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The Throat of the World: Skyrim

Imperial Geographical Society

Map of Skyrim

Skyrim is the northern province of Tamriel, a land of breathtaking beauty and lethal winters. It is one of the ancient seats of power in the Empire and well-populated by the Nords. As if to compensate for their freezing environment, the Nords are famously hot-blooded and the political climate can be as shifting and dangerous as the winds.


Looking at viturally any vista in Skyrim, one is looking at the remains of a battlefield. The great Aedric cataclysms that brought Tamriel into existence in primeval times seems to have spent most of their fury in this northern land. Vast majestic mountain ranges form the spiny twisted backbone of the province and one can hear echoes of the early Nedic people's battle cries whistling in the winds of the valleys.

Nord RaceTradition has it that the first humans came to Tamriel from the continent of Atmora in ancient days. It was a not a single invasion but a series of them over hundreds of years, creating many different Nedic cultures, the new-arrived Atmorans always clashing with the generations that had already established themselves. The region around Saarthal in the high northern coastal mountains exchanged hands many times, becoming more powerful and more permanent, like the Nords themselves, by adversity.

In addition to fighting one another, the Nedic people faced off against a new enemy, the Aldmer. The struggles between the two - prototypical men and prototypical elves - continues in some form or another to this very day, as the Nedic people became the Nords, Imperials, and Bretons, and the Aldmer became the Ayleid, Altmer, Dwemer, Chimer, Dunmer, and Bosmer. Out of this time also rose one of the most legendary of all Tamrielic figures, Ysgramor, from whom all Nordic kings are descended.

Spreading out from the north, Ysgramor's clan stretched its arms, proving that no ancient force was more fearsome than the Nords. In the 113th year of the First Era, the entirety of modern Skyrim was under the reign of King Harald, and still, it continued to expand. Leaving their snowy valleys and mountains, the Nords attacked the Dwemer of neighbouring Resdayn, the Altmer and Bretons of High Rock and lent aid to the rising slave rebellion in Cyrodiil which was to end the Ayleid rule of the south.

SkyrimIn the centuries that followed, Skyrim expanded and contracted as battles were won and lost. Though Cyrodiil was considered a separate domain, the Nords and the early Imperials formed a loose alliance against their elven opponents, their cultures mixing together, creating the foundations of modern day Aedric worship. Yet Skyrim remained the dominant human nation in Tamriel until it was torn apart by rivalries within the Ysgramor clan. As individual chieftains fought each other, Skyrim gradually lost her holdings in present day Morrowind and High Rock, and certain localities in Skyrim became independent kingdoms. For brief periods, one ruler has managed to unite all of Skyrim, but the Nord character is one essentially of conflict, and the confederacies never last. The Cyrodilic Empire and later the Septim Empire was able to take advantage of this tendency and recruit the warlike Nords to their side before they became a force of the opposition.

In the third era, if Cyrodiil has been the heart of the Empire, Skyrim has been its strong arm. The greatest threat to the Empire's unity occured in the 120th year, when the so-called Wolf Queen of Solitude, Potema, aunt of the Empress Kintyra, launched a rebellion that became a blood civil war. Though it was eventually quelled, the repercussions are evident to this day. There is a strong underground movement called the Horme that believes Potema and her deposed son of Uriel III to be the last of Tiber Septim's true blood and under that principle lead raids against Imperial interests in the province.

Under the Imperial Simulacrum of Jagar Tharn, cold animosities between the kingdoms of Skyrim and their neighbors in High Rock and Hammerfell were fanned into the fire of war. Upon the true Emperor's return to his throne, this war ended, but not before Skyrim had reasserted itself on territory it had not held since the 1st Era.

Current Events

The War of Bend'r-Mahk increased the territory that is considered Skyrim considerably, allowing the Nordic counts to swallow up many miles of eastern High Rock and Hammerfell. Resistance by the Bretons and the Redguards is feeble in the cities of Jehenna and Elinhir, and more active in the border zones of the countryside. The city-state of Dragonstar continues to be divided into western and eastern sections, walled off from one another, each with its own government, and each with an atmosphere of mistrust and fear. There are few days without an act of terror from one resistance group or another, though, so far little territory has changed hands since the days of the Imperial Simulacrum.

Solitude, always one of the richest and most influential counties in Skyrim, has grown ever more powerful, controlling much of the northern coastline following King Thian's alliance by marriage with Macalla, the Queen of Dawnstar. It has sought to expand its influence further by annexing several former Imperial fiefs, such as the island of Roscrea, ruled directly by the Emperor since Uriel V conquered it in the 271st year. It has begun sponsoring exploratory missions even farther from the mainland into the misty waters of the Sea of Ghosts.

Winterhold, Solitude's ancient rival, has also experienced a renaissance of power and influence. Refugees from Morrowind, far from burdening the eastern city, have brought with them new ideas, enriching her culture and stimulating its old mercantile spirit. Scholars from all over Tamriel have descended on the county since it became home to the Ysmir Collective, a library rescued from destruction in the east, and the cornerstone of academic life at the College of Winterhold.

Hrothgar and Whiterun have not been as fortunate as their coastal northern cousins. A dynastic feud, attacks by Hörme bandits and frost trolls, and a series of annihilating winters of alternating floods, droughts, and fires has crippled the area that was once considered the Imperial City of Skyrim. The population blamed and then curiously exalted the leader of the local witches' coven, Jsashe, a self-proclaimed priestess of Lorkhan. The Witch-Queen of Whiterun, as she is called, now wields effective control of the county, though her magic has not brought it prosperity as of yet.

The Seat of Sundered Kings: Cyrodiil

Imperial Geographical Society

Map of Cyrodiil

Like the diamond in the center of the Amulet of Kings, Cyrodiil is the heart of the Septim Empire and Tamriel. Still largely forested and almost landlocked, the beauty of the land has been sung of since time immemorial. Three Empires have wielded their power from the strategic center of the continent, so it is little wonder that Cyrodiil is widely known simply as The Imperial Province.


The early Aldmeri settlers to Tamriel established strongholds on the islands of Summerset and along the coasts, but did not venture far inland. Only oral histories and the fragmented ballad of Topal the Pilot offer glimpses of the ancient beast races that inhabited the land, but they are shadowy, mist-drawn portraits of time before reckoning. It is not until the coming of the Ayleid that Cyrodilic history truly begins.

Imperial RaceThe Ayleids were ancient Aldmer, cousins of all the elven races that exist to this day. Over time, they became a distinct people, crafting a civilization whose ruins still puzzle and fascinate modern archeologists and adventurers. The ancient Nedic people, spreading south from Skyrim, became the slave labor for their ambitions, centered around the White Gold Tower.

The slave rebellion of Alessia in the 242nd year of the First Era is a seminal event in the history of Cyrodiil, and all of Tamriel. While humans and Elves had been battling in Skyrim for some time and the Slave Queen's revolt could not be called the first victory of men over mer, it represents a turning point in the continental power structure. The heart of Tamriel was going to belong to these former slaves, present day Cyrodilics or Imperials, forever more.

