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The Ubiquitous Sinking Isle


By Lailfin, Steward of Histories at the Illumination Academy

The true work of any historian lies in separating fact from fiction—studying the diverse and contradictory texts of all races and piecing together a plausible shared narrative. This requires diligence, discipline, and most importantly, humility. The true historian must be willing to admit error and revise their accounts when new evidence comes to light.

One of the most pernicious traps for new historians is reliance on supporting accounts—that is, the belief that if multiple writers detail the same event in the same way, those accounts are more likely to be true. In point of fact, we should assume the opposite. Societal pressures and widespread cultural delusions often result in identical historical accounts. For example, Nedic texts often reference an event called the "Autumn of Snakes." According to the histories, hundreds of snakes (many the size of mammoths) emerged from the ground and devoured whole towns before finally being subdued by the Nede spear-maiden, Ranev the Coal-Eyed Wanderer. Nedic scholars describe the Autumn in meticulous and near-identical detail, and yet, we now know that the event is completely apocryphal.

It's not that the writers are deliberately lying (though that is sometimes the case). In all likelihood, ancient historians were trying their best to describe events faithfully. Unfortunately, they did not have the linguistic tools or scholarly sophistication to give a truthful account. For that reason, we must take a long hard look at any tales that are widely accepted, but also seem hyperbolic. We must also look for "recurring calamities"—that is, events that purportedly happened the same way, but in vastly different locales and time periods.

The most obvious example of the "recurring calamity" is the tale of the disappearing island. Tamrielic history is littered with sinking, hidden, or disappearing islands. Yokuda, Pyandonea, Artaeum, Dranil Kir, Eyevea, Thras, and (perhaps most importantly) Aldmeris. The cause of the disappearance is almost always magical in nature—often the result of some act of hubris or a desire for secrecy. Of course, this all begs the question: are any of these tales true? I have my doubts.

Let us examine the mythical "sinking" islands: Yokuda, Thras, and Aldmeris. Each island was the ancestral home of its resident race, and in all three cases, foes or fate destroyed the island as punishment for some act of hubris. In the case of the Redguards, foolish sword-singers sundered the Yokudan Isles with a forbidden sword stroke. The warriors of the All-Flags Navy drove the Sload and their island of Thras into the sea as punishment for the Thrassian Plague. And our forebears, the Aldmer, fled the Isle of Aldmeris to avoid some mysterious calamity—likely the result of our fall from Aedric grace.

Now, a novice historian would likely take these tales at face value. "If multiple histories say the island sank, it must have sunk!" But I entreat you to look deeper. Could it be that the "sinking island" is not a literal event, but rather, a metaphorical one?

Thras, Yokuda, and Aldmeris are much more than simple landmasses; they are societal symbols—avatars for a cultural identity lost in time. So stories about the sundering or sinking of these islands may be a trick of the light—a poet's attempt at explaining the pain of forgotten origins. Did an entire continent drown as a result of a sword stroke? Did our ancestors travel to Summerset from a mystical half-Aedric isle? I think not. These lost islands rest at the fault-line between fact and parable. There is truth in those tales, certainly, but the true historian knows that not all truth is literal.

A Loathsome Civilization

Telenger the Artificer

A most unexpected curiosity has entered my collection after being appropriated from a defeated Maormeri fleet. Why this text was aboard one of the vessels, I cannot guess, but it appears to be the journal of a diplomat to Thras written before 1E 2260. Though it is damaged, the descriptions of the Sload that remain legible are fascinating—assuming this is not some strange work of fiction or forgery. If it is legitimate, it is a remarkable find, as the Sload were loath to treat with any of the races of Tamriel.

We know that the slug-folk of Thras practiced foul necromancy, but their involvement with that dread art may have been more prominent than previously thought, if this is an authentic text. The author expresses frequent disgust at interacting with re-animated slaves. It seems the Sload also slaughtered and revived various sea creatures—turtles, crabs, and the like—to keep as pets. His repulsion did not end there, though, as he complained about the repugnant smell of the Sload, the several inches of slime-coated water upon the floors of any land-based building, and the various molds and fungi served as food.

There are mentions of elaborate sacrificial rituals, which I find unusual given their general rejection of worship. The Sload certainly entered pacts with the Daedra when it suited them, but the ceremonies described here are not indicative of typical Daedric sacrifice. They may have spent years grooming individuals to participate in re-enactments of the deeds of Sload mythological heroes and villains, with the eventual performance (which may have lasted weeks) culminating in the deaths of every actor by the application of “desiccation crystals" to the body. Ancestor worship? Unnamed deities? Preservation of ancient magics? It is impossible to tell.

