of Satakalaam

Blessed of Onsi, Satakalaam: where warriors are bravest in all Alik'r.
Blessed of Tava, Satakalaam: where goshawk nests atop High Temple tower.
Blessed of Morwha, Satakalaam: where bees carry pollen to pomegranate and fig.
Blessed of Zeht, Satakalaam: where water from deep rock fills fountain and jug.
Blessed of Tu'whacca, Satakalaam: where Motalion guards ancestors from eras before.
Blessed of Ruptga, Satakalaam: where stars shine to guide us upon Walkabout.
Blessed of Satakal, Satakalaam: where we shall keep true faith till called to World's End.

Ghosts of the Old Tower

Author: 
The Unveiled Azadiyeh, Songbird of Satakalaam

— Listen now, O Estimable Vizier, to a tale of a haunted tower.

— A haunted tower? Do you speak sooth? Many and more are the tales of ghost-haunted towers, until it seems there must be hardly a tower that has not its spectre. Has the Songbird's well of stories at last gone dry?

— Nay, be but patient, one-who-governs-with-wisdom. For the tale of the Old Tower of the Fallen Waste is unlike any you have heard before.

— Say on then, O spellbinder. I will withhold judgment until I have heard the tale.

— Patience as well as wisdom! Truly you have earned all the accolades that are laid at your feet, Honorable Vizier.

— On with the story, Songbird. I get enough honeyed words from the lickspittle dogs at court.

— As you command. There was, high atop a pinnacle in a lonely corner of the Fallen Wastes, a tall and ill-favored tower that had stood there long and long. In the days when the Redguards warred against the Tusked Folk, a scout of the Bergama Gallants was commanded to take possession of this tower, thereupon to post himself as observer and sentry. And his name was Abadaman of the Three Scars.

— And there at night this Abadaman was visited by the sorrowing ghost of a nubile maiden? Or did the shade of his long-dead father appear to deliver a timely warning? Ah, but wait, I have it: The spirit of a murdered man moaned in the gloaming that he could not rest until his killing was avenged.

— Nay, none of these haps did eventuate. Yet a haunting did occur, and strange to say, it took place in the golden light of noon. It happened in this wise: Abadaman of the Three Scars had done his morning devoirs, which consisted of climbing the many steps to the top of the Old Tower, peering to every point of the compass, and making note of what he saw, which was nothing of import. So went he for a walk in the desert, for this Abadaman liked to think, and when he thought he liked to walk. On this day of days his wandering took him down to the arid flats beneath the towered pinnacle, and there his thoughts were interrupted for his eyes beheld a wonder: beneath the bright noonday sun stood a coterie of ghosts, gazing about as if awaiting an imminent event.

— Intriguing. This accords with no tale of haunting I have otherwise heard.

— Yet I assure Your Munificence, it was so. The ghosts were eight in number, and though they were difficult to perceive clearly in the shimmering heat of daylight, their presence was undeniable. They were young Redguards all, and were clad in the armor of soldiers, like that of Abadaman, yet unlike as well. He took one of these ghosts, who had a commanding presence, to be the officer of the others. When the officer-wraith turned his head and locked eyes with Abadaman, the scout, though stout of heart, cried out in surprise.

— Even I might do the same, I do confess it.

— Perhaps, though you must give me leave to doubt it. At the scout's cry the ghost spake in a voice of echoes, saying, "Well met, scout. Though the device upon your breast is unfamiliar, I see you are one of our soldiers. Are you he who will mete out justice to the one who betrayed us?"

— Ah ha! A story of revenge. Did I not say so? These ghosts are all the same.

— You are correct, Your Efficacy—and yet you are not. Shall I say on?

— Such is my will.

— I hear and obey. At these words the brave Abadaman was filed with wonder, and was moved to reply, saying, "I know naught of what you speak, spirit-from-across-the-great-river. Yet I would hear more." "I am Captain Fayda," said the spirit, "and these are my soldiers, slain by treachery. We seek justice upon the traitor, yet we are confounded, for though dead we are unborn, and though murdered our killer has not harmed us."
— A riddle, by Tava's shining eye! And what said the scout to that?

— He said, "You speak in enigmas, O Captain, which as yet I cannot fathom. Tell me of how you were betrayed, that I might know more." The ghostly captain nodded and said, "That I may do. We were ordered to garrison the Old Tower, though we have not been so ordered. Unbeknownst to us, one of our number was beholden unto our enemies the invading Imperials, though none have invaded. He did secretly admit them through our defenses and we were undone, though no such event has occurred. And the traitor's name was Amil Red-Hand."