With the aid of the Nords of Skyrim, the Cyrodilics consolidated their power, forming a loose alliance between the two sometimes disparate regions: the rich Nibenay Valley and the remote, rough Colovian Highlands. While the Alessian Empire continued to push westward towards the Direnni lands in High Rock, the greatest change was a cultural and religious one. The prophet Maruhk's teachings both brought identity to Cyrodiil, codifying the pantheon most civilized Tamriellians worship to this day, and brought conflict due to the more severe strictures he espoused.

The next great transformation of the land came from distinctly external forces. The foiled Akaviri invasion of 2703 brought about a new dynasty, and a new spirit of cooperation among independent nations, dedicated to fighting the common threat. Under the Emperor Reman I, Cyrodiil became truly cosmopolitan, incorporating aspects of High Rock, Colovia, Nibenay and the sophisticated if strange culture of the defeated Akaviri into a common whole. The Cyrodilic Empire, also called the Second Empire, began again the process of expansion, founding a strong single nation, if not actually succeeding in conquering the entire continent.

The assassination of Reman III and his son and heir Juilek at the end of the Four Score War with Morrowind marked the end of an era, if not the end of the Second Empire. Under the Akaviri Potentates, the system of governing continued to evolve throughout the Second Era, progresses that abruptly ended with the assassination of the last Potentate in the year 2E 430.

CyrodiilThe rest of the Second Era was a time of great darkness and chaos throughout Tamriel, nowhere moreso than in Cyrodiil. Without a central government, Nibenay and Colovia split apart, farms fell fallow, villages were left in ruin and the former Imperial highways became no man's land, the realm of bandit kings. The Imperial City itself became the prize for an endless series of would-be emperors, fought over for centuries until its glory was only a faded shadow of the great days when it ruled Tamriel.

The rise of Tiber Septim has been amply documented in the history, and in a hundred books besides. In Cyrodiil, his influence could not be overemphasized. He gave the land back its traditional power and more, and became the symbol of it. He founded the dynasty that reigns to this very day. Cyrodiil, of course, helped Tiber Septim as much as he helped it. It gave legitimacy and a sense of history to his legend, which grew even ahead of his conquests.

The Imperial City and Cyrodiil rose again in splendor, occasionally tarnished by the weakness of some of Septim's descendants, the war of the Red Diamond and the Imperial Simulacrum, but never again did it loose its luster.

Current Events

The Imperial Province has continued to be the stable heart of the Empire, offering a model to its satellites of a government that settles disputes by diplomacy, not by force of arms. The recent marriage of Lady Alessia, daughter of the Countess of Chorrol to Count Marius Caro of Leyawiin typifies this, a perfect blend of love and sound political judgement.

Nevertheless, there have been a few frightening moments in Cyrodiil in the recent years. A suspected outbreak of the Knahaten Plague, a threat for the first time in hundreds of years, sparked panic along the southern border with Black Marsh. It was revealed to be a hoax, perhaps created by Argonians fighting back against Imperial excursions led by the Blackwood Company, and the fear was dissipated. Family strife in Kvatch claimed the lives of both sons of Count Haderus Goldwine, vying for the inheritance. While peace has been restored, the Count, at the time of this writing is still in mourning and has not designated a new heir.

In the Imperial Court, there is thankfully no such tragedy. While the Emperor chose not to remarry following the Empress death more than fifty years ago, she left to him three healthy boys who have spent their adult years learning the arts of politics from their masterful liege and father. Crown Prince Geldall has already taken many of Uriel's responsibilities, and has impressed one and all with his acumen. As the heart of the Empire is solid, all of Tamriel is strong.

All the Eras of Man, A Comprehensive History of Our History

Imperial Geographical Society

What follows is only a brief overview of what has preceded this time, for those who lack even a basic knowledge of the prehistory and history of Tamriel. Those who find their appetites whetted will be no doubt avail themselves of the many fine works of history in the libraries and bookshops of the Empire

The Elder Wilds

Eras of ManHistory, of course, begins with creation. Sadly, all the objectivity and solid evidence we require of other events in our records must be dismissed at this early point. Within each province, each culture, each religion, each family there exists a different understanding of how this world came to be. It defines us, this belief in where we came from, and the Imperial Geographic Society prefers to leave that to you, gentle reader.

That said, one persistent story that is accepted by many cultures is that as the world congealed into reality, the Gods made a great tower to discuss how best to proceed with the making of Mundus. The physical, temporal, spiritual, and magical elements of Nirn were set at this Convention, and the tower itself remained behind even as some of the Gods disappeared into Aetherius. Today it is the Adamantine Tower on the little island of Balfiera between High Rock and Hammerfell in the Iliac Bay. That such a humanoid structure remains the sole footprint of the Aedra speaks perhaps of the essentially mortal nature of our world.

It is generally understood that neither proto-elves, or Aldmer, nor the proto-men, or Nedics, lived in Tamriel during the earliest years of creation. The Hist trees of Black Marsh, most say, were the original life forms on our continent, followed by the progenitors of the modern Khajiit, the modern Argonian, the modern Sload, the modern Dreugh, and other "beast folk," some now gone our land, some so shy or rare that their presence is seldom detected.

In what historian called the Merethic (or Mythic) Era, the years before formal historical reckoning, the Aldmer came to Tamriel from the legendary mysterious land called Old Ehlnofey or Aldmeris. They settled in Summerset Isle, and then began to spread out eastward. The Nedic people meanwhile came from the frozen land of Atmora to the north to what is today Skyrim. Where elves and men met, inevitably, there was hostility.

The Aldmer changed over time culturally according to their new environments, being at first temperamentally and then physically very distinct "races" separate from one another. The ones who stayed in Summerset became known as the Altmer; in Valenwood, Bosmer; in Morrowind, Chimer and Dwemer; in Cyrodiil, Ayleid; and in High Rock, a mix between Nedic and Aldmer birthed the Bretons. The Orsimer or Orcs were also created at this time; Altmer warped by the destruction of their leader Trinimac, who it is said became the Daedra Prince Malacath. This disparate chorus may have been crafted consciously by the Daedra or by the shifts of the earthbones, but the reason why is not necessary for this history. Change they did.

The Nedic people also changed over the centuries of their invasion from Atmora. The original Nedics of Skyrim are known as the Nords. The ones who crossed west to High Rock, as we have said, interbred with the aldmer there to create the Bretons, who are most commonly considered men, not mer. The Nedics who crossed south became the Cyrodiils, eventually the prisoners and slaves of the bellicose Ayleids of that region.

The First Era

The First Era

We begin counting time forward at the founding of the Camoran Dynasty in Valenwood. It is perhaps an arbitrary starting date, but Dynasty (discussed in the section on Valenwood below) and King Eplear himself were visionaries of the civilizations to come. In the center of Tamriel, the Ayleids were creating an empire of their own with Cyrodilic slaves; while to the north, the Nords began to unite into a common whole that was to be called Skyrim.

The Nordic influence on their southern cousins was equally dramatic, inspiring the Cyrodiils to revolt against their Ayleid masters, under the banner of Alessia, former slave turned queen. The Alessian Empire of Cyrodiil was born in 1E 243. The expansionist Nord also harried the kingdoms of the Dwemer and Chimer in Resdayn, which is today called Morrowind. Eventually, in response, the embattled clans formed their own alliance with the Dwemer king Dumac and the Chimer king Nerevar ruling jointly in 1E 416.