More intriguing is a badly-damaged entry that discusses an audience in the submerged tower of an “Elder Distended One." I can make out little of the discussion between the two, but there are mentions of an “impressively corpulent body and strangely pulsating head," and three eyes that emerged upon its belly that each “opened again as a toothless mouth, disgorging [unreadable] that the attendants eagerly consumed." This is the first insight I have encountered into potential cultural leadership among the Sload.

It has caused me no end of frustration that the entries chronicling a visit to the “Menagerie of Sublime Infection" are nearly unreadable. Aside from the name, almost nothing of this section can be deciphered aside from several unnerving words implying all manner of affliction, from “suppurating extrusions" and “blood-rot" to “festering myiasis." Much about the Thrassian Plague remains a mystery—and perhaps one that is best left buried. I cannot, however, deny my interest in the whys and wherefores of the grotesque fascination with disease expressed here.

Now that I have documented my own immediate reactions to this text, I must send it along to colleagues in Alinor to hopefully verify its authenticity. Whether or not there is anything useful to be gained from it, at the very least it may add to our understanding of a terrible enemy to all the races of Tamriel in the unlikely event that such a threat re-emerges. If anything contained herein is factual, let us pray to Auriel that it never does.


Imperial Geographical Society

The Coral Kingdom has been a powerful antagonistic force against the Summerset Isle since before recorded time. As mentioned in an earlier section, the Sload may have at one time even called Summerset part of Thras. For millennia, the hulking, slug-like creatures, notorious for the necromantic mastery terrorized the Altmer, conjuring sea monsters along the coasts and laying siege to Skywatch. For naughty High Elf children, a mother's warning that the Sload will get them is enough to give nightmares for days. Yet, for all the horror and devastation that has come out of Thras, we know relatively little about the land itself.

The first maps we have from cartographers who sailed to Thras and returned to tell the tale show a group of sixteen islands, in a semicircle like a partially a submerged coral atoll. Over the centuries other maps have been charted by spies and the number and size of islands has varied, suggesting that the amphibious Sload have a volatile kingdom which fluctuates in land mass, either by the tides or some other, less natural means. The largest of the islands (called Agonio on the most recent maps) seems the most stable, though later maps show it considerably larger than earlier ones.

The true and permanent aspect of Thras, however, is not something mapmakers would know, merely by looking at the land above the surface. Many an Altmer has been captured by the Sload, and a few have escaped to tell of the brackish lagoon in the center of the island chain. There the buoyant creatures may move about with relative quickness and grace through an intricate network of coral formations and ancient shipwrecks.

The Wild Regions

Imperial Geographical Society



These vast swamplands were once part of the Second Empire, which, in 1E2837, had seized a large portion of it to create the Imperial Province of Black Marsh. Many humans still refer to the region by that name, but the Elves call it Argonia, after some ancient battlefield where many of their ancestors fell1. Thus, the native inhabitants of the swamplands, a collection of beastly tribes of "lizard-men," have become, in common parlance, the Argonians.

Argonians are rarely seen outside of their homeland, except for a relatively intelligent strain called the hist. Individuals of this strain are repulsive, but peaceful enough to be tolerated among the human kingdoms, and can be found as far from Black Marsh as western Hammerfell. The rest of the Argonians are primitive, reclusive, and practice heathen rituals of nature worship that necessitates a proximity to a certain type of spore-tree, which grows only in the interior of their native swamplands.

Black Marsh never regained its Provincial status after the dissolution of the Second Empire, though some parts of it are still considered Imperial territories. In CE560, the Knahaten Flu spread through greater Argonia, claiming the lives of the Kothringi tribesmen, the only humans to have persisted in the area for long. The hist proved immune to the effects of this plague, leading to wild rumors that they had, in fact, created it through a manipulation of their cherished spore-trees.








Far to the south of the Summerset Isles is the island kingdom of Pyandonea, home to the Maormer, a rare breed of tropical elf. It is covered mostly in dense rain forest, and is a playground for the southern water spirits. The Maormer almost never travel to Tamriel or visit their cousins at Summerset, for they were exiled from the latter kingdom in ancient times. They are known to possess a strange, chameleon-like skin, an involuntary process that is similar to the forest-coupling skills of the Bosmer. They also practice a powerful form of snake magic. With this, they have tamed the sea serpents of their island for use as steeds and warbeasts. The Maormer ruler is King Orgnum, a deathless wizard who is said to be the Serpent God of the Satakal (see Hammerfell).


