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Elder Scrolls Online - Loremaster's Archive

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The books herein were all posted under the Loremaster's Archive section of Elder Scrolls Online's official website. Some of them were also accompanied by a Q&A section - please see the Interviews section of the Library for that

A most unexpected curiosity has entered my collection after being appropriated from a defeated Maormeri fleet. Why this text was aboard one of the vessels, I cannot guess, but it appears to be the journal of a diplomat to Thras written before 1E 2260. Though it is damaged, the descriptions of the Sload that remain legible are fascinating—assuming this is not some strange work of fiction or forgery. If it is legitimate, it is a remarkable find, as the Sload were loath to treat with any of the races of Tamriel.

We know that the slug-folk of Thras practiced foul necromancy, but their involvement with that dread art may have been more prominent than previously thought, if this is an authentic text. The author expresses frequent disgust at interacting with re-animated slaves. It seems the Sload also slaughtered and revived various sea creatures—turtles, crabs, and the like—to keep as pets. His repulsion did not end there, though, as he complained about the repugnant smell of the Sload, the several inches of slime-coated water upon the floors of any land-based building, and the various molds and fungi served as food.

There are mentions of elaborate sacrificial rituals, which I find unusual given their general rejection of worship. The Sload certainly entered pacts with the Daedra when it suited them, but the ceremonies described here are not indicative of typical Daedric sacrifice. They may have spent years grooming individuals to participate in re-enactments of the deeds of Sload mythological heroes and villains, with the eventual performance (which may have lasted weeks) culminating in the deaths of every actor by the application of “desiccation crystals" to the body. Ancestor worship? Unnamed deities? Preservation of ancient magics? It is impossible to tell.

More intriguing is a badly-damaged entry that discusses an audience in the submerged tower of an “Elder Distended One." I can make out little of the discussion between the two, but there are mentions of an “impressively corpulent body and strangely pulsating head," and three eyes that emerged upon its belly that each “opened again as a toothless mouth, disgorging [unreadable] that the attendants eagerly consumed." This is the first insight I have encountered into potential cultural leadership among the Sload.

It has caused me no end of frustration that the entries chronicling a visit to the “Menagerie of Sublime Infection" are nearly unreadable. Aside from the name, almost nothing of this section can be deciphered aside from several unnerving words implying all manner of affliction, from “suppurating extrusions" and “blood-rot" to “festering myiasis." Much about the Thrassian Plague remains a mystery—and perhaps one that is best left buried. I cannot, however, deny my interest in the whys and wherefores of the grotesque fascination with disease expressed here.

Now that I have documented my own immediate reactions to this text, I must send it along to colleagues in Alinor to hopefully verify its authenticity. Whether or not there is anything useful to be gained from it, at the very least it may add to our understanding of a terrible enemy to all the races of Tamriel in the unlikely event that such a threat re-emerges. If anything contained herein is factual, let us pray to Auriel that it never does.

Ah, my Baron Who Moves Like Light Glittering Through Crystal. What can I recall about him before his memory slips away?

He was tall—but they're all tall to one who adopts the stature of a Bosmer. I had good reasons for doing that, and I can almost remember them … something about being nimble and making a smaller target.

But remembering Light-Through-Crystal—you see how it goes, Tutor, I'm so easily distracted. I need your cool words to flow through me, a rippling current, to bring me back to focus.

Focus! That's the word, exactly! Light-Through-Crystal was all about focus, it was his reason for being. In battle, he moved from point to point almost instantaneously, scintillating from front to flank to other flank, his attacks flashing out like malondo-rays. I remember him when we fought the Five Recalcitrants, how he glowed with varliance and ferocity! Shields shattered like glass, and the ground was littered with fangs and antlers.

And we were triumphant! I never want to lose that day, Tutor. Place it carefully in the Reservoir of Recollection, that I may relive it whenever I need to.

The Baron Who Moves Like Heat Lightning! Can you not picture him in your mind? He arcs from one cloud to another, following no predictable path, going where he will at a speed no eye can follow! There! Like that!

But no: I'm fooling myself. Those are only words, a recollection of a description of a vision. The vision itself … is lost to me. Intellectually, I know where and how we fought, who we defeated and when, but the memory of the actual events is foggy, slipping away into the dusk of the forgotten past.

I know, for example, that Heat Lightning fought beside Seht and me when we battled the Borers from Within. I know that Seht and I dueled The Hinged Ones while Heat Lightning overcharged the Null Pistons until they cracked and burst. I know it happened. I just can't remember the event itself. Or my baron, who won the day for us all.

Help me, my Tutor. Teach me to remember the Baron Who Moves Like Heat Lightning. I am lonely for that part of me, and want to see it again. At least, that's how it feels.

When you’ve traveled all over Tamriel, especially if you’re an established trader like me, you learn more than you might want to know about clothing. Every province—even every city—has its own tastes, styles, and unspoken rules. Since you’ve wisely chosen to purchase this book, you know fashion is more than just a pastime of the idle rich. Understanding which colors and styles mean what and who wears them can help you blend in, get better deals, or even save your life.

First, the obvious: if you’re traveling in Cyrodiil during the tumultuous time of this writing, be careful what you wear! Only don the colors of one of the warring alliances if you know for sure the status of your destination—towns and keeps change hands so frequently. Why, once I was porting a cart of fine casks of Dream Madeira from Castle Alessia to Sejanus Outpost, knowing the Dominion forces there would appreciate (and pay well for) a good drink, but by the time I arrived, they’d been driven out by the Pact. Already in view of the outpost, I knew I’d been spotted in my brilliant yellow tabard, so I made no move to flee when a band of Pact soldiers began to approach. Luckily for me, the rowdy Nords who led the assault were in a festive mood, and though they commandeered the wine, they let me leave with my life.

You can tell quite a bit about someone by what they wear, of course. The more you know about a potential customer, the better, so pay close attention and you’ll get better deals and have an idea of what someone might be looking for. Did you know that master anglers favor pinkish-purple tones? I’ve been told they wear them because the fish are unable to see that particular shade, making the fishers practically invisible to poor, tasty creatures. Prominent alchemists wear an earthy grey tone supposedly made of a secret Nirnroot concoction that protects the cloth from stains, and high-ranking Mages Guild members wear an unmistakable dusky blue. If you know who you’re dealing with, you know what to sell them!

Another good tip is to keep your eyes open for colors and styles you haven’t seen before. If you find someone wearing a bold, iridescent color and ornate armor or dress, find an excuse to talk to them. Anyone who stands out has a great story to tell at the very least, so buy them a drink or entice them with your rarest goods. I once met a dangerous-looking Khajiit clothed head to toe in a shining bronze color I’d never seen. After some friendly banter and a few mugs of aged sweetmilk, he gave up the locations of several dangerous ruins chock-full of Dwarven relics he couldn’t carry out. Quite profitable, if you have the right connections.

So there you have it: fashion matters. Pay attention to local customs and dress as you travel, learn who wears what, and profit! There’s much more to learn beyond my advice here, but you’ve got a good start now. Keep your eyes open, wear the right thing, and seek out the bold and you’ll improve your margins substantially!

From the Journal of Dranos Velador, Field Captain of the Silken Ring:

At long last, I've found it. I've found the Cradle of Shadows.

It was well hidden to be sure. The exterior is naught but a pile of overturned masonry, covered in lichens and old cypress roots. The Imperials took great pains to conceal it, but an assassin's eye misses very little.