In a few hundred years, however, the alliance between Dwemer and Chimer disintegrated into bloody battle, the War of the First Council. The aftermath of the war is legendary: the Dwemer were vanquished into extinction, and the Chimer were transformed into the red-eyed dark-skinned Dunmer.

Together with the Nords, the Alessians turned their eyes west towards the fertile land of High Rock, ruled by the hated elves. For much of the First Era, the west was disputed land, until the Bretons rose as the empires, too extended, fell back.

The Ra Gada, or "Warrior Wave," from Yokuda arrived in Volenfell to the west in 1E 808, conquering the land and renaming it Hammerfell. Once settled, the Ra Gada, or Redguards, joined with the Breton kingdoms in destroying an empire in its infancy, the Orcish homeland of Orsinium.

As the various Tamrielic cultures battled one another, there were threats beyond its shores. The Thrassian Plague from the Sloads washed over the land, decimating the population from coast to coast. The Tsaesci of Akavir preferred a more straightforward attack, invading Tamriel in 1E 2703, only to be defeated by the Cyrodilic emperor Reman I.

The death of the Emperor Reman III in 1E 2920 left the Cyrodilic Empire with no heirs. The reigns of power were ably taken up by Reman's Akaviri chancellor, whose ancestors had entered the Imperial service after their defeat by Reman I. Thus began the line of Akaviri Potentates at the opening of the Second Era, who continued to rule the Cyrodilic Empire until its demise more that four centuries later.


The Second Era

The Second Era

The Cyrodilic Empire continued to be a force of great power for the first four hundred and thirty years under the rule of the Akaviri Potentates. Though alien to our culture, they established some of the great traditions of our land, granting charters to organizations such as Mages and Fighters Guilds. Another sign of peace and prosperity occurred in the year 2E 309, when Elsweyr was created by the unison of two Khajiit tribelands, Anequina and Pellitine.

When the last Potentate, Savirien-Chorak, was assassinated in 2E 430, leaving no heirs, the great Empire was finally destroyed. Black Marsh forcibly split from the lands of men, as the Knahaten Plague made the land uninhabitable by all but the Argonians themselves. Akavir once again invaded Tamriel, barely rebuffed after attacking Morrowind in 2E 572. From one end of the continent to the other, war and rebellion struck at the heart of every great tradition of the land.

The first sign of reunification occurred in the west. The Altmer of Summerset, long concerned with their own wars with other island kingdoms, allied with Valenwood to form the Aldmeri Dominion for their common good. Still greater, however, was the force that rose from the ancient seat of emperors, Cyrodiil. A great general, Talos, liegeless after his lord's assassination, began his career as the greatest conqueror in the history of the land.

Better known by his Cyrodilic name, Tiber Septim and his armies conquered all of Tamriel, creating the Empire that bears name even today, and ushering in the Third Era.


The Third Era

The Third Era

Mountain TowerFor thirty-eight years, the Emperor Tiber Septim reigned, bequeathing the throne of Tamriel to his grandson Pelagius on his deathbed. The Septim family, occasionally inclusive of adopted and married members, has ruled ever since.

Within a few generations, however, the family had begun to develop rivalries and jealousies which exploded into a civil war in the year 3E 120. The War of the Red Diamond ended with the death of Uriel III and his mother Queen Potema of Solitude, but its reverberations may still be felt today. The unity of Empire was never again to be assumed.

The Emperors who followed, such as the Sheogorath-kissed Pelagius III, yielded to the authority of the Elder Council to keep some semblance of order in the land. It was only too evident what occurred when the Empire was without a strong leader. In the most horrible example, the people of Valenwood, the Colovian West, and Hammerfell suffered under the depredations of the Camoran Usurper, who ravaged their land with unded and Daedric hordes for nearly twenty years before his defeat in 3E 267.

Beginning with the Empress Morihatha, however, the rulers of Tamriel have been extraordinarily strong and capable. This has not meant that the last one hundred and twenty years have been the most peaceful in Tamriel's history, utterly devoid of bloodshed, merely that the wars and troubles of our recent past are a pale imitation of what has occurred before.

The most famous trouble of recent years came early in the reign of our current emperor, Uriel Septim VII. By wile and sorcery, his trusted battlemage Jagar Tharn imprisoned and impersonated his liege. The ten years that Tharn reigned, the so-called Imperial Simulacrum, was a time when old troubles resurfaced, forgotten grudges rekindled, and wars flared throughout the land. In the east, Morrowind attacked Black Marsh in the Arnesian War; in the north, Skyrim battled High Rock and Hammerfell in the War of Bend'r-Mahk; in the south, Elsweyr took arms against Valenwood in the Five Year War; in the west, Valenwood also lost land to its old ally Summerset in the War of the Blue Divide.

Yet all these troubles, and the even more recent bizarre circumstances in the Iliac Bat and Morrowind, paint only a picture with blood. In the year 3E 432, the year of this Guide's publication, the Empire stands strong and united. In the chapters that follow, a more detailed portrait of the history and current events of each Province is presented.

Cap'n Dugal's Journal

Captain Dugal

3E 286 or thereabouts

I’m findin' it unlikely that anyone will be findin' this journal, but if they do, know that here be written the last words of the great Captain Torradan ap Dugal, Scourge of the Abecean Sea, Terror of the Gold Coast, Cutthroat of Hunding Bay, and Lord Captain of the Red Sabre - the finest band o' buccaneers and pirates e'er to sail Tamriel.

I ain't a man with much use for words -- I ain't never been to no academys, and I ain’t never wrote no books. Words ain't never earned me no gold, so theys worthless to me - that's why ye have quartermasters and first mates. But I'm gonna be settin' my last thoughts down here on paper, cause I ain't got much time left here and it’s ev'ry old man’s right to have his words heard.

Now, me business was fightin', sailin', and lootin'. I became a leader of sailin' men, the most feared in hist'ry, or so they tells me. Now, b'fore ye be gettin ahead o' yerself, let me be warnin ye that me tale does not end well as I’m sure ya can see from wherever ye found me rotten bones in this gods cursed cavern.

I was born in a little town on the north coast o' Skyrim called Dunbarrow. Me mother was a wench and me father was a right bastard. The only thing that either of 'em e'er did fer me was doin' me the favor of sellin' me off to a sea cap'n when I were nine. That cap'n, he taught me e'ry thing I'd e'er need to know about sailin', and a few things about the rest too.

Ye see, he were a smuggler, an' he taught me all about smugglin' and avoidin' the Imperial Navy as he run the skooma route from Daggerfall to Vivec. Shame he were caught and hung. He were as close to a daddy as this ol' pirate e'er knew, closer n' that bastard what sold me off e'er were, that’s fer sure.

After the cap'n were hung, I got around Hammerfell a lot. Fell in with a few crews here an' there, an' after a time got myself hired on as midshipman on Cap'n Kaladas's rig. A' course, Kaladas was a drunkard and the damn fool ran his own ship a'ground in Anvil a'fore we could any real piratin' done. So embarrassed were he that he drank hisself to death in one of the pisshole taverns in this flat little seawater town.

