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Holdings of Jarl Gjalund

Slafknir the Scribe

Survey of the Holdings of Jarl Gjalund

As Witnessed by Slafknir the Scribe, so Sworn by the Old Gods and the New


Whiterun -  [AHROLSEDOVAH] - The Jarl's Holding, with Plentiful Water and Pasturage. Home of Jorrvaskr, the Far-Famed Hall of the Companions.

Rorik's Steading -  [RORIKHOFKAH] - A Small Farmstead in the Western Plains. Grain, Leather, Horses.

Granite Hill -  [QUETHSEGOL AHROL] - Three Farms and an Inn, just North of the Falkreath. A Market is Held here Weekly.

H'roldan -  [AHROLDAN] - A Spacious Wooden Hall and Pasturage, recently Seized from the Reachmen. Silver and Iron as Tribute from the Natives.

Bromjunaar -  [BROMJUN1R] - An Old Settlement, much Reduced from Former Days. Lumber and Stone.

Korvanjund -  [KORVANJUND] - A Small Fortified Settlement. Hides and Meat.

Volunruud -  [VOLUNR5D] - A Fortified Wooden Hall near Giants' Gap. Meat and Worked Ivory.

Hillgrund's Steading -  [HILLGRUNDHOFKAH] - A Large Farmstead Near the Base of the Monahven. Grain, Mead, Honey.


The Red Kitchen Reader

Simocles Quo

Though naturally modest, I must admit to some pleasure in being dubbed by our Emperor's father, the late Pelagius IV, as "the finest connoisseur in Tamriel." He was also good enough to appoint me the first, and to this day, the only Master of Cuisine in the Imperial Court. Other Emperors, of course, had master chefs and cooks in their staff, but only during the reign of Pelagius was there someone of rarefied tastes to plan the menus and select the finest produce to be served at court. His son Uriel requested that I continue in that position, but I was forced to graciously decline the invitation, because of age and poor health.

This book, however, is not intended to be autobiography. I have had a great many adventures in my life as a knight of fine dining, but my intention for this book is much more specific. Many times I have been asked, "What is the best thing you ever ate?"

The answer to that is not a simple one. Much of the pleasure of a great meal is not only in the food: it is in the setting, the company, the mood. Eat an indifferently cooked roast or a simple stew with your one true love, and it is a meal to be remembered. Have an excellent twelve-course feast with dull company, while feeling slightly ill, and it will be forgotten, or remembered only with distaste.

Sometimes meals are memorable for the experiences that come before them.

Fairly recently, in northern Skyrim, I had a bit of bad luck. I was with a group of fishermen, observing their technique of capturing a very rare, very delicious fish called Merringar. The fish is found only far from shore, so it was a week's voyage out beyond civilization. Well, we found our school of Merringar, but as the fishermen began spearing them, the blood in the water attracted a family of Dreugh, who capsized the boat and everyone on it. I managed to save myself, but the fishermen and all our supplies were lost. Sailing is not, alas, a skill I have picked up over the years, and it took me three weeks, with no provisions, to find my way back to the kingdom of Solitude. I had managed to catch enough small fish to eat raw, but I was still delirious from hunger and thirst. The first meal I had on shore, of Nordic roast boar, Jazbay wine, and, yes, filet of Merringar would have been excellent under any circumstances, but because of the threat of starvation I had faced, it was divine beyond words.

Sometimes meals are even memorable for the experiences that follow them.

In a tavern in Falinesti, I was introduced to a simple peasant dish called Kollopi, delicious little balls of flesh, thick with spices and juice, so savory I asked the proprietress whence they came. Mother Pascost explained that the Kollopi were an arboreal rodent that fed exclusively on the most tender branches of the graht-oak, and I was fortunate enough to be in Valenwood at the time of the annual harvest. I was invited to join with a small colony of Imga monkeys, who alone could gather these succulent little mice. Because they lived only on the slenderest branches of the trees, and only on the ends of those same branches, the Imga had to climb beneath them and jump up to "pick" the Kollopi from their perches. Imga are, of course, naturally dexterous, but I was then relatively young and spry, and they let me help them. While I could never jump as high they could, with practice, I found that if I kept my head and upper body rigid, and launched off the ground with a scissors-like kick, I could reach the Kollopi on the lowest branches of the tree. I believe I gathered three Kollopi myself, though with considerable effort.

