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Daggerfall's Byzantine Plotline

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This is the first chapter of a planned three-part outline of the intricate MQ of TESII and mainly focuses on the events before our heroes are sent into the hornet’s nest and uncover most of this. This MQ is a giant leap ahead of TES: Arena and quite unique in TES. The flavor of a Shakespearean drama with cloaks & daggers, intrigue and betrayal is combined with a whodunit plot and the typical DnD fantasy setting of earliest TES. 

The text was originally written by Deepfighter and me for our German TES II translation project. In spirit of the current Daggerfall Unity Renaissance and Ted Peterson’s inquiries, we finally managed to translate it. 

The findings of our heroes during the MQ are generally prioritized (as Ted said, “I know there's a lot of gray area in TES, but if you can't trust a dead guy to tell you who killed him, who can you trust?”), but all the other sources are used to fill the gaps and discuss alternatives. The second chapter of this write-up is going to discuss the course of the MQ itself, the third chapter will deal with the aftermath of events. 

 

***

Daggerfall’s Byzantine Plotline

 

“Daggers in men’s smiles”

- Shakespeare

 

CHAPTER I

 

THE YEAR 402 OF THE THIRD ERA. THE COURTS OF ILIAC BAY.  MACHINATIONS OF THE EMPIRE. THE WAR OF BETONY. THE BATTLE OF CRYNGAINE.  DEATH OF LYSANDUS. THE HAUNTING OF DAGGERFALL. 

LYSANDUS, son of Arslan II and the sorceress Nulfaga, rules the Kingdom of Daggerfall since many years. Uriel Septim VII describes him as an old friend and trusted vassal, the western cornerstone of a waning Empire that just barely escaped Jagar Tharn’s Simulacrum. He is aware of Lysandus’ usefulness. Vice versa, the King of Daggerfall does not like Uriel particularly well (as Cyndassa remembers) and has first and foremost expanded his own realm’s position at Iliac Bay. Daggerfall, a world city at High Rock’s finis terrae, now counts over 110,000 citizens in 3E 401 and outshines both warlike Sentinel and mercantile Wayrest. The King’s marriage with Mynisera, daughter of Prince Klaius however, is less than lucky. Their only son, Prince Gothryd, is going to inherit the throne one day. But Lysandus fell in love with the beautiful court sorceress Medora of Clan Direnni, and misfortune takes its course.

 

Meanwhile, the Kingdom of Daggerfall, unhindered by a distant Empire, grows and thrives. In bold expansionism, the Bretons now target a few small isles in western Iliac Bay. Betony is a tiny island realm, closer to Daggerfall than to Sentinel, consisting of little more than fishing villages. It only stands out by its excellent strategic location in between Iliac and Abecean Sea. Pro forma, Betony belongs to Sentinel since two hundred years, but the Redguard kings have always ignored their northernmost estate. De facto, the island could always keep its independence. In recent times, however, Betony suffered from massive pirate attacks. Malicious tongues whisper that Daggerfall itself hired privateers in order to put pressure on Lord Mogref of Betony. If he sent requests for aid to Sentinel, they remained unanswered. For better or worse, he saw no other chance than to offer Lysandus’ his defenseless island as fiefdom. In 3E 402, Lord Mogref became vassal of Daggerfall and made his tiny island the apple of discord between two major powers of Iliac Bay. [Sidenote: The Betony conflict seems to combine inspirations from the First Punic War with its struggle over Sicily & the Hundred Years War with its conflicting feudal claims.]

 

After Daggerfall has set itself up as the protector of Betony, confrontation with Sentinel has become unavoidable. Warhawks dominate in Lysandus’ Council: Lord Vanech, fanatical archpriest of Kynareth, patron goddess of Daggerfall, is preaching an outright crusade, and neither Knight Commander Bridwell of the Order of the Dragon nor ambitious Prince Gothryd are known as pacifists. Objections of the sorceresses Medora and Nulfaga, who have seen bad portents in case of a war with Sentinel, are deliberately ignored. [Sidenote: Cassandra’s curse - no one wants to believe the prophetess.] King Camaron cannot accept Daggerfall’s land grab to go unpunished. The northern rival has expanded too far, and Betony is the last straw that breaks the camel’s back. Camaron is a spartan warrior in an already martial culture. Even more flagrantly than Lysandus, he has always strived for independence from the Empire. 