So there I were, in a backwater port when the war against the Usurper broke out. I were out on hire with a rickety tub and her worthless rot of a cap'n when The Imperial Navy stole ev'ry private ship in port to go an' fight their war. We was comin' back in to dock when we heard about it. Now, only a fool doesn’t bite when he smells blood in the water and that cap'n o' ours was gonna hand his rudder over to the Navy. The rest of us, well, we didn’t so much like that.

We cut his throat and tossed his worthless carcass to the depths for Herm'us Mora to feast on. The rest of us put keel to this mudhole and broke for the nearest cove to lay low for a while.

Now, the thing that I learned about war is that it's profit'ble for just about everyone except for the poor bastards that actually have to go an' fight it. While the Navy were busy puttin’ down the rev'lution, they were too busy to worry about a bunch o' pirates runnin' up and down the Gold Coast. And even better for us, the Navy was needin' a stream of supplies up in High Rock to fight and dinna have the ships to escort 'em..

In case you don’t be knowin', cargo vessels without escort is a pirate's best friend.

In just a couple of years, I had ev'ry buccaneer from here to Valenwood flyin' under me flag. We had dozens of ships and crew and more men joined on e'ry day. Soldiers and sailors, castoffs from the war, escaped prisoners -- they were the best cutthroats and sons o' whores that a pirate cap'n could ever wish for. It brings a tear to me eye to think of 'em all.

But even better than the men were the ships: Captured navy cutters. Refitted priv'teer Galleons. Even had a few of them bosmer ships with the funny living sails in my fleet. The finest ship I saved for meself. “The Black Flag”. Ye'll find her rotting hull around here. She don't look like much now, but I can tell ye that in her day, there weren't no vessel she couldn't out run.

All these men and ships, we called ourselves the Red Sabre. The merchant ships called us death on the seas.

We gots to be so feared that most crews jus' abandoned ship when they seen our flag on the horizon. With no Navy to stop us, Captain Torradan ap Dugal and the Red Sabre was known all over the east.

Now, I ain't one to brag, but the empire had a bounty on me of forty thousand coins. Now that’s somthin' to be proud of. A' course, the poor bastards couldn't never collect on it. Anvil being the wretched den that it is - an mos' sailors there worked for me anyhow -- the Legion couldn’t never get no one to give me up.

I wish those days coulda lasted fore'er, but you know how it is, friend. Ain't nothing good can ever last.

I ain't got much time left. Sure, we had plenty of food down here. It lasted for years, but all this time in the wet and the dark, I got somethin' nasty growin' in me. What a terrible way to die -- not on the end of an enemy's cutless, but because of some damned sickness. No seafarin' man should die like this. At least I can still hear the water.

But I was tellin' the story of how I got mine, weren’t I?

I curse the day that the Cameron Usurper died at that war ended, 'cause it was that day that Commodore Fasil Umbranox turned 'is attention to the Red Sabre. A couple of months after the war, that fat pompuss bastard decided to come down here to Anvil and take up port in my town, lookin' to break up the Red Sabre. The Emporer gave him whatev'r he asked for to campaign again' us, despite the coffers bein' empty from the war in High Rock.

When Umbranox couldn't get what he needed from my men in Anvil, he set out lookin' all over the Abecean Sea for the Black Flag. There are hundreds of islands In the Abecean, and he landed a crew on each one. He rooted out my men when he could find them, hung those who weren't willin' to go peacefully and jailed those who laid down arms.

No matter for many ships and men it cost him, he kept comin' with more and more. We couldn't never get ahead of him and we couldn't never mount a counter attack. It took him four years and a hell of a lot of ships, but that sea rat finally tracked me down.

It were me own fault, anyway. If I never made the mistake I made, he'dve died before he found me. But a man has to stand up for his mistakes, no matter if it cost him. Besides, ain't like I’ll be foolin' ye, since yer likely starin' at me bones as yer readin' this.

Umbranox had his main force out of port followin' a lead that I planted. I set sail back to Anvil, hopin' to catch him off guard, capture the boats he left behind, and fight him with his own ships in Anvil Bay. Ha! Can you imagine the look on his pig's face if it'dve worked? I thought I’d finally get the whoreson to show his face in a proper fight. I shoulda known, but he had men waitin' there for me.

We fought like hell, but we were trapped in the bay. The Navy men set the town on fire to keep us from fleeing onto land. I’m sure that the fine citizens of Cyrodiil dinna weep for the torching of a town of thieves.

The main force of Imperial dogs held us until Umbranox showed up in his flagship. Umbranox fought me to the last ship and in the end, the Bay was filled with sunken and burning boats. If I weren’t fightin' for me life, I’dve probably thought it were beautiful. So, the Black Flag and Umbranox’s rickety tub were the only ones that were still floatin' and fightin' when dawn come. So, I did what any pirate with sense would do - I tried to run.

Now understand, I’m a right bastard in me own way. I'm a pirate, a murderer, a thief, and I certainly ain’t never believed in a fair fight. But there's a line and an unspoken code between sailin' men and Umbranox went too far. He had mages on his ship. Mages ain't never been allowed on my boats. They’re no good, bad luck, an' I don’t trust 'em. Turns out, I was right.

I cut across the south side of the bay, along the huge cliff wall that used to be there. I had me helmsman stay as close as he could to the cursed cliff. I could hear those mages from the deck of Umbranox's ship, yellin' some nonsense into the wind. A few rocks fell onto my deck, a few more, and then the whole bloody cliff came crashin’ down on top o' me.

Now, don't you worry, I didn't die just then. The cliff collapsed around the ship, makin' this damned cavern. Better the it just fell on us, but no. It sealed the Black Flag, her crew, and me under tons of rock.

We were buggered.

I seen my own blood more times than I cold ever count, but seein' the ragged mess that just come up out of me lungs just now is the only time I ev'r been afraid of it. I guess I should be gettin' to the last bit o' me story.

Me and me crew were trapped down here, never to see the light again or some rot. We tried diggin' out. We tried blastin' out. We tried callin' to the nines and the daedric princes for help. Nothin' worked. Some o' the men went crazy when we figured out that there were no gettin' out, but most of us just accepted what fate had dealt us. We made the hulk o' the Black Flag into the best home that we could and tried makin' a life of it down here.

We had plenty of stores with us and since most of the crew were killed in the fight, it was more than enough to go around. I will tell you though, that you ain't known suffering until you ate nothin' but hard rations for twenty-some years. All the pain I ever caused anyone has been paid back to me tenfold in havin' to eat the same filth every day for the whole time I been down here.

Then Grim died off.

Grim was the first and one by one, the boys had been droppin' off. They all got the same sickness I ended up with. We buried 'em when we could, threw 'em in the water when we didn't have strength to bury 'em. Finally, we jus' made 'em walk to the far side of the cavern a couple of days before the sickness ran its course.

I'm the last, an' I suppose that makes sense. The great cap'n Dugal, defeated by Fasil Umbranox and buried alive forever. I wonder what became of Anvil. Prob'lly let it burn and swept the ashes into the sea. Umbranox prob'lly went back to the Imperial City to pat himself on the back and be rewarded with lands an' titles.

Like I said way back in the beginnin', I don't expect nobody to ever read this but if by chance someone does find my carcass down here in this pit, do an old seaman a favor. Track down whatever descendents that fat old sack Umbranox may have and tell 'em that Torradan ap Dugal says hello.

