Skip navigation
Library

yokuda

The Ubiquitous Sinking Isle

Author: 
Lailfin

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.

Jewels of Yokuda

Author: 
Master-Jeweler Donielle Geonette

The Redguards' reputation as peerless sword-wielders is well earned. But after spending some time in the stifling heat of the Alik'r, I can tell you that they skillfully cut more than just dunerippers and grave robbers. I'm speaking, of course, about precious stones!

During my most recent visit to Sentinel, I had the opportunity to speak with a clever jeweler-historian named Berzhalan. According to him, the hills of Yokuda (the Redguards' long-lost home), were filled with nests of volcanic geodes and jewels. The ancient Yokudans mined up topaz, sapphires, amethysts, and opals—placing great value on any stone with rich color or creamy luster. (Diamonds, shockingly enough, were often discarded due to their lack of hue!)

In addition to creating wide necklaces and heavy bangles, the Yokudans used these gems to adorn their most prized possessions: family swords. They studded the pommels, scabbards, crossguards (and even the blades!) with finely-cut jewels. Over time, this practice fell out of favor. The near-constant civil wars of the Yokeda forced the Redguards, more often than not, to choose utility over beauty. Nonetheless, the gem-cutting tradition remained strong. Yokudan jewelers turned their focus from the martial to the glamorous, crafting elaborate opal headdresses, jangling sapphire anklets, and wide amethyst rings. When the time came for the Ra Gada invasions, these craftsmen brought their skills and traditions to Tamriel. I was surprised to learn that the tools and methods of Redguard jewelers have remained largely unchanged ever since.

So if you ever make your way to Alik'r, do yourself a favor and buy a jeweled Redguard knife or a Totambu-style ring. True, you'll never have the opportunity to see the rolling hills of Yokuda. But these treasures can take you there in spirit, guaranteed

The Horse-Folk of Silverhoof

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lost Islands of Old Yokuda

Author: 
Hazadiyya Sea-Queen

Attributed to Hazadiyya Sea-Queen

I remember Lost Yokuda. I remember all her great islands.

I remember Samara. Indeed, I had a husband there.

Samara: low, lush, welcoming, with many harbors, warm and sweet of fruit. Teymush was much like his island. Long and long we abided there in loving leisure, until the tides of the Sea of Pearls drew me away from him.

I remember Kanesh. Indeed, I had a husband there.

Kanesh: tall, volcanic, harsh, but strong and blazing with inner heat. Yazhgir was much like his island. We exploded together with liquid heat, but petrified as we cooled. The Azurian called me from his arms at last.

I remember Yath. Indeed, I had a husband there.

Yath: jagged, arid, rugged, magnificent, with clear views from a spine like steel. Soufoudin was much like his island. He pulled me up on a charger to ride by his side, and together we explored every terrain. One day he rode off over a ridge and was gone, and once again I returned to the sea.

I remember Akos Kasaz. Indeed, I had a husband there.

Akos Kasaz: biggest of all, ruler and rebel, moody and many-sided, gentle and brutal. Oshnar was much like his island. There I stayed longest of all, and together we fought wars, reared children, and built the City of Totambu. But even there, one day I scented the east wind from the Abecean, and though by then my hair fell iron-gray to my waist, I returned, at last, to the sea.

I remember Yokuda….

Yokuda

Author: 
Imperial Geographical Society

Among the original homelands of the people of the people of Tamriel, we know far more about Yokuda than we do about the others, Aldmeris and Atmora. The Yokudans came to the shores of Volenfell (now Hammerfell) in the First Era, when chroniclers had begun to be more meticulous and less fanciful in the details. They also brought with them memorystones and a rich heritage they were proud to share in epic tales.

The continent of Yokuda is no more, but it was once a place where rocky, barren hills were matched by the fecund combination of sophisticated agriculture, politics, and warfare. It was a harsh environment, training the Yokudans well for their lives in Tamriel. The Yokuda civil wars of the 4th and 8th centuries prepared them for their future conflicts, and the unwelcoming desert of Volenfell only yielded fruit and grain because of the experience the Yokudans had in their even more arid homeland.

It debated to this day what the nature of the disaster was that destroyed Yokuda. Tremors of the earth were not uncommon in the continent's history, and many argue that it was simply a natural catastrophic series of quakes at the foundation of the land. Others suggest that it may have had human origins: during the last civil war, a renegade band of Ansei called the Hiradirge were said to be masters of stone magic. When they were defeated in battle in 1E 792, the argument goes, they had their revenge on the entire land, destroying what they would never rule.

Lord Vivec's Sword-Meeting With Cyrus the Restless

Author: 
Michael Kirkbride

Gather, sit. Drink to Papa and tell Morwha you’re sorry for what you’ve done wickedly this day save for the customary curses allowed towards our enemies, the fair skins and the green skins and the sataks that roll in the dirt with no skins at all. Most importantly, listen, here’s another tale of Sura of the Bend’r Mark, the Maverick-Sword of the Crowns, called Cyrus in the tongue of the Septims.

Mind you, this story isn’t necessarily true, for no tale of Cyrus the Restless is true in its entire, and yet that has never really mattered. Indeed, you’ll come to see that sometimes stories that aren’t necessarily true can still sometimes win the day.Now these were the days after the Tiber War had come to Hammerfell with its banners and phalanxes and its skill at sea, which came to nothing except for treaty, for no empire of men may rule the sons and daughters of Yokuda. We are superior in every way to all the other races of this world and they know it. The Hoon Ding guides us; all others can Make Way.That is, unless those others do not come from this world at all, and are instead spirits of the Far Shores or the In-Between-- against these gods and demons and mad shapers, all men can be humbled. But is that not the point? Different rules apply to gods and demons and mad shapers.Of these, I talk now of the demon-king of the Star-Wounded East, Vehk and Vehk the Circle Talker, anon Ansu-Gurleht in Yoku, the God of Makes Us Women, whose powers are so terrible that even Redguards must bend to His will, though foreign and thus benighted; if He comes, we run until we can’t. There is no shame in this; we are allowed to run from disaster; witness the loss of Yokuda, where our running was blessed by windy Tava who filled our sails with escape. And Ansu-Gurleht is surely disaster.But there was one of us that didn’t run from Him. Cyrus never ran from anything except for the killing of Hakan, and that was so long ago that it doesn’t really count.

***

The captain had them restow the Carrick at Herne and once more at Jabbur before moving into the waters of the Abecean. The map to Old Yokuda came from the Lame Cat of Wayrest, like always. There was no agenda save the looting of a particular temple; at least that’s all Cyrus would let on about; but some of the raga of the crew were eager just to see the homeland of their forebears. True stories had come that Yokus still lived among the stark remains; that some did not or could not flee when cataclysm came; others that the orichalc isles were a place of censure handed down from the no-totambu. And everyone knew the self-exiled ansu still lived there who did not witness the ho no shira, or the capture of Volen, or the Make Way of Diagna, and so were left to the sword-singing of their histories behind the Curtain of Run.

The captain set their course south-southwest, slanting across the spring trades into the Sea of Pearls to the puzzlement of the crew. Some of the older among them muttered darkly of the guardians of the western approaches, but nothing was sighted during the long weeks of smooth sailing. At twilight on the 12th day out of Jabbur, Coyle, long-learned in the navigations, took sighting of the non-constellation of Sep and abruptly Cyrus changed course to the north. The old hands explained to the new that they had crossed the Line that day and it was now safe to bear up for Old Yokuda. The winds, which had been fair, now turned into the north and gusted with growing ferocity, often threatening to lay the Carrick on her beam if not for the skill of her crew. After weary days of this, they finally made landfall on the 17th day.

***

Coyle, stay with the ship and start the trim. If the locals come, you speak the language. Anchor’s dropped right, sir, and Borden’s already got his raiders filed. Good, we move soon, night’s falling. Take Haekele with you, Captain, he speaks Yoku, too, and reads it if he don’t lie. Noted. We go to the spot S’rathra marked and nowhere else. Sen nung ni-Bateki tro ki-lodo. What? It’s a prayer, Cap’n, to the God of We Like Our Bodies Just Like They Are. Fair enough. Ach, heathens help us. No offense, sir. It’s a just tradition, Captain. Aye, these isles tro zhang-ga let. Shut up and get your kit.

***

By torchlight they made for the interior, badlands all of it and worse. Sharp drops would appear along the stone pathways or the high wet walls, all of it jagged from the mythic wars against the Aldmer and still gleaming with eldritch-foam. Cyrus was reminded of the geographies of Morrowind and Masser, though the wind smelled sweeter here. He choked out an order for rope to get them across the Tendu Shreds that was coming sooner than his crew had thought possible. Their captain had memorized the map, since he knew they would approach the temple under cover of night. He passed some licorice to Fornower, the youngest of those present.

The temple was nestled in the Shreds, unlit save for the foam that gave it an underwater glow, and Borden said a small word to Tsun to keep his cool. "All in a day’s," he said.

Broken and worked, the temple held a glimmering language above its entrance. Haekele of Alik’r moved closer. Cyrus raised a hand.

"It’s Daedric," the Captain said. "I can read that."

At the mention of the Lords of Misrule, the crew of the Carrick were set to a heavier unease.

"’The Virtue of the Little Reward’," Cyrus read aloud. Then he frowned at the writing. "Well, I’m glad I could work that out for us." And then he guided them in.

***

The statue looks dunmer. Shh. But that makes no sense, sir, they ain’t much fer sailin. Just find the jewel if we can, this place looks pretty bare. Doesn’t look ransacked, though. Cap, look there, that’s probably why. It’s a gate. That’d keep anyone out. Hand the torch. Move up, Gar, what’s its aura read? Look on the walls. Shh, what’s it read? We’re fine, sir, it can’t open, it’s ‘fire-locked. The Emperor’s good for something then. I’m serious, look on the walls. Those kings, they aren’t dunmer, they’re raga. No, they’re women, see. All of them is with child. Look. For. The. Jewel. Oh no, Captain, this is a temple to Ansu-Gurleht! Who the hell is that?

***

They found that the jewel was in parts, three by three, one for each etching of the pregnant Yoku kings of the Temple of Ansu-Gurleht the Seed-Bringer. With careful knives they pried them out and by Gar’s small enchantments they formed them into one, the Glass Opal of the Nogru.

"AI PADHOME ALTADOON!"

Borden took out his sword. "That came from the gate, sir."

