Pocket Guide to the Empire, Second Edition — The Warped West: Hiaûŗoche

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High Rock was one of the most revised chapters of the Pocket Guide. The challenge in how to present High Rock and the Bretons in a way that was fantastical enough to qualify as Monkey Truth, without completely obliterating the medieval European stylings that define them. It was suggested that perhaps the cosmopolitan Bretons borrow from Elizabethan/Victorian occultism, and that they borrow aesthetics from other cultures, similar to the exoticism prevalent in Europe from the 18th century onward. Another train of thought proposed focusing on the north and west of the province rather than the Iliac Bay (“There is no such thing as High Rock, only Greater Betony), which was already well defined.

Luagar ended up writing several wholly separate drafts for this chapter, edited by Adanorcil and Lady Nerevar. They focused on the peninsula as the location of the Convention and on the Bretons as the confluence of the primal strength of men and the magical prowess of mer. The central conceit of the last version was to frame the Convention as a debate between various political leaders of the region, each of whom describe a different version of the province, pleading their case as to who should rule it after the Warp in the West.

Luagar released his final version of the chapter as a comment in a thread titled “High Rock – What is it like?” on March 29th, 2012. Lutemoth created the artwork shown below, two of which were hyperlinked in the original text.


[The temple of the sun known as Hiaûŗoche, “High Rock” in the officials, is described by scholars as a layered menagerie of lands for which each era’s king stands before its Convention to plead the case for their season. The Castellans have limited attendance to presiding officials and delegates due to fears of invasion by forces of which they refuse to speak. Although the IGS was initially denied entrance, when it was noted by our Chrysalannalists that “All and specific Tz2 dictates grant dawn-access-priority” chroniclers were given short and highly monitored audience…]

Court Stenographers Notes, As Edited For IGS Consumption –

Phynaster, Saint-Lord of Gauvadon, Castellan of Balfiera | 3E 417

“Adamantine labors ceaselessly to reconcile the warring periods of Hiaûŗoche, a task which, as you may imagine, is far from straightforward. Nonetheless, we remain hopeful that by Frostfall our national narrative will be able to accommodate the Warp with only minimal inconsistencies. The mantella and its golem remain locked in our vaults until the delegation has settled. The damage to be wrought by the agent of the Uriel VII must be mended if our nation is ever to progress. {Editor’s Note: Though we have been unable to confirm the Numidium’s presence on Balfiera, we are assured the chrysalis of Adamantine’s vaults are sufficient for counteracting the golem’s own effects.}

For the sake of order let us bypass long spent debates such as the schism of Breton into man and mer. The issue is so multi-faceted and dear to the people’s heart that Balfiera has long since resigned itself to negotiating a minimally offensive compromise, rather than striving for an entirely satisfactory solution. Our current efforts are primarily focused on the Jehanni, who have recently been granted two ports in Farrun-to-be in order to compensate their loss of pewter smithing and the highly lucrative trade with Haafingar. With such obstacles out of the way, we will soon transition into the agreed-upon 3E340 objectives with minimal delay. As of yet, Hiaûŗoche’s configuration still contains four of the eight primary citadels: Normar, Wrothgar, the Ilessan Hills and the Bjoulsae. Thus, in order —

Aredius, Archduke of Daggerfall, Father to Arslan II | 3E 267

“Once green pasture, Ilessan is now cobblestone street spanning from the mountains of the Reach to the Glenumbra Moors. Rolling hills have been replaced by a cresting market canopy, beset with the citadels of merchant-kings which flower outwards into alleyways and rooftops extending to the horizon. Beneath the rooftops stand old taverns, teeming with ales from the Alik’r and Atmora, around which bards sing invocations to ashen khans. Beyond the market, the guilds, the ports of sea, sky, and time, stand the kings’ courts, swelling with starving poets and drunken scholars, who, at intervals, dare to speak the blasphemy of truth.

In the south the houses of sorcerocrats, nobles and knightly sages brim with a mist of fine-sugar smoked at hearthside while developing newfound rites and charms. Mages don the iridescent masks of Tivoli pearl-divers as women ambulate in the silks of Cyrodiil and diadems of the chitin-east.

Each city begins before its neighbor has ended, overlapping until only the locals can tell whether they are in Betony, Wayrest, or the Eltheric. {Editor’s Note: The IGS was told that pageants of wit and cunning determined the official borders, though we were unable to ascertain whether borders exist at all.} Only Dellesia remains truly independent, floating about the Eltheric as a remnant of the Dawn Schism. The effect of this is eternal expansion such that were it not for the canonization of Phynaster – requiring the saint to leave off his Empyreal projects in order to manage his pantheon – we would have no doubt taken Sentinal before the Interregnum. In our midst the traveler cannot help but feel at once a stranger in a hundred foreign lands while retaining the sublime congeniality of returning home; still dissenters attempt to instill fear of a nonexistent force they call the Direnni, claiming threat to the security of the Tower residing within our bounds. The wise only scoff, we will crush any emergent threat as we did the Usurper.