Agnar's Journal

Agnar the Unwavering

Entry 1:

When I took on the role of Chieftain of Thirsk, when I accepted the beautiful Svenja Snow-Song as my advisor, and then my bride, I never imagined how quickly my life would change.

I went to the isle of Solstheim for some much needed rest, and found it in the mead-soaked halls of Thirsk. But when I met Svenja, my sweet Svenja, I became entangled in an epic story the likes of which I had only read about in fables and childrens' tales.

Svenja told me of the fateful night when a hideous creature known as the Uderfrykte attacked the mead hall, killing rampantly, leaving her the only survivor. The creature was slain by a champion, and Thirsk had its new chieftain, but it wasn't long before they moved on to some new challenge, some new adventure.

And that's where I entered the tale. Svenja Snow-Song, with her ice-blue eyes and flaxon hair, gained my love. Soon after, I became her husband...and the mead hall's new chieftain. In truth, I had never been happier. But Svenja, my dear wife, existed in quiet misery, constantly haunted by the memory of the Uderfrykte, and the damage it had wrought on the mead hall, and the people she had loved. Night after night, my dear woke up screaming, her face etched in horror and a single word issuing from her lips -- "Uderfrykte!"

I feared for my wife's sanity and happiness, but it was she who found a solution to her problem. As a warrior, she told me, she must confront her fear. She must defeat it. The Uderfrykte was dead, yes, but where did it come from? Was it unique? Would more of the creatures come, and wreak havoc once again? Would I, her loving husband, be killed? And so she corresponded with explorers and researchers all across Tamriel, until she found the answer she had been looking for. The Uderfrykte was in fact NOT unique, but the offspring of an ancient Uderfrykte Matron. In order to end the nightmares, in order to prevent any more destruction, we would need to hunt down and kill the Uderfrykte Matron, no matter where or how.

Entry 2:

By Ysmir, we've been searching. And searching. And searching some more. But finally it came -- the lucky break we had been hoping for. The creature has been spotted by a shepherd in the remote highlands of Skyrim!

Entry 3:

We found its trail and tracked it for days, crossing the border into the Imperial Province. Here in the frigid mountains, we met with a local hunter who tried to warn us away from the area, citing an old legend about a deadly creature known as the Horror of Dive Rock -- a monster credited with the slaying of over a dozen people, and just as much cattle. Could this creature be the very Uderfrykte Matron we seek? Perhaps, unlike its child on Solstheim, the Matron moves from location to location, and its this mobility that has thus far prevented its killing or capture?

Entry 4:

we have made camp at Dive Rock, reportedly the highest natural observation point in all of Cyrodiil. From here we can see for miles! So we'll keep watch, night and day. We're close, so very close. Svenja and I can feel it in our very bones. Indeed, Svenja has always been particularly in tune with such things, and is convinced the Uderfrykte Matron is close.

Entry 5:

Svenja has grown tired of my constant writing, but this journal will serve as a record of our travels and defeat against the Uderfrykte. She's staring at me angrily, impatiently, right now as I write, but this entry is too important -- finally, on this third day of watching, we've spotted it -- the Uderfrykte Matron! It is unlike anything we have ever lain eyes on, a giant, troll-like beast that seems to waver and shimmer in the cold -- like the feral form of winter itself! We're off now to trudge down the mountain, weapons in hand, and give the Horror of Dive Rock its due!

Entry 6:

Failure and horror! We engaged the monster with all the force we could muster, but it was a travesty beyond comprehension. Svenja... My beautiful Svenja! My dear wife was killed instantly, consumed by the beast nearly whole! And though it shames me now to write these words, I could think of nothing more at the time than escape. I took flight, returning here to our camp on Dive Rock, to collect my thoughts and nerve.

I haven't much time. After this quick entry I will march out and meet the Uderfrykte Matron once more -- it is sure to track me back to this campsite anyway, so our confrontation is inevitable. Can I even hope to defeat this monstrosity? One thing is certain -- Svenja and I came hastily, unprepared. My steel axe? Useless. My dear wife's Frostwyrm Bow? Completely ineffective (and swallowed whole, still in Svenja's hand...).

The beast appears to be a creature of the cold, and is likely nearly completely resistant to it. I would attack with fire if I had any on hand. But there is no time. No time to travel to a mages guild and procure an enchanted blade, or hire the services of a sorceror. My steel axe will have to do. And so I return to battle now, and hope beyond hope that I may slay the wretched monster that has brought so much grief to so many people. And if not, I take comfort in knowing I will soon rejoin my beautiful bride in the gilded halls of Sovngarde.

If someone is reading this hastily written journal, I am likely dead, and pray to Ysmir that you have had more luck against the creature than I.

Agnar the Unwavering,

Chieftain of Thirsk

Disaster at Ionith

Lord Pottreid, Chairman

Part I: Preparations

The Emperor's plans for the invasion of Akavir were laid in the 270s, when he began the conquest of the small island kingdoms that lie between Tamriel and Akavir. With the fall of Black Harbor in Esroniet in 282, Uriel V was already looking ahead to the ultimate prize. He immediately ordered extensive renovations to the port, which would serve as the marshalling point for the invasion force and as the main supply source throughout the campaign. At this time he also began the construction of the many large, ocean-going transports that would be needed for the final crossing to Akavir, in which the Navy was previously deficient. Thus it can be seen that the Emperor's preparations for the invasion were laid well in advance, before even the conquest of Esroniet was complete, and was not a sudden whim as some have charged.

When Prince Bashomon yielded Esroniet to Imperial authority in 284, the Emperor's full attention could be devoted to planning for the Akaviri campaign. Naval expeditions were dispatched in 285 and 286 to scout the sea lanes and coastlands of Akavir; and various Imperial intelligence agents, both magical and mundane, were employed to gather information. On the basis of all this information, the kingdom of the Tsaesci, in the southwest of Akavir, was selected as the initial target for the invasion.

Meanwhile the Emperor was gathering his Expeditionary Force. A new Far East Fleet was created for the campaign, which for a time dwarfed the rest of the Navy; it is said to be the most powerful fleet ever assembled in the history of Tamriel. The Fifth, Seventh, Tenth, and Fourteenth Legions were selected for the initial landing, with the Ninth and Seventeenth to follow as reinforcements once the beachhead was secured. While this may seem to the layman a relatively small fraction of the Army's total manpower, it must be remembered that this Expeditionary Force would have to be maintained at the end of a long and tenuous supply line; in addition, the Emperor and the Army command believed that the invasion would not be strongly opposed, at least at first. Perhaps most crucially, the Navy had only enough heavy transport capacity to move four legions at a time.

It should be noted here that the Commission does not find fault with the Emperor's preparations for the invasion. Based on the information available prior to the invasion, (which, while obviously deficient in hindsight, great effort had been made to accumulate), the Commission believes that the Emperor did not act recklessly or imprudently. Some have argued that the Expeditionary Force was too small. The Commission believes that on the contrary, even if shipping could have been found to transport and supply more legions (an impossibility without crippling the trade of the entire Empire), this would have merely added to the scale of the disaster; it would not have averted it. Neither could the rest of the Empire be denuded of legions; the memory of the Camoran Usurper was still fresh, and the Emperor believed (and this Commission agrees) that the security of the Empire precluded a larger concentration of military force outside of Tamriel. If anything, the Commission believes that the Expeditionary Force was too large. Despite the creation of two new legions during his reign (and the recreation of the Fifth), the loss of the Expeditionary Force left the Empire in a dangerously weak position relative to the provinces, as the current situation makes all too clear. This suggests that the invasion of Akavir was beyond the Empire's current strength; even if the Emperor could have fielded and maintained a larger force in Akavir, the Empire may have disintegrated behind him.

