Pocket Guide to the Empire, Second Edition — Towards a Dragon’d Sea: Cathnoquey

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This text was released by Michael Kirkbride on January 1st, 2012. In the original outline for the PGE2, this chapter was instead supposed to feature Esonriet. It is the only PGE2 text that features annotations, though all of the chapters were originally intended to have them. The dedication refers to Kurt Kuhlmann, and wishes him a happy new year in Hawaiian.

Of all the Imperial Provinces described herein, Cathnoquey is the newest to join its ranks. Before being formally reorganized under the terms of the Veto of Charter and Decree of New Lordships [3E307], the archipelago was first established as a Third Empire Territory in 3E276 under Emperor Uriel V, “The Fighting Diamond”.

Before that time, the “Kingdom” of Cathnoquey was an impressive egalitarian society of two quite divergent cultures, the tribal fishermer-flotillas of the Chimeri-quey, a loosely-organized coastal power of shore-khans, and the “untitled leaders” of the Men-of-Keptu-quey, who positioned their peoples mainly along an array of military frontier fortresses. It had no kings to speak of, in the manner that we do, but for the sake of history and Imperial embellishment it was given this royalty for context.

It seems that the racial schism that still troubles Tamriel had never been a problem in Cathnoquey. Records testify to a government that convened only in passing and, when it did, did so passively, structured along a Shezzarlectorate system whose chief concern was “the selflessness of melting ice”.

We will never know how that system worked, only that it could be, and was, decisively dismantled by the Legions of the Red Banner. With Roscrea already captured and the Emperor’s Eye towards the other independent island states between him and the main prize of Akavir, Uriel V began a series of short and brutal campaigns that decentralized the governing bodies of Cathnoquey within a fortnight. By midsummer 3E276, the annexation of the whole archipelago was complete. The Emperor was not even there to sign the missives that were to be sent back to Cyrodiil to cement its claim, invoking Quill’d by Proxy, as the bulk of his navy was already making sail for the Ysneslean lanes.

From “Eyelid to Power, the Eastern Fleet Futility” by Commander Hung-tat Torpal, of the Imperial Battle College, present at both Roscrea and Cathnoquey, wounded en route to the ports of Ysnelea, and islanded there after its burning, to heal. Returned to Cyrodiil after the disaster at Ionith; retired command at Anvil, 3E298.

“On the matter of Cathnoquey’s famously-swift conquest, it is my own opinion that we would have achieved all of it by the sundown of our first landing, foregoing nine more of crazed massacre. The Quey, both man and mer, surrendered their shelters both fortified and at sea without our demanding, and almost began to resupply our stock, alchemicals, and weaponry as if we had always been here; but they did so smiling, which the Imperator took almost reptilian umbrage at, and made order that we take nothing from the natives unless we did so by force, and to let them know the Septim Regime was never to give nod nor knee to so vulgar and obvious a trickery.”

I was delighted to hear that Cmdr. Hung-tat Torpal did, indeed, exist, and was not another phantasm of the IGS– if only to find out that he had not retired at Anvil as per official record, but rather suffered court martial for his publications by the Thonican Regency and that he and all his foreline were sentenced to ancestralcide in the bellows of Fickledire.

Cathnoquey culture is, at best, abstract for our purposes here. As a record of events and ordeals, this is understandably inconvenient for both writer and reader. For that, we can both be sorry. But we must carry on, and will, as evidenced by the existence of the paragraph following.

The Chimeri-quey’s contact with the Men-of-Keptu has always been fleeting and heavily ritualized. The best example of this is probably the arrival of the Chimer for market. Moments before the gloaming that signals the break of dawn, the bulk of the flotilla-township heaves into view, like some incalculable sea turtle; a vast misshapen shadow on the face of the water; crystalline light sources blink into life atop the flotilla’s many masts, giving brief lamp-lit glimpses of ships that seem at once ramshackle yet sturdy, and shortly thereafter begins an incredible balletic display that turns the very water into an enormous semaphore.

The ostensible message of “the arrival of trade” strikes the outside observer as entirely negligible in view of such a spectacle. Indeed, sometimes it is, as neither party, man or mer, exchange any goods at all, not even immaterial commodities such as information. Even when this “not-trade” happens, however, the merchants of both flotilla and fortress return to their domains with great smiles of satisfaction.

The Merchants of Quey

“The less zealous of the Septim reigns following Uriel V have, for the most part, chosen to only observe-with-amulet-interest this inexplicable mercantilism among the Queys rather than strangle it into submission. To satisfy the cynic, yes, the Empire knows it can get whatever it wants from its new subjects, but that issue is not for this pamphlet to address.”

Then why mention it?

Whenever questioned on their trading practices– moreover, their customs as a whole– the only response is in the colloquial Quey, “such-like and so-forth”. This acceptance of odd ritual and an unwillingness to disclose on things that are seemingly commonplace in Cathnoquey has given its people something of a reputation for, at best, aloofness, or, at worst, an implied duplicity. This is entirely in contradiction with the proven hospitality of its peoples of an effusiveness that some would find, and have found, offensive.

Now we turn… sorry, the dreamsleeve has new keys, whatever are these? I am doing my very best, I swear. Don’t look at me that way. Hang on to something, at least, otherwise it’ll get swollen, and that’s not the plan at all. Where were we? The pie is delicious, thank you. Largely, I do not much care for the wine, but whatever this is, it is. Am I right? Oh, yes, as ever: Cathnoquey.