Cyrus looked at the arching columns of the temple center, long cracked by age and with traces of wheel-carvings. "Yeah," he said.

The gate spoke again. "Drop the bauble, rude shapes, I am bathing in pico-filament moltings that come in six beautiful colors the Aurbis hasn’t even revealed yet, and I really do not want to make this journey. You should also know that I’m very dangerous."

"Move," Cyrus said, and the crew of the Carrick ran.

***

The route back to the beach was quicker, as they jumped what they had had to climb before, and the discretion of their movements they put aside as fast as the sun could rise. Some of them thought foolishly that daylight might keep their pursuer away, as he was undoubtedly a dark thing perhaps not given to new mornings, but Cyrus yelled at them to run. Better than Gar, he could feel when strange things were moving against him.

They ran across the sand towards the boats and their shipmates knew enough to start the casting off. "Pull her up," Coyle yelled, "They’ve caused trouble!"

The wind fell around them, and then a shadow, and then a bright half-star behind. Cyrus turned to see, and maybe he was smiling because he liked this kind of thing, and from the rock edges Vivec appeared, making the men gasp. No one had expected a dunmer on these shores, nor one so oddly arraigned.

"I’ll deal with him," Cyrus said, and Borden waited a second to receive the Opal, but his captain wouldn’t toss it. "No hard feelings, but I don’t really trust you, Borden. Go!"

Vivec was half-golden and half-blue and all of him glowing, and he was armored lightly, and carried a small shield and a curved sword at his side. His head was bald except for flame, and he smiled with evil.

"Stay back, dunmer," Cyrus said, eyeing his head. "I can’t have you burning my boat."

Vivec walked closer. Afterward, men aboard the Carrick said they could smell a fortune in bug-musk.

"You don’t know me," Cyrus said, "so I’ll tell you once--"

And then Vivec spoke, and the winds of the beach died down when he did for he was the Lord of the Middle Air and they were indentured to him. He said to Cyrus, "Oh, I know you, raga. I know that you forced an armistice with the Cyrodiil, which I have done, though by other designs. I know also that even after speaking well and rendering your people free again, you remained a thief at heart in the days after; these days, in fact, which I have also done and still do, again in my own way."

And here the god of the East smiled a bit too lovingly. "And let it be said here that you have no idea how much I absolutely adore thieves."

Cyrus for his part was circling around Vivec, making a trough in the sand, some place in which to move easier when the fight came. His men watched from the deck of his ship. Some had brought bows and arrows, but Coyle moved them away with a hand.

Vivec lifted his legs to float in the lotus position, his head to the side with the smile vanished and replaced by a dole of remorse without mocking. "I know how you die," he said, "and the trouble your soul will have reaching the far shores of your taken stars because of things you did to the discredit of the Hist, and how their long roots run even into the void tendril-feeling for your final entrance. I know how you think now, at this moment, that there are no paths except for the drowned lamp, or the wrongheaded romance of saberplay in a landscape of long regret, taking whosoever will ride with you through the still-sought salvation spread across each water lash, wandering your heart to find some purchase beyond the admonishment of the moons; flagellant without end."

Vivec’s eyes went to the Glass Opal cradled in the pirate’s arm and frowned. He looked at Cyrus, dourly, saying, "I know all of this about you, Sura, and more, and it grants us a kinship despite your crime against me, and so it pains me yet that I think you really know nothing of me and my mastery. Or do you? I am the city that walks, the wise and benevolent eye of the ALMSIVI, and it has been such for uncounted red generations, each adding its mark then and forevermore, the worship of the construction-everlasting, Architect Amen. What could you possibly know of me?"

Cyrus had never changed his expression. "I know you’re talking," he said, "because I see your mouth moving and I hear words." And with that he dropped the stolen jewel and drew his saber.

Vivec then drew his own sword, slow yet perfectly, whipping around to angle it to his left. "Hmm," he said. "Yes, fine, I think."

The two moved in closer, Vivec gently floating so that the bonemold of his right armor faced Cyrus. "Death despite kinship has ever been our way," he said, "I know too how it feels to murder the husband of my sister."

At this last, Cyrus was finally angered, understanding now that this champion of Morrowind was truly able to read his mind, which he had vouchsafed from even the closest to him, and this is why he hated all spirits of aether. It read on his face, which thereafter hardened. "Tell me, demon," he asked, "since you know how I die: is it this fight?"

"No."

"Good to hear," Cyrus said, and attacked.

Vivec spun in midair cross-legged, never moving his swordarm from its initial position. He spoke, "Fa-Nuit-Hen," the name of an old master, and Cyrus fell from eight wounds that appeared without mortal notice. Coyle could not stop the men from firing then.

Bleeding into the sand, Cyrus could see Vivec above him with no sword in his hand at all but instead the stolen jewel of the Nogru, and an array of seventeen arrows fanned around his firehead aspect peacock-style, caught by demon magic. Cyrus could not get up and Vivec spoke, "And I know of your late father, the playwright, and though some of its local color is lost on me, I am fond of his work. That is why I have let you live. I adore poetry, too."

The Lord of the Middle Air vanished, and Coyle sent boats to the shore with medicines and their sugarcat surgeon, who had taken passage sometime after Herne.

***

You cannot go back. We must cast off. Captain, take us into this no more. A demon’s mercy only comes once. Quit staring at your sword, sir. Yokuda was lost for a reason. Let’s just go. Why not just send the crows an invitation in lights. Please, captain, let us cast off. I mean, we brought some from Akavir, they’d see ‘em surely. You can’t even move. We’ve heard the stories of Ansu-Gurleht, the raga among us at least; the gods say it’s okay to hightail it. Great work, Haekele, those were right magicsome words. Go get the skooma-pipe and tell him it’s a scalpel day again. Please let us just leave this haunted place. Cut up suits you, cap, pregnant don’t; listen to the men. You cannot go back. With all due respect, sir, you’re dumber than I look.

***

Now in his time asleep or under the knife, Cyrus didn’t know that Coyle had set out with a few other sailors, all of them Yoku-speakers. Knowing his captain too well, the young man went to find the fabled ansus, the sword saints of orichalc. Coyle kept no hope that he should be so lucky—the ansus kept their citadels hidden, and komodos protected them under color of rock. In the village of Bu-tabar, which topples down the eltheric breaks like survivor pearls, Coyle learned that the ansus were seeking to hold counsel with Cyrus anyway. He met them on the Samarand Road and they were three as in tradition- a young one, an aged one, and a daughter of neither. They had a train of followers to carry their sword collections and their memories-in-stone. Seeing the crew of the Carrick, the daughter ansu reenacted the Falls of Diag-leeki with twin falchions, playing every part; since she did so in under a minute, it meant hello-don’t-be-useless.

"I should warn you," Coyle told the elder in the old tongue, "Captain Cyrus doesn’t know any Yoku at all."

***

Coyle brought the elder ansu and the young one to meet Cyrus in the surgeon’s hold; the daughter stayed abovedecks with their train, to protect them and to warn the sailors with displays. The young ansu greeted the captain in Yoku, which Coyle translated for him. Cyrus merely nodded and lifted up, bandaged across his eight wounds, and the sugarcat hissed at the needless movement. Startled by the sound, the young ansu took a Walled Consequence stance. Coyle brushed the surgeon away quickly and finally the elder spoke.

"We know of you, Surahoon," he said in the captain’s own speech, "And motions were multiplied the other morning on this beach, which is sword tremor, which we can feel, and that can only mean you encountered the Ansu-Gurleht."

Cyrus shrugged his shoulders. "If you mean the dunmer wizard, yeah, he was here. I almost had him. And no funny talk."

The young ansu dropped his stance. "He cannot be beaten," he told Cyrus, "We know every sword move created in history, and none of them would avail you, even if you learned them from our memories-in-stone, which we would be obliged to lend you if you asked. You killed the white king in the Hammerfell, after all."

"What?" Cyrus said. "The Emperor? I didn’t kill him."

"Of course you did; you were the Hoon Ding."

"No I didn’t and no I wasn’t."

The young ansu refused to listen. Behind his stone-feather mask he smiled in admiration. "You disarmed him, even, and would not kill him until he showed another knife. That is ra gada honor. We do not fight the unprotected. Your stories have come—"

"That wasn’t the Emperor," Cyrus said. "That was just—"

"Of course it was. That is why the Hammerfell stands. You were the Hoon Ding. In any case, the Ansu-Gurleht cannot be beaten. He was gifted by the Barons of Move Like This, who record sword moves from the future, as well."

"Right," Cyrus sighed. "Please remove yourself from my ship."

Coyle went to his captain. "Sura," he whispered, "nogo tur—"

"Not an option, Coyle." Cyrus turned to the ansu. "Now go. The fight with the dunmer is my own. I appreciate the advice but you’re—"

"Will you not take our memories-in-stone, at least?"

"Why?" Cyrus said. He tried to keep his temper. "You’ve already said that they’re useless against him."

The elder lifted a hand. "The Hoon Ding could—"

"Look, I am not –"

"The Hoon Ding could read the stones and show you what we say is true—that no move exists that will get past the Ansu-Gurleht."

The elder looked through the floor of the hold. "At least not now," he said, "The Hoon Ding would show you that he will not manifest in you in this fight."

"Good," Cyrus said. "He’d get in my way." And with that he lay back down. The elder looked up from the floor, and set his head to the side.

"Surahoon," he said, "We are the ansu, the greatest warriors that live in men. Our swords sent the Left-Handers into the oceans, whose empire was four times the size of the white king. When we fight, our swords can kill the laws of nature itself. Yokuda is as you see it because our hira-dirg swords can cut the atomos, the uncuttable, and we did. We are the ansu, and we tell you now that you cannot beat the Ansu-Gurleht. How do you think he came by that name? Who do you think was our finest student?"

Coyle stepped back. He shook his head. Cyrus for his part just shrugged again.

"Then your finest student is a painted hussy," he said, "And a foreign one at that. Great work. He’s quick enough, sure, but I’ve cut down his kind before."

Cyrus lifted his head for a second, looking to Coyle. "He talks a lot, too, and seems to like that. Is there a God of Talk to Death here, too?"

"Yes," Coyle said, "But Ansu-Gurleht is the—"

"Of course there is," Cyrus said, "I can work with that, then. Hopefully he’ll be holding his sword as he’s yakking away so my Redguard honor will remain intact when I run my saber into his mouth mid-sentence."

The young ansu spoke with the elder’s voice. "We are telling the Hoon Ding to run."

