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The State of Magic in High Rock, 4th edition

By the Imperial Geographic Society

 

Magic is deeply ingrained in High Rock; it quite literally runs through the veins of each and every Breton. Like many aspects of Breton society, such widespread similarity does not stop their factiousness. Recent trends, however, mirror the larger ones of Breton society and hue towards a heretofore-unheard of cooperation.

The oldest form of Breton magic stems not from Bretons but centaurs. The legendary creatures residing in hidden glades within High Rock’s forests passed on their knowledge of the Old Ways to a mysterious group known as the Druids of Galen. Like the Psijics, the Druids followed the Old Ways, and one of their members, Voernet the Sage, was permitted to visit Arteum. These Druids and their connections to the Earth Bones are reminiscent of the hedge mages that to this day hold sway over the small villages and hamlets far removed from High Rock’s urbane cities. Their magical knowledge is usually passed down from master to apprentice and in some ways is more reminiscent of Reach magic than anything taught at an institution of learning. High Rock’s hedge mages seem to be the lasting influence of the Druids, as they have had little contact with the rest of High Rock.

Equally old and equally mysterious, the Glenmoril Wyrd presents a perverted sort of magical ‘institution.’ Much of the information known about the Wyrd is contradictory and unhelpful in uncovering their true nature. It is said they began in the hills and forest of the Glenumbran Peninsula, but now chiefly reside in High Rock’s cities. They are both vampires and known curers of that curse, as well as both curers of lycanthropy and worshippers of Hircine. They make use of polymorphic magic, as the Druids are also rumored to do, and yet the Wyrd seemingly has connections to hagraven abominations as far away as Solstheim. The Wyrd remains shrouded in rumor and mystique no doubt cultivated in order to obfuscate, and they are to avoided and distrusted.

The Druids of Galen and the Glenmoril Wyrd are the oldest ‘institutions’ of magic in High Rock, though they represent High Rock’s primitive past. The institutions of the learned present have their origins in the School of Julianos. Though it has existed since the early Second Era, its focus shifted to that of magic education not long after the Mages Guild was founded in 2E 230, likely in order to stave off the foreign control of the Mages Guild. Many Clerics and Arch Clerics, however, have disputed the notion that the School’s shift had anything whatsoever to do with the Guild, instead citing stricter adherence to Julianos’s divine mandates. Whatever the cause of its shift into the academic, such a shift allowed it far more influence and power in High Rock.

For many centuries the School was so prominent that it had branches in every city in High Rock. Today, the School’s main branch is in Daggerfall, with a secondary branch in Shornhelm and a very recent third in Wayrest. Their standard dress of rainbow colored robes reflects the prismatic pyramid symbol of Julianos. When a beam of light hits the prism, it is refracted into a vibrant rainbow. The School says that when ignorance meets Julianos’s divine wisdom, knowledge in all its breadth is the result. The elaborate nature of the School does not stop there, as each member, from Initiate to Arch Cleric, is required to wear a silver mask. As a member progresses through the ranks, Initiate, Acolyte, Disciple, Sage, and Cleric, the mask is carved ever more intricately until it reflects the face of Julianos himself. The mask also allows admittance to the School’s campuses, which are highly guarded by enchantments and wards.

Under the current Arch Cleric, Eloise Jolvanne, and her predecessors of the last century, the School has seen a shift ever more toward the secular. Once open to nearly anyone as befit their mission to “Banish Ignorance,” in recent years they have tightened the qualifications required to gain admittance and thus increase the School’s prestige. This is likely due to pressure from the other prominent magical institutions who have vied for the leadership of High Rock’s Conclave of Mages, a leadership which the School jealously guarded but recently lost. More will be said on the Conclave further on.

The Mages Guild arrived in High Rock in the Fourth Century of the Second Era. Until their dissolution after the Oblivion Crisis, they were the main rival to the School of Julianos’s magical influence. At the height of its power, the Guild had guildhalls in Daggerfall, Camlorn, Wayrest, Evermor, and Northpoint. In fact, the Guild’s presence in Wayrest forced the School of Julianos there to shift to a purely religious temple. But for most of the Third Era before the Oblivion Crisis, the Guild’s influence was waning as splinter groups formed and replaced both the Guild’s and the School’s influence on individual kingdoms. By the time of the Oblivion Crisis, only the Daggerfall and Wayrest guildhalls remained.

The Wayrest Lyceum is the second oldest purely Breton institution, established in Fifth Century of the Second Era, but has the least current influence on magic in High Rock. Though they have long been known as a prolific center for advanced study, their outlook has always been outward. No other institution in High Rock has funded as many research expeditions as has the Lyceum. The renowned works they’ve published as a result are second to none, and largely fund the school. However, they have produced little in the way of tutors or court wizards who influence the direction of High Rock’s elite. Unlike most institutions, the Lyceum is led by a council of its most prominent members.

The competition between the School of Julianos and the Mages Guild led both to decline in influence over the course of the Third Era. The nobility grew increasingly tired of the nagging of their tutors and court wizards who attempted to leverage the nobles into supporting their institution or attacking the other. So, too, did the mages at some of the Schools and Guilds tire of the bickering. In Camlorn in the early Third Era, this resulted in the high rankings members of both the School and the Guild to break away and form a new institution.

The Coterie of the Elect is as pretentious as their name suggests. Not only did its founding members chafe at the conflict between the School and the Guild, they also chafed at the burden of teaching. They wanted to further their own advancement, not instruct initiates in rudimentary spells. When the Coterie formed, most of the students and lower staff were expelled. The high-ranking staff, who were required to have expertise in at least one magical school, were permitted to keep two apprentices each but no more. As such the Coterie is an elite and highly selective institution. A few decades after their founding, they convinced their former colleagues in Evermor to leave the School and Guild behind, and a second branch was formed. They were long led by High Arcanist Thetrard Dolbanitte, but he recently died at the age of 102. He was succeeded by one his former apprentices, a relatively young but reportedly skilled wizard named Dureau Maurard.

When the staff and students of Camlorn and Evermor were expelled, many ended up in Northpoint and Jehanna. They had their own problems with the School and the Guild, but in contravention to the Coterie, their focus remained on teaching students. The result was that by the Third Century of the Third Era, the School in Jehanna and the Guild in Northpoint had dissolved and in their place arose the Academy Arcana. Their focus remained on teaching students and providing tutors to High Rock’s nobility. There was and remains a zero tolerance policy for necromancy and Daedric affiliations, as well as a strict limits on summonings. The rigidity of their structure and rules has gained them few friends among other mages, but their earliness to the dangers of Daedra bought them goodwill among the larger population. For lower nobles, merchants, and artisans desiring higher learning for their children, the Academy is the premier school. They are led by Magister Gaban Bellamont.

As the School’s power waned, Farrun’s branch became increasingly isolated and ignored by the members in Daggerfall and Shornhelm. The Arch Cleric’s hold on the School slackened, and a free-spirited and eccentric style developed. In 3E 422, a decade before the Oblivion Crisis, the School in Farrun broke away and formed the Institute for Thaumaturgic Enlightenment. Though small, they ingratiated themselves in the Farrun population by quickly closing the nearby Oblivion Gate. Rumor has it that their focus on obscure and potentially dangerous magic is what allowed them to close the breach, but whatever it was, the Crisis anchored their place among High Rock’s magical institutions. Farrun remains their only location, and they are led by the Council of Sages whose current head is Master Sage Visanne Luseph. 

The Oblivion Crisis was not a boon for all, however. The disbanding of the Mages Guild in the aftermath of the Crisis resulted in the College of Whispers and Synod rising in its place. The College took over the Wayrest branch of the Guild, while the Synod took over the Daggerfall branch. Neither was very large and appeared in a High Rock that was increasingly divided among magic institutions. Without the cache the Guild had, neither had much influence outside the cities where they were located. In Daggerfall, the Synod was subordinate to the School, and in Wayrest the College was subordinate to the Lyceum.

But the Oblivion Crisis bred another major change among High Rock’s magical institutions, and that was the formation of the Conclave of Mages. The disbandment of the Mages Guild and the magic skepticism of much of Tamriel in the wake of the Oblivion Crisis scared the mages of High Rock. While there was little expectation the nobility would, or could, move against the mages, there was some fear that the populace at large might. Rumors of village hedge mages being driven off or killed (since revealed to be insignificant in number) led to fears of a peasant rebellion against magical institutions who could be seen as affiliated with dangerous magic.

In 4E 3 the Conclave of Mages was called in which the leaders and high ranking members of the School of Julianos, the Wayrest Lyceum, the Coterie of the Elect, the Academy Arcana, and the Institute for Thaumaturgic Enlightenment all met in Daggerfall. Together they agreed to support one another should either the nobility or peasantry moved against another. Though there was a push by the Academy to lay out specific magical guidelines by which all would abide, this was ultimately rejected. The Institute’s rumored associations with necromancy and summonings was likely the target. The Institute argued that, having saved Farrun almost singlehandedly, there was little fear the general populace would turn against them. The Conclave also formed a council, consisting of a representative from each institution. The School has held the most sway since the council’s formation, but recent events has led that to change.

The College of Whispers and the Synod were not invited, and in fact barred from entry when members attempted to enter the Conclave. Since then the little influence and enrollment they have has fallen considerably, as the Conclave united with merchants to embargo the sale of necessary magical items to both. Protests with the Empire fell on deaf ears, though the embargo was lifted after the Unification of High Rock in 4E 43.

There is a saying that as magic goes, so goes High Rock, and some saw that the unification of the institutions under the Conclave as a portent for High Rock’s own unification. Whether that is true or not, the perception among Bretons is that Conclave has allowed the five major magical institutions influence that had been nonexistent since the School ceased being the lone place magical learning. They are better able to negotiate with nobles and merchants, and under Imperial rule were able to play the Empire and the nobility off each other when it suited them.

High Rock’s recent consolidation of power and secession has upset that influence, perhaps fatally so. In attempting to gain favor in Cyrodiil, the Synod left soon after secession. The College of Whispers gained some enrollment because of that, but the Conclave approached King and Queen Adrard to have the College removed. Though all of the details are not known, some sort of rift opened up between the Adrards and some members of the Conclave, apparently centering on the royal appointing an unaffiliated mage, Dryston Winvale, to his Court Wizard position. Notably, the Institute and Lyceum were left out of the Conclave’s negotiations with Adrard. A rather fortuitous turn for both, as Adrard seized the College of Whispers’s books and magical instruments and did not turn them over to the Conclave. The School of Julianos was given the College’s former hall, but thus far has only stretched them thin.

The next meeting of the Conclave’s council was held in strict secrecy. The Institute’s and the Lyceum’s leaders were in attendance, but there are few rumors as to why they were left out of the negotiations with the Adrards.  What is clear, though, is that the young leader of the Coterie, High Arcanist Dureau Maurard, has supplanted Arch Cleric Jolvanne as the Conclave’s de facto leader. Whether a younger mage at the helm will result in a new direction or reconciliation with the Adrards remains to be seen. It could be that his location in Camlorn allows him better access to the royal court, and that a man from the royals’ own city will decrease the tensions.

The recent developments have shown that, though magical institutions have a prominent role in Breton society, they are increasingly secondary to the role of the nobility. In fact, Prince Roland Adrard was not educated by a mage from any of the magical institutions, but by foreign tutors, which may be a first for a Breton royal.  The appointment of Winvale to the position of Court Wizard could herald a new direction as well, as the nobility shifts toward reliance on unaffiliated mages. As with anything among the Bretons, political machinations are likely at the root of all of this intrigue, so it is unclear what the lasting impacts will be.

This book would be remiss if it did not also mention the Forums of the Phynastery. Located on the Isle of Balfiera, it is an ancient and venerable school of study. Unfortunately, it is exclusive to Altmer and very secretive in its research, though one expects that the Adamantine Tower is among its chief focuses. They associate little with the other magical institutions in High Rock.

Finally, one unique feature of magic in High Rock is the presence of shadow magic at the border region of High Rock, Hammerfell, and Skyrim. In the past Breton nobility has made extensive use of shadow magic wielding nightblades in carrying out assassinations, theft, and political deceptions. It has been many decades since there was any word or rumor about such shadow magic usage, though. It is likely that today practitioners of such magic are confined to the Reach tribes and isolated hedge mages.

Magic of all kinds is integral to Breton society. From royals to peasants, nearly every Breton knows one spell or another. As such, magical institutions will always have a role in Breton society. But as their history shows, the prominence of that role is not guaranteed. Power in High Rock is consolidating, and the magical institutions there would be wise to ensure that it is not at their own expense.

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Northern Roscrea
159th Year, Fourth Era

Around the fire judgement had been passed. The clan of Borr, ancient and hallowed gifted the white robbed men their swords. The long peaceful island erupted into a frenzy of oaths, raiding and frantic duels of clans. There was but only two oaths, the aristocracy who pledged themselves to the established Imperial rule and the nobility whom swore to the long forsaken Druids. Mere weeks prior the Imperial governor from Solitude and his administrative retinue were murdered in the southeast. What might have been a swift retribution from the legion garrison was naught, for it too collapsed in days. Without Imperial commanders, the native leadership had divided loyalties. The Imperialized and mixed blood natives remained in loyalist cohorts, they had all the benefits of Imperial rule to protect. Those loyal to their rebelling clans forsake the southern institution and returned to the towns of their birth to stir arms and lead champions.