 

His first child with Queen Akorithi, Prince Arthago, has proven as of weak constitution and unfitting as a warrior. Unable to accept an heir who might have become the first scholar-king in the long warlike history of Sentinel, the ashamed parents commissioned a bunch of mercenaries to kidnap their own child while taking a walk (Arthago’s governess got a chest of gold to look away and then absconded to Skyrim). In 3E 400, fifteen-year-old Arthago was imprisoned in Castle Faallem (or Castle Fhojum) where he met his end, but not before he could write a last letter describing his dire fate. In Sentinel, this foul murder was concealed. It was said that the lost prince had died from a fever or taken by the Underking. Subsequently, the athletic and beautiful Princess Aubk-i was idolised as the true favorite of her parents. Her brothers Greklith (the name means “strong king”) and Lhotun (Old Redguard for “second son”, as if Arthago would have never existed). [Sidenote: This is obviously inspired by the Man in the Iron Mask.]

 

In Samaruik Palace, much like in Castle Daggerfall, a war party has the upper hand. The warlords Oresme, Vhosek and K’avar support Camaron in directly confronting their big rival at Iliac Bay. A blind seer that was only known as The Oracle, consulted by Camoran in the wilderness of the Dragontail Mountains, anticipates a catastrophe, but just like in Daggerfall, no one is listening to prophecies. 

 

Sentinel formally declares war and lets its armada set sail, but is soon defeated by Lord Bridwell in the Battle of the Bluffs, already dangerously close to Daggerfall (this remained the only noteworthy use of their famous fleet in this war). Warlord K’avar then tries to surround the city by land, but is defeated in the Glenpoint Foothills and horribly disfigured by the fireball of a Dark Elven mercenary. The Bretons now have the momentum and rush from one victory to the next. The Siege of Craghold in the Iliac is broken by Lord Bridwell, by this deed, he finally became the greatest war hero of this conflict. Daggerfall is on the brink of winning the war. 

 

Meanwhile on Castle Daggerfall, the events are overturning. The sorceresses Medora and Nulfaga still do not join the euphoria of war, but still push for fast negotiations of peace. She has foreseen her son’s death if the war should continue [Sidenote: the old motive of Thetis & Achill?], but with every military victory, her already weakened position is losing more and more backing. Just in this situation, Mynisera discovers proof for the rumors that Lysandus was cheating on her with Medora. Heartstricken, she is now on going to hide all evidence of it (collections of half-burned love letters from her unfaithful husband & the Direnni witch were irrationally kept like treasures at charming places such as Necromoghan), but first, she takes the political opportunity and banishes her rival from court (the old Popudax of the local Mages’ Guild becomes Medora’s successor as royal wizard). Medora returns to ancient Direnni Tower on Balfiera. Nulfaga likewise retreats to Castle Shedungent deep in the Wrothgarian Mountains. The green Dragon familiar Skakmat [Sidenote: Danish for checkmate] stays with her as her champion & ambassador. 

 

Nulfaga’s death-vision and the retreat of the two woman, who apparently are serious about their warnings, set Lysandus into pondering. On the peak of his success he thinks about what is really important for him. In the face of his victories, he realizes that he is not excessively ambitious and would rather live incognito with Medora on Balfiera than clinging to the throne of Daggerfall. He does not yet know what to do. But in a first step, he offers peace talks with Sentinel. Camaron, militarily put on the defensive, agrees. In neutral Reich Gradkeep, an independent bretonic lordship at the northern Iliac, halfway in between Daggerfall and Wayrest, both war parties meet for negotiations. 

 

Under the facilitation of Lord Graddock, the monarchs can put their heads together. Camaron surrenders Sentinel’s old claims on Betony pro forma, but it is pragmatically proposed that the island remains accessible and is shared by both sides. The terms are acceptable for both and more than face-saving for the losing side. But without their knowledge, the negotiations are undermined: Lord Vanech the archpriest is a religious fanatic devoid of political reason. He has declared Betony a sacred land of Kynareth and considers the peace efforts of his King to be blasphemy. In secret, he replaces the Treaty with a presumptuous forgery. When the Kings already put their pens to the document, the betrayal is exposed. Tumult breaks out in the palace halls. Dignitaries and guards of both sides are at each other’s throat. Lord Bridwell’s axe breaks the Treaty (and the desk beneath it) in half. Lysandus is in disbelief, Camoran is driven mad. Weapons are unsheathed, and Lord Graddock cannot keep the two parties aside. While the knights get their kings into safety, the Castle of Reich Gradkeep descends into chaos. Camoran, foaming with rage, kills the archpriest Vanech and commands his troops to sack the city. But the army of Daggerfall was camping nearby and now also invades the city which turns into a battlefield. With difficulty, the military leaders slowly regain control of their troops, then after hours of plundering, both sides exhaustedly withdraw. Almost the whole dynasty of Reich Gradkeep including their heiress Lady Mara has fallen victim to the massacre. (Lord Auberon Flyt, a distant relative of the Graddocks, and his wife Lady Doryanna will install themselves as their successors. They rename the city-state into Anticlere after their old home. It is said that to consolidate their rule, they murdered the last heir of the rightful rulers, a sick infant. The Flytes rule with an iron fist, but when Lord Auberon becomes unable to act due to a strange plague, Lady Doryanna starts another career as disguised bandit on her own highways - associated with the Thieves Guild and famous in romantic ballads.) [Sidenote: This side story was only ever mentioned in the Daggerfall Narrative, but is not featured ingame]. 

