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Basic Guide to Telvanni Construction

Clagius Galenus (Xui'al)

When one is given opportunity to visit Morrowind Province, one will undoubtedly notice the strangeness of construction, the glaring differences in architecture from more familiar Imperial-style buildings. Foremost in unusual design are the almost wholly alien structures favored by members of the Great House Telvanni. While that House is considered among the more xenophobic, and members are generally unwilling to part with hard-learned knowledge, we have been able to piece together a great deal of information from various sources about the fantastic dwellings of the Telvanni.

Even the casual observer will note that Telvanni buildings are not, in fact, traditional buildings at all. Rather, they are totally organic structures grown into useful shapes to accommodate city life. Thick large vines curling about above merchant stalls and winding in curious paths overhead are common sights in any Telvanni town. Many hold the belief that Telvanni towers are plants, although that is technically incorrect; in reality, the structures are fungal in nature. The more curious will note the distinct mushroom shapes of the upper reaches of towers central in any Telvanni city.

Although one will encounter any number of dwellings in a Telvanni town, it might come as a surprise that all pod-houses in a town are part of the same organism (although some structures in some towns are separate, so technically it is not one fungus, but a small colony). Instead of being several smaller fungi scattered about the countryside, all are merely outgrowths of the incredible towers that rise from the heart of the village. Therefore, when one inquires as to how such a city is built, how the towers are grown is the question one is truly asking.

All Telvanni towers need magic and care to be properly grown, and require a great deal of expertise across multiple fields. It is necessary for one to be familiar with construction, primarily to select and prepare a site. Architecture, to understand what kind of shapes are appropriate for men and mer to live in, what growth patterns offer the greatest structural stability, and other such concerns. Magic, to be able to grow the fungus in the first place, and to guide its expansion later on. Mycology, again primarily for site selection -- it is vital to know under what conditions the fungus can survive, and to what extent it can be manipulated through magical means. Morrowind's generally inhospitable environs seem to offer the Telvanni fungus ideal conditions in which to thrive. Indeed, Many Telvanni towns are found along coastlines, where harsh rocky shores meet the salt water of the seas.

Telvanni cities can be grown from a single spore, and when one considers the grand scale of the resultant towers in which Telvanni counselors and elders reside, one begins to understand the sheer mastery of Telvanni sorcery. However, a single spore on its own is not enough for one to grow such a spectacular city. Spores require a magical catalyst in order to spur their remarkable growth. While it may be entirely possible for an especially powerful wizard to act as such a catalyst, it is virtually unheard of. Instead, one must procure at least two grand soul gems, and fill them with appropriately strong souls for this endeavor. Needless to say, this aspect of construction is much more dangerous than a more familiar gathering of wood and stone. The monsters whose souls are used -- usually some sort of Daedra -- are among the most powerful one will encounter in all of Tamriel. Less adventurous individuals could purchase the necessary gems pre-filled from enchanters or adventurers, although the price for these are, quite reasonably, astronomical. Of course, the person seeking to grow a Telvanni tower is almost always an accomplished magician, and is therefore much more capable of obtaining such items than a commoner.

Within their own ranks, the Telvanni only offer to aid construction for members of a certain rank in the House, and require those seeking advancement into the upper echelons to have their own tower. While the Telvanni typically scorn outside interference -- even that of the other Great Houses -- it is considered good practice to begin growing a tower only after obtaining a construction contract from the proper Imperial authority. In addition to supplying a pair of soul gems, the prospective owner must also make a sizable financial contribution; the work on a tower is highly specialized, and requires a moderate number of laborers. On top of those standard necessities, at times key figures involved in tower construction will make their own demands. These unforeseen obstacles can range from simple male boredom (easily solved with the addition of women) to suggestions of enhancing security. In any event, the one thing that an ambitious wizard does not have to provide himself is the actual spore -- presumably, with all the requirements that go along with the whole affair, there is quite an oversupply of unused spores.