In the northernmost frozen expansion it was without doubt who the once great clan of Borr's loyalties lay. Long ago influential, powerful and rich, their abandonment of the Empire began the resurgence of the old chiefdoms. The Borr tetrarch spat on his southern title and was named High Chieftain by nobles and the commoners. The nobility tore apart any clothing of foreign design, bent the gladius and melted all jewelry. Those that stood plain and naked were named champions and would forever sit at the inner circles of feasting tables. So moved by the display of the Borr nobility, the young druid Theudofrid swore himself to the service of Teutorigos Borr, the firstborn son of the proclaimed high chieftain and once-centurion of a native cohort.

Theu was a man of the Hearthland, no different from Teutorigos. His several years under the mentorship of the Archdruid did little to soften him, the hardships of his homeland toughened the druid-in-training. Teutorigos bound Theudofrid through the giving of a mighty gift, an axestaff of an ancient Borr priest to Kyne. Centuries without conflict had left the Borrs unprepared, for they had no bondsmen. The minuscule nobility hadn't led champions since their fifth great grandfathers. Teutorigos stood as one above equals. He was a leader of infantry and was swiftly elected by the nobility to bind and lead the new champions. The realm of the Borrs could never be urbanized, clans of men were lowborn outside the fortress town of Ultansburrow and none within spoke against the nobility. Firmly established and with opposition south of their realm, Teutorigos bearing only his clan's burgundy cloak and plain clothes took the old road south. He began with several dozen men, sworn noble champions, and a battle hungry druid. Teutorigos' charisma and duty drew in many. At the end of that long southern stretching road, there ended a mighty warband of furious Atmoriants, noble champions, the first Roscrean wizard-warrior in centuries, hundreds of commoner iron miners and hillmen. Here began the Roscrean's revolt in earnest, Teutorigos backed the clans revolt with force.

Edited by TheCzarsHussar
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Our Resurgence, The early Roscrean revolt and exploits of the Noble Teutorigos Borr.
Anonymous Skald

At the time of this writing a peace accordant is in discussion. Our future is uncertain but the powers are unwavering. Solitude has drew blood and dashed absolute victory, our future is uncertain.


Prelude
Imperial Roscrea began at the end of Uriel's conquests and ended at the tributary surrender of the Borrs. Early reign was recorded by both Skaldic and Imperial sources was the financial strain of garrisoning Roscrea. The post-war infrastructure was in ruin and little wealth could be made from the island, for generations it was a punishment duty for southern legionaries. Not until the annexation of Solitude did the legionary occupation end, squalor and a dark age was the hallmark of this period. The Imperials could not afford to repair the damages they brought, Roscrea was too insignificant for many years. The standards of living for nobility and freemen alike were abhorrent. Uriel's campaign ended in disaster in the very far east. Focus was taken away from the extra-Tamrielic islands, Roscrea suffered more then any of his other isle conquests.

Praise from native mouth be given then to the string of pragmatic governors from the early Solitude reign. They inadvertently made our resurgence possible. Fairly high focus was placed in making the island profitable since their annexation. Roads were repaired, long abandoned mines refurbished, favorable laws passed to the nobility and the establishment of the tetrarchy. Four tetrarchs were chosen among the old clans, to ease the financial burden of administration by granting more power to we natives. Though diplomatic authority and overall rule remained in the Imperial administration of Urbs-Beyond-The-Sea, the legionary settler colony. Eastern Roscrea had no need of tetrarchs, as an eastern native I speak of firsthand subservience. The eastern folk, urbanized and agrarian accepted Imperial rule much more readily as their society benefited far greater then our northern and western kinsmen. Improved agricultural methods, establishment of plantation villas and the seat of Imperial rule in Roscrea secured our ancestor's acceptance in the transition from legion occupation to Solitude's annexation. And increased citizenry rights to the nobility and upper classes, the greatest efforts of Imperialization occurred in the east. These were the hallmarks of Solitude rule, Nordic in origin but no less Imperial in practice. Their efforts to create a profitable Roscrea strengthened a weakly vestige of old into a growing local power. Native authority increased through the tetrarchy, by gaining citizen rights Roscreans could now fully serve in legions and completely removed the financial strain of Colovian and Nordic garrisoning.

It took several generations to make their annexation of Roscrea financially beneficial. Solitude had long replaced the administration of direct Imperial rule, but to the native peoples it seemed no different. It was an extraordinary thing then when a man chosen to govern Roscrea held our own interests at heart over that of Solitude. The noble Hrargal of Haafingar came and ruled no less then seventy years, passing to all's tremendous sorrow at a hundred and eight. His reign marked the greatest extent of Imperialization, yet crisis after crisis were resolved skillfully. His edicts are still obeyed even in revolt. His benevolence earned him many times the offer of kingship to all Roscreans, ordained by all the great clans, his loyalty to Solitude was legendary and thus refused many times over. Hrargal united squabbling clans, passed pragmatic edicts and financed the construction of Cyrodilic esque infrastructure ranging from entertainment to housing and all manners in between. It was his confessed lifelong dream to see Roscrea fully embrace Colovian culture, he himself of that race. To Hrargal the best way Roscrea could serve Solitude and the Empire was to become culturally interlinked with the two. Whatever his motives may have been, his treatment of Roscrea was gentle and when firmness was demanded, it was never a crushing grip. It encouraged our folk to embrace his values. Nirn was robbed of the greatest administrator of the age at his passing.

Hrargal's passing was four months prior to the writing of this. His funeral was the largest in Roscrean history, not one of the noble clans hadn't made their presence there. They mourned not for the servant of Solitude, but the great man they knew him as. It was the only time Imperial arms were not taken against the Druids when one of the forsaken white robbed men kissed his forehead. Even they payed respect. The tetrarchs commissioned Solitude to send another of his line to govern Roscrea, they would accept no other candidate under threat of embargoing Roscrean goods. The Druid's blessing had all but legitimized his line, and although none would ever admit it under threat of lawful retribution, the Druids were still revered and respected by the natives. The nobility of Solitude held little regard of Roscrea outside the profits our island brought them, they dismissively accepted and sent a distant relative. We knew little of their familiar relationship and never will know.

Solitude had grown used to Roscrean obedience and the island became and afterthought, instead of considering another longtime trained administrator they sent a distantly related merchant-noble. The Roscrean nobility accepted him dutifully and showed him in gifts, they celebrated and proclaimed seventy more years of praise. His name is forsaken into Oblivion and will never be spoken, thought of, or written. He hadn't shared Hrargal's vision in any shape or form. Eighteen of Hrargal's edicts were defunct within his first week of governance, this seemingly minor occurrence brought the native nobility to a boiling point. These edicts favored Roscrea and reduced the efficiency of tribute and taxation. He was a very effective tax master and brilliant with fiances but for the importance of governing an overseas people, impotent. He had thought his predecessor had utterly converted the Roscreans to Tamrielic rule, a thing to be orderly taxed and governed as if a lively mainland province. Uriel's other island conquests had come to this level of development, 'Roscrea must have too.' It is well documented by the Nebbezzar court that the Silver Shield client king was furiously arguing with the governor on a matter of the Imperial Cult. The governor was staunchly associated with the cult and lacked the tolerance of his predecessor. While in the client king's chambers amidst their rising anger, the governor struck at an ancestral idol of an ancient Royal Casurgian king and shattered it. The court would not prevent their client king from throwing the governor to the ground and murdering him with a dagger. His Imperial retinue attempted to flee and were cut down to the last by the court. A fit of anger shattered the peace, what might have been was naught. Although these actions were sung in praise by all true Roscreans. I have personally spoken with his lordship, he described it 'belike horse hoofs pounding against his head in terrible pain when his ancestor was disrespected.' He described his ancestor's fury in the halls of sovngarde felt personally. 

By murdering the Solitude appointed governor, a portion of Roscrea had instantly declared rebellion against Solitude and the Empire at large. To the Roscreans however it was Solitude who hard betrayed them. This incident grew by the day. In their great wisdom, sensing weakness in southern rule the Druids appeared before the great clans of old. They urged the appointed tetrarchs to forsake the rule of foreigners. A perfect candidate for kingship of all Roscrea had come and gone, his line as shown was unworthy to rule. They accurately acclaimed that little focus was given on Uriel's conquests in this age, we are afterthoughts at best. Never would a better time come to bite off the overstretched arm of the southerners. Three of the tetrarchs gifted the Druids their swords and cursed the Empire, the Tetrarch of Boiliobris had remained loyal to the Empire and had lost his life for it, a noble of his clan instead gifted his swords.

Centuries under the administration of Imperial generals, then governors hadn't swayed the traditional way of fighting for the Roscrean peoples. The concept of large armies and pitched battles was a strange and alien idea to our ancestors. Since time unrecorded the nobles gathered bound champions and retinues of bondsmen and did battle against hostile nobles and their own champions and bondsmen. It was fighting between the most elite warrior class. To gather the commoners and place spear in hand was the last resort of any kind, only commissioned Reivers, (typically sailing men whom plunder with the blessings of their clan, almost always plunder outside the Roscrean sphere.) another type of warrior class held that distinction. It was thus when revolt came to pass that pitched battle and fields of armed commoners was nowhere to be found. The Imperial loyalist cohorts were in disarray, with the majority of the native legion abandoning their duty. The age of champions had yet long passed, in servitude to Cyrodilic, then Solitude Imperial administration our kinsmen were barred from taking arms outside of auxiliary and later legionary service. Commissioned raiding was outright banned by Imperial law, anywhere to raid was under their control.

Of the tetrarchs, none responded in such brilliance as the clan of Borr. Forwent his southern title and claimed as High Chieftain to their old chiefdom. In the most inhospitable region of Roscrea, began in earnest the revolt. This firsthand skaldic recording is not of poetry, but an epic. It details the extraordinary events of the early revolt, A Resurgence to the champions of old. The adventures and noble duels of Teutorigos Borr, his retinue of champions, the druid Theudofrid the Stormsayer, and the return of the Atmoriants atop their mountains. A return into the mythic.
Chapter's end.

Edited by TheCzarsHussar
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Excerpts from chapter 5 of "An Incomplete Hypothesis" by Master Endar Drenim, Arch-Wizard of the esteemed House Telvanni, printed and published by Slumlord Harry's Presses
 

Notice to students and future readers: While the following accounts correlate in some ways with information obtained by official Imperial sources, they also vary wildly in others. It is therefore believed that the author did indeed make contact with Aldmeri Dominion cells in some capacity, but may have embellished or stated outright falsehoods in his depiction of the events. No one by the name of 'Endar Drenim' could not be found for the sake of questioning, and his publisher, known only as 'Slumlord Harry' was killed shortly after the first batch was printed during the Bravil Skooma Wars of 4E 188. Less than a hundred copies made it into circulation.
 

[Passage begins]

... There is much to be said of Bosmeri tolerance for what unlearned fools consider the esoteric, but to the surprise of no one, the same cannot be said of the Altmer who audaciously believe themselves masters of all mer. For all the Dominion's harping about the greatness of their magicks and their closely-guarded secrets supposedly preserved from the time of the Aldmeri and before, one would be hard pressed to find even a single Altmer raised in Dominion lands who has so much as considered the possibility of invoking conjurational charter with lesser daedra, so frightful are they of discovery. Cowards and fools, the lot of them. It should come as no surprise, then, that upon discovering a Telvanni wizard in the midst of experiments of a similar nature -entirely in the pursuit of knowledge and with proper precautions taken- their response would be dramatic and overstated. 

So what if I summoned a few scamps and a weederworble or two? My 'crimes' were hardly warranting of attention, let alone arrest. ...

[Passage ends]


***
 

The daedric prince's black eyes stared into Endar's own with what he could only interpret as a nigh-infinitely powerful predator's curiosity. No doubt it would kill him and any other mortals in the vicinity where they stood if not for the hundreds of containment runes that had been carved into every tree within a thirty foot radius of the summoning circle. Their conversation had been long and insightful, and although the lord of Oblivion made no effort to hide its desire to see him reduced to ashes and devoured by clannfears, Endar felt that it had been a pleasant experience for both parties.

Unfortunately, the Altmeri had arrived. He had expected them to take longer, but apparently their Attendants of Alaxon were more competent than the average Justiciar. The prince laughed at his misfortune before offering its best-natured farewells and stating that it was eager for their next chat. Endar did the same and turned to face the authorities. There were hundreds of them, their green and golden armor reflecting moonlight even through the trees. He did not fear them. In fact, he was eager to question them. When the leader approached, Endar submitted himself willingly.
 

