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The Rise of Tiber Septim

Author: 
Fallen Fool

"I want to make it clear that I am not taking the title Emperor," he continued. "I have been and will continue to be Potentate Versidue-Shaie, an alien welcomed kindly to your shores. It will be my duty to protect my adopted homeland, and I pledge to work tirelessly at this task until someone more worthy takes the burden from me. As my first act, I declare that in commemoration of this historical moment, beginning on the first of Morning Star, we will enter year one of the Second Era as time will be reckoned. Thus, we mourn the loss of our Imperial family, and look forward to the future." - The words of the Potentate Verisdue-Shaie, as recorded in Evening Star, Book Twelve of 2920, The Last Year of the First Era.

Protection of the Empire of Reman, the Empire known also as the Second Empire of men, was in the end too great a burden for the Tsaesci Potentate. Within three centuries the Potentate was dead, and by the end of the following century so too were all of his heirs. The end of the Potentates line resulted in the creation of a great power vacuum out of which grew a terrible anarchy that drenched the soil of Tamriel in the blood of its residents for a further four centuries. Out of this anarchy came a man of disputed origins who would over the course of his hundred and eight long year life gather the shattered remnants of the Second Empire and forge them together anew into the Third Empire of men. This mans name was Tiber Septim.

To best understand how the creation of the Third Empire, it must be understood the political situation of each of the individual provinces at the start of Tiber�s career. They were as follows:

Black Marsh: Unknown, though it is assumed that there is little if any unified authority with real political power likely in the hands of the many different tribes.

Cyrodiil: A patchwork of bickering minor kingdoms whose rulers A Brief History of the Empire described as "a petty lot of grasping tyrants."

Elsweyr: Dominated by a government which changed based on the phases of Masser and Secunda; this government was, according to the Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition, in turn, "overseen by the thinly-veiled dictatorship of the Mane himself."

Hammerfell: Civil war rages between the Crowns under Prince A'tor, son of the dead High King Thassad II, and the Forebears.

High Rock: The Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition describes High Rock as being "divided into multiple antagonistic factions", mainly an assortment of Kingdoms, Duchies and Baronies.

Morrowind: The book On Morrowind, the Imperial Province describes Morrowind as under weak central authority of the Tribunal and their instrument, the Temple, with a bickering Grand Council of the Great Houses preventing any semblance of effective centralized government. Also given the reawakening of the devil Dagoth Ur and his kin, it can logically be assumed that this further undermined the authority of the Tribunal and Temple.

Skyrim: The Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition describes Skyrim as broken into nine different Holds, some of which are governed by hereditary leaders, and others that are ruled by elected moots. These Holds, however, are not unified as the Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition describes Nordic "character is one essentially of conflict, and the confederacies never last."

Aldmeri Dominion: A relatively recent combination of the two lands of Valenwood and the Summerset Isles, the Dominion, as described by the Pocket Guide to the Empire 3rd Edition, is controlled by the "Thalmor, a congress of Bosmeri chieftains and Altmeri diplomats."

This was clay that Tiber found when he first arrived onto the stage of Tamriel, and the following describes how he, like a master potter, shaped it and fired it in the kiln of war, intrigue and diplomacy.

The conquest of Cyrodiil was started not by Tiber Septim, however, but instead by a man known as Cuhlecain. One of the petty kings of the Colovian Estates, possibly Falkreath if the Arcturian Heresy is to be believed, Cuhelcain is said to have had the support of a man known as Chevalier Renald. Renald, according to Remanada, was one of the loyal knights descended from the bodyguards of old Reman kings. Such was Cuhelcains powerbase when he appointed as his general a man known as Hjalti Early-Beard in the Arcturian Heresy but known in most sources simply as Talos.

Talos, according to most sources, had one of his first brilliant moments at the Battle of Sancre Tor. The battle began when a combined army of Bretons and Nords invaded northwestern Cyrodiil and made winter quarters at Sancre Tor. Much to the Allied forces delight, Talos mustered Cuhlecains army and marched on their well fortified position. Outmaneuvering the enemy, Talos, with the possible aid of a turncoat sorcerer, attacked the rear of the Allied army, systematically destroying their leadership, and gaining a great victory.

At this point sources differ on what occurred. The Battle of Sancre Tor states that Tiber sold many of his Breton prisoners into slavery while the Nords, demoralized and suspicious of their one time allies the Bretons, flocked to join Talos's army en mass.

A slightly different version of the battle taken from blatantly pro-Septim Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition claims that Talos used the Thu'um during the battle. His much astonished Nord opponents at once deserted their Breton allies, for they had realized that Talos was the true heir to the throne of men.