The spore is carefully seeded (an unusual expression, to be sure) along with the soul gems, and supervised over a period of time. Within a matter of days, a small number of mushrooms will have risen up from the site. At this point, one well versed in Telvanni construction will visit the burgeoning fungus, and, through some unknown means, allow the mushroom access to the power held within the gems it has grown around. It is believed that the Telvanni must wait until the fungus has enveloped the gems because only then that they can ensure the gems' power is being siphoned off by the fungus and is not consumed by some other avenue, or wasted. Further, it is also speculated that the Telvanni control the growth rate of the fungus by determining the degree of energy flow from the gems, explaining why new cities can sprout rapidly, while older ones remain more static. At any rate, it is at this point that the simplistic, familiar mushroom shape begins to change into the more exotic design seen in Telvanni cities. Even with the passive flow of power from the gem, it takes many craftsmen and architects to coax the fungus into creating the tiny buds that they will eventually later mold into large pods, which can then be hollowed out for Telvanni to use as housing.

As the tower grows and one can finally step inside it, one will undoubtedly find their attention drawn to the man-sized, purplish crystals which are often found in the lower, older areas of the tower. These may seem mysterious for a moment, but after considering the building materials, are altogether expected. The crystals are the remnants of the soul gems, their forms twisted and changed through Telvanni magic and their symbiosis with the fungus.

Those familiar with the lesser fungi of Tamriel might wonder how sturdy such a structure can be. A glance at a Telvanni town is show enough that the great mushrooms do not rely on accumbency to support themselves. Similar in effects to the less destructive mating of Telvanni and other, "foreign" architectures is the town of Sadrith Mora on the isle of Vvardenfell. Here a Telvanni tower has been grown, and all around the Imperial-styled fortress there are clear signs of this, but no damage has been done to the original buildings. A true marvel of Telvanni construction and fungal growth is their capital city of Port Telvannis. The tower at Port Telvannis is one of the largest ever grown, and, appropriately, towers above the vertical city below. While the city's roots are firmly anchored in the soil most of the structures that the Telvanni dwell in are high above the ground, carved out of the massive shoots of the great tower. This gives the city an otherworldly appearance, given that its streets are many feet up into the air.

There are a number of advantages to the Telvanni's choice of living arrangement. A growing organism can be quite resistant to harm, and the magical nature of the arrangement means that it requires very little in the way of maintenance. The Telvanni do not have to concern themselves with damaged roofs or rotting timbers, or many of the other myriad problems associated with western houses. Many foreigners do not know this, but the fungus also has a limited capacity to remove salt from water, rendering it potable for mer and men. Many Telvanni towns are found along coastlines to take advantage of this ability. Though it isn't a tested theory, the abundance of moisture in Telvanni-controlled areas, in addition to the fungus's propensity for absorbing water, suggest that these structures would not face much danger from fire.

Some may find believe that living inside of a fungus that was grown with the soul of a creature unusual, but it actually quite effective. Inside, the air is often moist and faintly warm, but there is little indication that the structure around you is actually a living organism. The interior architecture is substantially different that of the other Great Houses, as there are often shafts that require levitation to reach to higher levels. This serves a dual purpose: taking less interior room in the tower, and preventing a good portion of the people of Tamriel from getting in, as the Telvanni -- particularly those on the mainland -- are not fond of outsiders. The tops of the towers are often flat, and this provides the resident a good view of all of those around, as well as a fairly secure summoning area.

Morrowind is well suited for the magicka based Telvanni buildings. The Telvanni Isles, Azura's Coast and the Grazeland regions are excellent for maintaining Telvanni structures. House Telvanni also has holdings on Vvardenfell. Although towers have yet to be constructed within the harsh, ashy, Molag Amur region, it is believed that they will need more maintenance. Telvanni buildings are strong, well-built structures, and serve the Great House Telvanni and the people of Morrowind well.