***
 

[Passage begins]

... Perhaps the prospect of sitting in an earthy cage with walls of root and stone, the screaming voices of nearby prisoners fresh out of the torture chamber resounding off every brick and bar might sound unappealing to the untraveled. To a wandering scholar like myself, the small space is no less comforting than the large space. The smells of urine, excrement, and festering wounds no less familiar than those of wet grass and burning wood. The screams of mer are not particularly different from those of a thousand species of less intelligent beasts across this realm and many others. My week in a Thalmor dungeon was as much a learning experience as had been my slumber-summoning escapade of chapter 2. It goes without saying that my writings would be of decidedly lower spirits had the torturers put me to the test as well. It is a test they would have failed, of course, but no doubt the experience would have been unpleasant all the same. Naturally, upon discovering who exactly it was that they held, the Dominion cowards refused to so much as approach my cell for any other reason than to bring my bi-daily rations of bread, meat, and water. As if a Telvanni wizard needs to eat! Ha!

Of course, I could have left any time I wished, but there was a Bosmeri rebel in the cell adjacent to mine who -to my uncommon shock- was not only a passable conversationist, but a mer of no small understanding of the limen -the very subject that had brought me to Valenwood! In hindsight, this makes perfect sense, for if there are elves to be found in Dominion lands who are even remotely capable of unconventional thought, they would of course be confined to the prisons. I proposed my hypothesis to the mer, which provoked a five day long discussion that culminated in one of the uncomprehending jailers promptly cutting out my new friend's tongue in a drunken rage. No matter. For all his skill in oration, he had always been an even better listener. To the great fortune of the jailers, someone must have ordered them not to even try harming me. A rare display of intelligence from the Dominion. ...

[Passage ends]
 

***
 

"Warden says I can do whatever I want with you, gray-skin," hissed the torturer. "So long as you don't die."

Endar groaned feebly. Never in his too-short life had he felt this way before. The pain was bad, but nothing unprecedented. He had felt sensations like it long ago, before he learned to nullify such distractions. However, the powerlessness was something new and frightening. Many a silence curse had failed to so much as soften him, but these Aldmeri magicks were unlike any he had ever witnessed! It would have driven him to anger if not for the bouts of agonizing pain that persisted in distracting him away from it. 

"Maybe I should take your tongue again," the brute continued. "Taking it the last time was the most fun I've had in weeks. How's it feeling, anyhow? Did it re-attach okay?"

Endar tried to respond, but all he managed was a weak Mmph, prompting a laugh from his captor. "Of course, I don't know what you expected, talking to yourself for five days straight like that. Of course we cut it out! But I guess a month in forced hyperagonal stasis will do that to anyone, huh?"

He raised his head to look the torturer in the eyes. They were golden and full of malicious joy. He was a mer who loved his job. You're not better than me, Endar wanted to say. None of you. You're all worms.

The torturer responded to his unspoken words by removing his left eye and turning it towards him. Red. "Don't worry. We'll grow it back."


***
 

[Passage begins]

... I should not neglect to mention that for all their discourtesy, the Dominion did not once fail to bring me my food and drink. And despite my lack of immediate need, I did on occasion sample the morsels for the sake of research. What I found was that even in these lowly dungeons where many are condemned to die, the food is surprisingly tolerable. Somewhere near the prison must be a talented baker. They even salted the meat. ...

[Passage ends]


***
 

"We call it the Wood Elf diet," said the jailer as he kicked a plate under the humming, rune-covered bars. Endar did not need to ask why they called it that, but after months in isolation, with no magic and no comforts of any kind, he was beyond caring. He ate every bite.
 

***
 

[Passage begins]

... and so I decided that one week was enough and took my leave.

As I stated before, it was a learning experience. Now I understand the Aldmeri Dominion and their incessant, never-ending desire to prove themselves in a way that I could not have hoped to prior to my stay in their prison. I understand their foolish (and frankly narcissistic) notions of domination and power. They think themselves better than the rest of us, but it is not so. Through my observations, I have come to the conclusion that deep down, they are all too aware of their inadequacies, and it pushes them to fight all the harder to overcome them. Do not mistake any of this for a weakness that can be exploited. It makes them dangerous. It makes them a foe that will do anything to show the world what they can do. ...

[Passage ends]
 

***
 

The sunlight nearly blinded Endar as he was marched out of the prison that had housed him for nearly six months. Three Attendants of Alaxon were waiting for him. They smiled when the warden unlocked his shackles. "Such a shame," said the one whose decorative garb suggested he might have been the leader. Endar had never heard a voice more smug. "I hear you were a good little heretic. No doubt the jailers hate to give you up."

"Indeed," said the warden. "Endar and I have become like best friends. Isn't that so, Telvanni?"

The high elves snickered. What felt like a lifetime ago, Endar would have melted their insides then and there, but he could hardly stand, and even with his shackles removed it would be some time before his magicka was even close to restored.

"Still," continued the lead Attendant. His voice grew more serious. "If it were up to me, you'd have died in there, dark elf. Or better yet, we'd cut you down here and now."

"Why can't you?" asked the warden.

"Orders. Some wood elf came and paid a ransom for him. There is a first time for everything, I suppose."

"I didn't know the Attendants of Alaxon took ransoms."

"It was a big ransom. The Bosmer came with a cartload of gems. Said that he misses their 'talks'." The Attendant shrugged. "Besides, we got everything we wanted from him. He's not an enemy. He's hardly even a threat. Look at him."

Laughing, the Dominion soldiers loaded Endar into a locked carriage and sent him north. He never found out where it was bound, for on the second day he destroyed the carriage with one spell and teleported away with another. He never finished his research in Valenwood either, but that hardly mattered now. Valuable though those secrets may be, they would not make him stronger or fix his inadequacies. He was better than the blasted Dominion. He was better than any man or mer alive. And one day, he would prove it.

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4th Era 187
Karth River Village


Asgen touched his shoulder and winced. The blood on his fingers was warm and sticky.

"Forsworn scum!" screamed the old Nordic fisherman who had cut him, even as the man himself lay on the ground with half a dozen wounds of his own. "There'll be no Sovngarde for you. You will burn with the devils you worship!"

"Asgen, come," commanded Ubba from somewhere nearby. There was a time when Ubba would have mocked him even in the heat of battle, but being named 'War Harbinger' had tempered the young huntsman, forced him to at least act like a leader. That, and the fact that at eighteen winters, Asgen was starting to become noticeably bigger than him.

"Wait," said Asgen. "I would speak to the man I've killed."

"Piss on that," grunted the fisherman. He feebly reached for his sword, which Asgen kicked out of reach. "I'd sooner swallow my tongue than use it to trade words with the likes of you, savage."

"Asgen, come." 

Ignoring his Harbinger, Asgen knelt down so he could speak to his foe up close. "And why is that, Nord? I've sent you to your god. You ought to thank me."
The older Nord spit blood on his cheek. Asgen wiped it off with his fingers and then grinned as he used it to paint a mark of Alrabeg on the dying man's forehead. "You deserve this. All of you. Tell Sheor I said so... He might even agree."
The Nord made a sound that wasn't unlike a growling wolf, and then Asgen took up his sword and plunged it through the man's chest.

Soon after, a firm hand clasped his shoulder, and with a frustrated voice, Ubba asked, "Are you done?"

Asgen shoved the hand away and faced the War Harbinger with the most insolent look his could muster. "Not even close."

The village was not very large. Built where the western bank of the Karth River bent inward, it survived entirely on fishing and mining. The inhabitants were an old breed of Nord. The sort who still understood the gods enough to know that blood was their favorite currency. As such, most of the men had been proud to answer Jarl Igmund's call to take up arms against the free people of the Reach. Eleven years had passed since then, since these very men ravaged Karthwasten and spilled the blood of Reachmen and their own kin alike. Most of those soldiers had long since returned home to their families. Now was the time for revenge.

The Forsworn started with the bridge. The shamans wove shadows around it in the dead of night. Come morning, the bridge was gone and the Nords had nowhere to flee when the pillagers surged into their homes with fire and axes. The men and women who fought back were killed. Those who didn't were sacrificed to the old gods. The elderly were butchered for their crimes of the past, and the young were taken as slaves or to use as bait for other Nords. The shrines were desecrated and the houses were looted and burned. When the raid was finished, the gravesingers moved in and laid their curses upon the ash-covered grounds before raising the dead as pack mules. 

By midday, the war party had moved on. They traveled five days southwest to the main fork in the river, and then crossed the chilly shallows on foot, losing just one slave and two corpses in the process. From there, it took them three more days to reach their hideout in the northern Druadachs, where the remainder of what had once been the Bittermouth clan awaited. Their home was too deep in the mountains to be visible from the major roads, but any fool lucky enough to venture off the beaten path without getting an arrow in their chest would eventually happen upon a sprawling dale encampment. Dozens of bonfires stippled the valley, each surrounded by thrice as many thick hide tents. At the center was a longhouse, and to the south a few hundred goats and dozens of horses and cattle grazed on the summer grass. The mountains to the east and west were steep and dotted with caves, each one decorated with totems and paint. It was not the worst place that the nomadic Bittermouths had made their home, but after five years most of them were itching to move somewhere more bountiful. Unfortunately, the King in Rags needed soldiers near the border, and when the king gives an order, even the strongest clans listen.

Excited spouses and children came running upon the war party's return, to embrace their loved ones and admire the treasures they had brought back. The line of Nordic zombies shuffled to the longhouse and deposited the bulk of the spoils at the feet of Chieftain Walfild, who would spend the next day deciding how it would all be distributed. The slaves were sent to the Matriarch's cave so that she could lay first claims. They did not bring back livestock this time. Few of the river towns had any, and what little the war party found was butchered and eaten while on the march.

The eager bustle that accompanied their return would not end for some time. Many of pillagers who had wives or husbands found them and went somewhere more private, but the remainder unloaded a few plundered mead casks and began the celebrations. Before long, the entire valley was alive with song, dance, sex, and magic.

... Almost the entire valley, at least. Asgen Tyne was rarely one to miss out on celebrations, least of all when they involved copious amounts of drinking and boasting, but that evening he was not in the mood. In fact, he'd hardly spoken two words since his war party left behind that final ruined village. Before the first song had even broken out, he'd started southwest, in the direction of a little hollow that he and his sister had claimed years ago. They had a tent, of course, but that was seldom the best place to go when one did not want to be disturbed. The cave was small, just one room not much bigger than the tents, but a strip of horse hide blocked the entrance so that the departing sunlight only just filtered in at its edges. 
His sister wasn't there, but he'd already guessed that. If she wasn't preoccupied with her big summoning project, she would have been waiting for his return with the other pillagers' family members. Not entirely sure what to do, Asgen threw his battered sword onto the ground and fell down beside it.

When Faida found him several hours later, his back was against the painted wall. His head was in his hands and there was blood on both the floor and his knuckles. She knew at once what had happened.

"You found them."

"Yeah," Asgen looked up at his sister, putting on his best effort at a proud smile. "They're dead. All of them. We burned their village to the ground."

"Oh, Brother," Faida cast a dim lighting spell, then moved beside him and wrapped an arm around his shoulder. She was beyond happy that Asgen was back, but he could not fool her with his fake smiles. "Talk to me."

He nodded and dropped the act. "I knew their faces. Even the ones I'd forgot, they came back to me when I saw them. Like we were children again back in Karthwasten. They weren't ready this time. Didn't have armor. Most of them didn't even have weapons. It was easy... And I've wanted them dead for so long..."

"We've wanted them dead," Faida reminded him. It was a rare thing that one of the twins could not understand the other's pain, but in that moment, she was as confused as he was upset. This was not her brother's first raid, not even close, and every time Asgen left, he did so hoping that the Forsworn raids would bring him face-to-face with the Nords who attacked their village. "I should have gone with you."

"Horothma wanted you here. Your project-"

"Fuck Horothma. Going with you wouldn't have changed anything."

Asgen went quiet. Even in private, cursing the Matriarch was not wise. He waited a few seconds, hoping that some dark magic wouldn't kill them where they sat. When that didn't happen, he answered, "I wish you'd gone too."

"But it's over now. You killed them, just like we wanted. Why are you so upset?"

"I don't know. I thought killing them would feel different than it did... that it would feel good. Like it would fix things. But it was just another raid, no different than what they did to us." He could tell that Faida still didn't understand. "Don't worry about it. I think one of 'em hit me on the head. Got me shaky. I just need rest."

"Brother, you can lie to anyone else, but not to me." She removed her arm from his shoulder and scooted so that they faced one another. "Help me understand what's wrong."

He sighed, smiling for real this time, though it was a sad smile. "You say we wanted those Nords dead, but I know you never cared the way I did. You just act like it so I'm not alone."

It was true, and Faida should've guessed that he knew. She was better at keeping secrets than her brother, but nowhere near as good a liar, much less to him. "Even so, I really do wish I'd gone with you."

"I know. But you've got more important things to do. You're learning from the Matriarch herself. Me? I don't know what I'm doing here."

"What do you mean? This is our clan."