We have expanded and progressed this nation beyond anything our forefathers could have fathomed. We have refined this Empire, swept away the dross of old wars and lesser magics. I only ask what logic stands in regressing Hiaûŗoche to the barbarity of the past?”

Enghenedl, Founder of the Cumberland Dynasty | 2E 827

“Wrothgar, with its sister capitals of Wayrest, Anticlere, and Betony, is a mountainous kingdom stretching to the sky. A sanctum to the sun can be found in every town, wood, and hovel. Most notable among them are the Monocrystal Courts of Camlorn, the Prismatic Temple of Daggerfall, the Solar Furnaces of the Bjoulsae, the Fractal Sacellum of Evermor (which floats twelve inches above the ground in anticipation of each dawn), and the Holy Eyelens on the Magna-Ge made by unborn river-tribes beneath the bay. Even the Duomo of Northpoint, rebuilt by the Empire after its sack, contains stained-glass mosaics honoring the arrival of the stars.

Each of these sites, and their unmentioned brethren, are surrounded by holidays: Amelior, on the 9th of Evening Star, which celebrates Magnus forging Hiaûŗoche from the remains of solar atronachs after besting their monarch in a duel of hammers. The Day of Rain, traditionally celebrated on the 8th of Sun’s Dusk, is set aside in the memory of Mnemoli, the Blue Spark [Sidebar: Mnemoli, the Emphemeral Bride]. Of the most revered is Mina’Aubei, which marks the end of the Interregnum through the decanonization of Phynaster, allowing him free reign in setting the lands aright – from his hand Hjalti went, summoned by the non-saint to uncoil the throne of Nibennium. A lasting effect of Phynaster’s recanonization was the emergence of the Direnni menace whom we fought until we no longer knew why, then the Orsimer came from atop the dunes and we remembered; for thirty years we remembered until the foulest period of history was cast into the mountains.

We cast it away as we have all such vulgarities. This is Hiaûŗoche in its truest, a mountianous temple reaching the sun. It cannot be denied by man or mer and with the mantella its majesty will envelop the skies.”

Ischyrion, Templar to Hans the Fox at Northpoint 3E 452

“Severe inaccessible canyons, vast grim wastes, alternating with the burnt ruins of Daggerfall, Betony, and Evermor – this is Normar, whose peoples range from the reachmen of the north from whom the mountain witchkings trace their roots to the druidic-nobles of Ykalon. Its settlements are all monastic, for in this waste the word ‘oasis’ is tantamount to prayer. The greatest of these are the aquifers of Way Rest, Also Clear, and, after the monsoons that come at the end of each era, Quench. Paradoxically, it is also a land of commerce. The accountant-kings of Camlorn specialize in the trade of mnemofex glyphs, body paints, and song-salts. The Bjoulsae “river” region – which more closely resembles a muddy stream than it does a river – instead exports people: its shamans, sages, and artisans are prized throughout the Empire.

Each caravan reader who travels the slipstream roads of Normar is a child born into priesthood. His brow is brushed with wax and sealed with resin, a memory-stone shard placed between his eyes, and a hundred and twelve saints are invoked before his navel. Although the wastes are now at peace – due in no small part to having decided the victors of the war games scheduled to be held in the next century – they have not always been such. The redecanonization of Phynaster stands as a pylon beginning at the Siege of Adamantine, unending till the retaking of Balfiera in the late Mnemolic Era. [Sidebar: Siege of Adamantine]{Editor’s Note: Older inhabitants of High Rock assure us that the year can be discerned by analyzing the state of Phynaster’s canonization, though this is still unconfirmed.}

Through toil and pain we have learned from the mistakes of our predecessors, do not doom us to repeat their folly. Let us begin again, forging Hiaûŗoche anew and reviving the spirit of this land.”

Etkuinkettu of Bjoulsae | 4E 108

“On the surface the River and its tributaries are ruled by a council of ship captains in the Nedic tradition. Historically, this has been a quintet consisting of Phynaster, of the Spire ‘This Way To Rest’; Yiffer, of the Spire ‘As I Declare’; Magnus, of the Spire ‘OK Watch’; and the Direnni siblings, of the Spire ‘Balfiera’. The fifth member, Sheor of the Spire ‘Carapace’, has been dismissed for disorderly conduct.

Yet beneath the water sway the kelp kingdoms of the Bjoulsae river-tribes, the true masters of the river and its environs. The tribesmen themselves are rarely seen by those on the surface, preferring to do their business with their dreugh neighbors or else sending their lamia servants to act in their stead. What few accounts surface describe them as a pallid yet august [Bretons] with prismatic brows and wispy hair, seemingly levitating rather than swimming through the waters. The origin of these tribes is unknown, some posit them as pearl-divers who simply refused to surface while others claim they are descendant from mnemolic spirits who fell into the sea during the dawn.