What little one sees of the Chimeri-quey is largely limited to these prearranged meetings with the Men-of-Keptu, or to the largely industrial townships that dot the shore of Cathnoquey, which occasionally stage battles to settle tribal squabbles over the efficacy of their weapons and tools. Such theatrics are so heavily ritualized that no casualties are ever suffered or blow even struck, although impossibly the Chimer do somehow ascertain an outcome. After a visit to their coastal towns, one carries away an impression of clockwork model villages, as these settlements, if they can be really called that, seem to exist purely to support the flotilla-townships, away at sea for weeks on end, constantly searching for no one knows what. Their crews appear never to leave their boats except to resupply or to trade in the manner above described.

The Hunting of Veloth

“The Blade-Seneschals once sent an emissary, Ellison Voa, to the shore-khans to ascertain if they were somehow following, or at least looking for, the Prophet Veloth, the Chimeri progenitor. Voa returned to Cyrodiil very much angered or confused, saying nothing of the answers the shore-khans gave him, or even if they had given him any. In his final report to the Throne on the agenda of the Chimeri-quey, which he had to be escorted to, for he seemingly forgot his appointment, Voa refused to write anything more than, “I have changed my mind regarding Tamriel.” He was relieved of his rank and duties at Sky Haven Temple and spared execution only by virtue of his relations in Old Hegathe.”

I visited Old Hegathe and held audience with the Elder Council’s Ghost Choir of Blades and found no evidence of this so-called “Ellison Voa”. I did find, however, that the name is an mananagram of “Verily Believed In Violence”– an old slogan of the Imperial Geographical Society (!).

To the modern Cyrodilic citizen, the Men-of-Keptu-quey may strike them as a relic of a bygone age. Their imposing fortresses and antiquated weaponry (typically blunt or stylized to the point of being unrecognizable as an instrument of war) is at odds with their unimpeachable hospitality and ready smiles. One detects in them a stalwartness, an anxiety, a preparedness for battle. If it is for the Akaviri, then it is for an enemy they have not seen in centuries; if it is for any other, it is one of those things they refuse to disclose to outsiders, even to the Provincial Governor who now presides there, and whose inquiries into the loyalties of these inscrutable men who have for so long associated with mer have yet to be adequately answered.

It can be conjectured that the Men-of-Keptu are the long-lost Nedic keptulets of Ald Cyrod, but, when asked to explain their origins, they only make drawings of bulls. Then again, they draw bulls to explain nearly everything, even when queried about their abovementioned apprehension, and it is not uncommon for the Chimeri-quey to receive “payments” in large amounts of these bull sketches, even some drawn only in the sand in front of their flotillas.

These “long-lost” keptulets have only ever appeared in heretical portrayals of the Alessian Revolution, as proof of some theory that the Nedes were indigenous to Tamriel. I believe this might mark the first time that the IGS has slipped back into its commissioned duty- to whit, a document of our unified Empire- only to fail immediately. Every educated citizen knows that the Nedes came from Atmora.

I rescind my earlier comment about the IGS actually doing the will of the Throne. I have just read the section on Cyrodiil and the Survey’s agenda is clear, and clearly the work of historians of the Refayjian vein.

Early on, this strange obsession with drawing bulls even resulted in violence. During the annexation of Cathnoquey, the Admirality assumed that the Men-of-Keptu were hiding a cattle reserve somewhere in the archipelago. Desperate to replenish the Navy’s beefstock before the final push into Akavir, more torture and execution was visited upon the natives that yielded no answer regarding this imagined location. When Imperial outrunners found no cattle anywhere in the island chain, the bull drawings of the Men-of-Keptu were relegated to just one more entry into the Eastern Inscrutability.

It should be noted here that after this persecution ended, missionaries of Stendarr tried drawing images from the Ayleid Hegemony for the Quey, to see if they were reminded of anything. Whether this was an attempt at mercy or distaste is up for the reader to decide; for their part, the Men-of-Keptu merely took those images from the missionaries and drew bulls on top of them.

After. After? An after? And now I have just heard the sounding of many horns. And now (ah, there we are) the stamp of hooves, but they are fashioned so that I can’t adequately count their true sum number. I think I have documented all I need to in regards to Cathnoquey, and yet fear that it will never truly be enough, even if some other might take the pen. For that, I am wait no that’s me writing what I’m thinking. No, not right now, not yet. I have only ever served what I knew to be there. I knew it: a knock at your door.

Places Faces of Interest

The Wasabi Run: After the Disaster at Ionith and the retreat of the Cyrodilic navy back to Tamriel, there was little reason for the Empire to keep either resupply stations or legion garrisons in Cathnoquey. That changed with the discovery of “the Wasabi Run,” a trickle of shoals and small islets whose every available surface had been cultivated in swirling garden crops of a tibrol-based wasabi. Wasabi is as lucrative a trade in Skyrim as skooma is to the hinterlands of the south and east, with the added benefit of actually being legal. Withdrawal of the occupying forces from Cathnoquey was stalled in 3E306, to give the Treasury Agents of Outland Holdings time to surreptitiously tally a drake-value annual return based on exploitation of the wasabi gardens. Only a year later, a wholly-endorsed provincial investiture was won by Veto at White-Gold Tower, opposed only by the powerful, and corrupt,“Blackmouth Counts” of the Cheydanene districts.

During the Treasury’s investigations, the Quey naturally denied having created these gardens in their alien and insouciant way, shrugging as if the mystery was really quite obvious. To their credit, the Quey had never been actually seen trading wasabi at market in the thirty years of Imperial occupation. When their “untitled leaders” were questioned how it got there and who its gardeners were, they merely told the Imperials that “it showed up when you did.” Under torture, the origins of the Wasabi Run and its careful cultivation were made even less clear, with variations of a single answer: “you needed something from Cathnoquey, so it gave it to you. You are Quey now, so stop hurting yourself.”


For Maturin. Hau’oli Makahiki Hou.

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