"You know it's not. The Bittermouths never cared about us before that night, and they're not even real anymore. We're all just 'Forsworn' now." He gave a helpless shrug. "That was well and good when I wanted- thought I wanted revenge, but now all those bastards are dead and nobody's better off for it but some king in some prison in some city we've never seen. You and me sure aren't."

"Do you miss home?"

"I barely remember it."

She nodded, understanding. "Maybe soon, things will change. This Rag King's war can't last. These caves won't be our home forever."


***
 

Days passed, and the former Bittermouths returned to their normal routines. Asgen spent most of his time in the hills, hunting or watching the roads with his fellow warriors, while Faida continued her tutelage under Horothma. Some of the others still didn't like that the Matriarch has chosen her as an apprentice instead of any of the numerous other shamans whose ancestors had walked the Reach for eras, but none of them had summoned the aspect of a god at the age of twelve, so Faida never took their jealous eyes very seriously.

Hagraven is what the people of bricks and walls called the ancient crone. A fitting name, though one Faida and her brother learned not to use in her presence many years ago. It was said that she had once been a beauty of a woman, but the old magics of their people had changed her into something that the outlanders would consider an abomination, all bent and feathered, with black eyes and a contorted face that always seemed wicked in its expression. Worse than any of that was the Matriarch's stench, which was always that of a dead and rotting animal.

"She could look like a person again if she wanted," a pillager named Gart once told Faida. "It's in her power. The Matriarch cares little for the standards of mortals."

Faida knew it to be true. For as repugnant as Horothma might have been, none of them had ever seen a creature so powerful. Sometimes she seemed half a god herself. Before the Forsworn came to be, the Bittermouths had often waged war on other clans, and no matter their rivals' numbers or the skill of their warriors and shamans, the Matriarch ensured that they laid waste to them all. It was her secrets that gave them shadow weavers and gravesingers, and her divinations that kept them on a safe course.

It had been over five years since the crone chose Faida as her sgoilag, her apprentice, following a great summoning the Tyne twins had performed to the benefit of the entire clan. 
Only thirteen at the time, Faida had been terrified. Horothma was well known for her cruelty, even towards members of the clan. But beneath the Matriarch's cruel black eyes, there had been a trace of something else. Asgen believed that it was respect, but Faida felt it was more like the look of a huntsman who was proud to have acquired a healthy new hound.

It was soon after that the Bittermouths arrived at their new home, and a room was set up much deeper in the caves than any of the rest. It was many times the size of the little hollow she and her brother lived in, and so perfectly round that Faida could not believe that it was a natural formation. Unlike the other inhabited parts of the cave, there were no torches or holes in the wall to let in light from outside. Instead, clusters of luminescent green mushrooms glowed dimly, casting a web of jagged shadows between the equally clusterous stalagmites that rose from the floor. The ceiling was high and too dark to see, but the occasional the screeches and fluttering of bats served as a reminder that it was more than just a void. Sometimes, usually when her mind was focused on some spell or ritual, Faida heard other things up there as well. Things that sounded larger and much more sinister.

Faida called it the Black Room, and it was here that her true education began. Long ago, her mother coached her in spells and lesser alchemy. She explained the nature of the Earth Bones, and how they could be manipulated by daughters of the right blood like them. At seven winters, Faida had not truly understood what most of what it meant. In the years after Karthwasten, Faida had often learned by eavesdropping on the Bittermouth shamans and brazenly explored the mysteries of the Grey all on her own. She learned some runecraft this way, and taught herself how to summon monsters and speak to the gods in the proper tongue.
But all these lessons were trivial, the stuff of hedge conjurors and thin-blooded witches. Horothma showed Faida things that the shamans of the Reach could not have dreamed up in their darkest nightmares, how to understand the dead as though one herself and to weave shadows like silk. She showed her how to impose her will on the land not with magicka, but with the older ways known only by the older gods... and those they favored.

When Faida first hugged her brother and walked into the darkness, it was during a time when most of the Bittermouths would have rather seen the Nordic youths as slaves than equals. Now she was their superior. Not in rank, experience, or any kind of seniority -Faida was the leader of nothing- but in the fear she commanded. the Reach, this counted for more than any of those things. And in that currency, she was rich indeed. Faida rarely joined the Forsworn on their raids, and for the most part she only practiced her craft inside the Black Room. Only the Matriarch knew what she was capable of, and to the Forsworn of the northern Druadachs, Faida was much like the creatures that dwelt high in the Black Room: unknowable, and therefore more terrifying than any beast or man that could be seen.

Even Asgen did not understand. Not really. He did not fear her like the rest, but even as her twin, he could not comprehend the things she'd seen and learned. He was not made to, Horothma once said, but that had not stopped Faida from trying to explain her craft to him more times than she could hope to remember. Once, she had even involved him in a very taboo ritual that, if successful, would grant her brother an audience with a spirit of the earth bones that the Matriarch claimed was nearly as old as their gods. Halfway through, Asgen promptly screamed before collapsing to the ground. He suffered violent nightmares the next two nights, but remembered nothing of the ritual itself or of what he'd seen that made him scream.

That was the last time Faida pushed to include her brother in her training. Asgen did not mind, and in fact was very encouraging despite being left out. "You can get good at setting people on fire, and I'll get good at hitting them with sticks," he liked to joke, though he knew that her arts went far deeper than that. "We'll be the terrors of the Reach!"

"Of the world," she would say right back.

A week after her brother's return, Faida stood in the Black Room, deep in thought. She wondered if their little phrase would ever come to pass. Not even Horothma was a terror of all the world. But that could simply be because the Matriarch did not wish it so. The crone was pacing in front of her now, muttering in a guttural whisper as she often did after an extended divination. Very suddenly, Horothma's eyes snapped to Faida, which on its own had once been enough to frighten her just like it did everyone else in the clan. A single black talon was pointed her way. "Clever Brother wants to leave. And you, Greater Sister?"

"I don't know what I want," she answered, honestly. Not that the Matriarch would have been tricked by any lies. "I don't care about the Nords, the Forsworn, or the King in Rags."

"Nor I. Cretins, all. But these are his reasons. Leaving, his desire. Your brother had nothing here. You have everything."

"He has me," Faida said back, a little more forcefully than she intended. But it was too late to backtrack now. "He wouldn't leave without me."

"Affection makes him weak. Makes you weak too. He will leave and you will follow. All potential, squandered."

If Faida did not know any better, she'd have thought that Horothma sounded regretful. She did know better, however. The Matriarch might have been a thousand years old and would likely live for thousands more. Faida could be her only student in an entire generation, and she'd still just be one out of hundreds. "We aren't weak."

"He is. You, there is hope for. Potential unbridled. Go now. Soon, we speak to the gods."

Faida walked past the center of the chamber, where a number of ritual components had been set upon a stone table. At present, they including the bones of a dream scamp and hair from a human witch, both sprinkled with vampire's ash. She still lacked the trapped soul of a veteran knight and the blood of a priest riddled with plague, but two of their best Briarheart ravagers had been sent west in search of these things nearly two months ago and could return any day.

It was to be as great a summoning as Faida had ever performed. Since Spring ended, much of her time had been spent in preparation for it. When not asleep, eating, or with Asgen, she could usually be found in this spot, or more precisely, her body could be found in this spot. Faida's consciousness was more often some place else entirely, probing the edges of the worlds that were not her own, seeking out spirits both great and common, dominating and questioning them, learning what would be needed to call upon the old god she now sought. It had taken months, but Faida had her answer, and for the first time, the work was entirely her own.

This was not without risks, of course. In fact, Horothma had made it clear that if something went wrong, it was very possible that even she would not be able to save Faida from whatever horrors their cruel god decided to inflict. But she had performed many summonings and spoken with many spirits. While nowhere near the master that the Matriarch was, Faida was far from a novice, and she felt confident that this would work.


***
 

That evening, she returned outside a mess of emotions. There was of course the expected anticipation for the summoning, with all the excitement and nervousness that entailed, but also a certain amount of concern for her brother. She wasn't sure which feeling was greater at the moment.

Faida found Asgen by one of the bonfires, regaling a group of children with tales of the time he had slain Gulibeg, an aspect of Lord Hircine. It had not taken long for his dark mood to fade once he'd gotten used to being back in camp. Though Faida knew his feelings persisted, her brother's normal good spirit was at full strength, which he demonstrated to the small gathering now.

"... our lord was not content to merely take on the form of a greater stag than any to grace the Reach, no... the beast he appeared as was tall as a juniper tree and broad like a bear. His antlers could be mistaken for mammoth tusks- but with spikes! And yet, his step was graceful, lighter than a bird in flight. This was not a beast to be felled by skill alone. Only through patience and cleverness can one track such a creature. But I did. Three days alone, I spent, battling the cold and beasts of the wild with not but my furs, my bow, and a dagger made of bone. It was a brutal hunt, and the beast eluded me at every turn..."

Faida folded her arms and tried to hide her grin as Asgen went on to describe his hunt in the most exaggerated and embellished fashion imaginable. Some of it was downright untrue, but the children either couldn't tell or didn't care. Storytelling was a gift of Asgen's, as was talking and commanding attention in general. Even some of the adults were now gathering to listen, and seemed enthralled despite the fact that most of them had seen the great stag's corpse with their own eyes and could not have possibly believed her brother's fables.
Even now, most of the once-Bittermouths could never love a Nord, but where they had come to respect Faida through fear, many had come to at least tolerate, even enjoy, Asgen through pure charisma.

"Many a great battle has been fought by the brave warriors of the Reach," he stated. "And I can't say whether my name belongs in the annals alongside those greats. That is for you to decide. But I can say that after such a mighty struggle, when I plunged my knife into Gulibeg's heart, I felt as if one with the legendary Red Eagle himself. I tell you this, I felt something in that moment, something other than his blood running down my fingers and pain from the wounds he inflicted with those antlers. It was like the hand of some heroic spirit was on my shoulder, congratulating me."

The slack-jawed children cheered and bombarded him with questions, which he was all too happy to answer until one boy piped up. "How did you get him back?"

Asgen blinked. "Huh?"

"He was so huge. How did you bring him back all on your own?"

Asgen hesitated just enough for Faida to chip in. "The river, of course." All eyes turned to her, their confusion evident. "Why, did my brother not tell you he was beside the river? As it happens, our camp back then was down- I mean upstream. Many miles, in fact. Trees were sparse, and he salvaged just enough wood to build a raft. And then used Gulibeg's antlers as oars to paddle home."

The children looked to Asgen with renewed awe. Before another torrent of questions could erupt, he grinned and told them that he needed to go now. The children scattered, no doubt to find their own bows and start playing as huntsmen or practicing to become real ones. Faida joined her brother as the two of them headed for their tent. "What were you going to say?"

"I'd have told them that my dear sister magicked the stag home for me, of course."

She rolled her eyes and laughed, knowing damn well that's not what he'd have said. In Asgen's stories, Asgen was always the hero. She didn't mind. In fact, she preferred it that way. She knew that he would have included her in them more if he thought it otherwise.

"So," Asgen continued, "Is there anything new from the Black Room?"

"Still waiting on the Briarhearts." She hesitated, but wasn't about to keep secrets from her brother. "Horothma believes that you want to leave the clan."

"Does she?" Asgen shook his head. "Well, seer or not, she doesn't know everything."

He couldn't lie to her. "Asgen..." 

"Fine, aye, I've thought about it." His tone became slightly defensive. "But it ain't something I've planned or anything like that. I wouldn't leave without you anyhow, and I know you've got your training so that's not happening. It's just something I've thought is all. Gods, she is powerful isn't she?"

"Incredibly." Though Faida was not entirely sure if even Horothma had the power to know how a person feels or thinks without even seeing them. She wondered if there wasn't more to it. Some kind of dream-invasion perhaps. If that was it, Faida would need to speak with her. Her brother's dreams were his own.

They went on to talk about other things as they made their way for their tent. A scouting party had returned with word that there was talk of strife in High Rock's Iliac Bay region, meaning that the hated King Gaerhart's attention would be to the south. There would never be a better time to fortify and expand the Western Reach, particularly now that the the clans were more united than they had ever been. But no such orders had come from the King in Rags, and the various chieftains seemed to be in agreement that they would not abandon the east unless he willed it.

Asgen was disappointed. While he didn't care much about the west or the Bretons, the confusion he had felt about his waning hatred for the Nords had gradually turned to full-on acceptance. Now that the men who'd taken his home from him were dead in the ground like so many others, he found it hard to go on despising the rest as his fellow Forsworn did. Blood and kinship mattered to the Reachmen, and the Nords were his kin. Maybe the others could wage war on his race, but the more Asgen thought on it, the less comfortable he became with the prospect. He hoped that things would change and they would go west, but so far this imprisoned king of theirs seemed solely focused on Markarth and the Nords.

"He wants revenge," Asgen said to Faida, after filling her in on all the details he'd been told. "For what the Jarls did to them at Markarth." Asgen didn't know it for certain, but he was pretty damn sure. Until very recently, he had felt the exact same way. "If he wanted to build us a kingdom, we'd go west and have one, but what he wants is blood. I don't think any of this will last. What he's after won't lead anywhere."