 

The army of Sentinel retreats to the Yeorth Burrowland, the Bretons follows them until they reach the Ravennian Forest where they establish their own army camp. Like many small-scale feuds in the long and bloodthirsty history of the Iliac Bay, the War of Betony could have ended with an acceptable arrangement. After the catastrophe of Reich Gradkeep, however, further negotiation seems like a waste of time. The armies fortify their camps and gather reinforcements over a week. While a flower-strewn pasture of Cryngaine is chosen for the decisive battle, Lysandus becomes more and more thoughtful about the impending doom of his mother’s prophecy. This war should have already been over. On the eve of battle, a gloomy king walks up and down his tent. Then suddenly, a delegation from Wayrest is announced. 

 

The third major power at Iliac Bay has only been a bystander in this far-western conflict. Wayrest has gathered incredible riches by taxing the long-distance trade across and down the Bjoulsae. It is a city of merchant-princes and bank companies, of high-spirited artists and shady smugglers. Wayrest has always been in a profitable relation to the Empire, and its current weakness - the usurper Jagar Tharn was overthrown in the capital barely three years ago - can also be felt at Wayrest. Once more, Wayrest has to fight with marauding orcs in the north and pirates in the Bay who apparently work under the protection of Clan Direnni from Balfiera. But Wayrest has seen disturbances like this before. Unheard-of is an internal conflict of succession that is currently played off at Castle Wayrest. 

 

The city is still ruled by hoary King Eadwyre. He has a fine reputation, but he has grown old. His role in the secret fight against the arch-traitor Jagar Tharn is told in popular novels. The story goes like this: convinced by the spirit of Tharn’s murdered apprentice Ria Silmane that the man of the throne was not Uriel Septim, but the Imperial Battlemage in his disguise, the Wayrester started a counter-conspiracy to throw down the imposter. Eadwyre’s main ally was the infamous Dark Elven Queen Barenziah, recently widowed after the death of her husband Symmachus in a local uprising and exiled to the Imperial City (where she was supposedly courted by Tharn himself). A few years after the death of Eadwyre’s Carolyna, he proposes to the former queen of Morrowind. Given a new political perspective and being confidante in a great intrigue, she followed Eadwyre into the relative safety of Wayrest. (In 3E 399, their efforts finally paid out when an Eternal Champion defeated the usurper and brought Uriel Septim VII back to the Ruby Throne.) Barenziah’s children Helseth and Morgiah were adopted by Eadwyre and grew up like Breton Princes. But should the foreign & adopted Prince Helseth or Princess Elysana, the only child from Eadwyre’s first marriage, subsequently rule in Castle Wayrest? Both pretenders have formed influential court parties, and their conflict entangles the realm in endless intrigues. The smaller Dark Elven faction counts, among others, the court sorceress Karethys to their party [Sidenote: the only other Dark Elf with a name, but she does not resurface in Tribunal - what happened to her?] The Prince got himself a reputation as talented blackmailer, poisoner and seducer (and sometimes everything together: Counselor Arruntius, whose married daughter had a short affair with Helseth, departed his life before he could drag the Prince to a court). The influential Elder Council of Wayrest [Sidenote: not to be confused with the Elder Council in the Imperial City!] under its head Lord Castellian, however, tends towards Elysana. The fourteen-year-old daughter of Carolyna is still notoriously underestimated as naive innocence. She recently, however, became engaged with probably the single most dangerous figure at the court of Wayrest even if Barenziah would have preferred to marry her off into some faraway kingdom [Sidenote: Elysana’s knowledge and involvement into her fiancé’s plot is still up to debate. It seems like she was innocent, but again, the Princess who would later become the next “Wolf Queen” is underestimated by everyone.] Lord Woodborne is an extremely ambitious court knight - even by Wayrest standards - who had cast an eye on the throne of the city-state himself. The Dark Elves stand in his way and make him increasingly nervous. He is not just a megalomaniac adventurer, but enjoys a cold intelligence and and is determined to use the unique chance offered to him. And he still has an ace in his sleeve. In an unknown manner, perhaps through his extensive spy network, Lord Woodborne gained possession of the Totem of Tiber Septim, a magical control tool for the legendary Numidium. [Sidenote: The story of how Woodborne gained the Totem is still untold.]