Part II: The Invasion of Akavir

The Expeditionary Force left Black Harbor on 23rd Rain's Hand, 288, and with fair weather landed in Akavir after six weeks at sea. The landing site was a small Tsaesci port at the mouth of a large river, chosen for its proximity to Tamriel as well as its location in a fertile river valley, giving easy access to the interior as well as good foraging for the army. All went well at first. The Tsaesci had abandoned the town when the Expeditionary Force approached, so they took possession of it and renamed it Septimia, the first colony of the new Imperial Province of Akavir. While the engineers fortified the town and expanded the port facilities to serve the Far East Fleet, the Emperor marched inland with two legions. The surrounding land was reported to be rich, well-watered fields, and meeting no resistance the army took the next city upriver, also abandoned. This was refounded as Ionith, and the Emperor established his headquarters there, being much larger than Septimia and better-located to dominate the surrounding countryside.

The Expeditionary Force had yet to meet any real resistance, although the legions were constantly shadowed by mounted enemy patrols which prevented any but large scouting parties from leaving the main body of the army. One thing the Emperor sorely lacked was cavalry, due to the limited space on the transport fleet, although for the time being the battlemages made up for this with magical reconnaissance.

The Emperor now sent out envoys to try to contact the Tsaesci king or whoever ruled this land, but his messengers never returned. In retrospect, the Commission believes that valuable time was wasted in this effort while the army was stalled at Ionith, which could have been better spent in advancing quickly while the enemy was still, apparently, surprised by the invasion. However, the Emperor believed at the time that the Tsaesci could be overawed by the Empire's power and he might win a province by negotiation with no need for serious fighting.

Meanwhile, the four legions were busy building a road between Septimia and Ionith, setting up fortified guard posts along the river, and fortifying both cities' defences, activities which would serve them well later. Due to their lack of cavalry, scouting was limited, and communication between the two cities constantly threatened by enemy raiders, with which the legions were still unable to come to grips.

The original plan had been to bring the two reinforcing legions across as soon as the initial landing had secured a port, but the fateful decision was now taken to delay their arrival and instead begin using the Fleet to transport colonists. The Emperor and the Council agreed that, due to the complete abandonment of the conquered area by its native population, colonists were needed to work the fields so that the Expeditionary Force would not have to rely entirely on the fleet for supplies. In addition, unrest had broken out in Yneslea, athwart the supply route to Akavir, and the Council believed the Ninth and Seventeenth legions would be better used in repacifying those territories and securing the Expeditionary Force's supply lines.

The civilian colonists and their supplies began arriving in Septimia in mid-Hearthfire, and they took over the preparation of the fields (which had been started by the legionnaires) for a spring crop. A number of cavalry mounts were also brought over at this time, and the raids on the two Imperial colonies subsequently fell off. Tsaesci emissaries also finally arrived in Ionith, purportedly to begin peace negotiations, and the Expeditionary Force settled in for what was expected to be a quiet winter.

At this time, the Council urged the Emperor to return to Tamriel with the Fleet, to deal with many pressing matters of the Empire while the army was in winter quarters, but the Emperor decided that it would be best to remain in Akavir. This turned out to be fortunate, because a large portion of the Fleet, including the Emperor's flagship, was destroyed by an early winter storm during the homeward voyage. The winter storm season of 288-289 was unusually prolonged and exceptionally severe, and prevented the Fleet from returning to Akavir as planned with additional supplies. This was reported to the Emperor via battlemage and it was agreed that the Expeditionary Force could survive on what supplies it had on hand until the spring.

Part III: The Destruction of the Expeditionary Force

The winter weather in Akavir was also much more severe than expected. Due to the supply problems and the addition of thousands of civilians, the Expeditionary Force was on tight rations. To make matters worse, the Tsaesci raiders returned in force and harried any foraging and scouting parties outside the walls of the two cities. Several watch forts on the road between Septimia and Ionith were captured during blizzards, and the rest had to be abandoned as untenable. As a result, communication between the two cities had to be conducted entirely by magical means, a continuing strain on the legions' battlemages.

On 5th Sun's Dawn, a large entourage of Tsaesci arrived at Ionith claiming to bring a peace offer from the Tsaesci king. That night, these treacherous envoys murdered the guards at one of the city gates and let in a strong party of their comrades who were waiting outside the city walls. Their clear intention was to assassinate the Emperor, foiled only by the vigilance and courage of troopers of the Tenth who were guarding his palace. Once the alarm was raised, the Tsaesci inside the city were hunted down and killed to the last man. Needless to say, this was the end of negotiations between the Emperor and the Tsaesci.

The arrival of spring only brought worse troubles. Instead of the expected spring rains, a hot dry wind began to blow from the east, continuing with varying strength through the entire summer. The crops failed, and even the river (which in the previous year had been navigable by small boats far upstream of Ionith) was completely dried up by Sun's Height. It is unknown if this was due to a previously unknown weather pattern unique to Akavir, or if the Tsaesci manipulated the weather through magical means. The Commission leans towards the former conclusion, as there is no direct evidence of the Tsaesci possessing such fearsome arcane power, but the latter possibility cannot be entirely ruled out.

Due to prolonged bad weather, the supply fleet was late in setting out from Black Harbor. It finally left port in early Second Seed, but was again severely mauled by storms and limped into Septimia eight weeks later much reduced. Because of the increasingly desperate supply situation in Akavir, the Emperor dispatched most of his Battlemage Corps with the fleet to assist it in weathering the storms which seemed likely to continue all summer. At this time, the Council urged the Emperor to abandon the invasion and to return to Tamriel with the Expeditionary Force, but he again refused, noting that the fleet was no longer large enough to transport all four legions at once. The Commission agrees that leaving one or more legions behind in Akavir to await the return of the fleet would have damaged Army morale. But the Commission also notes that the loss of one legion would have been preferable to the loss of the entire Expeditionary Force. It is the unanimous opinion of the Commission that this was the last point at which complete disaster might have been averted. Once the decision was made to send the fleet back for reinforcements and supplies, events proceeded to their inevitable conclusion.

From this point on, much less is known about what transpired in Akavir. With most of the battlemages assisting the fleet, communication between the Expeditionary Force and Tamriel was limited, especially as the situation in Akavir worsened and the remaining battlemages had their powers stretched to the limit attending to all the needs of the legions. However, it appears that the Tsaesci may also have been actively interfering with the mages in some unknown manner. Some of the mages in Akavir reported their powers being abnormally weak, and the mages of the War College in Cyrodiil (who were handling communications for the Council) reported problems linking up with their compatriots in Akavir, even between master and pupil of long training. The Commission urges that the War College make a particular study of the arcane powers of the Tsaesci, should the Empire ever come into conflict with Akavir again.

