Meet the Character: Ard Caddach

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Originally published 10/28/2020. Original article can be found here.

Is it truly possible to rule the Reachfolk? Only one has the strength and the will to even try. Learn about the indomitable “Despot of Markarth,” Ard Caddach, in our latest Meet the Character.

A letter from Helvar Tarperian, agent of Councilor Itinia.

Honored Councilor Itinia,

I can now report that I delivered your missive to Caddach of the Blackdrake clan, the Despot of Markarth. As my lady anticipated, the gift of a coffer full of jewels bought me the opportunity to present your proposal to the ruler of Markarth. Unfortunately, Ard Caddach is not inclined to consider any involvement in our current troubles. When I relate the final conversation I had with the Despot of Markarth, I think my lady will agree that there is little more I can do here.

As my lady instructed, I presented your gift and your letter to Caddach in the throne room of Understone Keep. Caddach is a physically imposing man, a hale warlord of early middle age with a black beard and keen dark eyes. He dresses in the motley hide, leather, and bone favored by the Reachfolk, and wears a large broadsword at his hip even in his own throne room—an altogether fierce and barbaric display, made only more intimidating by his habitual glower. “Well?” he demanded when I approached the throne. “Who are you and what Imperial nonsense do you bring to my keep?”

“Councilor Itinia of the Elder Council sends her greetings,” I began. “She has a proposal to lay before you, which she details in this letter. Shall I read it to you, my lord?”

“Do you think me too uneducated to read it for myself?” he asked me. “Leave your letter and away with you.” In fact, I had not heard that Caddach was literate—so many Reachfolk are not. I thought it best not to mention this, though. I think I was fortunate he did not tear up my lady’s missive in my face.

Caddach did not send for me for eight days, and I despaired of ever gaining an audience. But finally one of his Stonehands (so his personal guard is known) came to bring me to him. To my surprise I was led not to the throne room of Understone Keep, but to the high ramparts of ancient Dwarven stonework that protect the city. Here I found Caddach standing on the walltop, the letter I had delivered tucked into his belt. A bitterly cold wind blew down from the snowy mountains to the north, and it was all I could do to keep my teeth from chattering aloud.

“My lord Blackdrake,” I said, bowing.

“So this Itinia thinks to make me Emperor, does she?” Caddach asked. It seemed he’d acquainted himself with the contents of my lady’s missive after all.

“Yes, my lord,” I replied. “The Empress Regent has been missing for months. The Ruby Throne cannot be left empty. Cyrodiil needs you, my lord. All of Tamriel needs you. Only you can bring an end to this War of Three Banners.”

“Cyrodiil needs me?” Caddach laughed loudly. “I’ve no need for Cyrodiil, that I can tell you. They’d murder me within a year if I tried to sit on that great Ruby Throne of yours.”

“But you are the last of the Blackdrakes, the closest blood relation to the preceding dynasty,” I protested. “Who else has a better claim to the throne?”

“The last of the Blackdrakes? Let me show you the last of the Blackdrakes,” Caddach answered. Then he suddenly grasped my arm and yanked me right up to the edge of the high wall on which we stood. I flailed for balance, kept from falling to my death only by his iron grip. He pointed at the dark stone far below us.

“There lie the Blackdrakes!” he snarled at me. “My uncles, my cousins, all of them I could catch, broken and dead at the foot of this wall. I had them thrown down from this very spot because they were fools eager to make themselves puppets for your great lords and high houses. Your mistress doesn’t want a new Longhouse Emperor. She wants a pet Reachman she can train to do her bidding.

“You tell Councilor Itinia that I am Caddach, the Ard of Markarth! Aye, called Despot by people like you! I have no clan, and the hard stone under my feet is throne enough for me. But if I ever come to Cyrodiil again it will be at the head of another Reach horde. Is that what your Lady Itinia wants?”

I confess I did not know how to answer Ard Caddach’s question. I clung to his arm and said something like, “No! Yes! I don’t know!” before Caddach dragged me back from the edge, sparing me. I concluded that our discussion was over and fled for my life.

I hope this letter finds its way swiftly to my lady’s hands. I shall await your instructions here in Markarth and stay out of Caddach’s sight until I hear from you. But in all candor, I must say that I cannot see a way to broach this question again with Caddach. The Despot of Markarth is not a man to be provoked twice.

Your dedicated servant,
Helvar Tarperian

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