TES2 Daggerfall: Background and Opening Movie

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This introduction text is taken from Daggerfall manual, and largely mirrors the opening movie to the game, which we’ve linked below. Sometimes the speech in the movie and the game isn’t the same however.

The start of the intro movie can be a bit hard to hear. Here’s what it says: “Four hundred years after Tiber Septim’s reign, the beginning will meet the end, and the bloody circle will close in the Empire of Tamriel. The unworthy heirs of the Septim Dynasty have allowed the bonds of the Empire to weaken and crack. Uriel Septim the Seventh cannot repair what his ancestors ignored. The provinces fight among themselves like neglected children, drunk with rebellion, and one indomitable power hides itself, but not forever.”

Credit goes to Aquiantus, Brendan and Andux for transcribing the narrator speech.

The sonnet at the beginning is Shakespeare’s Sonnet 19, labeled wrongly as Sonnet 30.


“Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood:
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood”
— Sonnet 30

In 2E 896, a noble warrior-king named Tiber Septim rose from the turmoil of the civil wars that consumed the continent of Tamriel and proclaimed himself Emperor. Many opposed his claim and were crushed beneath his might like a sputtering spark of flame. The year after his conquest, when Septim was crowned first Emperor of Tamriel, he declared also the beginning of new era, the third era of Tamriel. But this is all ancient history to you.

You were born in 3E 375, during the reign of the twenty-first Emperor of Tamriel, Uriel Septim VII. The civilization that Tiber Septim forced onto the subjects of his Empire has nearly fallen: as The Elder Scrolls predicted, the bloody wheel has nearly turned all the way back to anarchy. Some call it the whim of Jephre the Storyteller who crafts fate for his divine amusement. Others say that the unworthy heirs of Tiber allowed their vassal kings too much liberty or lacked their ancestors’ military genius. A few look to the character of the people of the Arena of Tamriel and remark that no one could create a lasting empire in such a place – Tiber must have had supernatural aid to accomplish what he did. Such theorizing is best left to the Scrollkeepers of the Imperial City or the Psijics of the Isle of Artaeum. Tamriel is what it is.

The current Emperor is no stranger to you. You have helped him in the past, and know he considers you a loyal subject, perhaps even a friend! Trust is hard prize to win from Uriel Septim. He trusted his last Imperial Battlemage, the power-mad Jagar Tharn, and it nearly destroyed him. His current Imperial Battlemage, Ocato of Firsthold, long of the Elder Council, has alone earned the position of the Emperor’s confidante and chief advisor.

When the Emperor summoned you to his audience chamber, you were not surprised that he asked you to arrive after midnight. You were accustomed to seeing the Emperor at unusual hours. Sometimes it seemed that, to the Emperor, you were an unusually crafted weapon to be drawn in secrecy, away from the inquisitive eyes of the official court. A trusted guard escorted you down the gilded marble halls of the Imperial Palace to the Emperor’s chamber. Along the way, you passed ancient tapestries and sculpture acquired by Tiber Septim or one of his equally avaricious descendants.

Opening Movie

Uriel Septim greeted you formally, in utter darkness, as Ocato lit a single candle, emanating the barest illumination. This was to be an unusually surreptitious meeting, even for the cautious Uriel Septim.

“Please excuse the gloom, but none may know of our meeting. The nature of my trouble is darker still. Its subject is King Lysandus of Daggerfall, a man who died over a year ago, honorably, on the field of battle.”

You started to respond, but were silenced. It was peculiar of the Emperor not to allow you any questions or comments. He almost seemed to be afraid of too much inquiry into this particular affair.

Without pause, the Emperor continued.

“He was as great and loyal a subject, ally, and friend to me as you are. I did grieve for him … but I now hear his spirit will not rest. It haunts his former kingdom crying for revenge. I do not know why such a good and loyal man would be so cursed, but perhaps you could find the reason. You could close the marble jaws of Oblivion and put his soul to peace. I ask this of you as your Emperor, and also as your friend.”

“I have one other lesser request. Several years ago, I sent a letter to Lysandus’ Queen Mynisera. She now informs me that she never received it. The message was of a … sentimental and personal nature. If you would find the letter, and destroy it, I would be most relieved.”

The letter is more important than that, you remember instinctively thinking. But again, you were not given leave to ask any questions. The Emperor’s dismissal was friendly, but absolute: “Now, my champion, rest well tonight, for tomorrow you sail for the kingdom of Daggerfall.”