What is known is that the Emperor marched out of Ionith in mid-Sun's Height, leaving only small garrisons to hold the cities. He had learned that the Tsaesci were massing their forces on the other side of a mountain range to the north, and he intended to smash their army before it could gather full strength and capture their supplies (of which he was in desperate need). This rapid advance seems to have taken the Tsaesci by surprise, and the Expeditionary Force crossed the mountains and fell on their camp, routing the Tsaesci army and capturing its leader (a noble of some kind). But the Emperor was soon forced to retreat, and the legions suffered heavily on their retreat to Ionith. The Emperor now found himself besieged in Ionith, cut off from the small garrison at Septimia which was also besieged. By this time, it seems that the efforts of the few remaining battlemages were devoted entirely to creating water to keep the army alive, a skill not normally emphasized at the War College. The fleet had arrived safely back to Black Harbor, thanks to the Battlemage Corps, but all attempts to return to Akavir were frustrated by a series of ever more savage storms that battered Esroniet throughout the rest of 289.

The Council's last contact with the Emperor was in early Frostfall. By Evening Star, the Council was extremely worried about the situation in Akavir and ordered the fleet to sail regardless of the risk. Despite the continued storms, the fleet managed to press on to Akavir. Hope was raised when contact was made with the Emperor's battlemage, who reported that Ionith still held out. Plans were quickly laid for the Expeditionary Force to break out of Ionith and fall back on Septimia, where the fleet would meet them. This was the last direct contact with the Expeditionary Force. The fleet arrived in Septimia to find its garrison under savage assault from a large Tsaesci army. The battlemages with the fleet threw back the enemy long enough for the survivors to embark and the fleet to withdraw.

The few survivors of the Expeditionary Force who reached Septimia told how the Emperor had led the army out of Ionith by night two days earlier, succesfully breaking through the enemy lines but then being surrounded by overwhelming forces on the road to Septimia. They told of a heroic last stand by the Emperor and the Tenth Legion, which allowed a remnant of the Fourteenth to reach Septimia. Two survivors of the Tenth arrived in Septimia that night, having slipped through the enemy lines during their undisciplined victory celebration. These men confirmed having seen the Emperor die, cut down by enemy arrows as he rallied the Tenth's shield wall.

Part IV: Conclusion

The Commission believes that the invasion of Akavir was doomed from the start for several reasons, none of which could have been foreseen beforehand, unfortunately.

Despite extensive intelligence-gathering, the Expeditionary Force was clearly unprepared for the situation in Akavir. The unexpected weather which plagued the army and navy was particularly disastrous. Without the loss of a majority of the Far East Fleet during the campaign, the Expeditionary Force could have been withdrawn in 289. The weather also forced the Emperor to assign most of his Battlemage Corps to the fleet, leaving him without their valuable assistance during the fighting which soon followed. And of course the unexpected drought which struck Ionith during 289 dashed the hopes of supplying the army locally, and left the Expeditionary Force in an untenable situation when besieged in Ionith.

The Tsaesci were also much stronger than intelligence reports had suggested. Information on the size of the army the Tsaesci were eventually able to field against the Expeditionary Force is vague, as the only serious fighting took place after regular communications were cut off between the Emperor and the Council. Nevertheless, it seems likely that the Tsaesci outnumbered the Emperor's forces by several times, as they were able to force four crack legions into retreat and then keep them under siege for several months.

As was stated previously, the Commission declines to criticize the initial decision to invade Akavir. Based on what was known at the time, the plan seemed sound. It is only with the benefit of hindsight does it become obvious that the invasion had very little chance of success. Nevertheless, the Commission believes several valuable lessons can be taken from this disaster.

First, the Tsaesci may have extremely powerful arcane forces at their command. The possibility that they may have manipulated the weather across such a vast region seems incredible (and it should be noted that three Commissioners strongly objected to this paragraph even being included in this Report), but the Commission believes that this matter deserves urgent investigation. The potential danger is such that even the slight possibility must be taken seriously.

Second, the Tsaesci appear to possess no navy to speak of. The Expeditionary Force was never threatened by sea, and the Far East Fleet fought nothing but the weather. Indeed, initial plans called for a portion of the Fleet to remain in Akavir for use in coastal operations, but in the event there were very few places where the large vessels of the Fleet could approach the land, due to the innumerable reefs, sandbars, islands, etc. that infested the coastal waters north and south from Septimia. Due to the utter lack of trees in the plain around Septimia and Ionith, the Expeditionary Force was unable to build smaller vessels which could have navigated the shallow coastal waters. Any future military expeditions against Akavir would do well to consider some way of bringing a means for inshore naval operations in order to exploit this clear advantage over the Tsaesci, an advantage that was sadly unexploited by the Expeditionary Force.

Third, much longer-term study needs to be made of Akavir before another invasion could even be contemplated. The information gathered over the four years prior to the invasion was extensive, but clearly inadequate. The weather conditions were completely unexpected; the Tsaesci much stronger than expected; and the attempted negotiations by the Emperor with the Tsaesci a disaster. Akavir proved alien beyond expectation, and the Commission believes any future attempt to invade Akavir should not be contemplated without much greater knowledge of the conditions, politics, and peoples of that continent than presently obtains.

Finally, the Commission unanimously concludes that given what we now know, any attempt to invade Akavir is folly, at least in the present state of the Empire. The Empire's legions are needed at home. One day, a peaceful, united Empire will return to Akavir and exact severe retribution for the disaster at Ionith and for our fallen Emperor. But that day is not now, nor in the foreseeable future.

The Warp in the West

Ulvius Tero

A Report Compiled By Ulvius Tero, Blades Archivist

* Secret: For Your Eyes Only *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Report of Hammerfell Agent 'Briarbird'

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

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

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

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


The Report of High Rock Agent 'Graylady'

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

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

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

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


The Report of Ambassador Lord Naigon Strale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Current Political Affairs in the Iliac Bay

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Common Tongue


[This broadsheet is a newsletter copied on cheap paper, featuring sensational events in the city of Mournhold. One article describes a list of individuals who died under suspicious circumstances when their interests conflicted with those of 'a former prince of the West'. The reference is clearly King Helseth, King of Morrowind, formerly Prince Helseth of the kingdom of Wayrest in the province of High Rock.]

"A poet can have no higher purpose than to tell the truth about the human condition." -- Lord Vivec


I have a little list. They never would be missed.

Appearing at the top -- three names... Anhar, Khajiit male -- Martyrius Arruntius, Imperial male -- Jusole Asciele, Breton male. What do these three names have in common?

All three at one time or another represented an inconvenience to a Western noble prince named Helseth.

Anhar was an agent for Eastern ebony merchants. There was an unfortunate scandal concerning improper contracts offered to Helseth as compensation for his assistance in obtaining ebony import remits from the Imperial Board of Census and Excise. Luckily for Prince Helseth, this scandal blew over when no one could be found to testify. Is it just a coincidence that Anhar's health went into a steep decline, just as he was to testify before the Imperial magistrates? He died a natural death, according to the Imperial coroners. Convenient and timely, perhaps, but natural.