He knew that war and politics were not as interesting to his sister as the effects they had on the clan, so he was a little surprised by the uneasy look she took on. "So we're not leaving the valley?"

"Not any time soon. He wants us here to keep an eye on the north."

"Shame. I was ready for a change of scenery." She shrugged. "Ah well. Even if the King in Rags leads the Forsworn wrongly, we will still have Horothma. Even the Nords will not be a problem for her."

Asgen was less sure about that. But then, his sister knew the Matriarch better than anyone. "Hopefully this summoning of yours will clear things up. Maybe ask the old gods if they can put some ideas in the king's head, eh?"
 

***
 

The days became weeks, and then a month. Finally, the Briarhearts returned, one missing his left eye and sporting numerous cuts, but in their possession were the final two components needed for the ritual. It filled Faida with relief to finally place them on the stone table. She was nervous, but she did her best to subdue the feeling and concentrate on the task at hand.

A slave was brought to the Black Room, a freshly-captured Nord who was young and fit. His physique and defiant stare made her curious as to how the warriors managed to capture him alive. But then, she had requested someone strong. Maybe they'd anticipated difficulty decided to bring a shaman along with them.

Whatever the case, his strength was of little use now. The same two Briarhearts who had found her final components dragged him to the center of the Black Room with grips like iron cuffs, then chained him to the spot with actual iron cuffs. The Nord cursed her, of course, but half of the insults made no sense and the other half she actually found rather funny. Still, Faida showed no trace of interest in the man or his words as she set about painting a runed-laden circle around him with the diseased priest's blood, then proceeded to place the various other components around the circle in their intended positions.

With everything in place and the conditions all met, Faida recited the incantation in the old tongue favored by the gods. She had practiced the words many times over, and did not stumble or stutter on a single syllable. No doubt, the Nord was terrified, but she could not focus on him. Nor on the sound of her own voice or even the watchful eyes of Horothma in the corner. When she was done, the glowing mushrooms withered and dimmed, bringing the Black Room ever closer to its name.

There was silence, though in her mind's eye Faida could detect movement from above. The creatures of the mountain had suddenly become fearful and restless.

The quiet was broken by a low wind-like noise that seemed to rush in from everywhere at once until it surrounded the chained Nord. Faida heard a shriek that was cut off almost instantly, and then a *snap*. The room fell silent once more, save for the deep breathing of the prisoner, and a foul smell, worse even than Horothma's, began to emit from the circle.

In this new darkness, the Nord was barely a silhouette, but Faida knew at once that the figure standing before her was no longer the one she'd brought in. It had worked!

She remained composed. Still speaking in the old tongue, she addressed the old god. "Dark Lady, it is good of you to answer my summons."

The Nord's body was looking around. Though Faida could not see its eyes, she could tell that they were being aimed at the bloody circle around it’s feet, and then when its head turned up, she could feel them staring into her soul. When it spoke, the Nord's voice remained, though it was off. Wrong. Its new master spoke deeper and responded in the same language that Faida used. "You made them difficult to ignore. But why have you bound me to this spot? I do not speak to mortals as an equal. Release me now. Your god demands it."

"You know I cannot do that, my Lady. I make these offerings and beseech you. Grant me your wisdom. Grant me your insight. I open my mind to you without fear."

The thing's head cocked slightly to one side. "Enticing. Very well. You know what you must do, witch."

She did. Faida stepped up to the circle and drew her trollbone dagger. This was the dangerous part. The Dark Lady was rare among her kind, capable of pulling the minds of mortals into her realm almost at will. It was enough to drive many mad. Once removed from the Nord's body, she would have a brief moment of freedom that could be exploited in a great many ways. It was up to Faida and the precautions she had taken to ensure that the the old god acted in her interest.

The possessed Nord watched her raise the dagger, and made no effort to resist as she plunged the blade into its heart. The thing did not flinch. In fact, even as it bled from its chest, it looked down at the blade as if examining a scab. "That should do it," the Dark Lady mused.

Faida pulled out the dagger and took a step back. Then the two of them waited. Half a minute passed before the Nord's body started to sway, and then promptly collapsed to the ground. 

Immediately, Faida started chanting again, reciting the ancient verses from memory.

"Dark Lady, Gifter of Omens, venture not from my side... Dark Lady, Weaver of Panoply, my dreams are open to you... Dark Lady, Forbearer of Fear..."

As Faida chanted, the wind-like sound returned, this time surrounding her. Above, the creatures in the dark scrambled like mad. What little light still given off by the mushrooms was snuffed out entirely, and although she steeled herself, nothing could have prepared Faida for the overwhelming force that assaulted her essence, smacking into her like the club of a giant. Her eyes rolled back, her knees buckled, and she fell to the cavern floor.


~~~


Faida opened her eyes. She was no longer in the cave, nor even the camp. The wooden floor beneath her was smooth and sturdy. The air smelled of spices and smoked meat. Climbing to her feet, she found herself confronted with an impossible sight: Her home. Her real home. This is impossible, she thought as she looked around the quiet little dwelling. They burned it.

"Faida?"

She turned. Coming down the stairs was her mother, garbed in her brown robe with the feather decorations. She was dark haired, fair skinned, and had eyes that were the iciest of blues. Only now that she was grown did Faida realize how much she and Asgen favored their mother. "Ma?"

Her mother nodded, smiling, and said in a sweet voice. "You need to leave." Then the smile twisted into a sinister grin, and before Faida's eyes, her body started to bend and creak. Her skin sagged, pulling away from the bones like melted wax. While Faida screamed, the woman cackled and black feathers sprouted from her back and arms. Faida tried to run, but it was as though her legs had been rooted in place. She could only watch and cry as her mother's transformation into a hagraven was complete.

Forbearer of Fear. The words jumped into Faida's mind like a shield tossed to an unarmed warrior. We are here together, the goddess and me.

The spark of lucidity gave her courage, emboldened her. Faida closed her eyes and enacted her will on the dream. When she opened them again, she was surrounded by absolute darkness. From the black, a voice spoke. It was neither male nor female, not old or young. It was deep and powerful, the voice of an old god.

"You will walk with the ancient."

The darkness parted before her, up and down akin to an eyelid opening. As the black peeled back, it revealed a gigantic glassy-looking orb that was filled with shadows. They shifted and swirled, and appeared almost liquid in their makeup. Then the shadows suddenly drew together at the orb's center and deepened. It IS an eye, she realized. And it was focusing on her. Faida peered back, but the shadow was an endless well. It terrified her far more than the vision of her mother ever could have.

The darkness surrounding the 'eye' edged down like the thing was squinting, but then behind it emerged a bright light that almost blinded her. It formed a star around the eye, and as it expanded, the darkness was driven away. The last thing she saw before being completely blinded was the shadowy eye glaring intensely at her from the center of the star. And then the voice spoke once more.

"Delve deep."


~~~
 

Faida jolted awake, and observed from the smell that she was in the darkened Black Room once more. She cast a light spell and slowly climbed to her feet. The Nord prisoner was dead, of course, and the old god who had inhabited his body had no doubt returned to its realm.

Something moved behind her. Turning, Faida drew her dagger and started to mutter a hex. But instead of... whatever shadow-eyed monster she'd expected, it was Horothma who awaited her. She resisted the urge to shudder as the image of her hagraven mother returned to mind. After a few moments' hesitation, she allowed her voice to break the uncomfortable silence. "It worked."

"Yes," the old crone said with a nod. "You are fortunate, and not without skill."

Faida wondered if the Matriarch had seen what she'd seen. If the crone could invade dreams, then who was to say that she hadn't done so with hers? I'd have felt her, she reminded herself. She'd felt the old god. Surely Horothma wouldn't have been able to allude her. "I saw my mother."

"A powerful witch. You shall be a worthy heir."

"She was... like you."

The Matriarch nodded as if completely unsurprised. "What else?"

Faida told her about the darkness, the thing she believed to be an eye, and the star behind it. She told her about the voice, what it sounded like, and what it said. As she spoke, the crone's wrinkled features gradually tightened with each new piece of information, and by the end, the deep lines were so dark they almost looked like Forsworn paint. Horothma stood there for a long time, contemplating it all, and then at last, she quietly said, "Next time, another god. The Dark Lady plays with us."

Faida was a little disappointed with her answer, but right then her heart was still racing too fast for her to care. "I need to go see my brother."

"Go."

Faida left the chamber in a hurry. What she really needed to see was the sky. Some sun or moonlight, and fresh air to ease the terror that still gripped her bones. Once she put some distance between herself and the Black Room, Faida half-walked half-ran the rest of the way through the tunnels, and took in a deep breath of relief when she emerged outside to be greeted by the morning sun.

That... thing. The eye. It was unlike any spirits or gods she'd ever convened with. It was no mere nightmare. It wanted her dead. Was it the eye of the Dark Lady in her true form, or something the old god wanted Faida to see? And who was this "ancient" she would walk with? Where was she supposed to delve? Through it all, her mother's voice returned to her mind like an echo. You need to leave. 

Asgen was sitting on a tree stump outside their tent. His hands were busy chipping points into the brittle stone they used to make arrowheads. He looked up and grinned when he saw Faida approaching, but the look quickly faded when he saw his sister's expression. "What's wrong?"

She shook her head. "Later. My head hurts and I need some time to think."

He put down his tools and rose from his seat. "But it worked? It went like it was supposed to?" Asgen had been so worried during the night that he'd actually tried to enter the cave himself, but a pair of Briarheart guards blocked his way. When he finally fell asleep, he suffered nightmares about his mother and monsters made of darkness. It was all a blur now, but it did serve to further his unease about his sister's ritual. "What did you see?"

"I said, later!" she snapped, but upon seeing the hurt in Asgen's eyes, she immediately regretted it. "I'm sorry... it was just a lot a lot to take in." She nodded. "Yes. It worked."

He smiled to let her know he understood. "At this rate, you'll be the Matriarch before we get out of this valley. And without even turning ugly."

She laughed at that. Even after witnessing horrors beyond comprehension, Faida could count on her brother to brighten her mood. She decided to spend the rest of her day in the sun, using her talents to help out around the camp. Horothma and the Black Room weren't going anywhere. It was mostly busywork like brewing potions for the sick and poisons for the warriors, but all the while, she mulled over the vague messages that the old god had imparted her with. The sun was beginning to set when Faida came to a conclusion.

The second time she found Asgen, it was near the edge of camp. He was practicing his axe-throwing with a pair of fellow pillagers. She took him aside and asked in a hushed voice. "Do you still want to leave?"

"Wait, what?" His face took on a look of bewilderment.

"Do you still want to leave?"

"You mean the valley?"

"I mean the Forsworn. The Reach."

He hesitated, then nodded. "I feel the same as before. Why? Did Horothma say something else?"

She shook her head. "No... But I say we do it. Leave. You want to, and I need to find something. Something I won't find here."

Asgen stared at her. "Are you sure you're not still a little... off from the summoning?"

"Maybe I am, but I don't care." She smiled and put her hands on his shoulders, gripping them hard. "The moons will be dark in three nights. We'll be able to leave before anyone even knows."

Asgen's shock was slowly melting into excitement. "Where will we go?"

"Wherever we want."

He grinned at that. "I can fight. And you're as good as any shaman. Better. Why couldn't we make it out there?" He hesitated. "What about your training?"

"It's a big country. I can find someone else. Or maybe I'll just teach myself, like Ma."

With every word, Asgen was more convinced. "I've still got some valuables from the last raid. We can sell them for coin."

"And I can borrow some supplies and say it's for my work. Nobody will question it."

The twins stared at each other, both thinking the same thing. Are we really doing this? But the shared determination in their eyes was all the answer either of them needed. Damn the Forsworn and their hopeless war. Damn Horothma and her cravings for power. They were not children anymore. They could survive without any of it. And so the Tyne twins set to work, preparing to venture out into a world they had never known.

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It's always nice when your writing gets reinforced by the canon after you come up with it.

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Voice of the Insular Immaculate
Ethurmenas nyr-Rem

Author's Preface and Letter to the Patron

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Most gallant gentry folk, as spectacular it may be to consider
this, but the very parchment was not by the hands of Man,
nor by the hands of Mer, nor Beast, nor illusion visage. No,
this lay prestige is brought to existence by the hand of noble
Royal Roscrean. Kin to Giants and far flung of man, hoary and
ageless, perked of ear, broad and wide of brow and body.

Indeed we are ghastly of appearance but time and faith has
meld our noble lives belike that of civilized folk from Cyrodiil.
Know this all gallant men, our bright-shores bring inland all glory
that Cyrod Great and Far have brought. To say we are ignorant,
barbarous is a gross mark. Deep rooted is our love of the Imperial
culture, deep rooted is the tongue of commonalty, deep rooted are
the divines of none less than nine.