Cyrus smiled and closed his eyes.

"Where’s the money in that?"

***

Bellguard down, over, hold. The Bone Shaver. Strike at 80 grams, any degree but this one. The Ephemeral Feint. Breathe in and then forget the breath; you cannot replace it until he is down, to fight as if dead: second principle of pneumansu. The Vectoring Cygnet. Arm out, knee down, coal on the teeth to hide your smile. The Pankratosword, but this is forbidden. Arc the bones that otherwise cannot bend. The Threat of Mirrors. Using the Math Athlete, you could occur several places during a single duel, illustrious and sure. Paint fake eyes all over your face and then hide your real ones among them; the opponent can no longer read where you look. The Premeditated Modesty. The Fingers-Knife serves as five, protecting your cardinal points and your central theory; five thrusts, spaced microseconds apart, like tapping the desk bored, waiting for morning bread.

***

Cyrus woke in the surgeon’s hold, dark lapping sounds coming through wood. The cat was still up going through bottles and washing linens. Seeing his captain wince, he nodded and said, “Bad moons in a big dream.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Before you even ask,” the cat said, “G’latha slipped no moonsugar in your last resting-water.”

Cyrus moved to a sitting position, wincing slightly from some pain in his lower back. “Then why?” he said.

“The sword-walkers left a memory-stone under your pillow.”

Cyrus moved the pillow and saw it: a dark rock weathered smooth with age, encrusted with traces of glistening curves. He glared at G’latha. “And you knew about this?”

“Yes,” the cat said. “G’latha found it amusing. Also, G’latha thought that maybe its magic would seep into your brainpan and teach you vaba maaszi lhajiito, do-sura.”

Cyrus got on his feet and grunted some admonishment. He found his sword near the cutter tools and hefted it, looking at its grip and wondering why it felt a bit off. Had the dunmer wizard knocked its balance out? Had he even set aside the saber in that whirling motion he’d made? Cyrus couldn’t remember. He remembered only how ridiculously fast it had all been.

“That book also teaches ahzirr traajijazeri,” he said to G’latha.

“Did you ever notice we hid that lesson at the bottom? Speaking of lessons, it seems like do-sura learned a few.”

“Yeah, there was a move called—oww.” Cyrus had attempted a swing but something across his skin tore sharply. “I was going to make a joke in there somewhere about skinning —oww. I reopened something.”

“G’latha was serious. Did you not notice what you did?”

Cyrus put his saber down. He was feeling dizzy. The sugarcat lent a hand.

“Here, sit back down for the needle,” G’latha said. Pawing his captain’s stitches lightly, his eyes flashed over to the sword.

Do-sura fights right handed,” he said, voice low, “Yet you just held your saber with your left.”

***

As morning rose, Cyrus scanned the beach again from topside. Some men were moving about nervously. Thorpe, the scrub, was close by, swabbing the decks, whistling some song from Sutch or thereabouts.

“Thugs mustn’t have ties to anything except ink and the glimmer of gold.”

Thorpe looked up from his brush. “What was that, sir?”

“Nothing,” Cyrus said, realizing he’d been heard. “Something an old villain of mine said to me once.”

“Ring a truth it’s got,” Thorpe said, going back to his work, “And if ye don’t mind me sayin’ so, there’s plenty of glimmer back homewards.” Thorpe started nodding at his own advice. “Scuttle’s that the Reachers have taken to the water to fight Old Mary,” he continued, “and those Bret’n buttertubs couldn’t outrun the Carrick on their best day.”

“That’s just it, Thorpe,” Cryus sighed. “The Reachers don’t stand a chance against the Dominion. But they’re trying. Same news you heard says the Thalmor sent a plague into Camlorn. It’s a matter of…" And Cyrus let the sentiment trail off. He had taken an interest in the sunrise.

“What’s that, sir?” Thorpe said, eyeing him. “Reconciling vengeance and honor again?”

“Yoku has forty-eight different versions of honor,” Cyrus said, “And they all trace their roots to ugak-ta, which means, more or less, “I’m pretty mad”. So that might be a yeah.”

Fornower walked by, fetching a saw. “Woke up speaking Yoku, cap?” he said.

“Strange night,” Cyrus said.

Thorpe let Fornower pass until he spoke again. “Ain’t a soul on this boat would think less of ye fer avoidin’ that whip-evil Velothi domino, Cy.”

“I know.”

Cyrus palmed the top of his saber-hilt, thinking. He frowned as he felt the same imbalance in the blade, even in its sheathe. He sighed again and looked over to Thorpe.

“Actually, there would be one that would think less of me.”

***

So it was that Cyrus the Restless came to a decision, which was ever preordained by his make, and let us not say that he did so easily, for that would be a lie, but still and alas: he was to meet the Ansu-Gurleht in single combat for satisfaction, if only the demon-king might be troubled again to show up. Cyrus had thought of ways to ensure this.

"Bring me maps and histories of the dunmer," he told the learned of his men, "And bring any here that know of the Ansu-Gurleht's aspect beyond local legend."

Borden showed with documents, for he was a reaver long, and had been to Morrowind before and after Armistice. He knew nothing much, however, of the dark elves beyond their ability to fight at raid time. "He's not a Redoran, I can say that," Borden said, scrolling out papered territories and pointing, "He was little armored, and those devils go weighted."

It was Gar that knew most of their dunmer politic, but he could not reveal much that wasn't tangled in old tale. "He may be the one named Vivec, because he mentioned ALMSIVI, which is some kind of god guiser cabal in their belief, with great hold on their nation. This "Vivec" is the only one of that group that frolics about outside their borders so much; one might say he's their public face or something."

Cyrus snorted.

"I'm telling you just what I know, Captain. The Pocketguide says they never come out at all, the ALMSIVI. Better texts link him to the Daedroth Mephala."

"Oh," Borden added, "Them Redorans also speak less distinguished than the dandyman you...well, I would say you fought, but that'd be generous in description. No offense, as always."

"Mephala?" Cyrus said. "Which Lord is that?"

Gar flipped through a book, looking for something to back up what he was already going to say. "The Webspinner in day parlance; otherwise it gets hazy. Ties to the Morag Tong, ties to sordid other cults in the provinces, running gamut from drugs to dibbledark to, hell, fashion trends even. Weird one, this Mephala."

"Weird is relative," Cyrus quoted.

A crowd had gathered; men with rope or hidden eagerness or barely covered discomfort. Their captain was stubborn and famous for it. No matter the disposition, each Carricker needed to be a part. Coyle was among them, about to say something until Hiddleman spoke up.

"Prizewise, what yer talkin past all this raga noise is we get the Nogru Opal back, yeah?"

The men of the Carrick shifted then, eyeing their captain and the dumb marine from Anvil. Coyle took the stead. He said, "Yes, Hiddle. No action Sura decides goes tobr'a way. Settle in and give scandal no glance."

Cyrus took the heed, but his nature couldn't stop his color despite it. "Listen, all of you. Runners were sent inland, and they're coming back with trade. The locals have never seen fireworks, and we stole plenty from Ko. Orichalc's en route in abundance, which will gather drake like even the oldest here have never witnessed. S'rathra's shiny is only going to make us richer, and I aim to get it back from that dunmer princess without a doubt."

Cyrus looked at the men to see the measure of their waver. "Without a doubt, you hear," he said. "Because no power lays me low like that on any ground, foreign or however-you-like. I’m Redguard. He insulted me, and let me live. In plain, don't trouble on my motive and your payday’ll come tonight."

He looked to Borden. "Bring me my armor." He turned to Gar. "Find me the worst thing I might say to this Vivec." He turned to Coyle. "Load the cutter. I go within the hour."

***

With no need for secrecy this time, Cyrus went a more direct route to the temple of the Ansu-Gurleht. Near a crossroads that split on the westernmost fall of the Tendus there was a wayside shrine to Morwha, with a sprawling statue inside of a fashion he had seen before in his own lands. He left coin there in a wax-hollowed candle holder on the goddess' knees and felt a sudden relief in the wound of his lower back. He nodded to the ugly, fat face of the Yoku mother spirits and gave thanks and moved on.

The day became hot, for he was unused to wearing chainmail and helm and greaves, and heavy padding underneath all of it. He'd done so at times, battled in armor, but even at war in M'kai or the Rim he went without it and relied on speed instead, because his fighting style did. There would be no speed against the demon-king of the dunmer, Cyrus had learned, only force and hard defense. His mind was heady with the sword-thought of the ansus. It was all of it breath and geometry of edge and lessons that were lost on him because he had not the physical training for them.

He wondered about the Barons of Move Like This and the impossibility of their designs; how they were an advantage of Vivec's that few warriors could compensate for. He wondered how that any stone-knowledge he'd absorbed had already been dealt with by a countermove that did not exist yet; and that the Ansu-Gurleht had no doubt trained in it. Finally, he wondered of various ways to just plain cheat.

"There is nothing you can say to insult this Tribune, Captain," Gar had said. "He is divine and goes all back all eras. He has endured slights from every power-- of the dark, and of the starkeepers, and of the lesser royalty of Man-- and delivered them back with laughter. His main joy is foul effrontery, one could say, and will gain you nothing."

Cyrus told Gar he wasn't helping.

"Actually, I'm trying," Gar said. "More than insulting him with something unlikely to earn anything but amused contempt, I'm afraid that he would counter with something worse. He has a godsmind, Captain. He knows he could unshake you, and you cannot suffer that to happen in your duel with him."

***

It had somehow rained only inland the past day. The earth near the Shredstart was soft and unlovely, broken by stream. Cyrus stopped and looked down a wide gulf, thinking in Yoku, netu anselim, which was the small version of the thought "turn back". Below, salmon leapt upwards along a low river in their unparsible function.

Another Yoku phrase almost rose, but Cyrus smothered it, saying only, "Yes, that's just about right." The salmon and their desperate natal stretch was an answer he agreed to.

He set the unease of the stone-knowledge into his stomach, removing it for a moment to become again what he remembered himself to be and not what magic had wrought, the ancestor idioms breaking across a bank inside him.

He cursed the ansus for their interference. No one should be made to swallow a language whole. He looked to the fish again and shrugged, finally moving on. Yes, he thought, it's only a fool that picks which dooms he subscribes to if he has more than one that breach his sky...but, well, there you go.

"I'm coming for you, woman," he said, quickening.