 

By this artifact and the great green soul-jewel of the Mantella as an ersatz heart to power it, Tiber Septim once had turned the giant brass golem of the ancient Dwemer into an invincible superweapon of his own to conquer all of Tamriel. Few know this Mantella was won by betraying his Battlemage Zurin Arctus whose revengeful spirit lived on as the Underking, fearsome undead nemesis of Septim’s ever since and just recently reawakened in his vault at Iliac Bay. [Sidenote: TES III massively expanded on the backstory of Numidium. Kagrenac’s Big Walker plays a crucial role in the disappearance of the Dwemer and the mythical & manifold broken events of Red Mountain including the rise of the Tribunal. It is also related to the apotheosis of Talos (who not for nothing bears this name of an ancient greek brass giant). The Arcturian Heresy then gives another account on the rise of Tiber Septim and his betrayal]. Only the Emperor himself and his highest ranks like Ocato of Firsthold (Tharn’s successor as Imperial Battlemage) know about these dangerous foundations of the Septim regime. Since Numidium was shattered by the Underking, the Blades have spent hundreds of years since to recollect it. Developments in numidian affairs are never hidden for long under the eyes of the Empire. A few years ago, Uriel Septim has received a letter from the king’s mother Nulfaga. She had rediscovered the Mantella by an astral projection into Aetherius and offered him to reveal the location if only he promised not to turn his power against Lysandus' Daggerfall [Sidenote: we do not know why nothing resulted from this offer, maybe Tharn’s plot still paralyzed the Empire]. But misfortune never comes singly. And now the Emperor receives word of rumor that the Totem of Tiber Septim has been found in the west and is in possession of a certain Lord Woodborne of Wayrest. With the Totem back in the world and Mantella within reach - the keys to to full power behind Tiber Septim - the Empire finally has to act. At first, Uriel sends a letter to Daggerfall that is addressed to Mynisera (he does not use magical communication since the witch of the Wrothgarian Mountains might intercept his secret diplomacy).  Straight to the point, Uriel reveals the grave news and urges the Queen - and not Lysandus, who is apparently frowned upon in Wayrest - to exert her influence there so that Lord Woodborne would be pressured to give up the Totem. [Sidenote: Which begs the question if Mynisera was actually from the court of Wayrest. The extreme anti-orcish sentiment of her father Prince Klaius would certainly fit.] It is also sometimes suggested that the letter, while being clear on the Totem issue, was not primarily intended for Mynisera, but rather for Lady Brisienna Magnessen, the secret Blades agent in Daggerfall [Sitenote: And sister of the Great Knight, their supposed leader, who does not appear ingame] who stays in the Queen’s immediate entourage. Uriel will also tell us later that it was just a slightly embarassing, personal and sentimental message - which is far from the truth, but an excellent cover given the complicated affairs at the court of Daggerfall. In any case, the Empire is aware of the dangerous situation with the Iliac on the verge of discovering Numidium - but still acting in silence and secrecy. 

 

We do not know to what degree Lord Woodborne was aware of the tremendous potential of the Totem artifact he kept in his fortress. He also could have no idea about the simultaneous resurfacing of the Mantella and lacks the royal blood required to use it. But he can use it as a political leverage to come closer to the throne of Wayrest. Woodborne desperately needs allies in his conflict with Prince Helseth. Even though he is the supreme commander of Wayrest, his power base was effectively undermined by the Dark Elves. Influential court parties are working against him, and the Knights of the Rose under Lord Darkworth still insist on their neutrality. For a coup d'état, Woodborne needs money and foreign soldiers. Orcish mercenary companies perhaps, or even better the whole army of Daggerfall. 