By the glory of Talos-by-the-Eight, think well of my people, and my writ.
If any is found lacking, then by no other fault is it but mine, and I ask
forgiveness for any muses to be found dullard. It is the hope that
most gallant and gentry patrons will put to heart, in good faith, the 
story of Roscrea.
Be good in faith.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 

Roscrea of Musses

As any true-worded Historiographer may speak, Roscrea was a realm divided into realms within realms. Harsh-Touched by Mother Hag, whom could not grasp all the island, her frozen fingers stretched from Atmora. Godsblessed and fortunate were we that green havens of warmth and plenty were left beyond her touch. Nestled and bountiful in oasis the sons of Roscrea, like rabid war hounds coveted one another. In vast and passionate Royal Basin, swaths of fortholding petty despots waged ignorant barbarous war against one another. With stone and tusk-tipped spear our ancestors knew not how pitiable their lives were, without benevolent Cyrod Great and Far. Yet while these ancestor-folk should be pitied for ignorance, there yet remains a true heathenish power. Dragon addled worshippers of high and flat Middland used great power of sin to usher glass and iron into spears and axes. There and then to here and now, they are doomed spiritually and culturally.
 

The Soothingtooth

In distant history, the great and mighty Uralseptim Soothingtooth came to blistered fortholdings of easternrealms. Though his might of arms shattered any warrior-hold that challenged he or his army of champion retainers, it was his beautiful words, without flaw and bearing the many-truths that swayed our ancestors. So the ancestors called this brave Cyrod, Soothingtooth! His uniting word brought all eastern born Roscrean to his beloved bannerheld, the beloved warrior-king beyond kings so loved our people that from ordained and true throat he SHOUTED splendor into our hearts. For this king beyond kings was ordained by higher gods. Though ignorant and heathenish the westernborn Roscrean could not comprehend his gifting shout, and so called him false in all things, and laid curses in tongues of horrible breath.


Ordained Royalty

The Soothingtooth in all his wisdom wished only goodness upon our ancestors. With those warrior-holds that challenged him smashed into amusing wretch-puddle, there remained only rewards to gift and incur loyalty. The loyal despotic nobility that which saw divinity in the Soothingtooth were not only allowed the pedestal of high nobility but were taken in the wing like father bird and shown something greater. Royal Roscreans were they and as am I, uplifting Cyrod Great and Far laid foundation for Atmoriant to live as proper civilized Imperial. The secret of steel, the secret of crop, the secret of great knowledge. These were gifted unto the Royal Roscrean and transformed our kin, from petty fort-builders to wealthy, intelligent, and prosperous estate landed nobility. There is no river to be found, nor lake, nor tributary in which there are not fine swaths of plantation estates. Ours is the rural world, power the Royal Roscreans hold in all things beyond cities and castles.


The New Ros

The time of Muss was passed, heralded by brilliant new ways of life. The lives of native Ros were not only that which changed, the champion retainers of the Soothingtooth settled deeply in all corners of the east. There many of Nord and Cyrod stock found wives and husbands among our people. These unions of biracial wedlock sprung a young new race unseen to the realm. Strong and stout yet not as great as we, brave and wise yet not as great as we. The Royal Ros saw faces of half and half, bodies of half and half. The grand nobility found the union utterly Vulgar, and so called the descendants of man and Atmoriant. Vulgar Ros. Though no harshness was brought to these sons and daughters, they were not true nobility and could never be as we the Royal Ros. Our linage, that of the Royal Ros, remains untouched by such vulgarity. Our love of Nord-and-Cyrod cannot fully extend to these offspring, and so few can take up our lifestyle in the landed Estates.


Insular Immaculate


The final voice of note. Though any man of Cyrodiil can find familiar standings in our realm, it is only we who are enlightened of the island. The Haafingar-Folk have overtaken rule in the west through golden annexation and I find little familiar of their Dowry Hold. They are Nordic through and through, and lack the sophistication the Cyrods and Royal Ros, who are blessed with cultural and spiritual upliftings. Abhorrent kinsmen of the high and flat Middland are yet still untouched by our ways, and scorn our splendor. They are hopeless heathens, attached to a dead religion and near monotheistic of worship. Finally the terrifying theology of white cloaked visage, they are unlike anything of warmth and comfort. Their way is that of mystery and obscure faith, there is nothing to love or enjoy in their frozen-minded way.

Ours is the only true way.

Blessings of the divines, of which there are no less than nine.
Blessings of the divine Talos-by-the-Eight.
Third faithful blessing to the court of Cyrod, may the tower stand forever.

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Boreal Lowlands, Myrumbrian Tundra, Boarstruffles and the Clans of Bone.
Ethurmenas nyr-Rem, Second Edition
Date of Publication, 4E 103

 

Author's Preface and Letter to the Patron

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Most gallant gentry folk, it is the assumption
of this collection of parchments that the patron
has concluded their reading of the previous piece
in this collection. Of which seeks to replace the
aged and rather incorrect of statement Imperial
Pocket Guide's Upperboral Provinces.

The patron can trust with assurance of the
abilities of one most long-written author. As
good standing member of the local Geographical
Society branch, it falls within my sphere to educate
the most noble of patrons to the histories of beloved
Roscrea.

In this endeavor, since the publication of the previous
collection, Voice of the Insular Immaculate, I, the author
has partaken a tremendous journey of census taking and
histographic work across the island. Indeed the years were 
most kind between this writing and the previous work.
Eight years spent away from familiarity, it is the opinion
of the author that he has grown in experience. Still
should anything of my writ be found lacking or dullard
I ask forgiveness, it is no fault but my own.
Be in good faith.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Beyond the Oasis-Havens

Roscrea, woefully witnessed the fate of Atmora, cursed and frozen, with Mother Hag's harsh-touch. This god-spirit of Fryse Hags' worship held deep desire to include Roscrea within her forlorn realm, she weaved frozen ocean, breathed frost-cursed monsoon, and harsh-touched the island with infinite winter. Though her power waned with the kingdom of death in northrealm Atmora. Grasping and spiteful the death spirit was but lacking of mettle to destroy the bright-splendor in full. So spoke I, of bountiful lands of still-green. Short summers do we still encounter, when ice comes to our realms, it melts right and proper. We return spite with spite. Civilization, both blessed by Cyrod Great and Far, and otherwise has overcame the death spirit's desires. It was written previously of the realms settled and long sprouted of roots. Yet in wide swaths of little number, there are other ways of life. Whom roam the vast tundras or dwell in eternal hunt of the lowlands.


Boarstruffles and the Boreal Lowlands

Isolated from everyday thought, and indeed by excessive distance from civilization is the city-state of Boarstruffles. Though to consider it anywhere resembling a city is a gross mark. Roscrea in being a volcanic isle is by it's very nature, mountainous. Though all the remaining places of terrifying underground wrath remains in the Middland Plateau in the westernrealms, much of the island is sprung with high brow mountains of frozen pine forests. It is a wonder then that any wildlife can survive in the high mountains as surely without crop how could Atmoriant ever survive?

To this the answer lies in the boreal lowlands of central Roscrea, the undeveloped landscape is suitable for the most hardy of crops as the worst of winter is kept in the highlands. However, it is not the tending to farmsteads that the wild peoples of the lowlands occupy their livelihood with. These forester-folk are obsessive of Kyne and spend all their thoughts on the hunting, and taming of wildlife. Namely the massive boars native to the lowlands, but also saber cats, reindeer and bears. Nestled in the lowland valley at the cusp of a glacial river floodplain between three mountain ranges is the anomaly of Boarstruffles. 

Boarstruffles is the beating, rather literally I might add to the patron, heat of this hunter-gatherer lifestyle. It is a close knitted collection of a hundred and thirty structures called Brochs. Hollow dry stone structures typically surrounded by an outer wall with a few smaller structures for housing animals within. When one ponders about townships and cities, the consensus is a good collection of households, perhaps industry and a ruling keep, manor, palace or castle that governs said settlement, protected by some form of palisade. Boarstruffles is a peculiar thing of a great many walled households spread across the floodplain, each Broch can support an entire familiar clan. The settlement is not so much an urban center as a collection of cooperating, single minded clans each self governing within their Broch. The ruling body of Boarstruffles are the Elder Hunters Guild. A gathering of clan fathers of their households that preside within the, very apt equipped, mead hall.

Boarstruffles is by no means a place of squalor and struggle. Indeed what is really a confederation of clan-houses practically drown in their own kind of splendor. Boarstruffles serve as an invaluable crossroads between west and eastern Roscrea, which without the city-state would be impossible to traverse by land. Reindeer herding nomads from the west and mammoth riding nomads from the tundra make constant journeys across the island, with Boarstruffles at the center of it. Thus it is the true center of trade in all of Roscrea, a facet that is seldom thought of.

Yet it's head of trade between the nomads isn't the only thing of note, in fact it is dwarfed by the eternal occupation of it's peoples. It's familiar clans are master hunters, not one day passes where related kin bring in slain boars, of which infests the lowlands. Each month, hundreds of tusks are carved by the greatest bone-carvers of all the isle into tools, idols, weapons and even armor. The splendor of their hunters is on how decorated in bone they are. The great old hunters are equipped in full armors of boar tusk, carved into layers of lamellar. A terrifying sight to behold. They shun all metallurgy, their entire way of life revolves around hunter gathering and bone crafting. Salt from the Myrumbrian Tundra keeps the supply of meat from spoil and allows both healthy diet for the hunterfolk and to trade abroad. The wealthy that eat meat, eat boar meat. Hunted and killed in the lowlands, salted and traded.

They've remained unconquered and are passive in the affairs of other powers. The Soothingtooth understood the importance of Boarstruffles and as they made no resistance to his spectacular conquest, his armies of champion retainers never turned sword and spear against them. Neither has there been any land grants or settlement, for lack of industry, although wild Nords have made the lowlands their home. Religiously the folk of the lowlands follow a more archaic worship of the Nine, that being a more primitive fashion not too far off from that of Skyrim. Kyne is worshiped vehemently, their culture praises honorable conflict and noble hunting. It is good they remain in isolation, in tune with Kyne and forever in hunt. Otherwise I believe they would be unparalleled warriors, only madmen hunt wildlife as large as they!


Mammoth-Tribes of the Tundra

If Boarstruffles is the anomaly of settled life outside the oasis-havens of east and west, then the nomadic tribes of the Myrumbrian Tundra is the commonality found. They roam across the tundra and oft across the mountain valleys into the west and back again. The westernmost of the tundra is sprung in expansive forests of hardy-root pines that have long lost all leafs, this ancient forest is stagnant and will never grow again, with each frost rotten-tree felled it dwindles evermore. Eastward in a strange mirror of the Royal Basin, of which lies to the south of the most expansive tundra, the land is mostly flat with sparse patches of vegetation of and countless frozen rivers. In ancient times the great expanse of rivers, creeks and springs held a distant civilization, that flourished in the yet still green landscape. Now only frozen ruins of dragon worshiping ancestors dot the landscape.All that remains of what once might have been is the timberline between the River Ros and the Myrumbrian Tundra, a beautiful if not small stretch of of plentiful vegetation of colorful reddish brown shrubs and grass, rich for grazing but worthless of farmstead.

As one way of life dies, another springs up to replace it. So have the mammoth riding nomads, that dwell and roam as far back as written history. These native tribesmen, of which have absolutely no understanding of unity, are collections of families bound in kinship that eek out a living in the harsh permawinter landscape, far from warmth and comfort. It is not surprising that only Atmoriants can maintain this lifestyle, even the hardiest of Nords would freeze to death in the tundra as the nomads no nothing of fire and warmth. They hunt and fish below the frozen topped water while their mammoths grazed under the permafrost. They hardly consider themselves Roscrean, for they do not recognize that clan. There is nothing beyond kinship to these nomads and each clan might as well be a great kingdom in of itself, for the elder of the family is the highest authority. Often do they come into conflict with other clans, often times over the right to pan for salt or amber in a general area. The largest of these ever in migration clan conflicts are awe inspiring. The clan that took me within the family in my journey showed me ancient battlegrounds, where the bodies of Atmoriant and mammoths were left in permanent frost as landmarks. The unyielding cold preserving their corpses.

These nomads live by trading the amber and salt, of which the tundra is plentiful in, to both the Roscrean Principate, my realm of birth, and across the mountains to Boarstruffles and further west to the Haafingar-Folk and Middland Plateau. Salt is worth it's weight in gold, but what these nomads most pride themselves in is the taming and breeding of mammoths. Atmoriants cannot ride horses, of which there were none in Roscrea before the Soothingtooth. Indeed our mount of luxury and war has always been the mammoth, and nowhere else but the Myrumbrian Tundra are do they dwell anymore. It is an expensive thing to even maintain mammoths outside the tundra, it is far cheaper for men to own horses. Clans will travel great distances across Roscrea to sell prized breeds to the wealthy Atmoriants for exorbitant prices. The township of Myrumbricum, north of the River Ros is a primary trading hub for the wandering clans. Amber, salt and mammoths are bartered for us folk in the east and are much more plentiful of stead.

 

Thus let it be said that there is a way of life, in defiance to our situation, in the far off frozen landscape beyond the oasis-havens.