***

And when he saw that the entrance to the temple had been sealed by a seamless plane of ebony, Cyrus wondered if he had come for nothing. Then all thoughts of honor went away and he wondered instead if the Carrick had anything aboard that might cut godsblood, because he would be stinking rich.

Then the right half of the ebony plane turned to gold, and both halves moved like fluid in the air, a vision of trapped rain raining along a hectic compass; and Vivec formed from this mercurial swirling and floated there, finally smiling. He had not changed in his arraignment, Cyrus noted. And he notices that I have. Great. Hush.

Vivec spoke. "So the ansus I sent didn't ward you off, little cut? I willed them to, for I have mentioned my liking of thieves, and thus I sought to help you, raga doon, Cyrus the Restless."

"Tung den uta-no-mongo, Ansu-Gurleht."

Vivec cocked his head, which lit aflame at the wondering. "Well, something stuck, at least. And I give help whether you wish it or not. What I will not give is my toy of the westernmost west, the Opal of the Nogru, whose chieftains I lady-made in long ages before your kind came to the Tamri-el."

"We'll see about that," Cyrus said.

"Tenacity," Vivec said, drawing his sword swiftly, "I adore that, too. I am the circumvention of the Black Hands of excess, and now have the rule of it, and it was not bought without tenacity. May I name you as wife after this is over?"

And with that the Ansu-Gurleht angled his sword down in the position he had done at the beach, point down, blade edge forward, 60 degrees rise-wise from the ground. He floated lotus fashion and stopped smiling. His eyes were watching the future, Cyrus knew, so think of a way around all of this, damn it.

Cyrus drew his saber, holding it left-handed in the Tempest Attrition.

Vivec was impressed and said so. "That stance allows you a riposte," he said. Then he smiled again. "If you're quick enough."

Cyrus moved to Havoc Canal and Vivec nodded. "Better. Your build favors that. But what if I've enchanted my skin to harden at each instance?"

Zero-sum Interrupt.

"Can you even do that, silly raga?"

"Test me."

"No," Vivec said, "For I would prefer to imagine that you could. It would mean that I would bleed prior to the cut itself, bypassing all healing; moreso, and this is what pleases me utmost... it would mean that I have indeed helped you."

Cyrus had his moment then, where he had maneuvered the duel from the start: pride. Pride was the Ansu-Gurleht's weakness. "Milord," Cyrus said, "Forgive me my little grace, but I deny your help again. Indeed, I turn my back to it, and betray it, and malign it. That should be familiar to you."

Vivec paused. "It is," he said.

"As should this," Cyrus said, moving to the Pankratosword.

Vivec paused longer. And then he laughed loud. "You would not!"

"I say again, test me."

"You would destroy the home of your ancestors even more? And in the fashion that they had done, which is now forbidden in your hands?"

Cyrus didn't move from his stance.

"All for an Opal which you could never thereafter spend?"

"You would be finished," Cyrus said. "And I would be rid of the one who shamed me. So why wouldn't I? You shouldn't have sent your saints to me, Ansu-Gurleht. I am not much like them at all."

"Cut the atomos and you die, too."

"What, the Barons of Move Like This didn't teach you a countermove to this?" Cyrus said. "Oh, wait, they wouldn't have. The Pankratosword is stricken from the record."

Vivec laughed again. He was delighted. He said, "The things they said about you were true, Redguard, whether you wish to believe it or not."

Vivec bowed his head.

"I make way," he said. "I drop my sword."

And the demon-king did, though it hovered a few inches from the ground.

Vivec continued. "And thus we come to stalemate, for I am unarmed and you cannot--"

"No," Cyrus said, moving his sword to Vivec's throat, "You overestimate my Redguard honor, boy. Different rules apply to gods and demons and mad shapers. And you, Ansu-Gurleht, you're all three."

"I should kiss you," Vivec smiled.

"The jewel'd do better," Cyrus said, "Thank you very much. Summon it, send it to my ship, and we're done."

"This is what you ransom for your shame," Vivec said, chiding, the Opal of Nogru floating out from within the temple. It flew off south and east. "You're easily bought."

Cyrus turned to go, but Vivec stopped him, saying,"And I had so wanted to see the Pankratosword, and so believed you ired enough to bring its ruin on us both. What stopped you, Surahoon?"

"Old advice," Cyrus said. And he pointed his saber to Vivec's face and its two colors. "And you're wearing it, sure enough."

At the apex of the temple's upper reaches, Cyrus turned back, calling to Vivec. "Ink and gold, milord," he said. "And the general mystery of dangerous men, you see. Well met, Tribune, and farewell."

He left the Ansu-Gurleht forever.

And that's how the story goes, with a duel that was not a duel, and with a story that wasn't true. Cyrus, you see, never knew how to actually use the Pankratosword, only how to hold it at threat. After all, its use was forbidden and thus held in no stone at all after the fall of Old Yokuda.

When he returned to his ship, the Carrickers cheered and asked loudly over one another the same questions: how the fight went with the Ansu-Gurleht, and how their captain had become the victor. Cyrus smiled then, and wouldn't answer, moving them to hustle and trim, for they were casting off.

It was Fornower who got the truth of it, handing Cyrus half a bit of licorice. "For your mighty deeds, now plus one: some bitten-on licorice of the Bay" he said. "But, c'mon, Cap, and tell just me, then. How'd you beat him?"

"Yeah, well," Cyrus said. He chewed and swallowed. "I cheated."

THE END

 

Hammerfell

Author: 
Imperial Geographical Society

pge01_hammerfell.gif

 

Hammerfell is the eternal outsider of the human lands, either regarded by the Imperial citizen as Tamriel's dark and exotic west or its most tempestuous and dangerous quarter, full of barbarians and cutthroats. Both descriptions are apt, and can be equally attributed to its people, the proud and savage Redguards. 

Some three thousand years ago the continent of Yokuda suffered a cataclysm that sunk most of it into the sea, driving its people towards Tamriel. The bulk of these refugees landed at the uninhabited isle of Herne, while the rest continued on to the mainland. This vanguard "warrior wave" of Yokudans, the Ra Gada, swept into the country, quickly slaughtering and enslaving the beastfolk and Nedic villagers before them, bloodily paving the way for their people who waited at Herne, including the Na-Totambu, their kings and ruling bodies. The fierce Ra Gada became, phonetically, the Redguards, a name that has since spread to designate the Tamrielic-Yokudan race in general. They ultimately displaced the Nedic peoples, for their own agriculture and society was better organized and better adapted to Hammerfell's harsh environment. They took much of Nedic custom, religion, and language for themselves in the process, and eventual contact with the surrounding Breton tribes and Colovian Cyrodilics hastened their own assimilation into the larger Tamrielic theater. Yoku, the Redguard oral language, was almost entirely replaced as the need for foreign commerce and treaties increased.

Under the provincial organization of the Second Empire, two Redguard "parties" formed to aid Cyrodiil's administration of Hammerfell. The ancient Na-Totambu ruling class retained the rights of noble council as the Crowns, and the much-admired warriors of the Ra Gada were finally granted rights of ownership within their tribal districts. This empowerment fundamentally changed the Ra Gada, who began to call themselves the Forebears, firmly announcing their status as the first Redguards on Tamriel. This republic, however, lasted only so long as the Cyrodiils were strong enough to support it. During the Imperial Interregnum, control reverted back to the hereditary monarchy of the Na-Totambu. The new "High King" was even so bold as to move his throne from Old Hegathe to the more prosperous Forebear city of Sentinel, which had, by this time, mastered a third of the trade of the Iliac Bay.

Thassad II was the last of these "High Kings," for upon his death in CE862, the honorable Forebears retook Sentinel by force. Crown Prince A'tor then sailed from Stros M'kai to avenge his father, resulting in one of the bloodiest massacres of Tamrielic history. Tiber Septim, in his rightful duty as Heir to the Reman Dynasty, answered the Forebears' plea for help, sending his men to end the mad Prince's butchery. A'tor found it impossible to stand against the superiority of the Imperial legions; many of the Crowns had deserted him after seeing the glory of the reborn Empire. He and a few loyalists fled back to Stros M'kai, doggedly pursued by the West Navy, where they were soundly defeated at the Battle of Hunding Bay. The Emperor, in his wisdom, deemed it best to assume responsibility for Hammerfell's lawful restoration as a republic and provincial territory, where presently the Redguards spend their days as proud subjects of the new Cyrodilic Empire1.

Physically, the Redguards can be intimidating to an outsider, with their dark skin and wooly hair, tall, gaunt frames and finely toned physiques. Custom and dress differs by district: the Redguards of Elinhir are Colovian in fashion and taste, while some in Rihad go naked in the streets. In demeanor, they are haughty and easily provoked, and, to the last, obsessed with personal honor. Though it is widely acknowledged that Hammerfell is home to the finest warriors of the Empire, they are but indifferent soldiers, being unwilling to defer to authority or endure military discipline, and few serve in the Ruby ranks. There is no standing army in Hammerfell, only paid militias of the oft-contested border-states and along its coastline. Ancient tradition has predisposed the Redguards to knightly orders, though, customarily in the service of royal families. Initiates of these orders must prove themselves in dangerous, even deadly, tests of skill. The youths of Crown Totambu, for example, must sail to the Dwemer Ruins of Stros M'kai, to avoid its deathtraps and "wrestle its mechanical men back into shape" before they can join the Knights of the Scarab. The more severe Order of Diagna, on the other hand, stages an annual recreation of the Siege of Orsinium, where their initiates must play the part of the Orcs....

The colonization of Hammerfell was a slow process, since it was mainly a barren and rocky place, with the vast Alik'r desert in the center, and only a few grasslands that hugged the coastline in horseshoe fashion. As such, Redguard civilization is divided into the cosmopolitan coastal cities on one hand, and the numerous nomadic tribes that wander the desert itself on the other. The former have adopted Breton or Imperial manners of dress and architecture, modified with motifs and styles from lost Yokuda, and some have even reorganized their gods and tribal spirits to fit into the traditional Imperial pantheon of Eight Divines2. The nomads are more primitive, either with trace-Nedic influences or stubbornly Yokudan, throwback castaways even to other Redguards. Devotees of Satakal the Serpent God are strewn among them, historically causing the A'likr border-states no end of strife. These revered madmen depend entirely on the charity of the other Redguards, though sometimes they rise in perilous bands, terrorizing the countryside in old Ra Gada fashion. Many, as in Rihad, go nude, rolling around in the dirt and nipping at the legs of passersby, "striking out" as if they were snakes themselves, while others perform terrible exhibitions of"shedding their skin". They have been seen rolling in the desert sand sidewinder-fashion in continuous, hundred-mile stretches, from Balhar all the way to the Nohotogrha oasis. The Satakals have never liked the Imperial presence, and have recently taken to harassing3 its civil servants. The Provisional Governors have been forced to run them out of the cities for the safety of its garrisoned troops and the native citizenry at large.