The structure itself is unremarkable—a simple stone bastion, assembled in the tedious Colovian style. But you need only scratch the surface to find the truth of this place. Quiet horror hangs over the Cradle like a shroud. Mephala's servants lurk in every dark corner, just out of sight but always watching. Waiting. I've never felt more at home.

Mephala's presence only grows stronger as you descend. The fort's bleak stone walls give way to great caverns, where shadows dance like mad scamps and massive spider-webs glisten in the torchlight. Mephala's servants, the Spiderkith, stalk these chambers, whispering dark secrets to one another in a tongue no mortal understands. But this is still a pale reflection of what's to come.

Beyond the caves, the very fabric of reality begins to fray. Somehow Mephala's dark realm, the Spiral Skein, has claimed this place. Its inky tendrils stretch out in every direction, seducing pilgrims and prey alike--claiming them with a cold, chitinous embrace. This is what drove the Imperials to destroy the fort. They found this nexus and sought to hide it from the world. Shortsighted fools, the lot of them. How could someone turn their back on this sublime darkness?

After walking these gloomy hallways for a week or more, I feel the weight of it—the horror, I mean. It's as if all this dark beauty could collapse in on itself at any moment. Someone is holding open the nexus by will alone. I hear her in my dreams, urging me deeper and deeper into the Cradle, promising me glory, passion, and terror. Her name is Velidreth, the Lady of Lace. In time, I shall become her servant, and together we will bring this world to heel. All will fear Mephala. All will love Mephala. All will worship Mephala.

Our grim work begins here, in the Cradle of Shadows.

Misunderstanding and oppression have poisoned Black Marsh for centuries. My egg-siblings have endured subjugation by the Empire and slavery at the hands of the Dunmer. Armored boots tread on our traditions and culture. We are fortunate to have the Marsh. Without its perils to deter hapless dryskins, our ways might have already crumbled to dust. Despite our troubles, the Hist guides us still. And for the first time in memory, we have the chance to break the cycle.

I spent my young life as a slave. An angry one. It cannot have been easy to become recognized for cruelty among the tyrants of House Dres, but Councilman Glathis Dres managed it. After I was beaten to unconsciousness for seating the guests at a banquet out of order, I could take no more. When I was able to work the saltrice fields again, I waited for an opening, overwhelmed the drunken guards, and escaped with my fellow slaves.

We fled into the Thornmarsh. When we crossed paths with a troop of Argonians, we realized too late they were traitors, Archein tribe scum in the employ of House Dres. Hungry and exhausted, we were easy to capture. The sun abandoned my sky. Looking back, though, I see the subtle work of the Hist’s will. In the Archein village, a vision came to me. Their Hist tree spoke, showing me blood and horror—the Akaviri invasion, Nords and Dunmer falling like dead leaves.

This was an opportunity. A turning point. But how could I take advantage? We were taken back to Thorn, now nearly empty as the Dunmer answered Almalexia’s call to battle. For my transgression, I was to be whipped by Glathis himself. In the courtyard, Glathis struck his first lash. I grabbed his whip and strangled him with it. I’ll never forget the look he gave me as the light drained from his eyes.

Wasting no time, I challenged the centurion of the Archein guards for her position by right-of-combat. She could not refuse and maintain any respect from her cohort. The duel was brief. I assumed command and advanced on Stormhold to do the same there. I am thankful that I did not need to shed any further Saxhleel blood. Walks-in-Ash, who met us as we approached, was able to convince Stormhold’s Shellbacks to join our command.

I revealed my plan. We would march to Morrowind, into Stonefalls, and engage in battle—with the Akaviri. We would defend the Dunmer and turn the tide. To say some disagreed with my strategy would be quite an understatement. I told of my vision from the Hist, and let any who wished to return to the Marsh do so. Still strong in numbers, we marched.

When we arrived in the chaos of battle, there was fear on the faces of the Dunmer, who saw armed slaves charging towards them. The fear turned to shock as we joined their ranks, our Shellbacks providing enough muscle to overpower the invaders and force them to flee.

And now, we are recognized. We have allies, not overlords, for the first time in memory. We are free under the law, and we are taking back our villages and strengthening our traditions. There is still bitter blood flowing between many Saxhleel and our new allies, and not every tribe has joined us—only those of Thornmarsh, Shadowfen, and Murkmire. This is not a surprise. I hope that they will, in time, and realize that this opportunity we have been given to cultivate the understanding will allow us to preserve our way of life.

After a recent discussion with a self-proclaimed “priest and scholar” of the Tribunal Temple, I find myself shamed (as I often am), but not surprised (as I never am) by the gross misunderstandings of the nature of the Daedra that “adopted” our ancestors. It seems that our priests these days are trained in little more than bland recitations and methods for parting pilgrims from their gold, a significant and disappointing departure from their traditional functions. Some may consider this blasphemy. I invite them to challenge me to debate—or magical contest, if they prefer. Though I do not often concern myself with society, someone must battle the tide of ignorance.

 

I do not expect every Dunmer to attain understanding comparable to my own. Indeed, the common Elf has his place minding the mundane details of our race’s day-to-day survival. Even so, laziness in any respect is abhorrent, and intellectual complacency cannot be permitted even among the lower echelons. Allow me to provide an accessible examination of the Good Daedra, beginning with the most easily misunderstood: Mephala.

 

“Good” is an ill-suited descriptor for any Daedric being, and it is unfortunate it has come into casual use. As absolute expressions of their respective spheres, the Daedric Princes do not share our moral categorizations for behavior. The Daedra simply are. Mephala, Boethiah, and Azura have done much for the interests of the Dunmer, and in that sense they may appear to be good, but their motivations and goals (and the consequences of achieving them) are not known to us.

 

There’s a reason Mephala is referred to as the “Webspinner,” though modern Dunmer seem to ignore this appellation and instead project the sympathetic qualities they associate with Vivec—art in violence, cunning, enlightened poetry—back onto the Daedric being that “anticipated” him. This tendency serves to conceal much of Mephala’s nature, which is exactly what the Prince would desire.

 

Mephala taught our ancestors the ways of secret murder, to be used against our enemies and even against our own in the place of all-out war, certainly “good” for our predecessors as they migrated across Tamriel and came into often-fractious contact with the Nords and Dwemer. We learned meticulous plotting and how to lie, ways to lure and trap our foes, how to manage complexity and predict outcomes. But few ask why this Daedric Prince would champion our people. The gullible fancy us chosen for our superior qualities and the cynical believe us a mere amusement for the Daedra, but these are both woefully simple-minded theories.

 

We must keep in mind that the Daedra are incapable of creation. They can only imitate, manipulate, and exaggerate. Some of them do perceive mortals as mere playthings, but I do not suspect this of Mephala. She does nothing without purpose, perceives all of Aurbis as an interconnected system of action and consequence, and employs herself in spinning new threads to influence outcomes.

 

To what end? That you must work out for yourself (as I have). Do you think me fool enough to reveal the secrets of the Prince of Secrets?

Syllabus for Lectures by Phrastus of Elinhir
 

This lecture series will provide you with thorough edification on the nature and history of Aedric forces, their manifestations and influence on the Mundus, and an overview of prevalent modern theories with regard to controversial topics related thereunto. Provided you complete the required reading prior to each session, you will acquire a clear understanding of these mythogenic forces that will serve as a sufficient base for deeper study in a number of disciplines, from historical inquiry to theoretical aetheroplanar manipulation.