To this day, I salivate at the thought of Kollopi, but my mind is on the image of myself and several dozen Imgas leaping around beneath the shade of the graht-oaks.

Then, of course, there are the rare meals memorable for what came before, after, and during the meal, which brings me to the finest thing I ever ate, the meal that began my lifelong obsession with excellent cuisine.

As a child growing up in Cheydinhal, I did not care for food at all. I recognized the value of nutrition, for I was not a complete dullard, but I cannot say that mealtime brought me any pleasure at all. Partly, of course, this was the fault of my family's cook, who believed that spices were an invention of the Daedra, and that good Imperials should like their food boiled, textureless and flavorless. Though I think she was alone in assigning a religious significance to this, my sampling of traditional Cyrodilic cuisine suggests that the philosophy is regrettably common in my homeland.

Though I did not enjoy food per se, I was not a morose, unadventurous child in other respects. I enjoyed the fights in the Arena, of course, and nothing made me happier than wandering the streets of my town, with my imagination as my only companion. It was on one such jaunt on a sunny Fredas in Mid Year that I made a discovery that changed my heart and my life.

There were several old abandoned houses down the street from my own home, and I often played around them, imagining them to be filled with desperate outlaws or haunted by hundreds of evil spirits. I never had the nerve to go inside. In fact, had I not that day seen some other children who had delighted in teasing me in the past, I would never have gone in. But I needed a sanctuary, so I ran into the closest one.

The house seemed to be as desolate on the inside as on the outside, further proof that no one lived there, and had not for some time. When I heard footsteps, I could only assume that the loathsome little urchins I hoped to avoid had followed me in. I escaped to the basement, and from there, past a broken-down wall that led to a well. I could still hear the footsteps above, and I decided that I was still loath to confront my tormentors. Knocking aside the rusty locks on the well, I slipped down below.

The well was dry, but I discovered it was far from empty. There was a sort of a sub-basement to the house, three large rooms that were clean, furnished, and evidently not abandoned at all. My senses told me someone was living in the house, after all: not only my sense of sight, but my sense of smell. For one of the rooms was a large red-painted kitchen, and spread out on the coals of the oven was a roast, carved into small morsels. Passing a beautiful and appropriate bas-relief of a mother carving a roast for her grateful children, I beheld the kitchen and the wonders within.

Like I said, food had never interested me before, but I was transfixed, and even now as I write this, words fail me in describing the rich aroma that hung in the air. It was like nothing I had ever smelled in my family's kitchen, and I was unable to stop myself from popping one of the steaming chunks of meat into my mouth. The taste was magical, the flesh tender and sweet. Before I knew it, I had eaten everything on the stove, and I learned at that very second the truth that that food can and should be sublime.

After gorging myself and having my culinary epiphany, I was conflicted on what to do. Part of me wanted to wait down in that red kitchen until the chef returned, so I could ask him what his secret recipe was for the delicious meat. Part of me recognized that I had stolen into someone's house and eaten their dinner, and it would be wise to leave while I could. That was what I did.

Time and again, I've tried to return to that strange, wonderful place, but Cheydinhal has changed over time. Old houses have been reclaimed, and new houses abandoned. I know what to look for on the inside of the house - the well, the beautiful etching of a woman preparing to carve out a roast for her children, the red kitchen itself - but I have never been able to find the house again. After a while, as I grew older, I stopped trying. It is better as it remains in my memory, the most perfect meal I ever ate.

The inspiration for my life that followed all was cooked up, together with that fabulous meat, right there in the Red Kitchen.

Of Crossed Daggers

Dwennon Wyndell

Of Crossed Daggers:
The History of Riften

Dwennon Wyndell

Situated on the eastern banks of Lake Honrich, the city of Riften serves as a reminder of a bygone era. The once-proud streets and buildings have vanished and been replaced with a collection of wooden structures and rough stonework shrouded in a permanent fog-like mist. In order to understand how such a large city became nothing more than a glorified fortress, one need only look to the history books for answers.

Riften was a major hub of activity for trade caravans and travellers to and from Morrowind. Fishing skiffs could be seen dotting the lake at all hours of the day and the bustling city was alive with activity at night. The city guard was formiddable and maintained a tight grasp on its populace, keeping them safe from harm. The marketplace in Riften was also quite a draw, containing numerous stands offering wares from across Tamriel.