Blessings of the divines, of which there are no less than nine.
Blessings of the divine Talos-by-the-Eight.
Third faithful blessing to the court of Cyrod, may the tower beam forever.

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City of Ecoriobriga, Roscrea
Hymnal Shrine of Ald-Tusk
4E 201

Across all of Roscrea, never was there anything to excel in the power and grandeur of Ald-Tusk's Hymnal Shrine. No temple, nor any alter, or mead-talk dedicated to the foreign near-enemy Nine greater then which has been dedicated to the brother of Shor. In the heart of the ancient once-ruins of the old priestly seat of power in Roscrea, it's untouched radiance belike the Dov themselves was greater than even the king's palatial-citadel, as should all things divine and wondrous above the mundane are. Natives and foreign colonists alike are awed by it's majesty. It's rich interior was forthwith crafted by the pinnacle of holy sciences, and while the voices of gods have long left mortal ears deafened, they are yet still praised within. Priestly voices chanting in holy tongues echo with infinite brilliance and perfect tonal reverberance. So the faithful within hear the mighty voice of dragons echoing past mortal throats, affirming the grandeur with rites and holy edicts, they await and praise the return of the Ald-Tusk. The Epoch Mural, illuminated by the burning balefires and swinging candel-censers of priests showed a near perfect painted mural of the sky and clouds at the cusp of sunset, centered by the splendor of an wing-outstretched Ald-Tusk. Red of eye, immaculate of tusk, and black of wing, who's coming form promises a new dawn encompassed the shrine, from entrance to alter with the form of Ald-Tusk covering the brilliance of dawn behind his dark form. The words Eternity, Kalpa, Creator, were inscribed beneath Ald-Tusk in the old tongue of gods.

Thousands of years of reverence has come to fruition, visions of the communal priesthood foresaw the Return. They dreamed of annihilation and woke to the destruction wrought onto the sinful Nords in the far off land of Skyrim. And while the Nordic  world panicked and cried for the beast to sleep, the faithful Middlanders took to celebration and the preparation of funerary rites. They had their Kalpic salvation, accursed hall of Shor forsaken.

Adorned in full priestly garb, the Lord of Processions Alduacer Horned-of-Hymn, great great grandchild of the still-living King Cassivelogenos partook in holy sermon within the Hymnal Shrine.

"The promised end come, King of Dawn who's fire-stomach creates the succeeding world, we welcome you." He spoke first in the language of the nobility. The communal priesthood chanted praise to Ald-Tusk in the language of gods, the faithful attendants of the nobility bowed their heads as the echo-voice took to the path of vocal ascension.

Ald Awaken, break every seal, bestow your rite upon every being which existed as you willed it. We will burn and bleed for you, for you save us all.

"The funerary rites are preformed, we the righteous followers of godly writ have accompanied your will from earliest breath, to our final of which will be in your praise." The communal priesthood whispered fire into the censers, it's incense and ghostly purple hue shone light upon the Epoch Mural, and smoke mingled with the clouds. Again the priesthood chanted praise to Ald-Tusk in the language of gods. The adhering nobility partook in chant by invoking Ald's name, and it rung with the power of ancient kin who's echoes preserved in the shrine.

Ald Take Flight, spread your maw and clamp hard upon the snakes that betray your purpose. We will sing your war-glory into the afterlife.

"As father governs son, as lord governs father, as priest governs lord, as god governs priest. We adhere to the ancient writ, we the last of your faithful. Carry the souls of our forebears gently in maw, let us not slip into your stomach." The communal priesthood rumbled a chant in song, perfectly tuned their voice became one, the voice likened of a higher Dov.

Ald World-Eater, fly into the afterlife and release the warriors of yore from maw, sunder the hall of Serpent. We will carry the spear engraved ALD.

"As the sun sets upon this Kalpa, do not beget forlorn thoughts. It is but a short and passionate death, and then we shall live a new dream altogether. Pass your blessing Ald, to the darkened void and from your voice birth a new Kalpa. The memory of death will be but a distant thing, as we see the sun set on the old Kalpa, and turn to face something brilliant and new." The very shrine shook at the communal priesthood's invocation, their chant in the old language of gods were perceived not only as a higher Dov, but a divine hearsay-glimpse of Ald-Tusk's voice itself and all knew his will would not fail.

Ald Immaculate, come divine breath in full and carry the dawn anew. We witness your light of creation, blessed by your divine mandate. Destroyer and Lifegiver, God above all Gods, We welcome you, carry us to Kalpic Salvation.

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Compilation of Old Ros Skaldic Orals
The Sea-Berserker

It was so, that twain favored winds beget the Tribes of Oarcrafters to take the whaleskin sails and whalewood oars to sea. For Kaan's storms blew hard and furious towards the Far East and all the coast-tribes smelt good salt in the watery air.

Taken far and broad by the monsoon's furious breath was a sea-tribe, whom's name eponymous with the saga, of which crunched-and-munched the jellyfish.
The sea-tribe was clever and unbound by wood, and whale, and bone. Their chieftains breathed into the world great ice-fortresses to freeze the whales and willed the wind to blow, of which the monsoon needed little willing.

Like which the ice-fortresses float and sail, they found themselves shuttled farther north than what was desired to raid the scale-demons. For no amount of battle-roars and harsh tongue can convince the ice not to be with fellow ice. And so the sea-tribe drifted beyond Kaan's monsoon and sailed through northern currents.
Assailed like all raiders are, the sea-ghosts wailed and casted their numbing misfortune. Trying to melt the ice by warm currents, or whisper deceits of good whale hunting in dread-whirlpools. Yet to one of the tribe, maddened and wide of eye from suckling on the jellyfish at birth did one sea-ghost wisp and attempt ail.

And yet ail did the sea-ghost make. For the madman breathed cold winter upon the spirit and froze it with form. As madmen oft do to creatures of the sea, a morbid beauty was seen in the frozen form-given sea-ghost. Overpowered with strength of arm and word he bedded the thing.
Immediately as the ice melted in their passion the sea-ghost gave birth and drifted away in their otherworldly fashion. A stillborn cockle harder than any stone or noble-iron left behind. The madman voice-hewed the shell into a mace greater than any that Ros may hold. The cockle-mace would never crack nor dull, and stubbornly defied devil-magic-woven-armor.

The sea-tribe no longer ailed by northern currents nor sea-ghosts set sight upon the frozen shores of Boreal-Far-East. Their chieftains fuming and red of face at the sight of other tribes, bound in kinship, sailing back with riches and good meat, for none of the kinship tribes sailed in ice-fortresses, as we know now that ice will not set sail south.
Beached in corral reefs the tribe burst from the ice and swam the distance to shore, of which is incredible as we are poor swimmers. So did the madman feel an all too familiar sensation envelop his body under the frigid sea. Submersing himself under the water to see what challenged him, so did he see a great maned jellyfish with it's uncountable tendrils about his body.

"What manner of snow-devil are you?" Asked the jellyfish who's vicious poison could not harm the madman.

But the madman knew not the language of jellyfish and so grasped the thing in hand and dragged it to shore.

The sea-tribe was in awe at the madman's prey so enveloped around his body, that one went and approached the maned jellyfish and was struck and slain by it's poisonous tendril. Furious and, even further mad stricken, at the loss of a tribesman the madman slew the maned jellyfish.

Furious that the blood-price was poorly paid, as death is a poor substitute to pay, the madman ripped apart the jellyfish's translucent, yet hued with a lovely blue, head and fashioned it to his round shield. Yet not enough, the madman tore apart every tendril that wrapped about his body and voice-hewed it into a whip of endless tails. Still unhappy with the blood-price the madman cloaked himself in the jellyfish's mane.
Finally satisfied at the blood-price and set of arms, of which the jellyfish-hide round shield repulsed all manors of devil-magic, bouncing off it's moist body. The uncountable tendrils fashioned as an endless splitting whip could strike anything dead with it's piercing poison, even finding paths through the tightest of chainmail. And the maned-cloak drove him further mad with a battle fury from it's constant prickling and little burns.

So was the madman called Sea-Berserker, and in raids with the scale-devils they asked in terror as their magics bounced off his shield, arms pierced by jellyfish tendrils and battle-cries drowned out by his fury.
"What manner of snow-devil are you?"

But the madman was a berserker, and talked not to the foes that soon lay dead and stripped. For the sea-tribe returned not with good meat and riches, but the stripped arms of iron and steel from those that lay dead at the hands of the madman.
So that is why if all you coast-tribes pray really really hard on your raids, that the ghost of the Sea-Berserker will drift dreaded maned jellyfish to your longboats to strip the head to your shields, unhinge the tendrils into endless whips of poison and don the manes of which will drive you into battle-fervor.

Edited by TheCzarsHussar
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Roscaereath, The Montane Palace.
Ethurmenas nyr-Rem

Author's Preface and Letter to the Patron

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Most gallant gentry, it is the assumption
of this collection of parchments that the patron
has concluded their reading of the previous chapter
in this collection. Of which seeks to replace the
aged and rather incorrect of statement Imperial
Pocket Guide's Western Roscrea.

Thus in following chapter it is with my humble

esteem of writ that the patron of this work
may understand the fascinating history
of my native people's landmarks of population.
Our struggles with collapse, the change towards
a semi-nomadic lifestyle, and the affiliation with
civilization that ever likens us to the civilized 
Tamrielic peoples. We are no lesser.

Should anything of my writ be found lacking or dullard
I ask forgiveness, it is no fault but my own.
Be in good faith.


Survivor of the Theological Collapse

Long before recorded history began in the west with the rediscovery and translation of the draconic language, Roscrea was devastated by a near mythological collapse. The ancient religious centers were left in ruin, with all primordial record lost with it. What little is known of that period was the prevalence of palatial citadels, a facet of life that would make a return in the plateau, and their urban populations. The oral traditions of the Middland Plateau long after the collapse shows a semi-nomadic lifestyle, with tribes traversing the many hundreds of rivers, lakes, and glacial canyons of the plateau for grazing grounds. While a few tribal populations were sedentary farmers with sparse earthen fortresses, they were the minority; However, these populations would dominate the plateau at the dawn of recorded history.

Secluded in the mountains of the southern plateau remained the palatial citadel of Rocaereath, long abandoned by it's priestly lords yet residence was taken from the local highlanders whom were once subjects. These were the prosperous inhabitants of the Roscaen Gorge, of which the palace was named in honor. The gorge reigned from the high frozen mountains where it's glaciers partially melt during the warm season and flooding the gorge flood plain, before receding in the winter. Residing throughout the entire gorge atop it's canyons, they tend to the winter-hardy Dragonstalk Sugarcane at the valley, the only source of sugarcane on the island. The cycle of flooding and receding allows rich sediment and good harvests. 

Form meets function and with the grand citadel avoiding neglect and ruin, continuing to rule a content sedentary population unwilling to devolve to a semi-nomadic lifestyle, they survived where nearly all other urban centers collapsed.

League of Long Roscaen

For an long age, Roscaereath was the only urban center west of Stonemoss, itself deserving of a chapter of note, and dominated the surrounding highlander tribes around the gorge. However, prehistoric hegemony left lawlessness beyond the clan structure and the Roscaen Gorge was beset by marauding non-Roscaenic tribes. At this period of time Roscaereath encompassed the palatial citadel itself, far flung from the modern city and struggled to protect it's subject gorge farming population, spread across the entire gorge it was impossible to defend every stalk-stead terrace. Roscaereath declined tremendously after the collapse, losing much in the way of prestige, stalk-terraces and rural population. 

Strong chieftains came and went, expanding the settlement of the gorge then losing it upon their decline. Only the increasing advent of settled life within the plateau could allow for the reemergence of their lordship. While the exact period is uncertain, what is theoretically dated some time in the First Era, Roscaereath would develop hegemony across the entire gorge. The now growing township was blessed with a string of strong chieftains and valiant retainers, a monumental project was commissioned by the palace-court. Earthen mound walls were ordered to be built, encompassing the entire gorge with the settled rural folk expected to assist in it's construction and manning. While crude and basic, it had to be considering the sheer magnitude of manpower needed, the commission was carried out over an Atmoriantry generation, for the patron that is roughly a century. The patron need consider that this territory was rough and mountainous, and was already an issue for hostile mobilization only further impeded by the simple earthen mound walls at the time. At that period of time only Roscaereath had the massive organizational capabilities to construct such a monument.

After the firm foundations of their monumental work had finished, the complete hegemony over the gorge was complete. Centuries prior to the advent of recorded history, the Roscaen League was formed with Roscaereath as it's capital. The first large scale communal structure was formed since the Theological Collapse, in time the league of tribes would form into a kingdom and set about the conquest of the Middland Plateau, and Old Dowry.

Cult of Meridimagna

With a firm understanding of the early known history of Roscaereath and it's dominion over the Roscaen Gorge, it is pertinent that the beliefs and cult-worship of their state be understood.