An interesting alternative version of events told through the Arcturian Heresy states that Hjalti allied with the Nords, and led the army against the Bretons in at the town of Old Hrol'dan. During the battle it is said that a storm rose up, destroying the town walls and protecting Hjalti against arrows. It is said that it is because of this storm that Hjatli later became known as Talos, or Stormcrown.

In the campaigns that followed Sancre Tor, The Battle of Sancre Tor states, Talos secured much of modern Cyrodiil. It was most likely during these campaigns that the Imperial City was added into the growing Empire. It was at the Imperial City that the fate of Tamriel for the coming centuries was sealed, for it was in the Imperial City that the reign of Cuhlecains was ended.

Accounts of Cuhlecains assassination differ greatly. The Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition offers the more commonly believe version. It states that a Breton nightblade murdered Cuhelcain before making an attempt on the life of the great general himself. The nightblade, it is said, managed to slice the general's throat. Miraculously Talos survived, though in the process he lost his possession of the Thu�um.

The Arcturian Heresy offers another version of that fateful night. Cuhlecains death, the Heresy states, had its roots in Hjalti's campaigns across Cyrodiil. Successful in his campaign Hjalti is said to have come to the conclusion that Cuhlecain had lived past his usefulness. It was thus that, on that fateful night, men loyal to the general Hjalti fell upon Cuhlecain and slew him.

Whatever the truth, after that night Talos took up the Cyrodiilic name Tiber Septim and was crowned, possibly by Zurin Arctus, as the new Emperor of Cyrodiil.

It can be assumed that after his coronation Tiber set about to finishing the work that he, in his service to Cuhelcain, had started. His first task would have been consolidating his control over Cuhlecains former dominions, a task which it is likely he completed with little difficulty.

Next he probably began massive recruitment drives within Skyrim as Tiber probably wanted to, as the Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition states, "recruit the warlike Nords to their side before they became a force of the opposition." It can be assumed that Tiber was successful, as YR, the mysterious elf who comments on the Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition stated that, "I found many of these mountain villages almost empty of young men, who have been seduced into joining Septim's army by promises of wealth and glory."

With much of the Nordic population fighting at his side, it is doubtful that Tiber faced much, if any, armed opposition to his rule; instead he most likely assimilated the ancient land of the Nords peacefully. With Nordic aid, Tiber likely swept west against High Rock and conquered what the Pocket Guide, 3rd Edition calls a "multitude of fractious kingdoms [that] were easily conquered."

It should be noted that the events as told by the Heresy differ greatly from the more commonly believed traditions. Somewhere before, or perhaps after, Cuhlecains death a stranger allied himself with Hjalti/Tiber. This man is known alternatively as Wulfharth of Atmora, Ysmir the Grey Wind, the Dragon of the North, Shor�s Tongue, and many other assorted names and titles. It was Wulfharth, under the guise of the Underking, who Tiber sent to deal with Skyrim and High Rock.

Following the conquest of High Rock and assimilation of Skyrim, Tiber turned his attention to the conquest of Hammerfell, home of the Redguards, the last resistant human race. The Story of Redguard, an excellently compiled article, and the Pocket Guide to the Empire 1st Edition best explain the history of the pacification of Hammerfell into Tiber's Empire.

Under its High King Thassad II, Hammerfell had initially resisted bravely Tibers military advances. With Thassads death, however, the Crowns, those Redguards descended from the ancient Yokudan nobility, and the Forebears, the Redguards descended from the ancient warrior wave, split. The Crowns favored continued independence. The rival Forebears began to warm to the idea of Imperial rule, most likely seeking a return to the republic that ruled Hammerfell during the Second Empire, a brief period in Hammerfell history where the Crowns were not the dominate power in the land.

Thus a civil war broke out as the Kings heir, Prince A'tor, led the Crowns against the Forebears. One of the Forebear leaders was a certain Baron Volag, who it is said wished become High King himself. Wildly successful, the Crowns drove the Forebears into Tibers open arms. After an official request for his intervention Tiber marched with his Legions against A'tor. Outnumbered, and with his friends dwindling, A'tor fled to Stros M'Kai, where he was slain in battle against Admiral Richton. This defeat led to the beginning of Imperial rule.

