Pocket Guide to the Empire, Second Edition — The Abiding Eye: Argonia

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Black Marsh is, unfortunately, another unreleased chapter. The Hist were initially going to be its main focus, but how exactly to present them was also under discussion. The dominant thread of thought was that they were to be refugees from another kalpa/dimension/dragon break, who broke up their titanic souls and/or memories and stored them inside lizards and human simulacra (the Kothringi). Speaking exclusively of the Hist proved difficult however, and Baruch's later drafts focused on Tiber's expeditions into the marsh, presenting them as “the last remnant of some terrible time before the Dawn,” maze-like, full of strange semi-sentient creatures with whom the Septims attempted to make treaty. Years later, Baruch summed up his version of the chapter like this:

Tiber Septim and a party of explorers (including his lieutenant and his lieutenant's small son, who are from the line of Cuhlecain) march into the impenetrable, unexplored “Black Marsh” to find the Hist and treat with the trees. As the years go by, the lizards and their masters always seemingly just out of reach, the party dies off in one by one in the swamp. They give up for a time and spend decades in an idyllic little valley with the Kothri, where the lieutenant's son marries and has a son of his own. Eventually, everyone is dead but Tiber and the lieutenant's grandson, and they are lost, alone, in the wilderness. Tiber is a hundred years old, feeble and dying, and the grandson has to carry him. They stumble upon the nest of none other than Gru-Bula-Gru, who tells them they will never find the Hist and some wise shit, and then disappears and they find themselves less than an hour from the edge of the marsh and Cyrodiil, where it has been only [an arbitrarily short amount of time] since they entered the swamp.

There was also some brainstorming focused on the nature of the Kothringi and their silver skin. Are they actually silver, or do they paint themselves to appear so? Or is it a misunderstanding of the archeological record? Or perhaps an artifact of their being an “anachronism” of the Hist? Or are they silver because they're another humanoid infiltrator created by the Hist, like the Argonians, but even more manlike? The only publicly posted portion is a sidebar written in-character by Lady Nerevar on the topic, which she posted to her Tumblr December 5th, 2014. It is posted below.

Although folk tales of silver-skinned Kothringi had been prevalent since the late 1st era, the modern notion arises primarily out of an archeological discovery in 2E865 by Augustus Plongian, who has since been discredited and largely forgotten. Plongian had been excavating Ìitsha, a Kothri village just north of modern-day Soulrest, when he discovered a mass grave, remarkably preserved in the bog. Like all mummies, the bodies were a dark gray color. The high mineral content of the slick, watery ground gave the bodies a glister. Plongian used this as ‘evidence’ of the Kothringi being silver-skinned in an attempt to preserve the near-mythical significance he had attributed to the tribe. His books, which are now rightly seen as fiction rather than science, painted the Kothringi as a peaceful and educated people, obsessed with astronomy and theology, who brought civilization to the previously savage marsh.

The source of the original myths which fueled Plongian’s obsessions have proven harder to track down. Excavations around the Topal Bay have uncovered a remarkable number of silver artifacts attributed to the Kothri, and they are known to be one of the first makers of scale mail (likely inspired by their Argonian neighbors). Of particular interest are the intricate silver masks found in upper class burials – contemporary accounts describe Kothringi nobility as clad in head-to-toe in fine cloth, with only their face showing. It could be that the silver of the mask or the scale armor was mistaken for skin by the historians.

“Silver” could also simply be a mistranslation of the Mesonedic (c. 1E 800-1500) iisirbró, which was used to describe the luster of the moon and carried a distinctive connotation of holiness. Since many Kothringi embraced the Alessian Doctrines, it could be that their whole race was called moon-like and holy in praise.

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