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Forsworn/Reachmen?

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 What Race are they? 

 

From some of their names they seem Breton. I do know they do not like being called Nords.

YH
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They are Breton-Nords, result of intermingling on the border. Got some orc in them, too.

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For all intents and purposes, they're Breton. I'm not sure what race the game uses, though.

 

The Reachmen are a mongrel breed, even for Bretons. Descended originally from one of the earliest Atmoran tribes to settle Tamriel, their lineage now partakes of nearly every race imaginable. The uprising that finally "freed" the Western Reach ended in the extermination of the Aldmeri overlords, but Elven blood still flows strong in the Reachmen, and they share the secretive, haughty demeanor of that race. In later years, they traded and exchanged customs with the Orcish villages that shared their mountains, and eventually learned much of the beastfolk's magic. Reach-magic is still widely studied, although it is banned by the Mages Guild (who fear it as dangerous and wild hedge-wizardry), and the Reachmen are often referred to as the "Witchmen of High Rock." - High Rock, First Pocket Guide to Empire

/ninja'd

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 perhaps breton-nord maby further back nord from the Nede

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Reachmen are...men of the Reach. It's not at all accurate to call them Bretons, Orcs, Nedes or Nords. All of these things are national and cultural identities as much as blood identities. The Forsworn are their own people with their own history, who happen to share some blood with all the aforementioned groups.

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 ay thats still not accurate they all ORIGINATED from the same idk what species im just saying they originated from Nedes like the nords....

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The lore gets really muddy on that point, actually. We have conflicting reports about what the differences between Nedes and Atmorans actually is. I personally believe that either Nedes were the first proto men who existed all over Tamriel after the Ehlnofey descended into mortal form, or that they originated on Tamriel and then spread out to Atmora and Akavir, and the ones who came back from Atmora later were Nords. The rest became the proto-Imperial tribes and the proto-Bretons. Some originated on Yokuda and stayed there until it was damaged, and became Redguards.

 

Regardless of what you wanna call them, Nedes or Atmorans, they primarily have a mannish appearance. I'd say the probability of them containing a duke's mixture of blood is pretty high though, even more so than the average Breton.

 

They came from an isolated area and were traditionally considered a sort of animist or barbarian culture. Their land holdings also exist right along the borders of several provinces, along trade routes.  Since they're largely considered to be comprised mainly of Breton stock the odds of them having Aldmeri/Direnni blood is very high.

 

I'd say it's even pretty likely there's some ancient Falmer or even Dwemer admixture as well, especially from individual members of those cultures who were a bit more pragmatic and less nationalistic. It makes sense. If you happen to settle into a mountain community with people living nearby, and it's a somewhat harsh existence, you're not gonna obsess over nationality or stuff like that. A potential new member of the tribe is seen as a potential asset. A worker, a hunter/gatherer, a warm body and a potential father or mother for future generations. That's why I believe there's probably some Orc blood mixed in, too. While the mainstream Bretons long shunned the Orsimer, I can't imagine those same prejudices existing in the Reach area. It's just a different, more pragmatic existence, like early men in our own world, which is why we all have a little Neanderthal and Erectus DNA in us to this day.
 

For those same reasons it's likely there's some Yokudan, Colovian and Nibenese blood mixed in there as well. Again, for pragmatic purposes. They're located along trade routes. Maybe an Imperial or Redguard caravaner decides to settle down and live the simple life. Just another man or woman to contribute to the gene pool. I'd say the Reachmen and other similar border communities in Tamriel are a lot like the real world Tri-Racial Isolates, a classification that could apply to myself, so I'm familiar with the history of how such mixture can occur, and I believe it probably applies quite a bit in low fantasy settings as well.

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Pilaf The Defiler wrote:

The lore gets really muddy on that point, actually. We have conflicting reports about what the differences between Nedes and Atmorans actually is. I personally believe that either Nedes were the first proto men who existed all over Tamriel after the Ehlnofey descended into mortal form, or that they originated on Tamriel and then spread out to Atmora and Akavir, and the ones who came back from Atmora later were Nords. The rest became the proto-Imperial tribes and the proto-Bretons. Some originated on Yokuda and stayed there until it was damaged, and became Redguards.

Not wrong but feels like you're over-complicating it:

And for the last time (uh huh), Nedes != Atmorans. That's just shoddy scholarship from a bygone regime.