 

A few month before the massacre of Reich Gradkeep, he approaches Lysandus, but the King does not want to get involved in Wayrest’s succession disputes and is currently fully occupied handling Betony & Sentinel. Prince Gothryd, however, seems to have a sympathetic ear for his whisperings. The king’s son and the noble are about the same age and both longing for power. They might see each other as useful tools to achieve their own goals and already have a secret agreement. Woodborne told Gothryd about the Totem (at some point, it was brought from Woodborne Hall in the safe vaults of Castle Daggerfall) and offered it to him in exchange for military assistance against the Dark Elven fraction (since he was not a “true heir of Tiber Septim” like all the other Iliac monarchs, it have would required some complicated tricks to make it work anyways, and we have no idea if Woodborne even knew about its full potential). Given that the Prince of Daggerfall would have inherited the throne either way, his greed for the instrument would have been a more believable & complex motivation than mere impatience to ally with the would-be usurper of Wayrest. [Sidenote: Gothryd’s story is still uncharted for great parts. His role in Woodborne’s plot and Lysandus’ assassination is probably the most difficult underpinning of the whole MQ and only gradually revealed. He certainly does conspire with Woodborne from early on, - the Wayrester’s last words confirm their alliance - but it is uncertain if this was supposed to involve regicide from the beginning. See below for how it unfolds.] 

 

Good-hearted King Eadwyre trusts Woodborne (who is supposed to marry his daughter Elysana, after all) and sends him to lead a diplomatic delegation in an attempt to conciliate and try negotiations between Camaron and Lyandus even on the eve of battle. Woodborne made sure that the delegation only consisted of his allies. When leaving Wayrest, he contacts Gortwog gro-Nagorm, chieftain of the Minat Orcs. His raids have recently challenged the kingdom up the Bjoulsae, but Gortwog is far more than a robber baron. This veteran of the Cursed Legion is a political visionary. Self-proclaimed “King of Orcs and Warlord of the Subterranean Realms", he has done everything and more in recent years to unite the orcish tribes in their diaspora and to establish a new Orsinium in the Wrothgarian Mountains between Menevia and Wayrest (a controversial territory that he won a few years ago in a judicial duel against Lord Bowyn). Orsinium should become safe home for his people that have been demonized since times immemorial and are despised pariahs everywhere (even if their combat strength is occasionally welcome). Now Lord Woodborne despises the Orcs no less than any other Wayrest aristocrat, and in fact he would not dream of supporting their strive for official recognition by the local powers and the Empire. They are are just practical tools for him. But perhaps he makes great promises to Gortwog that he does not intent do keep, or offers him the money that the orcish chieftain needs just as much as diplomatic support at the courts. Woodborn instructs him to prepare a warband and follow the Wayrest delegation (everyone would take them for mercenaries to offer their service in the looming Battle of Cryngaine). [Sidenote: Perhaps his original plan was just as outlaid in the untrustful "Real Story" of the Narrative: to lure Lysandus away from the camp, upon which the King would fall victim to an Orc raid). 

 

No matter if Woodborn told his supposed ally of his regidical intentions in the first place or if he figured it out himself - Gortwog easily sees through the trap. Woodborne would have betrayed him sooner or later and scapegoated the Orcs. Moreover, Lysandus was one of the few supporters of their cause (the King was deeply shocked by the atrocities his father-in-law Prince Klaius had once committed against what he used to call “subhumans” and felt ashamed for his non-intervention in the slaughter) Therefore Gortwog changes sides and attacks the Wayrest delegation with all intentions to prevent Lysandus’ murder.

 

Be it luck or cowardice, Woodborne managed to escape the ambush with a few companions. As fast as the wind, they ride westward. Gortwog now sends messengers to warn everyone against the the Wayrest delegation, but none of his runners will reach his destination alive. The envoy sent to Medora on the nearby island of Balfiera - perhaps the only one who still could have saved Lysandus by magic means - is attacked and forced to retreat into the Mausoleum of Darkivaron which he does not leave again. Gortwog’s warnings are in vain. 

 

Deep in the night, the surviving Wayrest delegation arrives at Daggerfall’s army camp and enters the King’s tent. After Reich Gradkeep, peace is not really a matter of debate anymore. But Woodborne is not interested in the War of Betony. He is probably once more pushing for Lysandus’ help against Helseth. The King of Daggerfall stands to his refusal. He has other worries, dire premonitions now cloud his mind. Instead of picking another quarrel with Wayrest, he would be relieved to survive the current war against all prophecies of his witch-mother. After the great battle, he would even be willing to give up his throne and retreat in secret to Balfiera (as a badly burned letter to Medora proves). He might even think about faking his own death in battle to escape his fate. [Sidenote: The “Real Story” tells that Gothryd knew of this and, far away from any thought of patricide, wanted his father to be happy. With Woodborne’s help, he initiated a tricky manoeuvre to get him away before the battle and exchange him with an double, but in light of the following events, this is false - probably a tall story with a grain of truth that Gothryd told to explain why there was arguably a double in the Battle of Cryngaine without revealing his own involvement into Lysandus’ murder. The second part - the king’s death in an Orc raid - then would be Woodborne’s addition to the story, inspired by his own recent misfortune.] 