In 4E 98, amidst the confusion of the Void Nights, Hosgunn Crossed-Daggers was installed as Jarl when the previous Jarl had been assassinated. Although many believe that Hosgunn was responisble, and cries of protest filled the streets of Riften, the Jarl took the throne and immediately took action to protect his station. Using the city guard, he had the streets cleared of protesters and initiated a curfew. Any caught breaking the curfew was immediately jailed without process or executed if it was a repeat offence.

For over 40 years, Hosgunn ruled Riften with a black heart and an iron fist. He imposed ridiculous taxes upon his subjects and any merchants that wished to sell their wares within the city walls. Hosgunn kept most of the coin for himself, using it to construct a massive wooden castle with unecessarily lavish quartering within. The castle took seven years to build, and became a visual reminder of the people's oppression which earned it the nickname "Hosgunn's Folly." Towards the end of his reign, the streets of Riften became littered with refuse and it's people plagued by disease and hunger.

Then, in 4E 129, the people had finally had enough. With their numbers, they were able to temporarily overhwhelm the city guard long enough to set Hosgunn's Folly on fire with the greedy Jarl still within. As the fighting recommensed, the fire spread through the city unchecked. By the morning, the people had emerged victorious, but not without great cost. Most of the city was now in ruins and many had died.

It took five years to rebuild Riften into the smaller city that it is today. And even though over fifty years had passed since then, it still has yet to fully recover. Some believe it will never achieve the level of affluence it saw at the beginning of the Fourth Era, but there are a few who still hold on to the hope that Riften can return from the ashes and become a center of commerce once again.

Skyrim's Rule

Abdul-Mujib Ababneh

Skyrim's Rule: 

An Outsider's View

Abdul-Mujib Ababneh

In my travels, and they have been many, I have encountered many strange peoples and cultures, in many different provinces of the Empire. And in each, I have found a method of governing and customs of leadership unique to that particular province.

In Black Marsh, for example, the Argonian King relies upon his Shadowscale Assassins to eliminate threats secretly, without the common knowledge of his people. In the Imperial Province of Cyrodiil, the Emperor may rule directly, but the power granted to his Elder Council cannot be understated.

During a recent journey to Skyrim, that harsh, frozen realm of the Nords, I was able for the first time to witness the unique manner of rule of this strong, proud people.

It would appear that the entire province of Skyrim is separated into territories known as "holds," and each hold finds its seat of power in one of the great, ancient cities. And in each of those cities, there rules that hold's king, known as a Jarl.

The Jarls of Skyrim are, as a whole, a fierce sight indeed. Sitting on their thrones, ready to administer justice, or send their forces out to quell some local threat, be it a pack of feral wolves or a terrifying giant that has wandered too close to a settlement.

In observing these Jarls, I found each to of course have his or her own unique personality and leadership style. But what I perhaps did not expect - especially considering the Nord leaders' unfair reputation as barbarians or uncivilized chieftains - was the formal structure of each Jarl's court. For while that hold's leader may be the one to sit on the throne, there is also a collection of functionaries who serve very specific and important roles.

The court wizard counsels the Jarl in all matters magical, and may even sell services or spells to the keep's visitors. The Steward is the Jarl's primary advisor, and generally takes care of the more mundane aspects of running the keep, the city, or even the hold, depending on the situation. And woe is the fool who defies the Housecarl - a personal bodyguard who rarely leaves the Jarl's side, and has pledged to sacrifice his or her own life to save that of their honored leader, if ever the need should arrive.

But as mighty and influential as each individual Jarl is, Skyrim's true power comes from the strength of its High King. The High King is ruler above all, and is always one of the Jarls, selected by a body called the "Moot" - a specially convened council of all the Jarls, who meet with the express purpose of choosing Skyrim's High King. Or so it is, in theory.

The reality, however, is that the High King swears fealty to the Emperor, and as Solitude is the city most directly influenced by Imperial culture and politics, the Jarl of Solitude has served as High King for generations. The Moot, therefore, is more formality and theater than anything else.

