Lord of Souls Lore Notes: Black Marsh

This page contains lore-relevant quotes and summaries from Lord of Souls, by Greg Keys. Some quotes have been truncated to improve clarity.

Both Gideon and Stormhold were overrun by undead armies, though Umbriel was nowhere near.

The An-Xileel “stopped their advance [in Morrowind] decades ago, and haven’t showed the slightest interest in doing anything since then.” They have, however, prevented the Empire from reclaiming that territory.

According to the Imperial perspective, the An-xileel “were entirely nativistic in their views, interested only in purging the former colonial influences and returning Black Marsh to whatever state they imagined it had been in before it was ruled by foreign powers.”

From Delia Huerc, a Redguard traveling with Minister Hierem: “The [ Hist] tree [in Lilmoth] is enormous. The only one I have ever seen taller was in Valenwood, but the Hist was more massive, more spread out. And I could feel a palpable presence in it. I had never quite credited the Argonian claims that the trees are intelligent, but when I stood in its presence, I could no longer doubt it. Further, I thought I felt a certain malevolence in it, but that might well have been my imagination, for the whole situation was anything but friendly. The An-Xileel have been uniformly rude and arrogant, the city itself is a festering, putrid place. From the moment I entered Lilmoth, I have wanted nothing more than to leave it.The minister, on the other hand, seems quite excited, almost jubilant.The An-Xileel sang to the tree, an awful cacophonous chant that went on so long that I might have drifted off a bit. At some point, Hierem added his voice to theirs, but in a sort of counterpoint. He lit a brazier, and I’m sure he did some sort of sorcery. In his younger years he was in the leadership of the Mages’ Guild, before that organization utterly collapsed, and so I know him capable of these things, but I was still somehow surprised.It was my impression that he was calling something, for he repeated the word “Umbriel” many times. It seemed like a name, although the language he spoke was not one I knew, and so I may have been mistaken, for nothing came, although everyone seemed pleased anyway.”

A low growl in the throat is an Argonian sound of embarrassment.

“Everyone in Lilmoth is supposed to be dead, certain particular Argonians aside.”

The following is a description of what Glim experiences when he is dead. His soul is trapped in a soul gem and being reborn into a new body grown by the Umbriel-Hist (“Um-Hist” from hereon out).

“[Glim] swam in black water, probing through the rotting leaves, lifting his eyes now and then above the surface to search the shallows and shore for movement. Larger things in the depths of the swamp couldn’t reach him here, amidst the twisting cypress roots; here the danger usually came from land.

“Something in the mud moved, and he snapped at it with webbed paws and lifted a feathery-gilled wriggler into view. He ate it happily and searched for more, but in a short time his belly was full and he felt like basking. He swam lazily back to the gathering hole.

“The old ones had already claimed the choicest perches, so he crawled onto a log already crowded with his siblings and wriggled down among them until he felt the rough bark against his belly. When his brothers and sisters gave up their sleepy, halfhearted complaints at his added company, he felt the sun on his skin and began to dream his life; swimming, basking, killing, avoiding death, the sun and moons, all mystery, all terrifying, all beautiful. Each day the same day, each year the same year.

“Until the root came, and the taste of sap. Some changes were slow, others came quickly, and he—they—flowed together, found the stream of time. His old body wasn’t forgotten, but it changed, became more like things the root remembered from otherwhere; his hind legs lengthened and his spine stood up. Small thoughts in his head put out branches, and those branched also, until what had before been warmth, light, shadow, movement, fear, contentment, anger, and lust became categories instead of simple facts. The world was the same, but it seemed more, bigger, stranger than ever.

“Death followed life and life death, but it all flowed through the root, each life different, each the same.

“Until that, too, ended, and the root was ripped away, and he was alone. The gathering place was empty except for him—no elders, no siblings. He swam in black water, forgetting everything. Losing his form, melting away.

“But in that dissolution, the illusion was also dissolved. He was many, and he was one. He sang, a plaintive tune, a remembrance, a prayer. All of his voices took it up, trembling it out through every branch and root, through heart and blood and bone.”

After his rebirth in the new, Um-Hist grown body, Glim’s “face wasn’t exactly the same. It looked younger, which made sense, but there was also a little something different about the shape of it; the same for his coloring, which had more rust in it now. If [Annaig] had seen this body a few months ago, she would have thought it one of Glim’s brothers, but she wouldn’t have mistaken it for him.”

Glim was 18 years old during the events of the novel.

Somewhere near Lilmoth is an “ancient, sunken structure” whose wall extends 20 feet above the water. Glim and Annaig used to play there when they were 5 years old.

Kraken barnacles are about the “size and shape of a large shark tooth, smooth and dark green, with a wet, tube-like appendage sticking out of the wide end.” They have hard shells and soft mass with a projecting stalk inside. It is native to the seas around Lilmoth.

When angry, Argonians may puff out their spines and give off a “fighting odor,” presumably to scare away the competition or prepare for a fight.

The Hist “are sentient trees, and we [Glim, speaking on behalf of the Argonians] are—connected to them. They are many and they are one, all attached at the root, and we, too, are joined to that root. Some say we were created by the Hist, to see for them the world where they cannot walk. They can call us or send us away. When we are named, we take of the sap of the Hist, and we are changed—sometimes a little, sometimes very much. […]

“A few twelves of years ago, our country was invaded from Oblivion. The Hist knew it was going to happen, and called our people back to Black Marsh. Many of us were altered, made ready for the war that we had to fight. Made stronger, faster—able to endure terrible things. […]”

“The Hist are supposed to be unified,” Glim said, “but at times certain trees have gone rogue, broken away from the others. It happened long, long ago in my city, and I think it happened again, not long before your world entered mine. A rogue tree helped Umbriel somehow, do you understand? It helped kill many, many of my people so they could serve Umbriel as dead things. And now I think it may have helped summon Umbriel here in the first place.

The sap of the Hist can “alter things.”

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