Your cultural and personal preconceptions will be challenged. Common myths will be dispelled, from crude misinterpretations of the Aedra as powerful creator-beings of “good” looking down upon and tinkering with Nirn to the supposition of Aedra and Daedra as locked in perpetual extra-Mundic war. The explorations presented in this course have, in the past, offended certain dogmatic students (especially in regards to the Divines), but I urge you to approach these topics as a scholar and not as a priest.

Understanding the Aedra beyond creation mythology and the convention of the Divines will allow you to grow as a scholar. The very approach this series demands will instruct you in the proper methodology of scholarly pursuits: we will study rare and obscure texts, unravel complex symbolic structures, and approach each topic from a critical standpoint.

The five primary lecture topics are as follows:

Lecture One: Survey of Origination Myths

Lecture Two: Anuic-Padomaic Interplay

Lecture Three: Aedra v. Daedra

Lecture Four: Aedric Energies and Influence

Lecture Five: Beyond Mere Divines

Outside reading and sedulous note-taking are necessary for full understanding of the lectures. All required outside texts referenced can be found in the fine library on the grounds. Do not wait to the last possible moment to prepare for a lecture; only a few copies of certain ancient and obscure texts will be available.

Naturally, you will be inclined to explore some of the subjects presented further. Your newfound knowledge of Aedric beings, their involvement in creation, a broader understanding of their relationship to the Eight Divines, and exposure to current debates will propel you to additional studies. For additional reading, I recommend works by Brother Hetchfeld, Brother Mikhael Karkuxor, and Aicantar of Shimmerene (beyond those we will reference through the series). Be ever vigilant in your studies, however, and avoid biased or poorly-researched works, such as those scribbled by Cinnabar of Taneth. Always seek refutations and take no one scholar’s words for absolute truth.

 

TAKEN FROM AN INTERVIEW WITH RETIRED DARK ELF ARCHAEOLOGIST, DRENDISA VEDRAN

To understand Mazzatun, you've got to understand Argonians, all right? And no one understands the Argonians. The Argonians don't even understand the Argonians. So it's hardly worth the effort. But I can tell you're keen to learn all you can, so here goes.

Mazzatun is a puzzle, all right? It's a ball of yarn. A tangled, crumbling mess that contradicts every architectural theory on record. I was like you once, you know? I spent the better part of a year interviewing Argonians from surrounding tribes, trying to get some sense of where the ruins came from, how they were built, and why they were built. The best answers I got were half-hearted shrugs and warnings to avoid the ruins entirely. “It's the Hist," they'd say. “The Hist is crazy."

After the Knahaten Flu broke out, a detachment from House Redoran drove into Mazzatun and cleared the place out. They thought that the ruins' inhabitants, the Xit-Xaht tribe, might have been responsible for the plague, you see? I seized the opportunity and joined the expeditionary force—keen to finally see the “Puzzle City" with my own eyes. After the raid was complete, I spent days sketching, measuring, and mapping. I explored every forgotten nook and every hidden cranny. And after all that, I can say with total honesty that I still have no idea what these lizards were thinking.

Nothing in Mazzatun makes sense. It's a jumble of twisting hallways, random alcoves, and hundreds of dead ends. Weathered staircases lead straight into ceilings. There are walls that are hewn to look like doors, and doors that are hewn to look like walls. There are tiny windows into rooms that are too small to enter. And everywhere … everywhere, corpses--desiccated skeletons crushed under collapsed masonry, or left to starve in rooms with no doors. I tell you, it was like peering into Sheogorath's broom closet. Utter madness. It's damn near a miracle that I found my way out.

Mazzatun's only consistent feature is its deviant Hist. Wherever you go, that crazy tree looks down on you. Judging you, you know? Its roots span the entirety of the ruins—pushing through stonework and scaffolding like massive, gnarled tentacles. And all around these huge supports, pools of glowing amber goo bubble up out of the ground like water from a cursed spring. I couldn't begin to tell you what that fluid is, but the Argonians that wallowed in it were frothing mad. Barking and hissing like wild animals. Chilled me to the bone.

I hear that the Xit-Xaht have returned to the Puzzle City. If that's true, take my advice and leave it alone. There's nothing more to learn--no secret treasures or arcane mysteries. The only things you'll find in Mazzatun are madness, misery, and death. Like I said, no one understands the Argonians. Believe me when I say that it's likely to stay that way.

Zeira,

I recovered all I could from our old headquarters. The Iron Wheel picked everything clean. I am sorry to report they left none of Edda or Daldur's effects. Take heart, they will be remembered.

I did find a portion of Nicolas's old journal. I think he'd want you to have it—the old guildmaster sharing his wisdom with the new one, from beyond death? I can almost see the smile on his face.

—Walks-Softly
2E 582

ENTRY 220

The numbers keep me up at night.

I've now spent two-thirds of my life in the Thieves Guild. Half my life as guildmaster. A third of it with the merchant lords of Abah's Landing well and truly under our thumb. More than a hundred thieves at my command, and dozens more associates who will never comprehend their part in what I've built. A Thieves Council with Daldur, Edda, Velsa, and Zeira—my four best and brightest.

A far cry from the mess Bright Ilmund made of this guild. The fool used to shake down the beggars for coin! Took any scraps the merchant lords tossed him like an alley mutt and slathered their feet with kisses. We lost more guild members to his mean streak than to the Abah's Landing Guard, and the simpleton couldn't plan any heist more complicated than shaking down a street merchant.

It took time, patience, and luck to turn the guild against Bright Ilmund. I made mistakes that I still regret. His death was unexpected. But in the end, it worked out for the best. That the others named me guildmaster was icing on the sweetroll. Truly not my goal, but back then, who besides me could have managed what I have?

Of course, the job was one nobody in their right mind would have wanted. Aside from their fear and hatred of Bright Ilmund, the Thieves Guild had little but distrust and rivalry. I could see the factions begin to form, predict the entire guild devolving into street gangs squabbling over meaningless territory.

I kept them from drawing lines on the ground by taking them to the rooftops. Taught them to see fawning over the merchant lords as the cause of Bright Ilmund's vicious greed and petty revenges. To think, three simple rules undid the mess our former guildmaster made:

Don't steal from the Thieves Guild. We rob the merchant lords, not each another.
Don't kill on Thieves Guild business. Corpses can only be robbed once.
Don't take from the beggars. They're allies in the alleys, who hate the Guard more than we do.
Now look where we are. We brought four Abah's Landing merchant houses down to three as an example of our guild's power. We receive thousands of drakes per week from every merchant lord. It's a tax they throw to the gutter, because if they don't, they'll find themselves dragged down into it. What happened to Gurges and Associates is a lesson they won't soon forget.

Yet time is the ultimate thief. What have I really accomplished, here in this stinking city? I spend three decades of my life so the Thieves Guild can be the fattest skeever in the refuse pile? I've grown resigned to thinking this is the best we can do. That fine paintings on my bedroom walls are the pinnacle of my accomplishments. Why allow the shadow of Hubalajad Palace to cast itself across us? The Thieves Guild should perch upon the spires!

Zeira urges me to expand. Perhaps gain a foothold in the Gold Coast before this new Emperor Varen reaches an accord with the provinces. She's right, but she isn't thinking big enough.

Each town and city in the Empire has its own group of thieves. They go by different names, but they are distant cousins to what Bright Ilmund once made us. They prowl their own alleys, strong-arm their own beggars, and eagerly take the scraps handed down by their own style of merchant lords. They don't know enough to look at their cities from the rooftops, to see how small their alleys are. Who better than me to show them? What if our distant cousins wore the same simple name like a mask?