Tourists have, historically, given wide berth to the Redguard cities outside of those facing the Iliac Bay. Considering the (mostly deserved) reputation of its people, Hammerfell is frequently seen as intolerant of "foreigners," where trespass is dealt with in blood. This is a shame, and a situation that the Emperor seeks to rectify, for Hammerfell itself is a beautiful country. From the twin moonrises over the Alik'r shade-temples to the austere ramparts of Old Hegathe, everywhere there is the appearance of antique splendor. Its people are harsh-- four hundred years of internal conflict and corrupt government have made them so-- but, taken singly, the Redguard is often a masterful work of a man. Perhaps a guiding power like the Empire, steering Hammerfell clear of the foul agents of A'tor's legacy, and protecting her from the avarice of her Elven neighbors4, will bring the same prosperity to her people that it seeks to bring to the world.

 

The Dwarves5

Hammerfell's original name was Volenfell, named for the Dwemer "City of the Hammer" whose ruins lay nearly submerged by the sands of the Alik'r. Legend holds that these Dwemer were the self-exiled Rourken clan of Resdayn (Morrowind), who refused to participate in making peace with the Dark Elves. Thus, the Rourken chieftain threw his mighty hammer, Volendrung, across Tamriel, promising to lead his clansmer to "wherever it should fall." This mythic image has been depicted on the walls of several ruins in Hammerfell: a mass exodus of golden-clad dwarves, trudging through the Cyrodilic forests, Volendrung a falling star in the nightsky before them, urging them on. Sadly, these same ruins offer no clues to the mysterious disappearance of the Dwarves from Tamriel, which was everywhere the same, ca. 1E700. Before quitting this subject, we might as well address the oft-used misnomer for the Dwemer, the "Dwarves." There is nothing to suggest that the Dwemer were any less towering over humans than the early Aldmeri were; indeed, extant Dwarven goldmail more or less fits every human lucky enough to possess it. Imperial excavation of ancient and wondrous Dwarven machinery supports the Dlyxexic theory that the translation of Dwemer as "Deep Elves" might instead be read as "Smart Elves," despite the incongruity of that notion. Perhaps, then, the "brilliant students" of the titanic Ehlnofey mentioned in the Anuad are the Dwarves, and that their giant masters gave them this sobriquet.

 

Places of Note:

Sentinel

Second capital of Hammerfell, Sentinel sits on the edge of the Iliac Bay. It is most definitely a merchant power, for it sits on a rocky run of hills, and the barren plains behind it offer no good soil before they run into the desert sands of the Alik'r. Its principal street is a vast marketplace stretching from the harbor all the way to the badlands gate. Sentinel Palace is the oldest and largest Redguard architectural monument, quickly built during the Ra Gada firestorm to ward against the Bretons and added to ever thereafter. Currently, this Palace is the headquarters of Provisional Governor Senecus Goddkey, who has been helping to administer the Forebear principalities since Baron Volag's6 disappearance. Since its Imperial reorganization, Sentinel has become an exotic retreat for the nobility of Daggerfall and Wayrest, who delight in its native cooking, craftsmanship, and the bizarre morality-plays of its Royal Theatre.

Stros M'kai

Formerly the principality of Thassad II's heir, A'tor, Stros M'kai's small island serves as the office of Provisional Governor Amiel Richton, who is charged with the protection and patrol of Hammerfell's barbarous southern coast. Lord-Admiral Richton7 was the officer who defeated Prince A'tor in the Battle of Hunding Bay, and is the latest of a long line of heroes to serve in the Colovian West Navy. Stros M'kai itself would be an unassuming little port, famous only for its Dwemer Ruins, were it not for its presently strategic location near the Cape of the Blue Divide8, the waters of the dread Aldmeri Dominion.

 


Annotations by YR:

1. "The most formidable of all the ills that threaten the future of the Empire arises from the presence of the Redguards within its provinces ~"
2. "Hardly. The Redguards tolerate worship of Arkay, Zenithar and Kynareth because they approximate certain agriculture deities brought over from Yokuda ~ Most of the other Imperial gods are disregarded as tobr'a (useless, thus evil). By far the most popular gods in Hammerfell are Tall Papa, and his children: Hunding, Leki and Ansei."
3. "hitting, he means"
4. "I grow weary of pointing these out ~ I trust you will find the rest ~"
5. "Characteristic human logic ~ Why would any self-respecting Mer refer to himself as a 'dwarf', even if it were a name given by the blessed Earthbones? ~ obsessed with anatomy they are ~ it does not even occurto them that stature may refer to things outside of the physical ~"
6. "Rumors persist that this Baron Volag is hiding in the hills with his personal 'blood-drinkers', waiting for a sign of weakness in the Empire."
7. "Evidently, Richton is breaking down under the pressure of his assignment ~ Stros M'Kai is very important to the Emperor and it is vital that Richton clear its waters of pirates and the sort ~ even the 'Restless League' does not realize this (more concerned with sanctity and that mess, I gathered~)"
8. "North of the Blue Divide. The ship of my passage was captured by pirates calling themselves the 'Restless League.' They threw over crates from the cargo-hold ~ crates full of arms meant for the Empire at Stros M'kai. And they robbed everyone aboard ~ though their leader, after seeing this, my annotated pamphlet, and guessing my intent let me keep it, telling me 'We must not act and speak as if asleep.' ~ ??"

 

A Compilation of Redguard History

Author: 
Anonymous

Summary of The Heroes Document.

This document is written like it is a draft of a scholarly book written as a historical analysis exploring the myths and tales as history.

 

Hero Frandar Hunding

Redguard history prior to coming to Hammerfell. This sets the stage for some color and texture of the people. Creates a context and some terminology. Creates concept of thought sword quasi magic "spirit sword". Explanation of names Hammerfell and Redguards.

Hero Makeli Leki

Redguard history about 300 years after coming to Hammerfell pure heroic stuff - concept memory stone that can be used to record memories of a person. Also follow up concept of a pure thought weapon a spirit sword - used by only special warriors like these two heroes. Sets context for a conflict with a local lord in High Rock who tries to invade through Wrothgarian mountain pass - The Bangkorai pass.

Hero Divad

Hunding's son, takes Hammerfell as the new land of the Redguards from giant goblins. He combines the spirit sword and a conventional magic sword to create 5 great magical swords to defeating the giant goblins. The Arena goblins are short little yellow guys, kind of woosy fighters, a foe just a notch above a sewer rat. Hammerfell was first occupied by Dwarves. They were a sparse population with just a few riches filled cities. Over night (from another dimension) a new breed of goblins invades - a huge army of fighters appears in the middle of the province, and pillages, raises towns to the ground and drives the surviving Dwarves out. The Dwarves flee through a lone surviving port city and are gone by the time the Redguards cross the ocean. Hunding and Divad arrive thinking the abandoned port city is vacant, and Hunding is cowardly killed. Divad leads the battle to wrest the land from the giant goblins and needs to resort to magic (5 great magical swords) to defeat them. The 5 combined cast a mighty spell that literally diminishes the goblins to the size and temperament we find in current Arena, and they flee to caves and wilderness, leaving Hammerfell. The Redguards to inherit the province.

Hero Derik Hallin

He lives in later years when Redguards have mostly forgotten their own heritage. They face a great peril from the giant goblins again, who have managed to open the path from the other dimension. Divad after the battle for Hammerfell decided the 5 swords were too powerful to leave just lying around so he hid them in succeedingly dangerous and tricky caves in the mountains. Derik quests to find them and defeat goblins. He does so, and the swords are destroyed and lost for good (but with just a tickle could maybe come back to be found in modern times). This last hero's story happened about 1000 years from Daggerfall times.

Each story is cast in a bit different way. Frandar, as pure clinical history; Makela as her own memories being played back, Divad as a scholarly assessment followed by a poem translated into prose, and Derik as a recorded campfire tale.

Maybe this will give your tech writers something to work with. I know it was fun for me to write. Hope this is helpful for creating some background for Daggerfall. Derik's stroy can be fleshed out more instead of taking the outline for the editros cop out. If you would like me to detail this out, I will, I just went with wherer the overall book theme took me.

Unless I hear more from you all (a good southern word for an Atlanta boy) I will asssume that you have all you need on the Redguards and enough heros.

-Dave (Ryder Bloc)


Notes on the Redguards, their history and their heroes.

This is a publishers proof of the initial draft of my book,
"REDGUARDS, THEIR HISTORY AND THEIR HEROES".

The following is a collection of the tales, myths and history of the Redguards. Much of their history is shrouded in mystery and in the mists of time. It is hard to distinguish between myths, and real history. I believe, however, that Frandar Hunding, Divad The Singer, Makela Leki, and Derik Hallin were real people and their stories are real.

The memory stone mentioned in the second chapter may not be familiar to all readers. It is a stone who's mineral content makes it only found in the far north of High Rock, and there are few of them to begin with. At one time, there was a Mage that lived in the vastness and wastes of that region, and he in practicing enchantment spells, imbued several hundreds of them with the ability to hold and record one's thoughts. They are extremely valuable and can be used to record only once. Most city museums hold a dozen or so of these stones, and if you take one in your hand, you can receive the thoughts of the original owner as clear and fresh as if they were speaking to you. Now days un-recorded stones are very rare, and worth far more than in Makela's day. Imagine she paid only 25,000 gold crowns for hers!

I have placed Makela's story before Divad's even through chronologically she cam many years after his death. The choice was based on my desire to contrast the stories of the principle heroes of the Redguard people. Locating the story titled the Dragon's Toe last was because it illustrates the final use that Redguard Sword Singers made of the Five Magical Swords that Divad The Singer constructed to drive the Goblins from Hammerfell.

Below are the first chapters of the draft.