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Or maybe Michael uncer-complicated it for the sake of simplicity. Atmorans=Nedes doesn't explain where they originated or how they later diverged, even if it's true. Other sources are contradictory, with some saying Nedes are aboriginal to Tamriel, moved to Atmora and then back. I personally think it's most likely that both could be true. Not every Nede left for Atmora, and not every Atmoran was a Nede. It's entirely plausible some of the Wandering Ehlnofey settled in Atmora before the Nedes intermingled with them, but this happened so very long ago and so gradually that there's no significant difference in biology or culture. It's kind of like the Ethnogenesis concept. "Atmoran" and "Nede" are more cultural titles than "Races", especially since at the time these groups exist the races of men hadn't changed very much and with the exception of Yokudans were almost physically identical. Hell, they still are for most practical intents and purposes.

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Pilaf The Defiler wrote:

 ...Not every Nede left for Atmora, and not every Atmoran was a Nede. It's entirely plausible some of the Wandering Ehlnofey settled in Atmora before the Nedes intermingled with them, but this happened so very long ago and so gradually that there's no significant difference in biology or culture. It's kind of like the Ethnogenesis concept. "Atmoran" and "Nede" are more cultural titles than "Races", especially since at the time these groups exist the races of men hadn't changed very much and with the exception of Yokudans were almost physically identical. Hell, they still are for most practical intents and purposes.

 

An interesting concept. But perhaps It would help if we knew the origin of the word "Nede", or even where the name was first applied. Think of it in terms of the American Pilgrims that came over from England. A "Pilgrim" is often used as a generic term for any person or peoples on any pilgrimage, but the settlers of the Plymouth Colonies would eventually come to be called The Pilgrims as a way to refer to those specific settlers.

  I realize the orignal Plymoth Settlers never really knew themselves as "The Pilgrims" , but a hundred or so years after their arrival and the name was widley accepted as a convieniet way to differentiate their migrant Forefathers from the land that they left behind.

The term "Nede" might very well be a derivation of some ancient Atmoran term for "Traveler" that eventually came to be used as a convient title for the migrant Atmorans. Hell, it could even be an Aldmer word given to these strange new peoples arriving on their shores- and  eventually they took the name as their own. I mean...there's really no way to know one way or the other, but there’s just another possibility.

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I feel this matter is generally just overcomplicated. Everyone was born in Tamriel at the beginning of the world (or the ending of the last one). Some people left for Atmora and later returned. Others stayed and were known as Nedes by the early First Era.

 

Most of the reason why I made this post, though, is because I wanted to point out something that no one has explicitly mentioned before, namely what I believe to be a rather conscious choice of words and themes in Frontier and Conquest. The term 'frontier' is so tied up in popular imagination and discussions of the history of the United States I think it shouldn't take a non-American to point out its significance. 'New World', "fleeing civil war" and "settlers" all tie into the same story, I feel.

 

All that terminology is clearly no coincidence. Just like intellectually honest historiography slowly began to deconstruct the myth of the settling of the United States, this book once sought to dispel the myth of the Tamrielic empires being entirely Skyrim's achievement. Everything fits: the escape across the ocean to a new wild continent, a small group of brave settlers, the romantic notion of a smooth, unidirectional wave of settlement and particularly the gross underrepresentation of the people who already lived there in the first place.

 

 

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The identity of the Nedes is only complex because of confusion amongst the writers, which is more usefully seen as confusion amongst Tamriellic scholars. It has different usages in different real world and Tamriellic eras.

 

*A pre-Ysgramor Atmoran migrant originally (and this keeps getting cited)

*'The Nedic Peoples' as a blanket term for probably indigenous populations in more recent war

*Nedes as just one tribe of many indigenous Cyrodiilic groups in KotN lore

 

Anyone notice that Skyrim's loading screens peddle the Ysgramor-leads-the-first-humans-to-Tamriel crap?

 

Anyways, I actually only posted because I wanted to gush above the awesomeness of the Markarth and Reach worldbuilding in TES V. But I got sidetracked. Has anyone made a BSF post about the incredibly exquisite Forsworn Conspiracy quest yet? Even Skyrim's dramatically more hand-holding quest marker can't ruin the fun of investigation there. I can't wait to finish it.

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Khevsureti wrote:

 

Anyone notice that Skyrim's loading screens peddle the Ysgramor-leads-the-first-humans-to-Tamriel crap?

 

I did notice that, but I also noticed how they kept in some of the books that flatly contradict this, which is telling. It's hard for anyone to deny there were already men living all over Tamriel when Ysgramor first sat foot on the continent.

 

I also noticed how the Nordic ultra-nationalism reaches a fever pitch among the Stormcloaks, who not only claim that all men are descended from Atmorans but that all men are descended from Nords specifically. Morihaus would probably retire as a teacher if he had to try to educate these people about actual history. That would be like some politician proclaiming all white people descended from Americans or something. I can't help but feel the devs got that "wrong" on purpose to display the fanaticism of certain people's beliefs in Skyrim.