But as I prepared to leave Skyrim, I could feel a change in the air, sense the trepidation of some of the good Nord people. Many seemed unhappy with the Empire's continued presence in their land. And the outlawing of the worship of Talos as the Ninth Divine - a stipulation of the White-Gold Concordat, the peace treaty between the Empire and Aldmeri Dominion - has only strengthened that division.

So while the Jarls of Skyrim still control their holds, and those Jarls are ruled over by their Imperial-sanctioned High King, will there come a day when the Moot convenes to select a new High King - one that is not, as many would say, the Emperor's "Solitude puppet"?

If that day comes, I will be thankful to be far away from Skyrim, in my own home of Hammerfell. For such a decision could well mean civil war, and I fear that such a conflict would tear the fierce and beautiful Nord people asunder.

Walking the World, vol. XI

Spatior Munius

Walking the World
Volume XI: Solitude

Spatior Munius

Welcome, friend. In our latest volume, we cover Solitude. Spatior could not be more pleased to be at the very seat of Imperial power in Skyrim. In the course of our tour, you'll see that Solitude's riches extend from her people to the history and architecture that make up the city itself.

As ever, we begin our journey outside the city walls, this time at the bottom of the hill that ascends all the way to Solitude's massive gates.

Solitude's Surroundings

Before scaling the hill to the city, you should be sure to take in the sights. Wander the track that leads down to the docks, and you can stop to enjoy one of the best views of the Great Arch.

Originally serving as both a landmark and windbreak for Solitude's port, the easily-defended Great Arch also provided an ideal building site for the ancient Nords.

The city gradually grew to extend across the entire length of the arch. This growth culminated in the building of the Blue Palace, home of the High Kings and Queens of Skyrim. We will visit the palace later.


The Gates of Solitude

Entrance to Solitude is guarded by two gates and three towers. The first of these towers, situated at the crossroads, is Sky Tower. It's mostly a lookout, although in times of war, barricades are erected across the nearby road to act as a first line of defense.

The second tower and first, smaller gate are collectively known as the Squall Gate. Here, attacking armies meet their first real resistance. Last and certainly most impressive is the Storm Gate.

While Castle Dour, found just within the city's main gate, has always been a massive walled structure, Solitude's outer walls and gates were not added until shortly after the coronation of High King Erling.

Looking up and to the left of the main gate, you can see a small hint of Erling's preference for a more rounded style of architecture that we will see later in the Castle Dour extension, as well as the interior arch and the windmill.

Now we pass through the gates and enter the main shopping district of Solitude.


The Well District

Stepping inside Solitude's gates, you get your first view of the city itself. Rising tall and proud before you, banners waving from its crown, is the Emperor's Tower. Home to the Kings of Haafingar before the consolidation of Skyrim and the creation of the Blue Palace, the Emperor's Tower is now used exclusively as guest quarters for Emperors who come to visit the city.

To your left and right are Solitude's inn and shops. Here can be found some of the finest imported goods in Skyrim. After all, Solitude is a wealthy city with ready access to the major shipping lanes of Tamriel.

Continuing ahead, you'll come to the ramp that takes you up to Castle Dour. From here, you can truly feel the weight of this stone bastion's looming presence. The left-most tower, topped by the pointed roof of Erling's extension, was once the castle barracks and jail. Today, the tower is the center of military power here in Solitude.

Looking right past the looming Emperor's tower, you can glimpse Solitude's natural bridge arcing gracefully over to the windmill. Built during High King Erling's day, the bridge was said to be used used to discretely allow Captain Jytte, the famous privateer, to enter Castle Dour. Some historians claim that she and the High King were simply attempting to keep their business dealings quiet. Others believe the Jytte and Erling were involved on a more personal level.

At the end of the bridge is the windmill. The tower and the windmill serve as one of Solitude's most recognizable man-made landmarks. The Windmill's power was once used to open the gates to what is now the East Empire Company Warehouse, but today that task falls to the strong backs of the dock workers.

In the shadow of the windmill you'll find the outdoor market and the well. Here, you can buy a number of local delicacies including the famous spiced wine made exclusively in Solitude.

From here we'll travel up the ramp and into Castle Dour Courtyard.


Castle Dour

As you enter the courtyard of Castle Dour, you are confronted with the banner of Solitude hanging over the door to what is now Castle Dour proper.