 

Woodborne and the other Wayresters (all allies of him) surround Lysandus in the tent. Their pleas become more and more urgent. The support of Daggerfall is Woodborne’s only option to win his realm in a possible civil war, and Lysandus denies this to him. There are no more guards or courtiers in the tent, the king probably sent them away. Where is Gothryd? It is hard to believe that Woodborne’s co-conspirator would not be present here, but apparently, he is not willing to make his hands dirty in what is going to come. So he is either a hidden spectator in the shadows or not there at all. [Sidenote: The ghost of Lysandus only ever demanded that Woodborne be served to justice, not his own son. There is no “Et tu, Brute?” moment here, and this later becomes crucial. Another option is that he, while allied with Woodborne, was actually innocent of this crime and prepared an escape for his father, hesitating now that another option has arisen to acquire the throne without patricide. Such a reluctance would make him even more Hamlet-like. Or perhaps he would have preferred the peaceful solution until Woodborne tells him how unreliable this would be - Lysandus could all the time return to Daggerfall! But whatever the case with Gothryd, Woodborne definitely saw him as an ally until last. Moreover, the Totem was brought to Castle Daggerfall at some point, and after the murder, it is Gothryd’s plan that successfully covers the dark secret and prevents suspicion from falling on him.]

 

A magical “painting of truth”, hidden deep in the vaults of Castle Wayrest and later rediscovered [Sidenote: We know next to nothing about the origin of this painting and its abilities or why it showed this scene in particular], shows the full scene of how several Wayresters surrounded Lysandus until suddenly Lord Woodborne “slips behind the Daggerfall man, draws a dagger and  casually slides it between his ribs”. Life leaves the king’s body, but he turns around and recognizes his murder. He takes this knowledge into afterlife. The treacherous delegation then takes Lysandus’ corpse (hidden in a cloak or something), leave the camp in the Ravennian Forest and ride eastwards. They bury him in a forgotten catacomb near Tamarilyn (on the territory of Menevia, between Reich Gradkeep and Wayrest). Out of disregard, haste, or because they actually lack a priest, Arkay’s protection spells that might have prevented his spirit to return are not properly applied (This has become more and more a necessity since the necromancers under their King of Worms - another player in the great scheme of things who at this moment still hides in Scourg Barrow in the Dragontail Mountains - have risen in recent years.) But even the grave would not prevent Lysandus’ revenge. Woodborne returns to Wayrest without knowing that this minor oversight would finally lead to his downfall.

 

Gothryd might have joined the scene after his father’s death. His role is instrumental in the next steps to cover the murder. When the morning of the battle dawns, a double is clad in Lysandus’ royal armor to lead the army of Daggerfall on the battlefield. [Sidenote: The “Real Story” tells that this was an impoverished Wayrest noble from Woodborne’s retinue who, maybe by gold and patriotism, was convinced to enact this charade without knowing of its consequences. But it might have been somebody else if this was planned by Lysandus & Gothryd even before the murder. In any case, it’s the motive of Patroclus in Achilles’ armor. This never ends well.] The false Lysandus does not suspect that he is only a pawn sacrifice who has to die in battle in order to hide the real murder. 

 

Next morning, the two armies are sent into the decisive battle on the field of Cryngaine. The soldiers of Daggerfall emerge from the forest and line up on the wide flower meadow. Camaron’s many-bannered troops come down from the Yeorth Burrows and the fight begins [Sidenote: The Battle of Cryngaine is described in three texts, but also shown in the live-action trailer of 1995. It seems to be a TES variation of Crécy or Azincourt: archers might open the battle, then Daggerfall would trust its heavy plate-armored knights whose shock attack with lowered lances crushes against the equally attacking (even if that makes no sense) infantry of Sentinel, perhaps mercenaries. Later in the battle, single fights would develop while the advancing troops on both sides add to the increasing crowd. “Doubtful it stood. / As two spent swimmers, that do cling together / And choke their art.”]