To get them to listen, we'll need a reputation. Also, an incredibly large amount of gold. Of all the numbers, that's the one that keeps me awake the longest.

I have the inklings of a plan. It's dangerous, perhaps a bit mad. Without the right people, without the right planning, it will fail. I can already hear Velsa's arguments against it, but as always, I'm certain she'll come around.

Nothing worth taking comes without risk. And if I'm right, if this works, we'll fool all Tamriel into thinking the Thieves Guild is everywhere, in every province.

—Nicolas
2E 579

If you know anything about Yokudan history, you're aware of the role Prince Hubalajad played—or did not play—in the early days following the initial Ra Gada colonization. We know “Prince Hew" as a comic figure, share tales of his thick-headed approach to impossible problems, and jest about his aggressive opulence. A shrine to Zeht floods as a sign of the god's displeasure? Build a more extravagant one further downstream! An oft-repeated Taneth expression for wasting money is “laying foundation with Hubalajad's coin."

Yet, what is truly known of the Luckless Prince? The only references available are third-hand documents, at best. The many apocryphal tales muddy the issue, drawing us further and further away from the actual man. Therefore, we must look to the land of Hew's Bane itself to draw our own conclusions. What if, for only a moment, we approach what are commonly accepted as his many failures on their own terms?

We know Hubalajad must have arrived in the barren land of what was then called “Khefrem's Boot" with a sizable amount of soldiers and artisans. Without local quarries, and with no reliable overland route from the north, they needed to import a mass amount of cut stone by sea. The natural protected harbor in what would become Abah's Landing was undoubtedly their first stop. A steady flow of laden barges would prove tempting to pirates, so Hubalajad's first necessity was to construct No Shira Citadel, an imposing fortress overlooking the Abecean.

It is true No Shira was soon undermined by seasonal flooding. But in response, Hubalajad appealed to Zeht with a shrine. When subsequent flooding washed out the first shrine, he did order the construction of another, yet more elaborate shrine—but from an examination of the stonework, the new one was upstream of the last. Seen in this light, “Prince Hew's thick-headedness" was in fact persistent resolve. Appealing to the Yokudan god of agriculture is not the act of an arrogant or thoughtless man.

All the while, Abah's Landing grew from a soldier's camp and shantytown to a sprawling city. Despite the many hardships of this frontier life, Hubalajad constructed a great palace—a symbol that this land was his home, and that he was just as committed as the locals to thriving. Stone went to the great walls of Abah's Landing, showing that its contents deserved as much protection as the Yokudan ships.

For a moment I ask you to set aside the multiple tombs, the impressive Princes Gate that opened a northern passage to Ra Gada territory, and the Yokudan statue just south of the Abah's Landing harbor that most erroneously believe was an idealized image of Hubalajad himself. The very act of constructing a citadel and a walled city at the same time, with the same pool of resources, would require a sharp mind for logistical matters. If it was not Hubalajad himself, he knew enough to surround himself with someone who could. This is hardly the style of a witless buffoon.

The scale of Hubalajad's setbacks do not, in this author's opinion, justify the tales of endless folly. Was it a whispering campaign from jealous rivals who decried the resources he poured into an inhospitable land? A blemished reputation for not recognizing his half-uncle was a necromancer? Did he invoke the ire of a Yokudan god, or perhaps a Daedric Prince? Though we may never truly know, we should keep one thing in mind about Hubalajad: before his arrival, no Man or Mer left a mark on this land. Today, the only structures surviving two millennia were those constructed by “Prince Hew."

The influence of Aetherius, the plane of magicka and spirits, upon Nirn is unquestionable. It filters through the veil of Oblivion from laminar (and luminar) perforations left by the architect Magnus and the Magna-Ge as they fled Mundus, bringing light and magic to mortals. The motivations for their flight aside (and before I digress into Dawn Era origination theories and thought experiments about a Nirn completely separated from Aetherius), the stars, their power, and their arrangements have long been subjects of intense study and even worship in some cultures.

The Ayleids are commonly associated with the practice of Aetherial magic. You can learn more about their creations in my work Aetherial Fragments, but suffice it to say they were able to manipulate and store starlight in ways we have yet to fully comprehend. The Nedic people also had an interest in the stars, though their culture was focused on theology over magical study. However, there is evidence that the highest echelons of Nedic priesthood preserved ancient rituals that invoked Aetherial magic. If what remains of their ponderous, flowery, and excruciating-to-translate poetry is any indication, they had a particular fascination with the constellations and their aspects.

The constellations each occupy their own magical domains, as evidenced by the observable energies that emanate from Mundus Stones and their ability to instill power into individuals. We do not know who erected these stones (which can be found across all the provinces of Tamriel) or for what purpose, but their magical resonance tells us clearly that each constellation’s signature is quite unique. This raises questions: were the individual constellations deliberately formed the Magna-Ge, imparting their essence into the trans-constellatory light? Is each constellation a window into a different Aetherial realm, such as Sovngarde or the Far Shores?

My own careful examination of several of the stones in the Alik’r Desert, which nearly exhausted my limited funding, revealed a curious phenomenon. Everyone knows that the guardian constellations— the Mage, Thief, and Warrior—are said to protect the other constellations from the destructive chaos of the Serpent, but my research may have exposed part of the magical underpinning of this legend. A survey of the Warrior stone uncovered strong Aetherial currents traveling from the stars into the stone and radiating outward, implying a cross-Tamrielic web. Why no other scholar or mage has commented on this, I cannot say. Mundus Stones are poorly studied, and it is possible that this energy is not always active.

I theorize that there are other, related stones, as yet undiscovered, that further focus the power of the constellations. Could these magical pathways be manipulated—or, even more interestingly, reversed—to create a kind of Aetherial feedback? What would this permit us to achieve, and what would it teach us of the very nature of the relationship between Mundus and Aetherius?

I fear that my work in this area has introduced more questions than it has answers, but you are undoubtedly as thrilled as I am by the implications of this research. Sadly, I have experienced difficulty in procuring additional funding for this project, and I am searching for new sponsors. I hope to pursue this intriguing discovery further as soon as possible.

When I wrote the story of my enslavement at the hands of the Crow-Wives, “A Life Barbaric and Brutal," I didn't expect anyone would read or care. It caught me quite off guard when I started receiving letters—and even visits—from scholars, historians, mages, and others of that sort. It seems that the tome I left with the Master of Incunabula at the Mages Guild in Wayrest had been requested frequently, and that several copies were created.

Apparently there is a shortage of information about the Reachmen and their practices. As you can imagine, most people they enslave aren't as resourceful (or lucky) as I was, and the clans aren't exactly keen on letting outsiders visit for a sip of tea and a little chat about their wicked magics or Daedra-worship. While I'm happy to help preserve knowledge and the like, I have to admit that I'm getting a little tired of all the intrusions, so let me clear the air on some of the silly speculations I've heard (as if my first book wasn't clear enough).

If you want to know about Reachmen, know that they most certainly are not a misunderstood and secretly noble people. They don't even want to be left alone—they want to attack, enslave, and conquer. Has everyone already forgotten the slaughter committed by Durcorach as he cut his way through High Rock, murdering and defiling as he went? Sometimes the history books do not lie, and I can assure you they don't exaggerate the cruelty of the Reachmen.