 

As for the quest you mentioned, it's one of the better sidequests in the game. Or more generally, one of the better background secondary plots. Pretty much everything in the far West of the map is intertwined with some conflict with the Reachmen, and this quest fills in their backstory somewhat. I've found that to get the full story you have to rely on a variety of sources. You have to do this quest two different ways, read a few new books about it, pay attention to dialogue in the main quest and do both the Stormcloak and Imperial quests. It just so happens I've done all that, and at the end of the day while I can't help sympathizing with the way these people have been wronged, the fact remains many of them have managed to come to terms with reality and peacefully integrate into society, whereas others are likely going to live short and violent lives.

 

 

On the other hand, they're very easy to underestimate. The author of the First PGE predicted that the rebellions and unease in the Reach would be crushed by Titus Alorious within a decade at most. That was written...what, 1000 years ago?  I guess Alorius and the ones who took over for him (he had to go to the moon and take care of some bullcrap up there) weren't quite the men Talos thought they were, or else the Reachmen were much more capable than anyone thought. Or maybe Talos DID realize how dangerous they were, and even his best men could barely keep them under control. In any event they continue to loot and scratch out a survival of sorts well into the 4th Era...so make of that what you will.

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Pilaf The Defiler wrote:

I did notice that, but I also noticed how they kept in some of the books that flatly contradict this, which is telling. It's hard for anyone to deny there were already men living all over Tamriel when Ysgramor first sat foot on the continent.

As it was with Oblivion's loading screens.

 

Quote:
I can't help but feel the devs got that "wrong" on purpose to display the fanaticism of certain people's beliefs in Skyrim.

I will readily give them that benefit of the doubt, partly because of all the contradictory views about Ulfric.

 

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It just so happens I've done all that, and at the end of the day while I can't help sympathizing with the way these people have been wronged,

I agree. I instinctively tried to avoid killing them in self defense on my first exploration of the Reach. Five minutes in that region and the game set me off wondering how the Empire could count this as friendly territory (it's essentially under indigenous control) and derive any benefit from it as they do.

 

Quote:
the fact remains many of them have managed to come to terms with reality and peacefully integrate into society, whereas others are likely going to live short and violent lives.

Or not so peacefully. Because inside the walls of Markarth and its mines, the ethnic/racial divide becomes a class conflict.

 

The whole situation parallels a lot of baggage-heavy real-world conflicts, just enough to get you excited, and it's really the best I've seen of TES politics.

 

The imprisoned liberation leader and terrorist kingpin who has been compromised by his corrupt local successor who hosts Thalmor in his keep with a temple of Talos still in the center of the city and the weary but still dedicated old agent, it's great.

 

 

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On the other hand, they're very easy to underestimate. The author of the First PGE predicted that the rebellions and unease in the Reach would be crushed by Titus Alorious within a decade at most. That was written...what, 1000 years ago?

Ha, exactly.

 

And on top of all this, Ulfric exactly paralleled Talos when he conquered the place, proving the political flashpoint that ignited Skyrim's civil war. And of course the Thalmor would want him arrested.

YH
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Apologies for the necro, but Laria rolled a Reachwoman (NOT A FORSWORN -- she demanded I make that clear) for her new Dovahkiin and she started asking me a bunch of questions I couldn't answer, mostly about religious stuff. Aside from the hagravens and briarheart rituals we don't know much about them, but I agree they probably have some animism or nature worship like the Skaal.

 

I don't recall their being any mention of them in books besides the Red Eagle thing, so if I'm missing a source it'd be appreciated if someone could point it out. Otherwise, any other helpful thoughts on non-Forsworn rituals and customs in the Reach? I would agree with Pilaf about their culture being a bit of a grab-bag.

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"The Madmen of the Reach" is another source added in Skyrim.

If I recall some quest and general banter dialogue refers to them as Natives or simply Reachfolk. The game actually does attempt to make a half-assed distinction between the two groups.

There are several NPCs in the Reach who identify as Natives and are clearly based on the Breton race model, but who are not affiliated with Forsworn.  They often do wear the face tattoos of the actual Forsworn, so that seems to be a cultural thing somewhat similar to the Nibenese in Cyrodill, but other than that they seem to be settled, civilized people. Farmers, hunters, miners, smiths, healers. That kind of deal. 