At the far end of the courtyard stands the impressive Temple of the Divines. The founders of Solitude were deeply devout and Solitude is the only place in Skyrim where all of the divines are worshiped in a single temple. All three of the buildings here are well worth taking a look inside, but only the Temple and Castle Dour's military wing are open.

If you do venture inside the temple, take special note of the alcoves at the front. You can see the empty alcove that once held the shrine of Talos before Talos worship was outlawed.

From the courtyard, travel out the exit between Castle Dour and the Temple and you'll get your first sight of the Blue Palace. Along the way, be sure to stop outside the Bards College, a large building on your left marked by the Flame of Callisos burning beside the steps.

Named for a famous bard, it is said that as long as the flame burns, the college will stand.

The Bards College

Looking up from the Bards College steps, you can see that the college stands taller than the Blue Palace itself. The bards who train here can be heard throughout Skyrim, singing songs that capture the history of the ages. If you get a chance you should be sure to catch the Burning of King Olaf, an ancient festival where "King Olaf" is burned in effigy.

Continue up the road from the college and you'll reach the courtyard of the Blue Palace, our final destination.


The Blue Palace

The Blue Palace is home to the Jarls of Solitude, who for centuries have also served as the High Kings and High Queens of Skyrim. The northeast wing, on your left as you enter, holds the living quarters of the Jarl and her court on the top level and various servants below.

The southwest wing, known as the Pelagius Wing, has fallen into a state of disrepair. Named for the famous High King, Pelagius the Mad, the wing is rumored to be haunted by the king's ghost. The wing has been locked and left alone since shortly after Pelagius's death.

You should be sure to venture inside the Blue Palace. The grand atrium and court chambers are a sight not to be missed.


Other Points of Interest

Spatior has shown you Solitude in all its grandeur, but there are a few places more to see. The walls of the city are easily accessible and well worth climbing for the remarkable view. The Solitude Docks are also worth a visit, as they are the largest in Skyrim.

That's all for Walking the World Volume XI. Spatior does not know his next destination yet, but you can be sure that where he does go he will leave you a record of the best things to see.

Spatior Munius, World Traveler

Lycanthropic Legends of Skyrim

Lentulus Inventius

Lycanthropic Legends of Skyrim


Lentulus Inventius
Order of the Horn


I had heard the same rumors as everyone else -- that the province of Skyrim was awash in various forms of Lycanthropy. I had studied werewolves for some time, and was keen to see if these rumors of werebears were actually substantiated. I elected to pursue these studies in the warmer summer months in deference to my fragile constitution.

One quickly finds that common villagers are of practically no use in this land. Whereas in Cyrodiil, even the youngest child can tell you the true fauna that inhabit its environs, here I find alleged "wise men" recounting tales of unicorns and flying horses directly alongside their stories of werebears, so I don't put any stock in the rumors. They certainly have their traditions for warding off werebears (certain plants and ceremonies), but nobody can attest to even having seen one first-hand, much less possess any sort of artifact. Everyone has a cousin or a friend who saw one once, but when pressed, these stories fall apart.

I don't wish to completely discount these stories, but I also must conclude that they may have spun out of some wild retelling of a particularly vicious, but mundane, bear. Legends can take a life of their own, particularly when there are grains of truth, as here we have the very real threat of werewolves. I worry that by spreading stories of a potentially false (or at least rare) beast, people may begin to discount the threat that real beasts pose. But if Skyrim's people choose to lead a backwards life, shrieking at shadows and clouds, I will not stop them.

The werewolves of this land are a curious sort. At least the legends of them. Given the Nord flair for bravado, I had expected to see werewolf pelts lining walls in the cities, werewolf heads on pikes, that sort of gaudy show. Instead, few people in civilized society ever mentioned them, and my questions were usually met with nervous stares.

Thinking that perhaps the common folk were simply more cowardly than I had been lead to believe by my Nordic acquaintances in Cyrodiil, I sought out those known for actual bravery. The supposedly fearless warrior band of Whiterun, the Companions, lost all color when I broached the subject, and asked me to leave. I had thought better of them, and was disappointed at how quickly brave men and women can be intimidated by stories.