 

Suddenly, an unnatural fog spreads across the battlefield. The Redguards at first fear hostile war magic, but the Bretons do not know what is happening to them either. The impenetrable vapour is actually caused by Nulfaga’s green dragon Skakmat who unseen circles over the field. The men do not see their hands in front of their face, and the armies stand still. Bridwell and K’avar lower their weapon arms, unable to continue their violent game. It seems like Prince Gothryd alone had previous knowledge of this magical phenomenon (either his grandmother told him or he figured it out himself). Nulfaga’s trick, a desperate attempt to save Lysandus from a prophesied fate that has already met him, now serves as a perfect disguise for his own concealment of the king’s murder in the night before. Other than usual, the Prince has not fought in charge with the Knight of the Dragon, but stayed close to “King Lysandus”. Before the fog rises, an unseen Gothryd shoots him down at close range. (Newgate mentions an “unmarked arrow”, while Fav’te just boasts about the skills of Sentinel archers). The poor man is found dead with an arrow in his throat, and apparently in this moment of harm and the stress of battle, no one realizes that it is not the real Lysandus. Prince Gothryd, when learning about his father’s death gives a convincing spectacle of his grief and anger. After the battle, a royal funeral is held for this sacrificed nobleman in royal armor, and a monument is erected where great Lysandus heroically met his end. 

 

Gothryd’s grief is short, and he is eager to turn the King’s death from a  demoralizing blow for Daggerfall into a situation of own advantage: long live the King! Gothryd is crowned just behind the battle lines and swears to avenge Lysandus. Lead by their young warrior-king in person, a renewed attack of the Bretons breaks the lines of Sentinel. The Redguard army starts to disband. In this scene of the battle, King Gothryd and Lord Bridwell confront King Camaron. The Redguard is a most experienced swordsman, but whatever the reason, he falls in a duel with the King of Daggerfall (Fav’te later spreads the false rumor that Camaron was perfidiously assassinated in his tent right before the battle. He could not have imagined how close he was to the truth of what happened on the other side). The army of Sentinel is now chased from the battlefield or taken into captivity. For this warlike nation, it is a complete disaster. Their Knights of the Moon were almost completely annihilated and the Order dissolves. Lord Vhosek and Lord K’avar later found the Order of the Candle in their place.) Daggerfall has won battle & war. 

 

Lord Oresme takes the command of the Sentinel forces following Camaron’s demise. He formally surrenders to Gothryd. The King of Daggerfall now dictates the peace terms. Sentinel is forced to give up all claims on Betony once and for all. The compromise of Reich Gradkeep is off the table, but after two main powers of Iliac Bay have lost their monarchs on the same day, the original casus belli is reduced to a mere footnote. Of greater consequence is Gothryd “asking” for Princess Aubk-i’s hand in marriage, a feudal move to safeguard his triumph by a new bound and also to keep rebellious Sentinel in dependency. Without much of a choice, Aubk-i leaves Samaruik, marries the man who killed her father (honorably so!) and becomes the new Queen of Daggerfall. Against all odds, the union apparently proves happy and contributed its part to heal the wounds of this conflict. Meanwhile Lord Woodborne, satisfied with the outcome of his plot, has returned to Wayrest and already plans to deal with Barenziah the same way as he did with Lysandus. Gortwog, knowing that no one would believe him against the popular new King of Daggerfall, also returns into the Wrothgarian Mountain. 

 

Sentinel is the greatest loser in this outcome of events. The death of Camaron and the loss of their one and only princess is a harsh blow for this proud kingdom. On his ship back to Sentinel, Lord Oresme commits suicide, being unable to live on with the disgrace of defeat. [Sidenote: Given the heavy japanese inspirations of TES II Redguards in the four books of Destri Melarg - the Swordsingers are basically wandering Sengoku Samurai - this might even be some kind of Seppuku.] Queen Akorithi takes over regency from her deceased husband until Camaron’s eldest acknowledged (!) heir Prince Greklith is going to come of age. Lord K’avar is now the strong man behind the throne of Sentinel, but he is anything but loyal. A few years later, he will fail at a coup against Akorithi to crown himself King of Sentinel and then defect to Wayrest. 