Reach Natives do mention Sheor occasionally. I can't tell you right off the top of my head who and where but I distinctly remember it. They share the Forsworn's dislike of Nordic culture but they're not militant about it. They mostly seem to want to be left alone and to keep the land they feel is theirs. The quests concerning them usually force you to pick sides between them and local Nords, usually the Silver-Bloods.

YH
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Oh my yes, I know they are unique, I made the mistake of referring to her character as a Forsworn. Won't happen again.

 

Thanks, especially for the Sheor bit, that's exactly the sort of thing I was looking for.

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The context of the Sheor character and how the denizens of the Reach and High Rock feel about him is not clear in the dialogue, though. I've heard things like "By Sheor!" and "Sheor's Bones!" from both Bretons and Natives in the game. Nords sometimes say "Shor's Bones!" as well. I can tell the difference because of subtitles, mainly. "Shor" and "Sheor" are pronounced very similarly in the game. The "e" isn't totally silent but it sounds like "Shor" when they say it. One character says it more like "Shay-Or" or "Sheh-or", which makes it easier to see how it eventually morphed into Shezarr in Cyrodill. Like I said, though, impossible to tell what context these individuals are viewing the deity in. Characters in Skyrim shout random gods' names when they're under stress. I've heard "Ysmir's beard!" from several nords. Dunmer say "Nerevar guide me!" or "Boethiah give me strength!" occasionally. In the Dragonborn DLC Neloth amusingly says "Malacath's Toenails!" when confronted with a Dragon, whom he is convinced his enemies sent to assassinate him.

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Just to mess up the interesting matter of Reachmen gods some more, I have to add that the use of some deity's name in a phrase like that might also be relic from the ancient times, with nobody really paying attention to the phrase's actual meaning anymore or whether the god is still worshipped or not. Examples of this can be found even in my native language with certain phrases mentioning ancient, pre-Christian deities.

 

But to answer the original question, I find the term 'race' a bit silly, especially what comes to humans in Tamriel. As people here have already pointed out, the human 'races' of Tamriel are combinations of ethinicity and culture, born of a mixture of different peoples during the Eras, as in the real world. A short list of human cultura/ethnical groups (of which I know of) from the conquests of Talos onwards:

Colovians, Nibeneans, Bretons, Reachmen, Redguards*, Horse-people of the Bjoulsae River (only mentioned in PGE, with pictures), Nords, and the Skaal.

*Redguards: should also propably be divided into Crowns and Forebears ethno-cultural groups. Perhaps the people of Alik'r should be considered a third group?

And some that are hinted at: 

Kreathians - During the time when Falkreath was part of Colovia, only passing mentions of them are ever made. Apparently Cuhlecain was their king, but I guess their culture and physical looks were close to nords, close enough to consider them northmen. At an uknown point of time after the crowning of Talos, they seem to have been absorbed by nords, as there is no sign of them in TES V. 

West Reachians - It seems to me that the Reachfolk are divided into two related peoples (both somewhat resembling certain real world Celtic peoples), the Reachmen living in the Reach in Skyrim, and West Reachians in Western Reach of High Rock. In that case, the West Reachians would propably be culturally closer to the Bretons of western High Rock.

And then there are dozens of groups lost during the First and Second Eras, such as Kothringi, Al-Hared, Al-Gemha, Horwalli, Yerpest, Keptu, Ket, the so-called 'Nedes' of Hammerfell etc.

 

So this all gives as from seven to ten known ethno-cultural groups (with the Kreathians gone) around 4E 200.

Od
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http://www.uesp.net/wiki/Skyrim:The_Bear_of_Markarth

Notice the good "scholar" is an imperialist boot. If the people of the Reach can't sustain their war, then they need to subject themselves to the Son of Skyrim, or die collaborators.

A single witch seized his hour, while the Mede was entertaining foreign wars, to usurp the sacred law and declare the beginning of a new nation. There never was an independent Reach; their culture is a tribal nomadicism, which won't stand, and so it has already been tested by militia and failed.

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Here are the Sheor quotes:

Phinis: "By Sheor, no. Those archaic policies died out with the Mages Guild, and were never enforced here."

Honestly I thought I heard someone in the Reach say Sheor too, but apparently Phinis from the College is the only bloke who does.

I think a little more in-game investigation would help bear out this issue of Reachmen religious identity. I haven't been in Ainethach house, for example, and since he's a moderate Reachman he'd likely be an excellent source if we could find any evidence of his religious affiliations.

Also interesting to note are a few dialogue bits I stumbled upon between Markarth citizens Endon and his wife Kerah:

Kerah: I'm afraid the necklaces aren't selling well. Customers are not interested in medallions engraved with the symbols of other provinces.