It is not, however, the end of the pacification of Hammerfell. After watching the Imperials place a series of provisional governors across Hammerfell, a disappointed Baron Volag disappeared. Meanwhile a resistance group known as the Restless League began to harass the Imperial occupiers. In the end an uprising by the Restless League at Stros M'Kai, along with a rebellion led by Baron Volag in Sentinel, forced the Emperor to personally come to Hammerfell in an attempt to make peace. The resulting treaty, labeled the Treaty of Stros M'kai, would create a relationship that would later be described by Bianki, the Redguard wife of the Emperor Cephorus Septim, in Waughin Jarth's historical fiction masterpiece The Wolf Queen. As she put it, "We [Redguards] have a unique relationship with the Empire in Hammerfell. Since the treaty of Stros M'kai, it's been understood that we are part of the Empire, but not a subject." In the end it was not the might of the Imperial Legions that pacified Hammerfell, but the words and promises of Tiber himself.

The Heresy offers another, Underking included, version of events. According to the Heresy "[The] Underking wants a complete invasion, a chance to battle their foreign wind spirits himself, but Tiber Septim refutes him. He has already made a better plan, one that will seem to legitimize his rule. Cyrodiil supports the losing side of a civil war and are invited in." This text is interesting as it is fairly similar to the main stream version of events, a true oddity in the Heresy.

Black Marsh, also called Argonia, was most likely added after the pacification of Hammerfell. This conclusion can be drawn because of the testimony of one Dreekius, an Argonian eye witness to the revolt at Stros M'kai, who stated that, "We [Argonians] see that Septim's tribes will not long be satisfied with the thrones of men and the Elder Race. One day they will come to Black Marsh." This dialogue, from The Story of Redguard, gives the impression that Tiber's legions had not conquered Argonia before the pacification of Hammerfell. When also compared to the book On Morrowind, the Imperial Province, which gives the impression of Imperial control over Black Marsh, this testimony leads to the logical assumption that Black Marsh was thus added before the conquest of Morrowind, but after the pacification of Hammerfell.

Truly unconquerable, the swamps of Black Marsh possessed a vile reputation long before Tiber Septim even contemplated adding them to his young empire. Indeed, the swamps of Black Marsh had such a dark reputation that the Pocket Guide, 3rd Edition states that "Tiber Septim, it was said, thought twice before conquering Black Marsh for his new Empire." But in the end Tiber made his play at conquering the land of the Argonians. About Tibers campaigns in Black Marsh the Pocket Guide states "The borders of the province fell easily to his forces, but he wisely decided to avoid strategically unimportant inner swamps, and thus met with little resistance."

Also during this time period it seems logical to assume that the province of Elsweyr was assimilated into Tiber's growing Empire. This assumption bases its merit on two sources: The Skeleton Man's Interview and The Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition. At one point the author of the Pocket Guide claims "[that] there is talk that the Elsweyr Confederacy has recently struck treaty with the Aldmeri Dominion," thus leaving the impression of a strained, if not openly hostile, relationship between Tiber and the Mane of Elsweyr. This impression is further reinforced by the passage within the Pocket Guide where it is stated that "since the ascension of Tiber Septim," Rimmen, while "ostensibly its own kingdom," had "renewed tribute paying for the Cat Lord's guarantee of their independence."

Thus with the impression of hostilities one would assume fighting broke out; however, according to the Skeleton Mans Interview dro'Mhakij, "Prophet of Rajhin," claimed "Talos, he "annexed" a swath of our bounty-land in Ana'quinal and cleared the Khajiiti out by force." An educated guess would assume that the "bounty-land" annexed was most likely Rimmen. Given the lack of available information about a conflict with Elsweyr, and the preservation of Khajiit traditions, a logical assumption can be made that a treaty similar to the Armistice of Morrowind brought Elsweyr into the Empire, traditions intact, in exchange for Rimmen, where the Halls of Colossus could be created away from the centers of men but also close to the Aldmeri Dominion.

After the conquest of Hammerfell, and most likely the assimilations of Black Marsh and Elsweyr, Tiber began to make the preparations necessary for an invasion of Morrowind. The book On Morrowind, the Imperial Province states that Tiber's generals were quite pessimistic about the Legions chances of successfully invading and subduing Morrowind. Tiber, however, opened secret negotiations with one of the god-kings of Morrowind, Vivec. The treaty that resulted from these meetings became known as the Armistice. In addition to making many guarantees and concessions of extensive rights of self-governance to the Dunmer, the Armistice also gave to Tiber the Numidium, a powerful Dwarven golem that would be so imperative in his later conquests.

It should be noted that in the Arcturian Heresy it is said that once this Armistice becomes common knowledge, the Underking became angry at Tiber for breaking a promise to destroy the Tribunal and quickly halted his support of the would-be Emperor.