I. A Translation of The Book Circles by Destri Melarg

Author's note as translated into the Modern Tongue of Hammerfell:

Frandar Hunding was born in 2356 in the old way of reckoning, in our beloved deserts of the old land. The traditional rule of emperors had been overthrown in 2012, and although each successive emperor remained the figurehead of the empire, his powers were very much reduced. Since that time, our people saw 300 years of almost continuous civil war between the provincial lords, warrior monks and brigands, all fighting each other for land and power. Our people once were artisans, poets, and scholars, but the ever evolving strife made the way the sword inevitable - the song of the blade through the air, through flesh and bone, its ring against armor; an answer to our prayers.

In the time of Lord Frandar the first warrior Prince, lords called Yokeda, built huge stone castles to protect themselves and their lands; and castle towns outside the walls begin to grow up. In 2245, however, one man Mansel Sesnit, came to the fore. He became the Elden Yokeda, or military dictator, and for eight years succeeded in gaining control of almost the whole empire. When Sesnit was assassinated in 2253, a commoner took over the government. Randic Torn continued the work of unifying the Empire which Sesnit had begun, ruthlessly putting down any traces of insurrection. He revived the old gulf between the warriors - the sword singers - and the commoners by introducing restrictions on the wearing of swords. "Torn's Sword-hunt", as it was known, meant that only the singers were allowed to wear swords, which distinguished them from the rest of the population.

Although Torn did much to settle the empire into its pre-strife ways, by the time of his death in 2373 internal disturbances still had not been completely eliminated. Upon his death civil war broke out in earnest; war that made the prior 300 year turmoil pale in comparison. It was in this period that Frandar Hunding grew up.

Hunding belonged to the sword-singers. This element of empire society grew from the desert artisans and was initially recruited from the young sons and daughters of the high families. They built the first temple to the unknown gods of War and build a training hall "The Hall of the Virtues of War". Within a few generations the way of the sword - the song of the blade - had become their life. The people of the blade kept their poetry and artisanship in building beautiful swords woven with magic and powers from the unknown gods. The greatest among them became known as Ansei or "Saints of the Sword". Each of these began their own training schools teaching their individual way of the sword. Those Ansei of the highest virtue wandered the country side engaging in battle, righting wrongs, and seeking to end the strife.

To sum it up. Hunding, was a sword-singer, a master, no, a Master Ansei at a time when the peak of the strife was reborn out of the chaos of Torn's death. Many singers put up their swords and became artists, for the pull of the artisan heritage was strong; but others, like Hunding pursued the ideal of the warrior searching for enlightenment through the perilous paths of the Sword. Duels of revenge and tests of skill were common place, and fencing schools multiplied.

Frandar do Hunding Hel Ansei No Shira, or as he is commonly known Frandar Hunding, was born in the far desert marches in the province of High Desert. Hunding is the name of the High Desert region near where he was born. No Shira means noble person or person of noble birth and Hel Ansei is his title of Sword Sainthood.

Hunding's ancestors reach back to the beginning of recorded time in the high desert and were artisans and mystics, his grandfather was a retainer of the Elden Yokeda, Mansel Sesnit, and lead many of the battles of unification prior to Sesnit's assassination.

When he was 14, Hunding's father died in the one of the many insurrections, and he was left to support his mother and four brothers. His prowess with the sword however, made his life both difficult and easy. Easy in that his services came in great demand as a guardian and escort. Hard in that his reputation preceded him, and many awaited their turn to face him in battle and gain instant fame through his defeat.

By the time Hunding was 30 he had fought and won more than 90 duels killing all his opponents. He became virtually invincible with the sword, gaining such skill and mastery that he finally stopped using the real swords created through the artisanship of his people and began using the Shehai or "way of the spirit sword".

All sword singers learn through their intense training and devotion to the gods of war and way of the sword, the forms of discipline that allow the creation of the spirit sword. This is a simple form of magic or mind mastery where by a image of a sword is formed from pure thought. The sword singer forms the sword by concentrating, and it takes shape in his hand - usually a pale thing of light, misty and insubstantial, a thing of beauty perhaps, a symbol of devotion to the Way and the gods, but no weapon. However, those Ansei of the highest level and sensitivity and those with talent in magic, can at times of stress, form a spirit sword, the Shehai which is far more than light and air - it is an unstoppable weapon of great might, a weapon which can never be taken from the owner without also taking his mind.

The Shehai became Hunding's weapon, and with this he slew bands of brigands and wandering monsters than infested the land. Finally upon finishing his 90th duel, defeating the evil Lord Janic and his seven liche followers, he was satisfied that he was indeed invincible. Hunding then turned to formulating his philosophy of "the Way of the Sword". He wrote his Learnings down in the BOOK OF CIRCLES while living as a hermit in a cave in the mountains of high desert in his sixtieth year.

In that year Hunding having enlisted in the many battles of the empire, defeating all opponents, had thought himself ready for death and retired to his cave to capture his strategy and mystical visions to share with other Sword Singers. It was after his completion of the scroll of the Circle that the Singers found him composing his death poem and preparing to join the gods of war in final rest.

At sixty he was a vigorous man, who thought himself through with life, but his people, the sword-singers needed him. They needed him as never before. Torn's Sword Hunt, had separated the Singers from the common people, and the rise of the Last Emperor began the last great strife of the desert empire. This strife was Emperor Hira and his consort Elisa's final effort to wrest control of the empire from the people by destroying the sword-singers. Hira vowed to search out every Singer and with his Brigand army composed of Orcs and castoffs of the wars of the empire, scourge them from the face of the earth.

The Sword Singers were never a numerous people. The harsh desert kept the births few, and growing up in the unforgiving wastes eliminated all but those of iron spirit and will. Thus the final strife which became knows as the "War of the Singers" found the people of the sword unprepared and unready to join together their individually great skills into an army that could defend their home and lives.

Frandar Hunding was sought out, his death poem interrupted, and unceremoniously command of the singers was thrust upon him. To the unknown gods of war great thanks is owed that Hunding had had the time in his cave to write down his years of accumulated wisdom, of strategy, of the way of the Shehai. The singers fled from their camps up into the desert hills and mountains. Fled to the foot of Hattu "the father of Mountains" where Hunding had gone to write in peace and to die, and there these remnants formed into the Army of the Circle - they learned Hunding's Way, his strategies his tactics, and the final great vision for a master stroke.

Hunding devised a plan of seven battles leading the Armies of Hira further and further into the wilderness to the foot of Hattu, where the final battle could be fought. Hunding called his plan the "Hammer and the Anvil". With each battle Hunding's Singers would further learn his strategies and tactics, grow strong in the use of the Shehai, and be ready to defeat their opponents in the seventh battle. And thus it was, the six first battles were waged, each neither victory or defeat, each leading to the next. The larger armies of Hira following the small army of Hunding. Outnumbered thirty to one, the singers never faltered from the Way. The stage was set, Hira and his Army maneuvered to the base of Hattu Mountain, where the hammer blow was delivered. The battle was pitched, and many singers fell that day. Hunding knew, that the singers who lived would be few, but Hira and his empire of evil would not live to ravage the empire and so it went.

At the end Hunding and less that twenty thousand Singers survived the day, but no army of evil was left to pillage and murder, more than three hundred thousand fell that day an Hattu. Of those who were left to run and live, all were scattered to the four winds, and organized force no more.

The singers packed their lives, folded their tents, mourned their dead, and followed Hunding to the great port city or Arch, in the province of Seawind. There Hunding had a flotilla of ships waiting. The Singers left their desert for a new land. No longer welcome in the desert empire, they to be sung about and spoken of in legend. The final great warrior, the singers of Shehai, the Book of Circles, all leaving that land where their virtue was unappreciated. Red, red with blood they were in the eyes of the gentle citizenry, never mind that they had saved them from a great evil.

The singers vowed to learn new ways as they traveled across the great ocean to their new land. To adopt a new name, but to honor the past. In honor of their final battle, they named their new land Hammerfell and adopted the name Redguards. In honor to Hunding the great warrior prince, each household in Hammerfell has a place by the hearth an alcove really, just a niche, big enough to hold the scroll - The Book Circles.

What follows is a modern version of our great book of heritage.

THE BOOK OF CIRCLES

Introduction

I have been many years training in the Way of strategy, called Shehai Shen She Ru, and now I think I will explain it in writing for the first time. It is now during the first ten days of the tenth month in the twentieth year of the Fox. I have climbed mountain Hattu to pay homage to the song of the sword and to the unknown gods of war and kneel before the spirit of the mountain. I am a warrior of High Desert province, Frandar do Hunding Hel Ansei No Shira age sixty years.

From youth my heart has been inclined toward the Way of strategy. My first duel was when I was fourteen, I struck down.......

II. From The Memory Stone on Makela Leki

This is a faithful reproduction of the thoughts recorded in Makela Leki's memory stone, found in the Bankorai pass, in the year of reckoning 2776. Almost all of this is in the first person, as Makela was unfamiliar with the protocols and scholarly formalities of recording herself into a memory stone. None the less, her heroism and heroic deeds live on, her memories fresh in the stone for all to feel and hear.

"??!!........... muuu uhh, I wonder if this will really work.....?" The Mages guild took me for 25,000 gold crowns if it doesn't! Imagine?!! This stone will record my thoughts,........?? What did they say? Just unwrap it from the silver foil and leather bag and as soon as it touches my flesh it will begin to record.

"Ahhhh, the pain, I must block it out, no one would want to hold my stone and hear my thoughts if I let it record my pain....!" Thank the unknown gods of war and the training I received in The Hall of the Virtues of War ........ I CAN block out this pain! "Ummm just, ah, there, it's walled off!" Yes I can still see it there just beyond my consciousness lurking like a hungry wolf - a wolf what will soon consume me. I see also my inevitable death from these dammed wounds. No potions left, the healing crystal and ring are used up, and me, with not even magic enough to light a candle! Oh but the gods did give me other gifts, the gift of sword singing, the thrill of battle, Frandar Hunding's Book of Circles, THE WAY OF THE SWORD!! ...... ah but then that is my story, I get ahead of myself.

I am Makela Leki a warrior, a sword-singer, a second level Ansei. In my cradle I could form the Shehai, the spirit sword - The mystical blade, mine formed of pure thought serpents intertwined with vines of roses to form the blade, as beautiful as........

Ah, but I'm about to tell you all about that, to tell you my story, a story of valiant battle, of my loves, of my wars, of,... of betrayal and of this last glorious victory. To tell you of how I came to this distant lonely lpass me and five companions, to fight these men and monsters to defeat the army that would fall on my people like cowards in the night........ but again I get ahead of myself.