— Ah, I see now. The ghost is mad, and cannot speak words of sense.

— Nay, for the words abruptly made sense to Abadaman, and he reeled back as if stricken. "Alas!" he cried. "All is now clear! You are dead though unborn, for your life and death are both yet to come! You speak of a treachery that has not yet occurred, but it will many years from now. You appear before me, O lamentable haunt, because I and only I am in a position to mete out justice to your betrayer. But this I will never do."

— How can this be? Explain forthwith!

— Alas, my Vizier, a tale is like a river and flows only as it will. But this one nears its end. "That you will never do, though you are an honorable soldier?" moaned the officer's ghost. "Wherefore?" "Wherefore the name of my infant son is Amil, born with a red mark upon his hand. Therefore away, importunate ghosts, for I shall not help you, and you cannot escape your fate." And then Abadaman of the Three Scars turned his feet back up the trail to the Old Tower.

When We Pass

Author: 
Anonymous

Do not weep for your father, for he goes to join his father.
Do not weep for your mother, for she goes to join her mother.
Take only account of yourself, for you will go to join your father and your mother one day as they went to meet theirs.
Treat your children well, for they too will one day come to join you.
Pray for your children's children, for one day they will raise children of their own who will also come to join you.
Walk proudly every day with the firm knowledge in your heart that you will go home.
You will walk through the Hall of Heroes and find your way to the eternal sands of the Far Shores.
It has been this way and will be this way for all Ra Gada who walk under the watchful eye of Tu'whacca.

Knowing Satakal

Author: 
Anonymous

Seven Redguard Maxims
"To deny that the world must end is to deny that it began."
"Satakal is the making and the unmaking, the birth and the death, love and fear."
"For the world is the egg that Satakal laid, and the egg that in time Satakal shall eat."
"To know Satakal, consider a river. As a snake sheds its skin and lives on, so a river sheds its water into the sea, yet is reborn at the source."
"To be the Worldskin is to be everything, and to be everything is to be nothing."
"Fear not the unbelievers, for believer and unbeliever alike shall be eaten by the Serpent God."
"Does not the serpent made of sky above reflect the serpent made of sea below? Yea, it is so."

The Horse-Folk of Silverhoof

Author: 
Doctor Nabeth al-Gilane, Khefrem Academy of Yokudan Heritage

I scoffed, of course, when I heard the rumors. A lost colony of Redguards on the northern coast of High Rock? Patently absurd. But the rumors were so persistent, so consistent, that eventually I was moved to take a sabbatical from my pedagogic duties at the Academy and travel north to see for myself.

And behold, by the tears of Morwha, it was so! All of the scholarly details will be found in my forthcoming paper "Sevenfold Truths of the Tribe of the Herd-Mother," but I shall summarize the main points here, as I feel this tale is too wondrous to wait upon the slow march of scholarship.

On the northwest coast of the High Rock region of Rivenspire, some leagues west of the city of Shornhelm, is a pastoral basin known as the Vale of Silverhoof. Abiding there, as they have for the past three thousand years, is a tribe of Redguards who go by the simple name of the Horsemen.

How did they get there, and when, and why? Unfortunately the Horsemen have no written records, but their oral traditions are strong, and I have recorded those that have been passed down from one generation to the next. The elders of the tribe were generous with their time, particularly two named Muzar and Yalaida, and from their tales I have been able to piece together the following tentative history.

The Horsemen originally came from Yokuda, of this there can be no doubt. Though they have become unavoidably "Bretonized" over the centuries by contact with the Nedic folk who surround them, they retain a number of Yokudan words in daily speech, all spoken with that drawl in the vowels we associate with the steppes of old Akos Kasaz. A few examples will suffice from their riding terminology: to tell a horse to turn left, the Horsemen say "Netu;" to turn right, "Netu Hu;" and to halt, they say "Selim." Of course, "netu" is Old Yokudan for "turn," while "anselim" means to stop or to cease.