Many mages I've spoken to ask me about the magic of the Reachmen. I can't say I know much about it, but I can say with authority that it is not the “mostly benign form of nature magic" suggested by a few of these individuals. I tried to avoid the tribe's shamans as much as possible. They were constantly covered in spiders and other filthy creatures, muttering to themselves as they squatted over foul alchemical brews. And it's an obvious fact that the gravesingers are necromancers!

I don't know how typical the Crow-Wives were of Reachmen clans. I do know that they were deeply involved in Daedra-worship of the foulest kind. I was forced to witness horrible rituals, from live burnings and literal blood baths to raucous dismemberments, all in the presence of that horrible Ever-Oozing Altar. I'll never be able to forget the writhing masses of centipedes, roaches, and squirming horrors that formed a thick carpet on the ritual hut's floor when the tribe called out to Namira. The clan often ate these, still alive, right off the ground during worship.

Besides the evil magic and abominable Daedric rituals, the Crow-Wives engaged in plenty of run-of-the-mill barbarism. Kloavdra, the hagraven, seemed to think pranks (especially those that ended in someone getting hurt) were hilarious, and encouraged all sorts of bullying. She rewarded the clever and nasty and punished the meek. Children deemed too weak were sacrificed to Namira in addition to regular random sacrifices. And, of course, there were the raids. Whether they were on other tribes or small villages, they were always brutally violent affairs, sneak attacks designed to catch the targets off-guard and completely dominate them.

So, there, my second book, with as much as I can remember about their horrid practices. Now I'd appreciate it if you'd all let me continue with my life!

I’ll never forget the first time I saw the unmistakable hallmarks of Dwemer craftsmanship. Too small to even see the traveling merchant’s wares atop his table, my father lifted me up so I could admire the strange angles, geometric engravings, and the unusual luster of a mace and shield on display. I was captivated. Though it’s likely those first pieces I laid eyes on were reproductions, they were enough to stoke my curiosity for a lifetime.

I apprenticed under my father, a well-regarded smith, and tried again and again as my skills improved to replicate the Dwemer designs that so fascinated me. One of the major difficulties, of course, was not having much in the way of example or instruction—all I had to go on for ages were my memories. My father forbade me from searching for ruins on my own, though he did humor my passion by bringing me any book he could afford on the topic of the vanished race and their creations.

It wasn’t until I was old enough to strike out alone that I made any substantial progress. I soon discovered how right it was of my father to keep me away from Dwemer ruins in my youth. They are treacherous places even for experienced adventurers, which I was certainly not the first time I charged headfirst into one. I was a bit too confident, I’ll admit, and I never expected the spider construct that burst out of an opening in the wall as I walked by. I had no idea the ruins were still active!

I was inexperienced and untried in combat, and without my skill as a smith, I doubt I would be here to tell my story today. My armor protected me from several blows I could not deflect in time with my shield as two more spiders clanked out from the darkness, and my well-balanced mace seemed to swing itself right into them, sending tiny gears and showers of sparks flying. It was over before I knew it, and I realized that I stood among piles of still-hissing metal treasure.

Cramming everything that would fit into my pack—part of the carapace, a couple engraved legs, and an assortment of gears and springs—I carefully made my way back to the surface. The Eight smiled on me that day, because it wasn’t long before I was blinking in the sunlight, little worse for the wear than a few scratches and minor burns.

Back at the forge with my prizes, I worked day and night on a new mace. I fashioned it after one in an ancient text my father had found, using my hard-won scrap to augment the smithing process. It became apparent quickly that this was what I’d been missing the whole time! The product of that sleepless week has never been recognized as a reproduction by any scholar, smith, or relic-dealer.

Forging in the Dwemer style, as you can see, is not for the dabbler. Only a committed craftsman will have what it takes to seek out rare, ancient texts and obtain their own materials from the deadly constructs that lurk to this day in the ruins of that lost civilization. If you think you’re up to the task, I hope my story has inspired you—and if you’re not, then stay well away from those ruins!

Having found himself in command of the Empire after the deposition of the incompetent Kastav, Reman II's first notable endeavor was to negotiate a swift end to the Winterhold Rebellion of 2804. Reader, grant this thought due consideration—a new and largely untested leader was able to make peace with angered Nords without further unnecessary bloodshed. This was no mean achievement, and truly it demonstrated the quality of the man who would bring a golden age to the Second Empire.

How could a leader of such quality, one who not only calmed the rebellious Nords, but who subdued and united nearly all of Tamriel to usher in one of the most peaceful, productive intervals in recorded history, let the Empire come to ruin? I will divulge my ruminations on the matter, but not before recognizing the accomplishments of this remarkable man and the lessons to be learned from them.

Reman II was a master tactician, and studying records of the battles he fought shows not only his own acumen, but his respect for his troops—and those of the enemy. When he conquered new territory for the Empire, he established rule with a careful hand, avoiding too much disruption to local customs, traditions, and particularly to established trade. The Imperial culture spread, of course, but not through forced assimilation. Rather, the people came to accept and support the Empire by reaping the benefits of free trade, stability, and the development of better infrastructure. He gathered advisers from each province, and focused on his people more than many Emperors ever had.

For long years, peace prevailed across Tamriel. Necromancy and Daedra worship were abolished. Trade flourished, and, through the careful ministrations of Reman II and his councilors, the Second Empire thrived. And yet, the great emperor desired more. He turned his eyes to the provinces of Black Marsh and Morrowind, the unconquered territory weighing heavy on him. In the 2830s, he called forth the legions in an imprudent attempt to conquer Black Marsh. The losses to the swamp itself—its diseases and deadly beasts—nearly matched the number lost in combat with the Argonians, but the Empire managed to establish footholds in the northern and eastern marches by 2837. Reman declared Black Marsh to be officially annexed.

In perhaps his most critical folly, Reman II was not satisfied. He turned next to Morrowind and initiated the Four-Score War, a long, bloody conflict devastating to both sides. The battles were ugly, and the tenuous relations with Morrowind, which had shown some promise for diplomacy, were shattered. He perished fighting the Dunmer in 2843, and his heirs continued on as the Empire began to weaken, bled dry by the cost and wracked with dissent.

And that is, perhaps, the greatest lesson that Reman II can teach to any leader: to keep ambition in check. His success catapulted him to greater and greater visions for the Empire, but in his desire to unify all of Tamriel, he compromised the beliefs and practices that made the Second Empire's golden age great, engaging in a hopeless war unwanted by his people and unneeded to provide them with security, free trade, and a prosperous Empire.

Mere months ago, we were the subject of ridicule to those scant few who even recognized the name “Star-Gazer." The barely concealed chuckles and eye-rolls of the inhabitants of Belkarth still sting. But, oh, now they flock to us, scholars and mages alike, seeking the notes and wisdom we have amassed on the topic of the stars. I should be pleased, should be eager to share our studies and invite new perspectives, but I find it hard to set aside the bitterness and scorn the years of derision have incised into my heart.

I am one of the most experienced members of our order now. I have visited the great observatory in Stros M'Kai. I have charted the movements of the constellations every night without fail. I have seen our mighty Guardians fall from the sky—and still I live, when many of my colleagues do not. Now that we have gained some degree of legitimacy within the scholarly establishment, now that I am High Astrologer, I should be at the forefront of our efforts to educate.