Martyrius Arruntius was a city alderman of Wayrest. Prince Helseth's liaison with the alderman's married daughter was potentially embarrassing to the Prince -- especially when Martyrius Arruntius forcefully pressed his suit for 'predatory adultery' in Wayrest's courts. Many thought it strange that Martyrius Arruntius should suddenly fall ill and die of 'exhaustion' on the eve of the trial. The suit was settled out of court, and charges dismissed. The Imperial coroners ruled that Martyrius Arruntius had died a natural death. Convenient and timely, admittedly, but natural.

Jusole Asciele was a diplomatic attache at the High Rock embassy in Wayrest. Widely rumored to be an intelligence officer, Jusole Asciele was often seen at court, taking a great interest in the affairs of Queen Barenziah and her family. It is said that Wayrest can be a beastly uncomfortable place in high summer. Perhaps the Breton's constitution was ill-suited to the relentless heat and pestilential swarms of the southern Iliac. Jusole Asciele took suddenly ill one evening, and within three days he was dead. Once again, Imperial coroners ruled that Jusole Asciele had died a natural death. Convenient and timely, yes, but natural.

And these, The Common Tongue notes significantly, are only the 'A's on the list.

Some have quietly suggested that Prince Helseth was the most accomplished and subtle poisoner in the West. But The Common Tongue has never seen a single scrap of evidence that would prove such an indictment. [Admittedly, the absence of such proof could count as qualifying towards the title of a 'most accomplished and subtle poisoner'.]

And, further, The Common Tongue does not wish to suggest that King Helseth is a poisoner, or that the recent death of King Athyn Llethan's was a poisoning, and not a natural death. The Common Tongue has never seen a single scrap of evidence that would prove such an indictment. And the Imperial coroners have ruled that Athyn Llethan died a natural death.

Handwritten Letter

Bedal Alen

[Addressed outside: "To my honorable cousin Forven Berano, be this delivered in haste"]


I cannot agree. I am a merchant, and have no skill at arms. You are a noble, and in your prime were proven on practice and tournament grounds -- though, in truth, you have never fought a duel, and have few gifts as a liar. No one can doubt Hloggar the Bloody's aptitude and enthusiasm for mayhem, but he is not a subtle man, more suited for a brawl or battlefield than an assassin's role.

And we cannot trust the Dark Brotherhood. Helseth owns them. They promise discretion, but their promises are worthless.

I am afraid we must approach the Morag Tong. I agree with you. They will probably refuse. But at least they can be trusted to be discreet.

If, in the end, we are forced to choose among ourselves, I fear it must be you. And we will have to wrack our brains for some plausible pretext that will get you into Helseth's presence.

I am disappointed, though not surprised, at lack of public outcry over Athyn's murder. The popular sentiment seems to be to avoid personal risk and accept Helseth. It's short-sighted, but understandable. I have noted, however, that the writer of THE COMMON TONGUE is sympathetic to our cause, clever and eloquent. He may be able to sway opinion. We should try to identify this fellow and try to bring him into our counsels.

your faithful servant,
Bedal Alen

A Short History of Morrowind

Jeanette Sitte

[from the Introduction]

Led by the legendary prophet Veloth, the ancestors of the Dunmer, exiles from Altmer cultures in present-day Summerset Isle, came to the region of Morrowind. In earliest times the Dunmer were harassed or dominated by Nord sea raiders. When the scattered Dunmer tribes consolidated into the predecessors of the modern Great House clans, they threw out the Nord oppressors and successfully resisted further incursions.

The ancient ancestor worship of the tribes was in time superseded by the monolithic Tribunal Temple theocracy, and the Dunmer grew into a great nation called Resdayn. Resdayn was the last of the provinces to submit to Tiber Septim; like Black Marsh, it was never successfully invaded, and was peacefully incorporated by treaty into the Empire as the Province of Morrowind.

Almost four centuries after the coming of the Imperial Legions, Morrowind is still occupied by Imperial legions, with a figurehead Imperial King, though the Empire has reserved most functions of the traditional local government to the Ruling Councils of the Five Great Houses....

[on Vvardenfell District]

In 3E 414, Vvardenfell Territory, previously a Temple preserve under Imperial protection, was reorganized as an Imperial Provincial District. Vvardenfell had been maintained as a preserve administrated by the Temple since the Treaty of the Armistice, and except for a few Great House settlements sanctioned by the Temple, Vvardenfell was previously uninhabited and undeveloped. But when the centuries-old Temple ban on trade and settlement of Vvardenfell was revoked by King of Morrowind, a flood of Imperial colonists and Great House Dunmer came to Vvardenfell, expanding old settlements and building new ones.

The new District was divided into Redoran, Hlaalu, Telvanni, and Temple Districts, each separately administered by local House Councils or Temple Priesthoods, and all under the advice and consent of Duke Dren and the District Council in Ebonheart. Local law became a mixture of House Law and Imperial Law in House Districts, jointly enforced by House guards and Legion guards, with Temple law and Imperial law enforced in the Temple district by Ordinators. The Temple was still recognized as the majority religion, but worship of the Nine Divines was protected by the legions and encouraged by Imperial cult missions.

The Temple District included the city of Vivec, the fortress of Ghostgate, and all sacred and profane sites (including those Blighted areas inside the Ghostfence) and all unsettled and wilderness areas on Vvardenfell. In practice, this district included all parts of Vvardenfell not claimed for Redoran, Hlaalu, or Telvanni Districts. The Temple stubbornly fought all development in their district, and were largely successful.

House Hlaalu in combination with Imperial colonists embarked on a vigorous campaign of settlement and development. In the decades after reorganization, Balmora and the Ascadian Isles regions have grown steadily. Caldera and Pelagiad are completely new settlements, and all legion forts were expanded to accommodate larger garrisons.

House Telvanni, normally conservative and isolationist, has been surprisingly aggressive in expanding beyond their traditional tower villages. Disregarding the protests of the other Houses, the Temple, the Duke, and the District council, Telvanni pioneers have been encroaching on the wild lands reserved to the Temple. The Telvanni council officially disavows responsibility for these rogue Telvanni settlements, but it is an open secret that they are encouraged and supported by ambitious Telvanni mage-lords.

Under pressure from the Temple, conservative House Redoran has steadfastly resisted expansion in their district. As a result, House Redoran and the Temple are in danger of being politically and economically marginalized by the more aggressive and expansionist Hlaalu and Telvanni interests.

The Imperial administration faces many challenges in the Vvardenfell district, but the most serious are the Great House rivalries, animosity from the Ashlander nomads, internal conflicts within the Temple itself, and the Red Mountain blight. Struggles between Great House, Temple, and Imperial interests to control Vvardenfell's resource could at any time erupt into full-scale war. Ashlanders raid settlements, plunder caravans, and kill foreigners on their wild lands. The Temple has unsuccessfully attempted to silence criticism and calls for reform within its ranks.

But most serious are the plagues and diseased hosts produced by the blight storms sweeping out from Red Mountain. Vvardenfell and all Morrowind have long been menaced by the legendary evils of Dagoth Ur and his ash vampire kin dwelling beneath Red Mountain. For centuries the Temple has contained this threat within the Ghostfence. But recently the Temple's resources and will have faltered, and the threat from Red Mountain has grown in scale and intensity. If the Ghostfence should fail, and hosts of blighted monsters were to spill out across Vvardenfell's towns and villages, the Empire might have no choice but to evacuate Vvardenfell district and abandon it to disease and corruption.