Edon: Humph. Used to be everyone in Markarth wore a necklace showing his home province, from Elsweyr to High Rock to Hammerfell and Cyrodiil...

Kerah: We don't have travelers from Elsweyr or Hammerfell anymore, Endon. Only the natives and the Nords stay in Markarth now.

Edon: As they always have, along with those crazed Forsworn. They've driven off the color that used to make this city great.

Obviously a reference to this line from the PGE 1:

Only in the west do the mountains abate to the canyons and mesas of the Reach, by far the most cosmopolitan of the Holds of Skyrim, Nords of the pure blood holding only the barest majority according to the recent Imperial Census.

Oh Beth. Still impressing me a year on? You scurvy dog you.

Od
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Doubleback for a city of the same, shaggy faces and dwarf stone.

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I swear I've seen Sheor transcribed in the captions more than once. It may have been NPC combat dialogue but it's there or my mind is paying tricks on me.

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Pilaf The Defiler wrote:

I swear I've seen Sheor transcribed in the captions more than once. It may have been NPC combat dialogue but it's there or my mind is paying tricks on me.

I wouldn't be surprised if it was the later. Shor's name gets tossed around quite a bit, looking at the dialogue files.

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My mind playing tricks on me is at least as canon as some of the worst writing in Skyrim, so I'm going to say mine makes sense and is therefore canon.

 

Any objections?

YH
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Even if it's not true that they say Shor/Sheor in game, Shor is part of pretty much every pantheon (Orc and Argonian possibly the only exceptions) so I reckon at least some Reachmen acknowledge a version.

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Pilaf The Defiler wrote:

My mind playing tricks on me is at least as canon as some of the worst writing in Skyrim, so I'm going to say mine makes sense and is therefore canon.

Any objections?

I guess not. Especially with all the Briarheart shenanigans.

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Fiore1300 wrote:

Pilaf The Defiler wrote:

My mind playing tricks on me is at least as canon as some of the worst writing in Skyrim, so I'm going to say mine makes sense and is therefore canon.

Any objections?

I guess not. Especially with all the Briarheart shenanigans.

 

Then it's settled. "Sheor" is a thing in the Reach. The Hags call him Lyg in my headcanon but I don't know why. I just have this mental image of them referring to themselves as priestesses of Lyg.

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(After three years and eight or so accounts, I've finally found a reason to post.)

Hagravens=birdmen of the Niben.

I don't remember which text mentions them (the birdmen), but if the dates check out, I'm thinking Briarhearts were originally devised by the Aldmer of Highrock as a form of grave punishment for reverence of Tricksters. Love Sheor so much? Well why don't we do to you what our ancestors did to him. This practice spread to the Heartland mer, adding to the Ayleid's (supposed) plethora of twisted pass times. During the uprising of man, this practice was repurposed by Priestesses/Priests (I like to assume female-only Hagravens is a Reach thing, matriarchy and what not. See: notes about the Queen of the Forsworn, supposedly left over from an unfinished quest line) of Lyg, and used against the Hated Elves. Added to the mix was the seething and most righteous rage of beloved Lyg. Briar fruit (artichokes) were chosen as father boards (the original process of reanimation used by the Aldmer rendered them mindless and almost completely immobile)  because of their likeness to Lyg's stolen, aching heart.

The ritual, now ("now" being several decades after the uprising) considered profane for it's nercomatic aspects, was outlawed. The Hagravens, as one might imagine, did not take kindly to this, and after several failed appeals to Clerics of Arkay, grew bitter. This cumulated in the murder and subsequent resurrection of Akray's High Priest. Needless to say, the people of the Niben responded post-haste, and the Hagravens, along with their knowledge, was lost to the ages.

 

That probably reads terribly, and there are several things I need to fact check, but I think there is something there. 

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I like your ideas, but I'd personally like to think - humorously - that Pelinal Whitestrake was involved in the wrongdoings of the Cyrodillic Bird-people at some point. Popular fan theory is that the Ayleids enslaved, displaced or slaughtered them all, but I get this hilarious mental image of Pelinal walking into Alessia's camp with blood and feathers all over him and proudly proclaiming he saw right through the Ayleids' illusion sorcery and smashed them in their pathetic bird disguises.

 

This would naturally be ironic because he's an avatar of their beloved Lyg. They'd blame Alessia and her Elven influence including veneration of Akatosh, and consider the Imperials and their Nord allies a corrupt and wicked people henceforth. Thus, their greatest heroes such as Red Eagle could be seen as their earnest attempt to reclaim the soul of Lyg from their enemies and turn him against them.

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I love that. I will sort it under my black comedy canon.