But instead, I find myself more and more withdrawn. I spend my days and nights within our archive, deep in study. If the very stars can fall from the skies and manifest physically on Nirn, much of what we once theorized about the nature of the stars—and, yes, even of the Mundus itself—is wrong, or at least far more incomplete than we could have guessed. And if it can happen once, what is stopping it from happening again? What keeps the Serpent from eclipsing every star in the sky, severing us from Aetherius? While the others seek mundane recognition and status, I find my soul drawn to the sky as ever, still vigilant against the dangers that prowl the emptiness.

I must admit: there is something else. If the constellations can be realized in physical form, are our assumptions about their impact on the mortals of Nirn as shallow as I suspect? Perhaps each individual is influenced in some way by the ascendant sign during their birth, but does it work the other way around? Can one, with the right understanding and rituals, draw power from constellations that goes beyond normal magic? And what impact might this have on the Aetherial plane?

In my sleepless nights spent hunched over our rarest tomes (a perk of being High Astrologer), I have uncovered references, again and again, to an ancient Dwemer text, “Harmonic Astronymics." It may have the answers to my questions—or, more likely, it may lead me to ask better-informed questions. We know the Dwemer had a greater understanding of the Mundus than we do even now, and I cannot help but wonder if they could harness the power of the constellations in ways we cannot even imagine. If a copy of this text still exists, I must find it. But where to start—and how to leave my fellow Star-Gazers in this tumultuous time?

An initiate disturbed my meditations last night, wide-eyed and distraught. “Abbot,” cried he, “I have endured the most horrible dream. I was tending to the elders in their cells, bringing them food and water, listening to their soothing songs. The moths’ gentle wings fluttered, tranquil as always, when suddenly I was confronted by hideous apparitions! Incorporeal dead roamed the halls, and it appeared to me as if the moths were feeding on them—sucking wisps of ghostly material, perhaps their very souls, into hungry maws! Please, Abbot, tell me this is madness, that this is not so!”

It is not unusual for initiates of our Order to suffer unsettling dreams, especially as they learn more of the nature of our sacred charges, the Elder Scrolls, and the ancestors that grant us the wisdom to approach their infinite mysteries. Though much of the knowledge gained through readings of the Scrolls must be experienced personally to truly comprehend it, and despite being quite exhausted from my daily rigors, I was able to help him set aside his fears about our Order’s relationship with mortal souls and the moths that preserve fragments of their erudition from beyond mortality.

Not for us are the brutal methods of the conjurer or necromancer, tearing the soul from its vessel, constraining it and forcibly redirecting its energies with no regard for its journey or contents. No, the interplay of moth and ancestor soul is delicate and as natural as the canticle trees themselves, and we are patient and conscientious observers hoping to make sense of the cosmic tapestry by glimpsing its threads. It is through service to the moths and the ancestors that we gain guidance, not through the clumsy coercion of will without understanding the consequences.

The soul, I told him, has much in common with the moth—they are a symbolic pair. Though it is typical to think of it as the Aedric essence at the core of every mortal, I advised him to consider the soul in another light, scaled like the wings of the moth, and to imagine it comprised of vessels filled through the events of mortal existence. On release from life on Nirn, it is our belief that a kind of dissipation begins, and it is then that the moths learn the song of a soul’s fjyrons, which are shepherded under our care and protected generation after generation.

The fjyrons themselves must retain a connection to the grand fabric of creation, to the scattered soul-remnants in all their destinations. Through this link and with patient care, we receive guidance from beyond the present or past and the known world, where time is irrelevant. The moths do not capture or devour the souls of the ancestors, but only repeat to us what they’ve filtered, like a chorus repeating the verses of a grand song.

I could tell that, though the full dawn of understanding had not broken for him yet, his wild fears about the ancestor moths were somewhat allayed. I was pleased to assist him in his journey, and told him he would have ample time to ponder the nature of souls as he scrubbed the silkroom floors for the next week—penance for intruding on my nightly reverie.

The ruination that came to the Ayleids was inevitable. It was not, as less astute scholars postulate, due to the will of the Aedra or some absurd mystical agent, but was a result of their degenerate Daedra worship and gross underestimation of their slaves. The human leaders who challenged the Ayleids, Saint Alessia in particular, recognized the cultural rot weakening their captors and took advantage of it to orchestrate one of the greatest triumphs of Men.

The debauched Elves were apparently quite creative when it came to devising new horrors to inflict on their slaves. What a shock that practices such as “flesh-sculpture” would drive the tormented men and women of Cyrodiil to rebellion. In their smug complacency, the Elves could not conceive of the possibility of an uprising—which was well for the slaves, who would have been summarily crushed by the Ayleids at the height of their power.

As evidenced by the ruins found throughout Tamriel, the Ayleids were an incredible force. The source of their prodigious might, however, was also the catalyst of their decline. Deals with Daedric Princes granted them the power they sought. They thought themselves in control—typical Elven arrogance—as poison crept into their society. The various Daedric cults began bickering and backstabbing, as is their wont, forming the cracks the rebellion would exploit.

Another critical factor in the dissolution of Ayleid rule was the indomitable will of the oppressed. We have all read accounts of heroic deeds executed by the likes of Alessia, Morihaus, and Pelinal Whitestrake. While it’s obvious to anyone with a modicum of intellect that these tales are a bit hyperbolic, it is quite clear that exceptional individuals made the establishment of the First Empire possible.

Alessia’s Slave Army was populated with many examples of the true potential of Man. It is a pity that more texts have not survived, for the few we retain give us little insight, and dishonest scholars often distort them for slanderous political purposes. My own ancestor, “Tharanus Ye Redde-Hand,” has been painted as either a slave-overseer or even implied to be Tharhan, the Mutilant of the Gradual Massacre, based on ridiculous interpretations of obscure and questionable footnotes. The jealousy of lesser men, while I do so savor it, can be such an annoyance at times.

In reality, based on the rare texts I have had the privilege of consulting in the vaults of White-Gold itself, including the recently-discovered Scroll of Precursor Saints, Tharanus was a critical supporter of Alessia’s cause, disrupting supply routes through forged logistical orders and even leading his own battalion into some of the war’s bloodiest conflicts. Sadly, the slanderous have sunk so low as to make preposterous accusations that I forged the scroll myself. Despicable.

Given the weakness of the Ayleids and the rather inspiring members of Alessia’s retinue, the outcome of the war was determined before the first slaver was beheaded. The Slave Rebellion both teaches a cautionary lesson about the idiocy of trifling with the Daedra and demonstrates the power of men, who have rightfully ruled the heart of Tamriel since. As they always shall.

Even in peaceful times, Daedric Princes doggedly prod at Tamriel, building power and working toward their vile goals. Now, as war erupts across the provinces, it is certain they’ve doubled their malevolent efforts, and every citizen must be on the lookout for evidence of Daedric activities. As Cyrodiil’s Province General for the Fighters Guild, I take my responsibility to educate and protect seriously. Knowledge, which I offer you here, is a mighty weapon—a population that knows what to look for can stop a cult before it manages any large-scale atrocities.

Mehrunes Dagon is a particularly nasty character among the gallery of horrors from Oblivion. He revels in destruction on a grand scale, from deaths caused by floods or earthquakes to mass murders, and enjoys making a show of any influence he can exert on Nirn. His penchant for flagrant displays of power makes it no surprise that his cults draw more membership than those of the less conspicuous Princes.