I am a simple warrior. I grew up as a Maiden of the Spirit Blade. As early as I can remember I wanted to be a Singer, to feel the hunger of the blade in my hands, to feel it come alive and take my enemies. I am told our people were artisans and poets long ago in our desert homes. Here in new home now known as Hammerfell, many of us have returned to those ancient ways, but to me there is but ONE WAY!! THE WAY of the SWORD!!!

Ah this is hard to tell. I grew up in my noble family, the only one of three brothers and two sisters that felt the calling, the Song of the Sword. Father understood, for he too had felt the call. He had become a master, and Ansei long before settling down with in our estate to raise a family. At eleven, I entered the Hall of the Virtues of War and joined the Maidens of the Spirit Sword. In my band there were six of us. Daring Julia, solid Patia, big Kati, svelte Cecil, wise Zell, and me - all are gone now, save me, and soon I will join them,... join them in the halls of the unknown gods of war. We drank together, we fought, we wept, we grew in the way of the sword. We joined in our learnings in the Hall with our Bothers of the Blade. Learning from each other, we all sat at the feet of the Hall Master striving to learn the depths of the Shehai - making the spirit blade into a real weapon as Frandar Hunding had! Only a few have the purity of heart and virtue to be able to take the step and learn the mysteries of Ansei... Sword Sainthood.

Somehow, of all the Brothers and the Maidens, I only possessed the unique qualities, the faint but strong enough flicker of magic to be able to call forth the Shehai. Many times I called it, seldom would it become substantial enough to be a weapon. To be a Ansei, of the first level you just need to be able to call it, and that I could, so I became the first Ansei from our local hall in two generations.

Oh I have so much to tell, so many memories, so many treasures to share with you , my unknown companion........ How do I start? Umhhh, the pain is still out there lurking hungry, slowly consuming what's left of me. I guess I had better tell of the final battle, the one that has left me here, and then if I have the will left tell you of my life, of my love Raliph... OH what a lad he was! What times we shared........... Forgive me, my mind wanders................ Let me go to the Final Battle!

Umm to start, in the middle humm. Yes! We Maidens grew, learned, mastered the Way, and upon completing the Walk-About. To you who are not Singers, this is a wilderness trek emulating the times of Frandar Hunding - where we each wander the country side righting wrongs, defeating monsters, performing quests in the name of virtue. Some of us in our Hall took years to finish! Always there is danger, we six Maidens each returned in our own good time, but many are they who do not live to return from the Walk About!

We returned , each to our own lives, to meet in the hall once a week to tell our stories to the new Maidens and Brothers, and to perform as instructors in the Way of the sword. All was well till the night of the (fill in a festival from the list). All our people were reveling and enjoying the repast, but for we six Maidens. It happened that the festival day fell on our day of meeting in the hall, our day of prayer and fasting and honor to the Way of the Sword.

As we met, late into the night, a knocking rang on our door. When I opened, it there was a guardian the Bankorai Pass in the Wrothgarian Mountains, wounded and near death. He told us of betrayal from the north, an invasion sponsored by the Crystal Tower of HIgh Rock, lead by its Lord an army filled with evil minions, Orcs and sundry coming to fall upon our unsuspecting people. Quickly we used up a crystal of healing in restoring him to vitality. We sent him on to the king, while we six grabbed our weapons and armor of power, and as many potions, marks, and crystals and rings as we could carry.

We flew to the pass hoping upon hope that we would not be too late! Our journey was not in vain, for we arrived just at the very point where the last three guardians were overwhelmed by the horde! Into the pass we ran forming the old battle line, six abreast. OH did we FIGHT! The Song of the Sword was a joyous noise slicing through the ranks of evil. We fought for hours. Julia was the first to fall, a cowardly poisoned dagger finding a rent in her armor. Then one by one all fell, save me. Then my beloved sword, the sword of my father, the one with the serpent's crest, fashioned by the master sword smith Singer Tansal broke in my hands! All was lost, our six lives spent in vain. Now, many many of Them would pour through the pass! I would be easy prey for them, like a newborn child! I wept in frustration!

Then I remembered the hearth in our home - the book! Frandar Hunding's Book of Circles, the Way of Strategy. I reached for the Shehai the spirit sword, ... that which I could never reliably form when I needed it, and behold it was alive! Alive with fire! It formed in my hand! Ablaze with power ---- OH I slew mightily, right and left, like a scythe through wheat! All the way to the Lord of the Tower I fought. With one blow I cut his magical armor asunder, one more took his head! But to do that deed cost me dearly, wounds by the dozen, for although I had magical armor, it was not formed of spirit like my blade, it was not as invincible as my blade or my own spirit, and I was sorely wounded.

With the felling of the Tower Lord, his army crumbled. They fled before my wrath! The ran back through the pass not even pausing to collect their dead and wounded. All who could stand ran for their lives, and I slew all I could reach, but my breath was coming short, and the pain.... Finally I rested, on this rock where you find me now. I don't know why I chanced to bring this stone along. I bought it on a whim really, with the loot from...... ah well I guess I need to really stop and tell my story in order. I feel able to go on to tell you more ... the eternal night is descending more slowly than I thought. Not just yet, am I ready to compose my death poem. A little sip of water and.......... well I think I will go back and tell you of my life, maybe some details about the battle. And Oh yes! about Raliph and our children, humm where will I start........

I am a simple warrior. I grew up as a Maiden of the Spirit Blade. As early as I can remember .....................

III. Divad The Singer

Preface

Divad The Singer is in one body, two unique and distinct people. Divad is the most well known of the Redguard heroes. Frandar Hunding's, son, probably the most accomplished Ansei who ever lived. Yet early in his life, Divad appeared to thoroughly have rejected The way of the sword.

Divad was the only son of Frandar Hunding, and was born late in Hunding's life (2396), when he was away most of the time fighting the last of his duels and engaging in the many battles and insurrections of the period. At eleven, Divad entered the Hall of the Virtues of War and began training, but at 16, he appears to have finally let his anger at growing up essentially fatherless get the better of him, and he broke his swords and left the Hall to become an acrobat in a traveling circus.

The life in the circus was unsatisfying to Divad, and after two years, his innate artisan heritage drove him to become a musician and finally a Bard. For two more years he traveled composing and quite literally singing in the cities of the empire - gaining no small amount of fame and recognition for his stirring and popular songs and music.

Although Divad had forsaken the Way of the sword in public, it would appear that he continued to practice the compulsory forms of training he was taught in the Hall. He carried no sword, but in the late evening, bright lights could be often be seen in his tent, which was later learned to be his practice of the form of the way known as Shehai Shen She Ru - the Way of the spirit sword, or simply the Shehai.

Divad was very popular with the people of the empire, and his music and concerts well attended, but he could not escape his heritage of the sword. When the last Emperor ascended to power, and began to persecute the sword-singers, Divad was among the first to attract his attention.

Once the Emperor Hira and his consort decided to go to war with the Singers for control of the empire, he moved swiftly against those Singers who were visibly a part of empire society. Most he had killed or assassinated, but Divad's music and fame were so wide spread, that he sent a team of his personal guards to arrest him.

The Emperor's men were either very luck or very unlucky depending on how you choose to view it. Being no fool, Hira sent 100 of his best guards, for even an unarmed Singer was a very dangerous foe. The luck came in that they were able to capture Divad and place him in chains, as they came at him as he sat dining with his elderly mother. The disaster came in that as he surrendered, they haughtily killed her as an after thought.

That single thoughtless deed, as is often the case in war, was the one pivotal factor causing their eventual defeat. That act ignited in Divad the spirit of the Way. Up till that careless ax stroke, Divad was a ordinary artisan, no to be fair, an artist, a great artist, but no warrior.

The moment of her death, Divad rose from his seat, took his chains between his two hands and lay about him in the confines of the dining hall swinging the heavy chain in a deadly arc. He slew four of the guards, gaining enough space to run and dive through the window and into the river on who's banks the house stood. He disappeared in the dark and wet of the night.

From that point, Divad was spotted numerous times and told of in numerous rumors all across the empire - far more places than a mere mortal man could have ever been. At every point where Mira's men gathered to do mischief, the resistance was attributed to Divad.

As Mira moved against the Singers and began forming his army to invade High Desert, it was Divad who carried the news to the Singers. Divad was among those who climbed Hattu to find Hunding in his cave. What is not well known is that Hunding, at first refused to take leadership of the Singers. The first attempt to interrupt him at his death poem cause him to drive the elders from his cave, he even formed the Shehai in his anger. It was Divad who re-entered the cave alone to speak with Hunding. To this day, no one knows what was said, what happened in that cave, for there were bright flashes of light, and angry voices. Five long hours came and went, then both emerged from the cave, Divad, at Hunding's side. The rest as they say, is history......

Divad, who had not completed training in the Hall of the Virtues of War, became an adviser to Hunding, and spent his time reading the newly completed Book of Circles, but his role in the Hammer and Anvil strategy was as a simple sword-singer and fighter. It was not till the Singers landed In New Land that his story truly begins.

In that land, he learned to combine the artisanship of his people in smithing swords of great beauty and strength with the Shehai and build the Five great magical swords of the Redguard, but let me tell it in Divad's own words.

The chapter following this preface is a modern translation of Divad's heroic feats in wresting the land of Hammerfell from the Goblins. Many find it interesting that this is Divad's own work, He composed the saga in a Brads song. I am sorry that I am a mere scholar and not myself a poet. I can not do his beautiful verses justice, thus I have merely rendered his epic saga in prose.

The Song of Divad

We thousands traveled the Great Ocean deep. We of the high desert, ah to be surrounded by so much water! All saw the new land rise from the water in the east. A land of richness and great beauty it was, and it gladdened our hearts.

A great city we saw, and a great port. We traveled close to see streets deserted., buildings pulled down and falling , a city filled with only bones and ghosts of the past, and it saddened our hearts.

Great Lord Prince Hunding landed with his generals and we Singers to claim the New Land - it was empty of man. Unknown to us there were others there - they were to break our hearts!

Dwarves were those who had been there first, but now no sign save bones and dust. To the High Temple of the city Hunding came to pray, no weapon or armor upon his breast - no helm upon his brow did rest.

In the silence out of the dark, was a heinous act committed, a dagger as he kneeled in prayer. The healers too late were summoned. An all out battle from the emptyness came..

Surrounded we were upon the shore, our army still in the ships so far away. To the boats our men raced and rowed, and soon two great armies in battle were met!