You packed lightly, for you understood the nature of the voyage ahead. The Emperor meant to send you on a small, anonymous sailing craft down the Yrinthi River to the Bjoulsae River, and from there across Iliac Bac, were notoriously infested with pirates, and ostentatiously-decorated craft would need to be conspicuously well-defended.

Your voyage was uneventful, which made the weeks of travel to the Iliac Bay seem even longer. You still had a thousand questions about the meaning of your mission: how were you to exorcise the spirit of King Lysandus, what was the significance of the Emperor’s letter, and where that letter might be. Recognising the futility of the pondering these unanswerable thoughts, you concentrated instead on recalling all you knew of Daggerfall and the Iliac Bay area.

You knew of the war that had claimed Lysandus. Called the War of Bethony, it was an internecine struggle between the Kingdom of Daggerfall and the Kingdom of Sentinel. The Battle was over a small, but politically significant, island at the western edge of the Bay, near the Abecean Sea. At the final battle of the war, the bloody Battle of Cryngaine Field, both kings were killed. In Sentinel, the king’s widow, Akorithi, took the throne, regent until her children reached their majority. In Daggerfall, Lysandus was succeeded by his son, Gothryd. But Daggerfall won the war and possession of the island of Betony.

Gothryd’s first act as king was to make official peace with Sentinel, and to marry Princess Aubk-i of Sentinel as a bond. You do not know whether this union has proven wise.

The third major power in the Iliac Bay, besides Daggerfall and Sentinel, is the Kingdom of Wayrest, ruled by elderly King Eadwyre and his wife. She was the legendary former Queen of Mournhold, Barenziah. Both have children of nearly the same age from previous marriages, and through you do not know the particulars, you recall hearing rumours that there exists a dispute over the succession. It would certainly be worth your while to take a trip to Wayrest. It is said to be a kingdom of great treasures, where the merchant classes have their land rich by trade.

Your ship sailed past the ancient stone walls of Wayrest, and the Bjoulsae widened into brilliant expanse of the Iliac Bay. Your eyes lifted from the water to the sky. To the west: utter darkness – clouds boiling with fierce intensity obliterated the sun. You did not know how soon the storm would arrive, and you considered sailing back to the protected harbour of Wayrest. But, Wayrest’s docks were not cheap; the merchants could charge whatever they wished to travellers fleeing from pirates or traders.

Anticlere was not far up to the coast, and there were bound to be other small fishing villages where you could dock. It was hard to measure the distance to the storm – perhaps it was out of the Abecean Sea and would dissipate before it crossed the Bay.

Unfortunately, the rain began a few miles west of the Isle of Balfiera. Soon it was so dark you could hardly see your boat. But you could feel it, grinding and cracking every time a wave struck its side. The water had darkened to a blackish violet. Your imagination was suddenly filled with fables of the monstrous creatures that lurked beneath Iliac Bay: weird tentacled beings, women with the bodies of eels, flesh-eating fish…

You pushed such fantasies away, and concentrated on the present danger. The rain came out of the darkness like an endless barrage of spears. The sound of it merged with the crashing of the waves, the splintering of your boat, and the high-pitched howl of the wind. You were becoming deaf as well as blind. You numbly steered the ship in the direction that you hoped was north.

Your last thoughts were directed on an ink black shape, rising ahead of you in the deep gray sky – was it the side of the cliff or a darker fury of the storm? A blast of the water rushed over the side of the ship, carrying you over. As you plunged into the dark and foaming bay, you saw your ship dive beneath surface as if in imitation, and something struck your head.

You came very near to death, but by sheer willpower you won the struggle against the vortex beneath the sea. The storm had intensified to an unnatural tempest, like a living thing at the command of a maleficent waster. With desperate, flailing hands, you gripped an outcropping of rock and slowly, painfully, pulled yourself toward the cliff’s edge. The waves crashed against the stone wall, cracking the very surface of the precipice. Stones jarred loose from the cliff and became deadly projectiles. As the entire cliff face began to slough into the sea, carrying you with it, you saw the small cavern opening. You fell into the shelter.

Your eyes were adjusting to the cave’s gloom when you heard the blast behind you. For a second you panicked. You were buried alive! Then you saw the tunnel – your only way out.

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