Now comes one of the most questioned periods of the history of Tiber Septim's conquests and assimilations. After annexing Rimmen Tiber probably ordered the construction of the Halls of Colossus. When the Halls were finally completed Tiber had the pieces of the Numidium smuggled from Morrowind to the Halls, or possibly the College of the Imperial Battlemages, where the Imperial Battlemage, Zurin Arctus, attempted to find a way to make the Dwarven golem operate. These attempts resulted in the creation of the Totem, a device that could be used to control the Numidium. The only problem that remained was to find a power source strong enough to bring the Numidium to life.

The resulting creation was the Mantella, a gem of immense power that could be used to power the Numidium. There are at least three different versions of the tale of how the Mantella came to exist. The first is that Tiber took the not yet powered Mantella from Zurin. Tiber than supposedly had the Imperial Guard ambush Zurin, and forced the Battlemage�s life force into the Mantella. According to this version of events Tiber covered up his betrayal of Zurin by claiming that Zurin had attempted to assassinate him, forcing the Imperial Guard to kill him.

A second version states that Zurin willingly gave his life force to power the Mantella, and thus power the Numidium.

The third version, this one from off the Arcturian Heresy, states that Tiber tricked the Underking into coming to a meeting. At this meeting the Imperial Guard and Zurin ambush the Underking, forcing his life force into the Mantella. During the ambush, however, Zurin and multiple guards fell. In his attempt to cover up the incident Tiber is said to have claimed that Zurin had attempted to assassinate him and that the Imperial Guards had prevented Tiber's death, though only at great cost in terms of lives lost. Tiber then made the claim that the Underking was one of the Guards who fell.

Whatever the truth about the origins of Mantella's power, it is without a doubt that the war against the Aldmeri Dominion was the last, and most magical of Tibers conquests. Earlier in his reign the Legions had fought small successful border skirmishes against the Bosmer, who were most likely fighting at the Altmer's behest. The only thing that would seem to prevent Tiber from invading the Dominion at this early time was most likely the knowledge that Valenwood could be as inhospitable as Black Marsh at times, and chances of a successful invasion of the Summerset Isles across the Altmer controlled seas were microscopic.

So instead of invading Tiber bided his time and waited for a trump card. The trump card that Tiber had been waiting for finally arrived in the form of the Numidium, Totem and Mantella. How exactly Tiber used the Numidium is unknown, but what is known is that he used it well, as soon the Aldmeri Dominions fell under his complete control.

At this point history once again blurs. According to the story that states that Tiber betrayed Zurin states that Zurin, forced into an undead form, took upon himself the guise of the Underking. As the Underking, Zurin launched a devastating attacking on the Numidium.

The story that claims that Zurin willingly gave up his life force claims that Tiber, after successfully demolishing the Dominion, turned the Numidium upon noble families whose loyalties he was uncertain of in an attempt to further solidify his control. Furious at the use of the great golem, Zurin, donning the guise of the Underking, turned on Tiber and engaged the golem in a great battle.

The story, as told in the Arcturian Heresy, states that after his betrayal by Tiber the Underking did not die as Tiber thought, but instead retreated. Biding his time, the Underking finally strikes after the subjugation of the Dominion, and unleashes his wrath upon the Numidium.

All of the stories, however, have the same ending. The battle between the Underking and the Numidium is long, and brutal; in the end, however, the Underking prevails and succeeds in shattering the once great golem, its pieces spread by the final blow across the surface of Tamriel. Greatly weakened from his fight against the Numidium, the Underking, whether it be Zurin or Wulfharth, retreated to regain his strength, or at least until the Mantella resurfaced, at which point he would attempt to reunite with his life force.

The destruction of the Numidium at the hands of the Underking marked the end of Tiber Septims conquests and assimilation of the people of Tamriel and perhaps more importantly the end of the second era. Starting as a general of disputed origins in service to the petty-king Cuhlecain, Tiber Septim, also known as Talos Stormcrown, also known as Hjalti Early-Beard, went on to become Emperor of Tamriel, founder of the Third Empire and the Septim Dynasty. To quote a Brief History of the Empire Book I:

"Before the rule of Tiber Septim, all Tamriel was in chaos. The poet Tracizis called that period of continuous unrest "days and nights of blood and venom." The kings were a petty lot of grasping tyrants, who fought Tiber's attempts to bring order to the land. But they were as disorganized as they were dissolute, and the strong hand of Septim brought peace forcibly to Tamriel. The year was 2E 896. The following year, the Emperor declared the beginning of a new Era-thus began the Third Era, Year Aught."