From whence appeared this mighty horde, we could not guess, but wave upon wave of Yellow Warriors came and dashed themselves upon our Rock. Not for Nothing did we send the evil Hira to his early grave.

It seemed the sun rose and descended to its evening home, and the battle did continue. Soon the yellow horde was stacked upon itself body upon body, and still they did come. But not for Nothing did we send the evil Hirato his grave.

A break! A break within their lines, and then all were gone save those few who upon the ground did lay and moan. The silence was deafening, and our battle victory cry did ring out! The day is ours! Another valiant victory for the people of the blade.

A new land was ours, and Hunding to mourn. In his honor we did swear. His book to hold close. In his honor the land we did name after his last great battle and the Hammer blow we called it Hammerfell. A new name for us, the Singers, Red guards - no Redguards.

The battle over we did seek to rest, and the land so rich to settle and dwell. To peace, to rest, to have a home! Oh this land of Hammerfell, and it gladdened our hearts.

We thought we were home at peace, but the battle had just begun. For with the morning sun, did come again the Yellow Horde. And fight again we must, and again and again and again - and it saddened our hearts.

The council was called, for day after day the fight went on, and no end in sight. From whence do these Goblins come? We can not endure their endless coming - and our hearts did break.

A new hope, a plan was Divad's role, and he sent out sixty to spy our foe. To learn their secret. To learn from whence they come.

They told of a mighty rent in the sky, a mighty gate-way in the air it did hang. Like a door in the Hall of virtue, and from it they did spring, in an endless line. And of it, the mages could powerful magic sense.

Oh to close that door and staunch the flow. Divad to see him self did go. In him the warrior blood was pure, but magic was a companion too. For Divad did sense the power, and in him the plan did grow.

Of Singers our army was built, but few there were with Ansei power, and fewer yet could wield the Shehai. But Shehai was all that could close the door, but Shehai of power and purity above mortal man.

But Divad did have a plan. For lifetimes the Singers did make blades of power. All warriors to wield and use the magic within. Much more magic and power was needed.

But Divad did have a plan. He the Singer swordsmiths did call, and with them he joined the Shehai with the forging of the steel and power. Five mighty swords alive with power. The spirit of Divad within each blade he did pour.

So weak he was when blades were done - a newborn babe he could hardly match in strength. But the blades they were alive with his power - and we had hope - for Divad did have a plan.

Our five Ansei each did hold one of the blades The five of Magic. With them did surround the gate and call upon the Shehai. Oh unknown gods of war, oh beauty beyond our mortal eyes. The blaze of power did the five blind.

The fire down the blades poured, it devoured the ground, the Goblins, the gates, the rent in the sky - all it consumed. Of the Goblin army, non did stand as before. Every living yellow warrior now Stood small. As small as a child they were.

Unable to wield the weapons of gown men, unable to wear armor too large, they fled,fled to the caves and under the earth to disturb our peace no more. The gate it was gone from sight!

Divad, one more task did have. The five swords to lay to rest. Too powerful they would be for man. Tempting to use, yet a great danger to all Hammerfell.

Divad and the five Ansei did climb the mountains to the north. Divad and the five blind Ansei. Only Divad did return, the swords lost to mortal man. Our hearts were gladdened.

But Divad's spirit had left him too and upon his bed did lie. To compose this poem for his people to learn and know. And our hearts were saddened.

On the twelfth day Divad did die, his spirit all had gone. And all was left was our beloved land, the land of Hammerfell. And our hearts were broken.

Editors note

Destri Melarg has translated this song, which began as Divad's death poem, but notes that he believes that it ends at this point, with the following six phrases (not published in this translation) being added by a later Bard. Melarg notes that Divad did return from the mountains and his daughter Cinsel heard him speaking in his sleep of placing the five great magical swords in the depths of the mountain caves. Each Ansei who came with him stayed with their sword, somehow she believed that they derived immortality of a sort from the magic in the blades. Thus the tale has grown about the five caves and the guardians of the swords. Although Divad was a living man and helped found Hammerfell, there is no scholarly evidence for the magical swords, the giant goblins or the mountain caves. Most modern scholars believe that this is simply embellishment of the original death poem. The wresting of the land from the Goblins and how they were banished seems farfetched, since any who enter a cave or dungeon today can attest that goblins are a mere four feet tall.

IV. The Tale of the Dragon's Toe

As told to me around the campfires of Dendle Fragar., I faithfully give you the story titled "The Dragon's Toe". It may be noted that this is really the story of Derik Hallin and the quest for the Five swords of Divad. In fairness to the modern history of Hammerfell, the events of this story appear to have actually happened. A thousand years have passed since this story took place, so it too may contain "extras" like the last six phrases in The Song of Divad.

The evidence for the destruction of the Great Goblin Lord and the Army of Fear however, may be found in the huge field of bones on the Plane of Tear. To this day, campers and visitors will visit the site, and on occasion find a gold coin or bit of strangely shaped metal. History recounts a great destruction, but has no details, so we must turn to a campfire tale to learn of Hallin.

On hearing the title "The Dragon's Toe" one's mind turns to flying monsters and the romance of rescuing maidens, but alas the story is one of a man. The Dragon's Toe is a terrain feature of the Wrothgarian mountains that separate High Rock and Hammerfell. This apparently was the region of the Caves of Divad, where he hid the five swords.

I located this story last in my anthology of Heroes, since you need to have learned of Divad, Makela, and Frandar Hunding to understand Derik Hallin's quest. Derek's story takes place two hundred years after the times on Makela Leki. In another time of strife and stress in Hammerfell.

In Hallin's time, sword-singing had fallen from prominence in the families of Hammerfell, and only a vigilant few came to The Hall of the Virtues of War. Most of the Brothers and Maidens in the local Halls saw their learnings of the Way as a social event or perhaps as a quaint club. Few indeed, actually read the Book of Circles, and fewer yet attempted the learnings of the Way. Derik, was one of these precious few.

It was fortunate that Derik was raised in the back country, and was able to avoid the sophisticism of the cities. His Hall of the Virtues of War had stuck closely to the old ways, and the Brothers and Maidens could actually teach the forms of the Way. The once-a-week sitting at the feat of the master in that Hall contained real wisdom, and discussion of the Book of Circles. On festival and feast days they sang the old Bard songs of Divad.

Derek was small of stature, but agile of mind and body. His skills in all things sat him apart from the would-be Signers of his time. Had his Hall been located in one of the large cities, jealousy and envy of him prowess would certainly have limited his progress - it is uncertain if he could have risen to the Ansei level there.

Like Makelia, he too could form the Shehai as a child, and on assention in the Hall to his manhood, he alone in the entire province of Hammerfell possessed the virtue and skill to become an Ansei. It is at this point that we pick up his story, in the campfire tale, The Dragon's Toe.

Dendle the story teller, chants this story after dinner, to both children and adults. She is a story teller of some renowned, and will stand and act out some of the portions of the tale, as well as pitch her voice appropriately for the speaking of each character. I especially like the voice she used for the Ansei Master of the Shem Pit, the last cave of the quest.

The Dragon's Toe

It was a dark and stormy night. Derik Hallin later to become known as Lord Hallin, had left the Hall of Virtue beginning his Walk-About when he spied the campfire and shelter of a grove of trees.

"Welcome to my fire, young man". Called the hooded stranger in a thin and cracking voice. "I would welcome company on a night like this."

Editors, this is the outline of my final chapter for this book on Hammerfell heroes. I condensed Dendle's story telling. I have my notes, but the story gets long with all the quotes. She puts a lot of dialog in her story telling. I am amazed that the old stories about the 5 swords keeps cropping up. It's been a thousand years since Hellion's time, yet people continue to believe in the stories.

The wagon master sat with me after listening to her story and smoked a pipe with me. In discussing the story, he says that his story teller used to say that one of the five swords survived the closing of the Goblin gate, and is yet hidden here in Hammerfell. It was the least of the five, but the story has it that it exceeds and modern blade magical or ebony by several orders of magnitude.

Of course I take this with a grain of salt, since a ebony weapon is unparalleled in it's keen cutting ability and personally I can't imagine a weapon doing more damage than a Claymore of Firestorm or a saber of life steal. Dendle even believes that out in the country side in one of the Halls of the Virtues of War there are still people who follow the old ways, and can from a Shehai or spirit sword.

In collecting these stories I once through I was seeing a Shehai being formed, by an old Hall master, but the thing if it was a spirit sword was so faint, that even the sword shape was questionable. I didn't want to insult the old man so I claimed I saw it too, but if that was a Shehai, I can't imagine it possible to be used as a real weapon.


Here's my outline of this story:

At the time of this story, Hammerfell is fully occupied by Redguards. All the old cities of the Dwarves (but one - the Ghost City of Dwarfhome) are now the cities of today's modern Hammerfell. A second invasion of the giant goblins comes. Hammerfell is unprepared, except for a few faithful followers, all youths in the rural Halls of virtue.

Hallin being the only Ansei rallies the army of Hammerfell, after a defeat, He brings back the old ways by leading each warrior to read the Book of Circles that is in each home. The army fights the Goblins to a standstill, but things look bleak, just as in Divad's song. Somehow the goblins keep being re-supplied both with arms and troops. Eventually the Army of Hammerfell will lose.

The old master of Hallin's Hall of the Virtues of War has an ancient copy of Divad's will and testament, and reads it to Hallin - it tells him that the 5 swords aren't lost, just hidden and well guarded in 5 caves. Each cave is home to a master guardian, one of the old blind Ansei - and also a maze.

According to the will, Derik must, along with a virtuous companion of pure heart enter the cave, defeat each Ansei Master and retrieve their sword. Dendle goes into great detail here. It seems that each Master had an outstanding trait - one Katrice, possessed feline grace, and had become very cat like, another, who had icy calm was something much like an Ice Golem.

On each blade is inscribed part of an intricate message on how to use the power of the swords combined. Derik scours the rural Halls for Brothers of the Blade and Maidens of the Spirit Sword to accompany him in the quests. He finally one by one searches out his companions, and wins each sword.

They learn from the blades how to use them and together wield the force of the 5 swords in sealing the rent in space time that the Goblins have made and from which springs their invasion. Hallin's companions avoided blinding by the magic swords by hurling the swords together into the void, and sealing forever the giant Goblins in the void between their world and ours.

The land is saved and Hallin and his companions (3 women and 2 men) become Ansei and restore the teachings of Frandar Hunding to Hammerfell.

THE END