 

Soon after the Battle of Cryngaine, the prophetic sorceresses learn about how their bad omens fulfilled. Skakmat brings news to Castle Shedungent that Nulfaga’s son was killed by an arrow (which is strictly speaking the wrong story, but with the same result. She might even believe that her last attempt to outwit the prophecy by sending Skakmat actually resulted in the death of Lysandus.) In her sorrow, the old witch goes insane. It gets even worse when she soon after hears rumors about the agonizing unrest of Lysandus’ spirit. The once ingenious sorceress now only speaks in dark verses and riddles, sentences like “Oh, this gloomy world, in what a shadow or deep pit of darkness doth, womanish and fearful, mankind live!” [Sidenote: The original lines of madness were taken from Spenser, Webster, Milton & Pope and slightly adapted for TES]. And as long as she remains in this mental state, the Mantella, her sensational find in Aetherius, is as far out of reach of the Empire as ever. 

 

On Balfiera, banished Medora Direnni has waited out the war and hoped for a happy ending with Lysandus. As he told her in his secret letters, he would have given up the throne after a victory at Cryngaine just to live with her. When the former court sorceress finds out about her beloved’s fate, she betakes to necromancy, but ultimately fails to summon his spirit - probably because she also does not know the real course of events and has to believe that the king fell in battle. Her desperate summonings instead curse the whole island of Balfiera; the undead arise and besiege the enchantress in her own tower. It is, however, unlikely that Medora’s lovelorn necromancy caused the revengeful spirit of Lysandus to reawaken in the far west. The tormented ghost of the former king haunts the nightly streets of Daggerfall and screams for revenge. Those who try to contact or dare to oppose this spectral campaign perish and join its ranks. [Sidenote: This is like the ghost of Hamlet’s father with an Army of the Dead or supernatural Wild Hunt behind him. In Hamlet, the ghost calls on his son to avenge his death. Lysandus returns to Daggerfall either to point out Gothryd as his murderer or, more likely and in line with literary inspiration, to challenge Gothryd to vengeance on him. The ghost, however, does not know that Gothryd himself was allied with his murderer! The new king now finds himself in a serious dilemma.] The fearful & increasingly distrustful people start to suspect that King Gothryd murdered his own father. For why does he haunt Daggerfall and not the battlefield of Cryngaine? Not all rumors are as unfounded as the claim that Lysandus was murdered by an injured Mynisera her suspected gallant Lord Bridwell, and the popularity of the young king is dwindling.

 

The rumor of Lysandus’ return goes round the Iliac & beyond. Uriel VII has not paid special attention to the War of Betony - a local feud just they emerge everywhere in a weakened Empire that barely entered its post-simulacrum restoration and cannot effort military campaigns to pacify its distant provinces, but his Blades have kept an eye on the clandestine west since Mantella & Totem resurfaced. The Emperor’s grave letter to Daggerfall (be it for Mynisera and/or Brisienna) about Lord Woodborne in possession Totem, sent over a year ago, was never answered or executed. And now Lysandus’ haunting suggests that was more to his death than Gothryd’s heroic story of Cryngaine has told. 

 

Uriel therefore calls for one of his most talented agents, a hidden champion who has already served him well in the past. In a clandestine midnight meeting, the Emperor (accompanied only by Chancellor Ocato) orders this Agent to inquire 1) the haunting of Daggerfall in order to bring Lysandus’ vengeful  ghost to rest. While Uriel presents this as a selfless act to redeem an old friend, he actually might have thought about the Mantella’s location that only Lysandus grieving mother Nulfaga knows. 2), the Agent may look for the Emperor’s letter about the Totem. Alluding to delicate rumors about Mynisera, Uriel now conceals this writing as an embarrassing personal and sentimental message that simply needs to be destroyed (ten years of Tharn’s Simulacrum have apparently left their marks, and the Emperor above all does not even trust his Agent who stumbles blind into this mission and has to uncover the real game behind the scenes). As soon as dawn breaks, our hero takes a ship down the Yrinthi. A few weeks later, he reaches the Bjoulsae which then flows into the sparkling Iliac Bay [Sidenote: This geography is not shown on modern Tamriel maps; the Yrinthi has disappeared entirely]. The vessel has passed the great ports of Wayrest, is a few miles west of Balfiera and has almost reached Anticlere (the former Reich Gradkeep),  when suddenly a tenebrous clouds loom over the shoreline and an unnatural storms gathers. (As it later turns out, it was not a natural tempest: Nulfaga caused the storm because some unknown shady figure convinced her that the ship carried the murderer of King Lysandus.) The small vessel cannot withstand the roaring forces of nature for long. Dark waves sweep over the hero, but with last willpower, he reaches the coastline and finds shelter in a small cave under an abandoned coastal fortress only known as Privateer’s Hold. 

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