What can a regular citizen do, though, in the face of such evil? More than you might think! Everyone can learn to recognize the early signs that a cult might be nearby. Dismantling a cult before it grows to an appreciable size is the most effective way to stamp out Daedric influence and prevent massive summonings, wanton destruction, and other disasters from coming to fruition. This guide will help you recognize the stirrings of Daedric cults, especially those of Mehrunes Dagon:

First, be aware of your neighbors. Watch for unexplained changes in their routines or behavior, strange flashing lights in their fields or homes late at night, eerie chanting, and disappearances of farm animals (or, worse, other neighbors). These can all be signs of a budding cult. Be wary of strangers in town who take special interest in outcasts, criminals, or unruly teenagers—all of these are common recruitment targets.

Cults of Mehrunes Dagon have some unique characteristics. We in the Fighters Guild have identified the end of Sun’s Dusk as a particularly active time for these organizations. If a cult of Dagon operates in your area, you may notice changes in your environment as they attempt to incite disasters—more rain, no rain, or unusual tremors in the ground can all be signs. Dagon cultists also exhibit a sick fascination with setting buildings, animals, and people ablaze and often bear the symbol of a fiery, rising sun.

If you suspect someone you know of cult involvement, proceed with caution. Even someone close to you can be corrupted, and it is difficult to remove the black roots of Daedric filth once they take hold. Do not hesitate to report your suspicions—if they can be reached early enough, it may be possible to reverse the influence of the cult. For your own safety, do not act alone or attempt to confront a possible cult member. Even a once-trustworthy friend involved with a cult may mean you harm. Report immediately to the Fighters Guild, where professionals can assist you!

Armed with this knowledge, you can aid all of Tamriel in preventing Daedric cults from growing and spreading. Pass this book along to a friend or neighbor and we will stop the Daedric threat together.

Even in peaceful times, Daedric Princes doggedly prod at Tamriel, building power and working toward their vile goals. Now, as war erupts across the provinces, it is certain they’ve doubled their malevolent efforts, and every citizen must be on the lookout for evidence of Daedric activities. As Cyrodiil’s Province General for the Fighters Guild, I take my responsibility to educate and protect seriously. Knowledge, which I offer you here, is a mighty weapon—a population that knows what to look for can stop a cult before it manages any large-scale atrocities.

Mehrunes Dagon is a particularly nasty character among the gallery of horrors from Oblivion. He revels in destruction on a grand scale, from deaths caused by floods or earthquakes to mass murders, and enjoys making a show of any influence he can exert on Nirn. His penchant for flagrant displays of power makes it no surprise that his cults draw more membership than those of the less conspicuous Princes.

What can a regular citizen do, though, in the face of such evil? More than you might think! Everyone can learn to recognize the early signs that a cult might be nearby. Dismantling a cult before it grows to an appreciable size is the most effective way to stamp out Daedric influence and prevent massive summonings, wanton destruction, and other disasters from coming to fruition. This guide will help you recognize the stirrings of Daedric cults, especially those of Mehrunes Dagon:

First, be aware of your neighbors. Watch for unexplained changes in their routines or behavior, strange flashing lights in their fields or homes late at night, eerie chanting, and disappearances of farm animals (or, worse, other neighbors). These can all be signs of a budding cult. Be wary of strangers in town who take special interest in outcasts, criminals, or unruly teenagers—all of these are common recruitment targets.

Cults of Mehrunes Dagon have some unique characteristics. We in the Fighters Guild have identified the end of Sun’s Dusk as a particularly active time for these organizations. If a cult of Dagon operates in your area, you may notice changes in your environment as they attempt to incite disasters—more rain, no rain, or unusual tremors in the ground can all be signs. Dagon cultists also exhibit a sick fascination with setting buildings, animals, and people ablaze and often bear the symbol of a fiery, rising sun.

If you suspect someone you know of cult involvement, proceed with caution. Even someone close to you can be corrupted, and it is difficult to remove the black roots of Daedric filth once they take hold. Do not hesitate to report your suspicions—if they can be reached early enough, it may be possible to reverse the influence of the cult. For your own safety, do not act alone or attempt to confront a possible cult member. Even a once-trustworthy friend involved with a cult may mean you harm. Report immediately to the Fighters Guild, where professionals can assist you!

Armed with this knowledge, you can aid all of Tamriel in preventing Daedric cults from growing and spreading. Pass this book along to a friend or neighbor and we will stop the Daedric threat together.

Every cat can see the moons, feel the caress of their sweet light as it shines on fur. Every cat feels the tug of the tides, the rhythm of the Two Moons Dance that cannot be ignored.

But not every cat hears the words Jone and Jode whisper as they prowl the celestial barrens between gentle Nirni and the Dark Behind the World, protecting her from the howling in the emptiness. And this is why the Moon Bishop leads the kittens, trailing the string of secrets as he trots ahead, teaching them of the Motions and the Tides.

A true cat hunts without rest for the Right Trail, trying one after another of the endless paths Jone and Jode dance into the sky even when paws ache and throats cry for milk. They have worn more trails than there are grains of sugar in all the world, and it is easy for a cat to grow bored and abandon the chase. And this is why the Moon Bishop inspires the kittens, sharing stories of the oldest times, nudging them back to the hunt.

Every cat longs for the Sands Behind the Stars, where sugar forms the dunes. Every cat dreams of the Moonlight Chorus, the joyous sound the true cats know.

But not every cat will know Khenarthi’s tender embrace at the end of their days, and not every soul will fly beyond to bask in the warmth without end. And this is why the Moon Bishop must rebuke the naughty cats, swatting the ones who stray upon their flanks until they return to the paths the Moons weave.

A true cat may stumble, may lose his way among the deep woods and come upon the temptations of a darker dance led by the Frightful Heart. Fear may seize the soul, confuse the mind, and baffle the senses. And this is why the Moon Bishop must be the Loudest Cat, to blow the reeking haze away with the strength of his words.

It is an indisputable fact that necromancy, the foulest of all magical endeavors, is on the rise. Word of unsettled spirits, shambling corpses, and worse spreads across Tamriel, planting seeds of fear in common folk. There is good reason to be concerned, and it is my scholarly duty to inform the ignorant in hopes that a more educated populace will be better prepared to recognize and face undead dangers.

Necromancy, as you likely know, is the manipulation of souls, soul energies, or corpses of the dead. Unwilling spirits are often involved, and in the eyes of any rational being, the “study” of this type of magic is repellant. It should not be surprising to you that much knowledge of necromancy is attributed to Daedric forces, specifically those of the abhorrent Molag Bal, further cementing it as a sphere that must be shunned.

I present to you now an accounting of the general types of undead:

The Reanimated

These monstrosities are formed when a necromancer summons and instills an enslaved spirit into a corpse or construct of bodies. Reanimations take many shapes, from the lowly skeleton (favorite of novice necromancers) to the hulking flesh atronach. The need for unconsecrated corpses poses a danger to communities, as it is known to drive wayward mages to murder in their lust for power. To minimize encounters with reanimations, avoid poorly-kept graveyards and hidden caves or ruins, and report any suspicion of necromancy to your local authorities for investigation.

The Returned

Ghosts, wraiths, and spectres manifest for a variety of reasons. Some are bound to Nirn through powerful curses, some are summoned forth through rituals, and others find their souls unable or unwilling to depart due to unfinished business. Some are even ancestors bound by their own families, a practice the Dark Elves claim is not necromancy at all—guarwash!