So the Horsemen are of Yokudan descent, most probably from the herding clans of northern Akos Kasaz. The elders of the tribe maintain detailed oral accounts of their genealogy, and from the number of generations they record, it is possible to date their arrival on the shores of Tamriel to the early sixth century of the First Era. This was a period of upheaval in High Rock, when the Direnni Hegemony was in its death throes and the Breton kingdoms were just establishing themselves, a time when a colony of determined settlers could find a niche and establish itself before it could be driven out or absorbed by the indigenes. And according to the tales I heard from Muzar and Yalaida, this is exactly what happened in the Vale of Silverhoof, nearly two centuries before the Ra Gada came to Hammerfell.

Why the Horsemen came to this land is harder to determine, for on that subject their tales veer into the legendary or even mythical. Here I must speak about the tribe's unorthodox religious beliefs, for they are central to their traditions and identity. For the Horsemen do not worship any of the Old Yokudan gods as we know them, instead venerating a sort of divine animist spirit they call the Herd Mother. This equine entity acts as the tribe's guiding and protective deity; young Horsemen must commune with her on a vision journey they must partake by themselves that acts as a rite of passage to adulthood (similar to our own tradition of Walkabout). This "Herd Mother" is otherwise unknown to modern scholarship, but of course the vast majority of our cultural records were lost in the cataclysm that swallowed the Old Isles.

The Horsemen's tradition is that the tribe left lost Yokuda in order to preserve their worship of this Herd Mother, which was somehow endangered in the Old Isles. Their stories describe the journey from Akos Kasaz in a flotilla of "swimming horse-ships" given them by the Herd Mother, in which they "crossed seventeen seas" before reaching Tamriel. We may discount this tale as somewhat fanciful, but the Horsemen claim to have brought their eponymous mounts with them from the Isles, and this I do not doubt. For to the eye of this connoisseur of horseflesh, the steeds of the Horsemen are unmistakably identical to that breed we call the Yokudan Charger, and could have come directly from the Aswala Stables in the Alik'r.

Varieties of Faith: The Forebears

Author: 
Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College

The Forebears, who have been longest in Tamriel and had the stronger relationship with the Second Empire, worship substantially the same pantheon as the Imperials and Bretons, whereas the more conservative Crowns still revere the ancient Yokudan gods.

The Eight of the Forebears

Akatosh (Dragon God of Time):
Akatosh is the chief deity of the Eight Divines (the major religious cult of Cyrodiil and its provinces), and one of two deities found in every Tamrielic religion (the other is Lorkhan). He is generally considered to be the first of the Gods to form in the Beginning Place; after his establishment, other spirits found the process of being easier and the various pantheons of the world emerged. He embodies the qualities of endurance, invincibility, and everlasting legitimacy.

Tava (Bird God):
Yokudan spirit of the air. Tava is most famous for leading the Yokudans to the isle of Herne after the destruction of their homeland. She has since become assimilated into the mythology of Kynareth, and is often worshiped by the Forebears in that name. She is very popular in Hammerfell among sailors, and her shrines can be found in most port cities.

Julianos (God of Wisdom and Logic):
Often associated with Jhunal, the Nords' father of language and mathematics, Julianos is the god of literature, law, history, and contradiction, and is thus the patron of magistrates (and wizards).

Dibella (Goddess of Beauty):
Popular god of the Eight Divines. She has nearly a dozen different cults, some devoted to women, some to artists and aesthetics, and others to erotic instruction.

Tu'whacca (Tricky God):
Yokudan god of souls. Tu'whacca, before the creation of the world, was the god of Nobody Really Cares. When Tall Papa undertook the creation of the Walkabout, Tu'whacca found a purpose; he became the caretaker of the Far Shores, and continues to help Redguards find their way into the afterlife. His cult is sometimes associated with Arkay in the more cosmopolitan regions of Hammerfell, and he is often worshiped in that name by Forebears.

Zeht (God of Farms):
Yokudan god of agriculture who renounced his father after the world was created, which is why Akatosh makes it so hard to grow food. Analogous to Zenithar, and sometimes worshiped in that name.

Morwha (Teat God):
Yokudan fertility goddess. Fundamental deity in the Yokudan pantheon, and the favorite of Tall Papa's wives. Still worshiped in various areas of Hammerfell, including Stros M'kai. Morwha is always portrayed as four-armed, so that she can "grab more husbands." Analogous to Mara, and sometimes worshiped in that name by the Forebears.

Stendarr (God of Mercy):
Stendarr's sphere includes compassion, charity, justice, and righteous rule, and is the favorite god of Redguard "gallants" (knights).