When our forbears in Tiber’s time came to chart the Bjoulsae (which were at the time a minor principality), they found that Phynaster had canonized himself again, leading to a series of skirmishes between the fleets of Hiaûŗoche and those of the Direnni. {Editor’s Note: The seafoam shamans of the river-tribes have historically proven to be the deciding factors in Iliac wars, destroying Betony incalculable times over in advancing their magics.} Later, when the menace begged asylum from atop the crests of Alcaire, the captains chose to drain the Bay and beach their navy rather than parlay. The stalemate has continued for thirty years, with many invitations to Alinor, the latest of which we have cautiously accepted. With the absence of Hans or his warmaiden Sahtiel, the knightly orders have been hesitant to support any single warlord, a pivotal move if we are to overcome the Direnni

The crux of history is at our feet. From here we may extend the borders of Hiaûŗoche from beneath the seas to above the stars. Would this council settle for a kingdom of dirt, when the waters and sky bend before us even now?”

Minor Delegates:

Mrognak Gro-Hroldan, Leuitenant to Atulgrak | 1E 950

“The land is ours by right, we found it. Grudlar and Hrel descended the mountain wastes from an assembly of dying giants at that red mountain, lost after those buggers they were fighting disappeared. For two-hundred fifty years they trekked back, fasting for lack of nourishment yet slaying every manner of beast and daedric fiend, till Orsinium was found, in which the Tower of Hiaûŗoche faltered without our smiths to maintain its metalwork. They arrived, thundering for food and drink and accusing the other of having secretly bathed, in violation of an implicit code amongst vagrants. What else were they to do but attack when not even the cheapest ale was given.”

Cerecano, Direnni Arbitrator, Castellan of Balfiera | 4E 109

“It is a pleasure to see that the delegates of High Rock have seen reason and come to treaty out our Tower. A fine assembly indeed, even Enghenedl, whose era I thought we’d purged with the Black Star. Whether or not any miraculous peace is achieved here today, the Councils of Crystal-Like-Law assure me that the mantella will be distributed in our favor. This siege will be its last.”

Mnemoli, the Emphemeral Bride

In secret Mnemoli whispered the blue words of promise and the red words of love for the time-god, but his eyes were turned always to Nirn and he would have no other bride. The words went off on the breeze of possibility, and a stray thought, distilled the promise of love and froze it into the heavens. Such is the origin of the great nebula, the Veil of Nirn.

But the light of Magnus knows no secrets. He saw into Mnemoli’s heart and became angry at her wasteful ignorance. Being long bored with the labor of creation, he decided to leave the lesser gods behind and marry; make children to rule a universe of light! Mnemoli had not the power to repel his lust; but seeing how their offspring would scorch the frail life from Nirn, so dear to her loved one, she seduced Magnus to chase after her far into the void. Long she kept one step ahead of his fiery breath, but finally she let him overtake her, only to escape again. Each time this happened, they left their progeny behind: and that is the origin of the distant stars, the Sun’s Children.

Now Mnemoli can only be seen through the mists of her own mysteries as the Blue Spark, the harbinger of Untime; for not even the mighty Magnus dares approach the time-god during his madness. It is only then that Mnemoli may rest and lament over the torment of her lost love: and that is the origin of the raining stars, the Tears of Mnemoli.

Siege of Adamantine

…From the deck of the Battlespire Vanguard [Hjalti] fought to Alinor, banishing its Isles through the crumbled shell of Direnni, revealing the shining skin beneath. From this sight the Bretons set out on pilgrimage to Hiau~Roche, a road encircling the Aurbis in whole, while Altmeri logicians fought back only to disappear in the chrysalis of prismic-light.

In the battle’s wake Phynaster appeared upon the deck, addressing the soon-to-reign Tiber:

“Here are the folds of Adamantine – High Rock – a metallic cavern becoming more impressive the deeper it goes, alive with hanging growth and encircled by the shady embrace of aching temples and austere turrets, refusing to gratify until the heart has been steeled to observe it better.

Yet have you forgotten what your fathers, the warriors and the wandering minstrels, meant by finding their way to this place? Its birthright does not come by way of force. When its inner fold is reached a caverned terrace is opened, rich in the bones of unborn men drawing deep into a sanctum too chilling for any but the indomitable to dare go forward. The whole land is this tower, truly sacred, both worthy of being inhabited by stars and known to be so.

It is all fruitful; a fertile, fair home for you; and many an arduous hour had Magnus, many a feral fray with the earth atronachs, or bloody council with the karvinastic lords, before he could make it thus. And now you wish to eclipse Magnus, as you did Alduin, and Shezzar before? Lord Septim, [extracted]!”


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