The Improved Emperor’s Guide to Tamriel — Cyrodiil


Near Bravil

Ah, the lovely Nibenay Valley, bucolic background of my long-lost youth. I could happily have spent my life painting landscapes of the region south of Lake Rumare, and indeed, I tried to – but it turned out there was little marked for pleasant landscape paintings in the vulgar, down-at-heel port town of Bravil. The best-paying work I could get there was painting suggestive watercolors for the local bawdy house, labor that was beneath me and not to my taste. So, like many another young artist, I packed up my art supplies and went off to find my fortune in the Imperial City, where my genius was sure to be recognized.

So far, however, my genius has been sadly overlooked, and I have barely been able to scrape by painting portraits of miserly merchants and minor nobles. The only one who truly appreciated me is my beloved Honoria Lucasta. It is my boundless determination to win her hand that is sending me on this geographical odyssey…

The Heartland of Cyrodiil, by Phrastus of Elinhir

The fertile farmlands of central Cyrodiil, around Lake Rumare and the Nibenay Valley, the region commonly known as “The Heartland,” are temperate in climate, supporting the crops and livestock that feed all of central Tamriel. Rain and thunderstorms are frequent, but the region is free from the sandstorms of Hammerfell to the west or the monsoons of Black Marsh to the southeast.

Much has been made of Heimskr’s classical description of Cyrodiil as a jungle or rainforest. My studies indicate that the use of the phrase “endless jungle” to describe Cyrodiil appears to be an error in transcription. Close study to the original, badly faded manuscript reveals that the phrase was miscopied, and should be more accurately rendered as “extensive uplands.” The adjectives “an equatorial rain” as applied to the Nibenese forest to not appear in the original manuscript at all, and I would posit were added by the scribe in support of his previous erroneous use of “jungle.” Lady Cinebar of Taneth of course takes issue with this exegesis, but the flaws in her methods of scholarship have been well-documented elsewhere.

Imperial City

A Meeting with The Chancellor

It was high noon in the Imperial City when I entered the base of the White-Gold Tower. A pair of Knight Paladins uncrossed their swords and allowed me to pass. Hmph – I had expected a little more fanfare. Where were my trumpeters? But the Elder Council Chambers were empty, save for Chancellor Abnur Tharn and his attendants. Tharn had been old when I’d met him as a child, and Tharn seemed no more wizened now. There were whispers about Tharn’s pacts with Daedra and dark magic to extend his lifespan, but these were libelous and unfair; the man was clearly of fine breeding and intellect. I shall strike this comment from my journal. My meeting with the most powerful man in Cyrodiil was about to begin.

I showed the chancellor my portrait of him, resplendent in his Imperial Battlemage armor. My chest puffed out a little when he called my work “Reasonably adept.” We talked about my move to the Imperial City after my family’s fortunes dwindled, my life as a portrait painter, my love for Honoria Lucasta (may she walk in Mara’s glow), and my lack of steady income, which displeases her father – Councilor Pheomus Lucasta – greatly.

“My friend Pheumus has a role suited to your bookish talents,” Tharn stated. “You are to be Curator of Art in The Imperial Library. Our current curator, Dame Agrippa Gallus, is almost, but not quite, ready to retire. So, in the meantime…” Tharn beckoned an assistant forward, who carried a heavy book.

“That is the Emperor’s Guide to Tamriel,” I observed.” Leovic had it prepared in 573.”

“Most perceptive,” Tharn replied, then tore a leaf from its binding and set the page alight with a snap of his fingers. “But it is badly outdated. You are to create a revised, concise, and illustrated update of this guide for the Imperial Library. Use your own observations for this book’s entries to aid you. You are up to the task, as you not?”

I nodded eagerly, without realizing the lie I’d perpetrated.

“Good. I hereby appoint you as Envoy-Scholar to the Empress Regent. Do not fail, Flaccus Terentius. Councilor Lucasta will speak of wedding rituals with his daughter upon your return.”

Abnur Tharn’s assistant ushered me from the great chamber. As I departed, I thought I saw a dark shadow pass behind the perimeter columns. Not a good portent, but I was too flustered to worry. The forward-thinking chancellor had already sent letters of credit to banks across Tamriel. A Gold Coast Trading Company ship was departing for High Rock the next morn.

I decided I would create a scrapbook of my notes, sketches, and suitable excerpts from the previous Imperial Guide as a rough draft for my new Great Work. I was determined to bring honor and prosperity back to the family Terentius.

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