Additional Deities with Significant Redguard Cults:

Leki (Saint of the Spirit Sword):
Divine daughter of Tall Papa, Leki is the goddess of aberrant swordsmanship. The Na-Totambu of Yokuda warred to a standstill during the mythic era to decide who would lead the charge against the Lefthanded Elves. Their swordmasters, though, were so skilled in the Best Known Cuts as to be matched evenly. Leki introduced the Ephemeral Feint. Afterwards, a victor emerged and the war with the Aldmer began.

HoonDing (The Make Way God):
Yokudan spirit of "perseverance over infidels." The HoonDing has historically materialized whenever the Redguards need to "make way" for their people. In Tamrielic history this has only happened twice, in the First Era during the Ra Gada invasion.

Malooc (Horde King):
An enemy god of the Ra Gada who led the Goblins against the Redguards during the First Era. Fled east when the army of the HoonDing overtook his Goblin hordes.

Sep (The Snake):
Yokudan version of Lorkhan. Sep is born when Tall Papa creates someone to help him regulate the spirit trade. Sep, though, is driven crazy by the hunger of Satakal, and he convinces some of the gods to help him make an easier alternative to the Walkabout. This, of course, is the world as we know it, and the spirits who followed Sep become trapped here, to live out their lives as mortals. Sep is punished by Tall Papa for his transgressions, but his hunger lives on as a void in the stars, a "non-space" that tries to upset mortal entry into the Far Shores.

How the Yokudans Chased the Stars

Author: 
Anonymous

… and the Yokudan, who was also called the Star Man, studied the stars and charted their movements. He saw that when the Warrior was high in the sky, victory followed. And when the Warrior was gone from the sky, came famine and desolation. He charted this cycle across the seasons, through two risings and settings he recorded the Warrior's astral path.

And the Star Man said to his kinsmen: "Let us follow the Warrior and find the place where he rests and pledge ourselves to him, so that victory will follow us all our days, and never again will we suffer famine and desolation."

And it was agreed. The Star Man led the Yokudans by ship, following the path of the Warrior, across mountains and vast deserts. And victory followed them, and famine and desolation fled before them.

And the Warrior's charges were three. The Lord, the Lady, and the Steed. And they paid homage to these with gifts and incense….

*****

And where the Warrior was at his apex, there they ended their journey. There they built a temple and a tomb for all the warriors who had died on the journey. And in death the Warrior honored them and made them his eternal guardians, undying as the stars, and as numerous.

The place where they stopped has not been marked on any map. But any who wish to find it must only do as they did, and follow the Warrior.

The Eight Steps of Mummification

Author: 
Fezmani of the Steady Hand, Priest of Tu'whacca

— Step the First: Consecrate the body with the Blessings of Tu'whacca.
— Step the Second: Remove all internal organs before they can decay, causing unsightly stains.
— Step the Third: Remove all brain tissue. This is to be done through the nostrils using the hook-spoons, so as to avoid damaging the skin of face and head.
— Step the Fourth: Dehydrate the body by coating it in parch-salt, and placing packets of parch-salt within its cavities.
— Step the Fifth: Replace lost volume within the body with inert material, paying special attention to restoring the features of the face.
— Step the Sixth: The layers of wrapping: wrap the body in one hundred paces of linen, then coat the linen with warm juniper resin. Do this three times.
— Step the Seventh: The adorning of amulets: array the body in amulets and bracelets that represent the station of the body in life.
— Step the Eighth: Place the body in a prepared sarcophagus. Proceed to burial in the necropolis.

Correct Ways of Slaying Ra-Netu

Author: 
Anonymous

Though a Ra-Netu is an abomination in the sight of Tu'whacca, and an offense to the godly of all peoples, it is not therefore to be treated with disrespect. For a human body is a sacred chalice, whether it be filled with the divine liquor of a mortal soul, or the profane offal of an unholy essence.

To that end the Ash'abah are charged with banishing the unholy essence while doing all that is needful to preserve the sacred chalice. And so we smite the Ra-Netu with the Seventeen Strikes, while uttering the Plea for Forgiveness.

Correct Ways of Slaying Ra-Netu

Strike Twelve: The Comely Beheading

— To feint with a high cut toward the approaching Ra-Netu
— To step past the Ra-Netu on the opposite side while turning the blade
— To utter the Plea for Forgiveness
— To bring the forte of the blade down upon the Ra-Netu between the third and fourth bones of the neck, shearing through from behind
— To utter the Humble Apology
— To collect the severed head, lest it be misplaced in the affray, and set it near the body for later interment