Pressing into the wilderness, away from any sort of settlement, I would often find hunters, willing to recount stories of their kills. It was finally through one of them (a certain Karsten Hammer-Back) that I heard my first (and unfortunately only) verifiable stories of werewolves in the province, accompanied by pelts and claws to prove the killing. Just as I was thrilling to finding some actual evidence of the local beasts, he got a wild, conspiratorial look in his eyes and began spinning tales of some band of werewolf hunters and their exploits in hunting down the creatures. I left him to mop his drool and continued my journeys.

In the end, I regret that my trip to Skyrim did not prove more productive. If it is indeed true that their breeds of lycanthropes are distinct from and more powerful than our local ones, they could prove to be powerful allies in our conflict against the influx of werevultures in Valenwood. If they have grown as great and terrible as my friend Gaelian asserts, they could soon threaten the interior of Tamriel. When the summer next crests, I plan to travel there for a better accounting of the winged cretins, so that I may make more fitting report to the council.


Skorm Snow-Strider's Journal

Skorm Snow-Strider

13th of Sun's Dusk 1E139

At the command of Lord Harald we have swept our company to the south edge of our territories in an attempt to drive the Snow Elves up north to the main host of his forces. The first few days met with heavy resistance, but as we approached the eastern edge of Lake Honnith we have seen little and less of them.

21st of Sun's Dusk 1E139

We've begun to receive reports of attacks back around Lake Honnith and word has come from the front that we should pull back to be sure we are not leaving our rear exposed. If there is a stronghold of Elves here, we will surely root them out.

27th of Sun's Dusk 1E139

It sounds impossible, but we appeared to have stumbled upon a massive hold out of the Dragon Cultists, who were believed to be wiped out during the Dragon War. The Elves must wait, as this is a threat we cannot ignore. If we are quick, we may be able to catch them unaware and avoid a lengthy siege.

21st of Evening Star 1E139

Third week of the siege. The men grow restless with the cold and all miss their families. If that blasted storm hadn't caught us off guard and slowed our ascent we might have taken the Monastery, but as it stands we may be in for several more weeks of pounding on their walls. I've sent word to Harald to send one of the Voice masters to help bring down the wall.

4th of Morning Star 1E140

We've brought down their main gate thanks to the young Voice master, but the brash lad took an arrow in the neck in the process. It seems he will be joining the Eight in Sovngarde soon. The cultists have fallen back to the interior of the Monastery but soon enough we will breach those defenses. The sooner the better - it's too blasted cold on this mountain.

5th of Morning Star 1E140

We entered the Monastery today only to find all inside dead. It appears they purposely caved in the stairway to the refectory and then took their own lives. Some appear to have slit their own wrists, others we found with empty vials. Most appear to be poisoned, but oddly there are not as many empty bottles as one would expect by the number of dead. We shall hold up here over night rather than face the cold, and explore the catacombs in the morning to see if we can find another passage to the upper areas.

6th of Morning Star 1E140

May the Eight protect us from Dragons and madmen. We lost half our remaining men today. We discovered a well in the catacombs, locked but with several buckets already filled, and in their excitement for a drink that didn't risk frostbite on their tongue, two score drank before we could stop them. Gods only know how these cultists could use that horrible poison in their own water supply. We've lost more men to this catastrophe than we did taking the courtyard.

The well was locked from this side, and the key must be somewhere in the catacombs, but with the ghosts of these dead cultists and the men demoralized, it just isn't worth the search. Let those gods-forsaken cultists drink their way to Oblivion and be done with it. The upper door in the courtyard has some sort of barrier over it and our mages believe that the sacrifice made here will sustain it for decades at the least.

We leave this accursed place tomorrow to regroup and push up north, but I will leave this journal, so that in an age or so when the poison has faded, someone may find a way in to be sure the cultists met their due fate.

Lost Legends of Skyrim

Talsgar the Elder

Lost Legends of Skyrim

Talsgar the Elder
Archivist of Winterhold


The history of Skyrim is vast, predating even the most ancient records of man and mer. Much has been lost, fallen to the ravages of war or the turning of the ages. But nothing is ever truly forgotten. Where no records exist, legends and folk tales offer us a key to the past, a way to piece together truths half-remembered in the minds of men.