The coral kingdoms of Thras, a set of islands southwest of the Chain in the Abecean Sea, are home to a godless tribe of beastmen called the Sload. These amphibious slugmen, perhaps the most hated race in all of Tamriel, were long thought to be extinct. After the Sload released the Thrassian Plague in 1E2200, which claimed more than half of the continent's population, the largest allied naval force in Tamrielic history sailed to Thras, slaughtered all the Sload they could find, and, with great unknown magicks, sunk their coral kingdoms into the sea.

Sadly, it has been reported that Thras has risen again, and that its masters, the Sload, have recently been seen in various areas of Tamriel. Citizens are encouraged to avoid these beasts, and contact the nearest Imperial authorities when they learn of one's existence. Much is remembered about the slugmen, and has been collected for you in the nearby sidebar. Be vigilant.

Collected from the Notes of Bendu Olo, West King of Anvil and Baron-Admiral of the All Flags Navy, and Dealer of Swift Justice to the Foul Spot of Thras.

Life Cycle:

Juvenile: Disgusting little amorphous grubs.

Adolescent: Soft, squishy octopuslike things that cannot emerge on land.

Adult: No outside limit to age or size. Individuals seen on land in Tamriel tend to be older, corpulent adults; the trait of greed is common in these individuals, and they excel as merchants and smuggling entrepreneurs. Younger adults lack essential surface survival skills, and are rarely seen on land. Older adults collapse under their own weight unless buoyed by water.


Perfect memory. They cannot read or write, but they remember everything they see or hear.

Magic-adept: All land-traveling Sload know the Recall spell at a high level of skill, and use it casually and frequently as the default mode of travel. It also provides the best defense; they teleport out of difficulty instinctively. We must be on our feet!


Poor grasping ability, weak tool use. [Sload slowly adapt their outer integument to conform with surfaces and objects, permitting them to pick things up or climb things like disgusting slugs.] Slow! They think very quickly, but never enough to suit their careful, deliberate personalities. They move slowly, and act slowly. It takes them a long time to come to decisions. They can answer questions quickly, if they choose to… which they seldom do.

Cautious. They have no word in their language for adventure. The closest equivalent means 'tragic disaster'. All their heroic myths are about individuals who sit around and think for years and years, consulting cautiously with wise Sload, until finally they act - always deliberately, always successfully. All their mythic villains act quickly, and always fail.

Morally Repugnant: Every Sload individual encountered has been a grasping, callous, godless, self-loving schemer. They do not seem to experience or display any familiar human emotions, though they are skilled diplomats and actors, and produce gross, exaggerated parodies of human behavior [laughter at lame jokes, weeping at apparent misfortunes, furious tirades at folly or ineptitude]. They have no compunctions about blasphemy, theft, torture, kidnapping, murder, or genocide. They break laws whenever they calculate it in their best interests. They do not perceive or honor friendship or loyalty in the familiar human terms, except for a cheerful affinity for those who defeat them or trick them in any endeavor. The adult form does not apparently reproduce, and shows no interest in the fate of its offspring.



Literally, 'Orsinium' means Orc-Town in the early Aldmeris. The goblin-ken (orcs, ogres, gremlins, and other beastfolk) that live in Orsinium favor the Elvish name for their settlement, for it suggests, at least to human ears, a glorious and beautiful fortress-city instead of the squalid and filth-ridden village-and-keep that it is. It was founded during the Camoran Dynasy, when hundreds of beastmen were set free by the rulers of the Summerset Isles and allowed to settle lands north of Valenwood. These Orcish tribes chose an uninhabited mountain region near Old H'roldan in High Rock, for their people were (and most still are) dependent on a rare shaggy giant centipede herdbeast that can live only at high altitudes on alpine and sub-alpine forage.

Orsinium did possess considerable strength during the First Era, when Orcish refugees fleeing the Ra Gada invasion of Hammerfell joined the beastman army already gathering there. This army was determined to take control of the Bjoulsae River and force the kingdom of Wayrest to pay Orsinium regularly for its use. Other powers of the area rose to confront the Orcs, principally the Yokudan Order of Diagna and the chieftan-kings of early Daggerfall. The Siege of Orsinium lasted thirty years and ended in its ruin.

Orsinium briefly became an Imperial territory under the Akaviri Potentate, though this ended with the death of Savirien-Chorak in CE431. The Orcs have recently petitioned the New Emperor to grant them a similar status, but Tiber Septim is famous for his hatred of their kind, and has yet to bestow the beastfolk good answer.

Annotations by YR:

1. "Does anyone on the Thalmor know what the humans are talking about?"