My recent studies into the phenomenon known as the Soulburst indicate a tie between it and a surge in returned sightings and activity, strongly implicating a persistent disruption in natural post-extant soul conveyance. Detractors to this theory, notably the misguided Lady Cinnabar of Taneth, have yet to produce any counter-theories that do not crumble under the slightest scrutiny.

The Accursed

Undeath is not always a product of renegade mages tampering with souls and rotting flesh. Cursed diseases such as Noxophilic Sanguivoria can corrupt the living. The result is an undead creature that requires the blood of the living for sustenance. Vampires have a tendency to organize into reclusive clans, hiding away beneath the ground and surfacing only to obtain more thralls to feed upon. In some cases, though, their minds are known to degrade to the point of insanity, leaving a raging husk of a creature with no mental capacity commonly called a “bloodfiend.” Any sightings of such creatures should be reported to a local Fighters Guild.

Abominable Miscegenations

Some undead defy simple classification. The lich, for one, is a corpse that is self-reanimated by the soul it bore in life. Typically, only powerful spellcasters seeking immortality achieve this state. Luckily for common folk, liches are often focused obsessively on continuing their own studies, and they are not likely to be encountered by travelers that keep their noses out of ancient ruins.

Now that you are more informed about this vile art and its repellent products, hopefully you are better-prepared to assess undead threats. It goes without saying (though I will certainly say it) that we all have a responsibility to report and combat necromancy, especially in these times. Do not let anyone convince you that there is some kind of benefit to be had in exploring these detestable magics—any reasonable individual can see the madness in such a claim.

Are languages in Tamriel more than a convenient means of communication? Throughout my studies, particularly in my ongoing research of the mysterious runestones, a theme of language explicitly interconnected with magic has surfaced with frequency that cannot be ignored. Is the very act of casting ideas into words an invocation? I present here evidence that may just support this admittedly radical position, which I hope the sapiarchs of the Crystal Tower will be enticed to expound upon or refute.

Let us begin with the runestones of Enchanting. Each is marked with a symbol consisting of syllables arranged together. Alone, a rune is inert, but magical potential is unleashed when combined with others in the appropriate syntax. The full form, the complete expression, conveys magic. One does not even need to fully understand the language to unlock the power it contains—not enough words exist or are known to truly speak it, but by studying glyphs and combining runestones, it is possible to grasp enough of the raw concepts to utilize it. The language itself is undeniably connected in a fundamental way to magical energies, though its origin remains a mystery.

As an aside for prospective students of Enchanting, do not become discouraged when you encounter a rune you are unable to decipher. Only through repetition of words and phrases you have learned and the extraction of runes from glyphs will you obtain the knowledge you need to master more difficult runes. Be patient and work with other students to create and deconstruct glyphs to gain more insight into their interplay and true meaning.

Language, specifically the written word, is also of critical importance to the Altmer. Not only does it preserve our history, but it captures and defines our auspicious lineage and ensures that every Mer knows his or her place in the hierarchy. It is no accident that Altmeri society is the most orderly and structured in Tamriel—it is the will of Xarxes himself. The scholar-priests of the divine scribe, secretive though they are, are said to preserve an ancient tongue long forgotten to any but their order. In Helaameril’s “Conversations with the Etymon-Binders,” an anonymous scribe hints at tomes capable of producing tastes, smells, and dancing images, and texts that can be read by any gazing upon them—even the unlettered. Another form of word-magic, if Helaameril is to be believed.

Consider even what may seem mundane: the speech of a great general upon the morn of battle that rouses his troops to perform incredible deeds, the songs of a master bard that inspire emotion, the calming tone of a mother to her child. Are there traces of magic in everyday exertions of will through speech or writing? It seems possible that some remnant of ancient pre-Dawn power lingers on here, though it has grown faint. There is even more evidence to support this throughout the history of Tamriel—far too much to detail here—and I look forward to debating this theory among my peers.

The song-story of the Green, now loud in my bones, has awakened me. I hear the tale as life in motion, the weave made real second by second, spun gleaming thread over gleaming thread. Every fleeting footfall is a drumbeat, a word, a thought blessed with shape. Each loosed arrow becomes an exclamation, a twist in the telling, a beginning in an end.  I am dissolved into we.

I have become the Hunter, the Protector, the Vengeance of the Green. My memories are drawn from the rivers of history known by Bosmer since the formless times. It was my hand that carved out the heart of the Bracken Malice, the writhing foe that devoured our children and made mothers and fathers wail in torment. My own arrow pierced the eye of Dulohoth the Axehaft, vile Orc who ordered his crowd-surge of followers to burn and hew tree and frond. When sickness came to the beasts of Grahtwood, I hunted without rest a hundred nights to feed the hungry. I will hunt a hundred more.

All of these things I have done, I will do again when I am called. The cries of Y’ffre’s children—their joy, fear, rage, and sorrow—only grow stronger in my heart. They are the thrumming of life in the deepest woods. I hear them in my dreams; their emotions become my own and echo a thousand times louder within me. Nothing will stop me from calling out my response. I will answer them until my blood soaks the loam and feeds the roots of graht-oaks.

Though I hear the tale the Earth Bones tell, some fear yet remains; some worry still haunts me. I am the Green Lady, and in my spirit there is no doubt that it is so. But in my mind, I am just Gwaering, archer-girl, brave but small. I am afraid. Will Gwaering fade away? Can she withstand the torrent of primal emotion that now rises? Is she strong enough to answer the Green and play her part? Can she protect her people and the Silvenar?

But I take some small solace knowing that my doubts and fears carry little consequence. They are a small digression, the interruption of an impatient child as the Spinner tells his tale. Time will carry on, and the story will be told without pause, never reaching an end, but ebbing and flowing. I will be called, and if my voice is not strong enough to answer, my role will end and another will emerge. Such, I see now, is the way of the world.

On Morndas, young Zakhin hastened home over the scorching sands from his drills, the bright flame of legends driving his steps, and proclaimed, “Mama! When I am grown, I will be like Hafseta-Who-Moved-Dunes! I will train until I am stronger than all of my friends, no matter how long I must toil, and then great glory can come to our house and all will know my name.” His mother smiled, for she knew her son had begun to understand strength and perseverance.

Tirdas of the next week, Zakhin’s joyful voice reached her ears even before the door opened. “Mama! When I am grown, I wish to be like The Unbowed Memyireh. I will fight an army all alone to save my friends! I will never leave them to the mercy of the enemy, even if one calls me a name, such as when Sameq called me sand-pants.” She smiled again, proud that tales of loyalty and forgiveness made a home in his heart.

One Middas hence, Zakhin returned home shouting once more. “Mama, do you know who I will be now? I will be like Rajmahar of the Nine Golden Towers, and I will ride a sable horse with silver hooves to drive bandit lords from their caves and build a home for the poor from their spoils!” So pleased was she to hear this admiration of honor and charity that he was allowed two extra figs that eve.

The following Turdas, Zakhin flew back home, alight with new inspiration. "I will be like Frandar Hunding! I will make my blade sing and lead a mighty army. No enemy will stand against my strategies, for I will consider all possibilities.” Her pride blossomed the more, for all mothers pray their sons will aspire to leadership and careful contemplation.

On Fredas, young Zakhin returned home from drills with a sparkle in his eye. He did not shout or profess a new hero, but came in from the heat and sat wordless upon his favorite cushion, looking at his mother the whole time. "Well," she questioned, "who will you be today?" She hardly finished before he pounced to answer. "I will be a new hero, and they will tell of my deeds to the little children during drills!"

Only then did she shed a tear.