For generations, the people of Morthal have told whispered tales of the Pale Lady, a ghostly woman who wanders the northern marshes, forever seeking her lost daughter. Some say she steals children who wander astray, others that her sobbing wail strikes dead all those who hear it. But behind these tales may lie a kernel of truth, for ancient records speak of 'Aumriel', a mysterious figure Ysgramor's heirs battled for decades, and finally sealed away.

Reachmen tell the story of Faolan 'Red-Eagle', an ancient king who rallied his people and drove back the armies of Cyrodiil with a flaming sword. Though accounts vary, they too seem to be based on an underlying truth: the imperial chronicles of Empress Hestra mention a rebel leader of that era who was eventually cornered and slain in battle, at the cost of a full legion of men.

But some tales prove far harder to analyze. Among scholars, perhaps the best known is the 'Forbidden Legend' of the Archmage Gauldur.

In the dawning days of the First Era, the story goes, there lived a powerful wizard by the name of Gauldur. Wise and just, he was well-known in the courts of King Harald and the jarls of Skyrim, and his aid and counsel were sought by man and mer alike.

And then he was murdered. Some say one of his sons killed him, others that King Harald, jealous of his power, gave the order. But Gauldur's three sons fled into the night, pursued by a company of Harald's best warriors and the Lord Geirmund, the king's personal battlemage.

A great chase ensued, from the wilds of the Reach to the glacial north. One brother is said to have perished in the ruins of Folgunthur, at the foot of Solitude. The others were run to ground soon thereafter. And once it was done, King Harald ordered every record of their murders destroyed, and Gauldur's name and deeds were struck from the rolls of history.

Even today, few sources remain, and no bard will tell the tale. But perhaps the truth yet remains in some ancient ruin, waiting to be unearthed. For nothing is ever truly forgotten.

A Minor Maze


A Minor Maze:
Shalidor & Labyrinthian

Labyrinthian's modern notoriety was gained in the early part of the Third Era. Part of the Staff of Chaos was recovered from the Labyrinthian, which became instrumental in the overthrow of Jagar Tharn, ending the Imperial Simulacrum. The site has since become embedded in the minds of all subjects of the Empire, and the ruins are occasionally visited by Loyalist pilgrims, re-tracing the steps of the Eternal Champion.

The namesake of Labyrinthian is somewhat less commonly known, however.

The foreboding ruins were originally built as a temple to the Dragons. This grew into Bromjunaar, a great city of that era. Bromjunaar is believed by some to have been the capital of Skyrim at the height of the Dragon Cult's influence there. Little historical record exists to verify or refute this, but it is known that the highest ranking Priests of the Cult met at Labyrinthian to discuss matters of ruling.

Bromjunaar crumbled, however, along with the rest of the Dragon Cult, and the site lay abandoned for many years, a deteriorating reminder of those benighted days for the Nords. Not until the days of Shalidor would the ruins come into use again.

Shalidor the Archmage was famous for his exploits in the First Era. Various tales tell of him battling Dwemer legions single-handedly, building the city of Winterhold with a whispered spell, stealing the secret of life from Akatosh, or constructing Labyrinthian himself.

While many Shalidor legends are hyperbole or outright fabrication, we can discover some truth behind his involvement with Labyrinthian.

Shalidor stood at the forefront of a movement to enact higher standards among mages, and to discourage spell-use among the common castes. This effort is dubiously credited with the original organization and formation of the schools of magic and the foundation of the College at Winterhold.

Consistent with this mentality, Shalidor constructed his Labyrinth deep within the ruins of Bromjunaar to test new Archmages. While navigating the destroyed city itself was not explicitly a part of the test, many candidates did not survive the journey. Shalidor valued both academic knowledge as well as practical skill, and simply getting to the Labyrinth required the latter.

Shalidor's Labyrinthian is actually two intersecting mazes, in an hourglass pattern. One maze could not be completed without exiting the other first, which makes the only existing instruction for the test especially mysterious:

Enter Twice - Exit Only Once
Alteration will lead
you to Destruction
Only Illusion shows the
way to Restoration
Conjure not, but
be conjured instead

We can only guess at what the solution to the test may have been, as Labyrinthian became notorious not only for the number of potential archmages who died there, but for the intense secrecy of those who succeeded.

Labyrinthian eventually ceased to be used, and is regarded as a symbol of a more brutal age by modern institutions for magical studies. The ruins lay empty again, overrun with wild animals and avoided by travelers. The long history and legacy of this place, however, seems as likely to be erased from our minds as the ruins themselves are likely to sink into the sea.

The City of Stone

Amanda Alleia

The City of Stone:
A Sellsword's Guide to Markarth

Amanda Alleia


If you're cutting your coins across Skyrim, you'll want to point your blade towards Markarth, the capital city of the Reach. There's no end of trouble in the City of Stone, and that means plenty of ways for you to earn your supper. Your sellsword instincts should point you towards the wealthiest patrons with the fattest purses to work for, but you need to mind yourself during your resting hours.

Markarth isn't like your Whiterun, where mercenary companies like the Companions make a sellsword an honored professional. No, Markarth has its own rules, rules the natives aren't going to just tell you. Lucky for you, old Ms. Alleia is here to shine the torchlight over your thick skulls.

First thing you'll notice in the City of Stone is... the stone. They say dwarves cut out the city from the mountain, and maybe they did by the look of it. But what it really means is that the whole place is vertical, and the streets are really cliffs. Long story short, be careful when you've got a bellyful of mead.

When you enter the city proper, you'll immediately hit the market. The merchants usually sell food and jewelry on the streets. Meat is the preferred ration, the craggy rocks in the area make for poor farming land, and silver is what's used to make most all the rings and necklaces you might by, thanks to the large silver mine in the city (we'll get to that in a bit).

Whatever you do, don't ask the Markarth city guard about anything. They're about as helpful as an angry Frostbite Spider while you're caught in its web, and if you mention anything about the Forsworn to them they might spit in your eye. Speaking of the Forsworn, these wildmen and women will be your main source of income while you're in Markarth. The Jarl almost always has a bounty on some Forsworn leader or another, and if you don't mind going blade-to-axe with someone two septims short of a pint of ale, it's steady work.

The Silver-Blood Inn is where you want to head into after seeing the market. The drinks are, as usual, watered down (and judging by the metallic taste, with water from the rivers that run through the city's smelter district). What's important here is getting a room to stay in. You won't find any friendly faces to con your way into a cheap place to stay in Markarth. The natives don't trust strangers, so save yourself the trouble and put down your coin to rent a real room.

After you've spent a day recovering from travel, you'll see that Markarth is divided in two sides by the big crag in the center. The part with the big river running through it is called the Riverside, and the other is called the Dryside. The Riverside is where the smelter and native workers live, so don't bother going there. Instead, head directly to Dryside and talk to the local Nord nobles and see what problems you can start solving (at the highest rate).

Two major places to see are the Temple of Dibella and Cidhna Mine. The temple rests on the top of the central crag. A good place to go if you're on good terms with the Divines, but be warned, the Priestesses of Dibella don't allow men into their Inner Sanctums, so don't go crashing down in there uninvited unless you want a short trip to a long fall.

Cidhna Mine is the place where all the silver comes from that I mentioned before. But it's also the jail. Markarth uses prisoners to mine the ore, and there's a lot of it, so don't get caught doing something illegal in the city or you'll be hauled down there to dig. Apparently, the whole place is owned by one of the big families in the city, the Silver-Bloods (notice the inn is named after them? Always keep your sellsword eye open for hints like that). I tried meeting with the head of the Silver-Blood family to see if they had any work, but guarding their mines isn't the blood-rush I become a mercenary for. Something to keep in mind for yourself if you're thinking of staying a few months.

The final place I'll talk about here is Understone Keep, the home of the Jarl in Markarth. It's a fancy palace like any other (assuming your palace is built underground), but what you need to know is the city underneath the keep. That's right, there's another city below Markarth. One of those old dwarven ruins. They sometimes have expeditions in the ruins that makes for a good job, guarding the scholars and maybe lifting a few stones here and there. If you're lucky, you might come across one of those old dwarven machines, and you can bring back a souvenir after you're done breaking it apart.

All right, Ms. Alleia's hand is getting tired and that means this guide is done. Last piece of advice, don't cause trouble in Markarth. Don't start fights. Don't stop fights. Don't stick your head anywhere without someone from the city paying you for it, because believe me, no one in Markarth wants you there. Make your gold, drink your mead, see what's there to see, and move on. Nothing changes in the City of Stone, and that's just fine.