After the religious void the collapse of the dragon cult created, it is unknown how many nature cults were whisked into existence. There is little evidence the Nordic Pantheon had any wide scale worship in the Middland Plateau. What dominated the beliefs of the prehistoric tribes was in their environment. The complete reliance on the ebb and flow of the Roscaen Gorge flood plain dominated the people of Roscaereath and the gorge at large. Without the melting and refreezing of the highland glaciers their society couldn't exist, the only farming to be done in the mountain was through canyon terraces. Everywhere in the vicinity was either barren ash desert, acidic boiling lakes, and active lava plots.

Prior to recorded history they observed it was during the months of Mid Year and Sun's Height that the warm season was at it's peak, that from Magnus they received life. To the Roscaen tribes Magnus and the light, and heat of which sustained them and nourished them. In admittedly theologically primitive cultures, compared to the Divines of which there are Nine, it was the relationship of sustainer and nourisher that beget worship. However for as much as their early culture worshiped Magnus, it was formless and otherwise empty, with a drought of iconography to worship, a holdover from the dragon cult was the obsession of the physical to worship. According to oral legend-history a Roscaen Frost-Hag was practicing her craft in the highlands when she formed an ice-prism while practicing frost-javelincraft. That at the height of day the light of Magnus reflected so perfectly within her ice-prism that a rainbow of colors refracted in impossible ways into the reflection-form of the Daedric Prince Meridia. Believing herself to be an aspect of the sun, the frost-hag threw herself in prostration and praised the gifts of life her warmth and light bring each year.

Collusion with Daedra are oft never good, so it is fitting and ironic that the transaction which they partook in is lost to time. Nevertheless the worship of Magnus continued, warped and changed into a cult dedicated to a personified deity. And in so doing they worship neither Magnus nor Meridia, but a altogether perturbing amalgamation they call Meridimagna. In doing so they are classified in the census as Daedric worshipers. In their defense they truly do believe to worship the sun, but Meridia is their icon they desperately need, though her influence is felt on their worship. Perhaps the most glaring thing being the symbol of their kingship, although originating during the time of the league, being a long haired native woman in the nude, bearing three sugarcane stalks in her left hand facing outward as if to be taken, while her right bearing an ice-prism taking in the sun's reflection and refracting a rainbow of light downwards to a glacier. The symbolism is obvious if not striking and rich in depiction.

Kingship and the Dawn of History

Native historiographers universally associate the beginning of recorded Roscrean history with the ascension of Kreinalhd Sun-King. Kreinalhd itself is a corruption of the dragonic words Magnus and Destroyer, it can be derived he was the chieftain of Roscaereath and likely a man of the clever craft. Kreinalhd was a terror invoking tyrant at the height of Roscaereath's power, something he exercised to a point. The Roscaen League under Kreinalhd was organized on a large scale and under the preceding chieftains had expanded beyond the gorge into the lowland, defeating and absorbing tribes that dwelt on good land. Warfare at the time was dominated by duels between bands of nobles and their retinues and champions. This was the way of the conquest from the beginning of time, even under the ancient religion, and while it worked well for the league in times past, it had also hampered their growth. Kreinalhd's parents failed in a duels of retinue's against the growing chiefdoms at the plateau's southern coast.

Kreinalhd was in warfare passionate and hateful, fighting in his father's retinue when his chieftaincy remained, and according to written records long after his conquests Kreinalhd's father was felled in a duel with a rival chieftain despite his retainers outnumbering the rival's three to one. He grew to hate duels between champions and retinues, and when Kreinalhd stroked the fervor of war his authority commanded every father and son of every family to hew stone into spear and arrowheads, and commanded his nobles and retainers to don their mail and iron of arm. It was at the head of a host which Kreinalhd wage war against his rival chiefdoms. 

Roscaen traditions of warfare against semi-nomadic raiders raised a culture adapt and favorable to the greatbow, a warbow of such draw strength that no human could pull it back, even for Atmoriants only the strongest could loose the arrows. When rival nobles and chieftains would sally from their homesteads to challenge Kreinalhd and his champions, they were met with the loosing of great arrows, that pierced the first rank, and pierced the second rank, and pinned the shields of the third rank to their arms. And the host of Kreinalhd would sack the foe's homesteads and enslave their sons and daughters. His host was the greatest the island had seen since the collapse and discouraged resistance by acts of destruction on his enemies, yet showing restraint and even rewards on the tribal strongeholds that surrendered to Kreinalhd and his host. These were the tribes absorbed into the league and added to the host. With only a year of chieftaincy under his ordained person, the Roscaen League had expanded throughout the entirety of the southern plateau.

His host had conquered every lake-tribe, every hill-tribe, every coast-tribe, every canyon-tribe, and river-tribe between the ash-deserts and the coast of the south. It was later recorded that Kreinalhd returned to Roscaereath, with his victorious Roscaen portion of his host, alongside their share of slaves. By claim of divine right of conquest he and his priests proclaimed Kreimalhd Sun-King, first king of the Roscaerean Kingdom.

Note to the patron, is that while debated, the Roscaen tribes are likely the origins of the island's name. Their kingship is very linguistically similar to the modern name.

His kingship was no less bloodthirsty for conquest as he was fine mead! But was unwilling to stretch his host thin. Instead of pressing beyond the ash-deserts and frozen mountain paths to conquer the rest of the plateau, he instead spent sixty years administering his kingdom and integrating it fully. Very few monarchs of any culture, Roscrea or otherwise can be likened to such restraint, five hundred companions conquered all of Skyrim after all. He was wise to adhere towards tribal absorption. It is estimated that Kreinalhd was in his early hundred ten's when his realm was fully stable.

He had conquered by means of a peasant army headed by a band of skilled nobles and retainers, conquered dis-unified and sparse tribes and chiefdoms. During the twilight midway of his life he was the head of a thousand warbands of bondsmen with household guards of retainers in the hundreds, lording a kingdom birthed into stone with proto-feudal governance. During this period he integrated the conquered tribes by means of kinship through marriage and indebted the nobles to his court by the giving of lavish gifts. Roscaereath's artisans and stone masons became fabulous and wealthy through several restorations of ancient ruins and established new settlements. The lengthy stretches of earthen walls that encompassed the gorge were built upon, wooden palisades were replaced with stoneworks of more advanced design, something that still remained well into the Forth Era. To this very day the region is still among the most urbanized in western Roscrea.

Concurrent in this period was the reemergence of the Isle of Long Stones in the late First Era.

Nor was Kreinalhd inactive in his aspirations of war, he had trusted sailor-folk sail across the island observing the coasts, and hardy scouts foot through the ash-deserts and observe the tribes across the plateau. It was much different than the south at the time of his conquest. There were countless walled villages and hill-forts beholden to moderate townships in the west beyond the plateau, while within the plateau the growth of urban centers was making a return and the chiefdoms were becoming wealthy from rich farming and good mining. It was a very familiar mirror to what Roscaereath and the league had been...centuries ago. The Sun-King would delay no longer and with good footing found through an ash-desert, his grand host swept through the north and laid waste to hill-forts, and sacked disobedient townships, and enslaved entire villages.

Tribes and chiefdoms united in confederations and kingships of their own to halt the Sun-King, but when they finally mustered the numbers to challenge him in the field it was poorly matched up. There at the ruins of the ancient seat of power in Roscrea, the two arms took to the field. Neither sent in champions to duel, that was met with arrows when done before. Kreinalhd's grand host were veterans of conquest and had spoils of war and many wore armor of gambeson and mail, against the peasantry amassed to protect their homesteads and the nobles with their retinues. The loosing of great arrows and push of shields filled the day, it was recorded that even the nobles of each side took into battle many spears to throw at one another and were unable to clash with polearms and swords. Though assured of victory by the nearing of sunset, Kreinalhd and his retinue took sight of what they had thought was just another mountain among the field of battle, but when the clouds parted it revealed the most grand of ruined shrines he had seen, embracing the sunset.

The Sun-King's heart was divinely moved by melancholy and aspirations and he granted mercy to the defeated survivors. Even in ruin, the ancient seat of power was more grand a thing than anything in his kingdom. It was the memory and reminder of a once unified Roscrea, fallen to ruin with it's inhabitants having lost their way and devolved into a lesser people of dirt, and wood, and lesser stone. The old king was said to have wept at the memory of all he destroyed and swore to do more than conquer, he aspired to his and the defeated folk to renew and restore to the greatness of old, instead of driving Roscrea further into squalor. Kreinalhd ordered his court be relocated to the ruined seat of power and took up personal residence in the ancient palatial-citadel, effectively moving the capital of his kingdom. While it should be noted that this was by no means an end to the Sun-King's conquest of western Roscrea, in all further campaigns he showed a trifling of mercy when the opportunity allowed for it. And never again under his rule of arms was an urban center sacked or razed.

Note to the patron, while certainly romanticized as armies require payment through spoils of war or state wages, the Sun-King must have exacted harsh tributes to future conquered peoples or looted the homesteads of nobles. It is however well believed that he truly did spare the fates of urban peoples total destruction.

Kreinalhd delegated command of his host to a trusted and favored son, Ecorios, while residing over the conquered remains of the Middland Plateau. He was said to have remarked to his Retainer-Thanes, "This marks my resting place, I shan't be leaving in this life again." in regard to the ruined seat of power. While he favored son went about in conquest against the numerous minor peoples and tribes of the Old Dowry the Sun-King exercised the remainder of his life overseeing the restoration and building of his new capital, affectionately named after his son, well earned of his favor: Ecoriobriga. Now an old Atmoriant and feeling the ebb of life approaching, the Sun-King at the age of one hundred and ninety four entreated a strange white-cloaked visage. The white-cloaked clever man asked if the Sun-King lived a fulfilling life, and if he was satisfied of his worldly actions.

Kreinalhd was pleased with his life, he regretted the destruction of the urban, more so than the loss of life and expressed happiness that in the final epoch of his worldly life to see the ongoing restoration of the ancient seat of power and in all it's majesty have some life breathed back into it. The white-cloaked clever man applauded his strength of arms, gave great respect to the splendor of his retainers arms, and lauded the gains of a kingdom to grace the island after so long. And so offered to record his deeds in stone language so that it may be kept in the minds and hearts of all, even if every tongue forgets the story and every ear goes unheard, it may be preserved in accordance for the eyes to gloss and inquire. The Sun-King asked with his strong voice who such a learned man was and whom was his master of writ.

The white-cloaked clever man spoke well and recorded. "I am a adherent to a lost philosophy, not of light and sun worship but much more attune to what we should. Ancient foreknowledge of an age long in ruin, it is noticed your court has shown reverence and a deep love towards this ruin. My good king, you are well received by the learned folk of the Long Stones. Don't you understand my coming here? Entreating guests of strange outlook and visage, surely you have foreseen it. As the ancient seat was, it is within the power of I, and my lord, to aid your station in it's restoration. That is the purpose of my person, you have dreamed...and bore nightmares of this ruin in all it's splendor. Hereupon we shall teach you the laws of old, and the writ of old, and the masonry of old, and the religion of old."

It was by the white-cloaked clever man that should the Sun-King convert to the faith of old, then he and his descendants will be ordained and rightful rulers of the Sacred Crown, the ancient seat of power. For indeed did Kreinalhd both dream and bore nightmares of splendor. It was so that Kreinalhd Sun-King and his favored son, and his lesser favored sons, and his daughters and granddaughters all took up oaths of worship and praise, to the deities Ald-Tusk, and Jhunal. They did not forsake the worship of their brethren in Roscaereath nor forthwith banish that school of worship, but swore their linage would worship no others than the two great deities of the white-cloaked clever man.

Upon his deathbed and full of ill-health, Kreinalhd was king of all the Roscreans from Roscaereath in the south, to Ecoriobriga in the north, and far off Boiliobris in the west. He never realized his dream of uniting all the island under his Kingdom of Roscaerea, for time and frozen wastelands were against him and passed into death at the impressive age of one hundred ninety nine. True to his conversion to the ancient faith, Ecorios had his father prepared by the white-cloaked clever men and entombed underneath the ruins of the ancient seat of power, instead of cremation as is custom in Roscaereath.

The Restoration and Decline

Kreinalhd Sun-King is both the greatest and last king of Roscaereath. He is heralded as the ancestor of all kingships to come, even the current King Cassivelogenos is related to the Sun-King. With the guidance of the white-cloaked clever men, the ancient seat of power was restored in full splendor under the reign of Ecorios, and his decedents will expand beyond the restored palatial-citadel and gradually the city will emerge as we know it in the mid Second Era. However, as Ecoriobriga rose to dominate the kingship, Roscaereath declined. It was and would remain one of the wealthiest regions of the Middland Plateau, but it's population never converted away from their ancestral worship of Meridimagna and were increasingly ostracized in the ever popular and expanding dragon worshiping island. The region is among the most industrious with well dug, deep, and numerous mines yet their region is riddled with uninhabitable land and overall poor farming outside the Roscaen Gorge. The population at times struggled with stagnation whereas Ecoriobriga's population boomed from the rich agrarian lifestyle the many extinct volcanoes offered.

When Ural Septim invaded with his liberating legions, Roscaereath didn't put up much of a fight. They were too weak and too dependent on their goods to risk warfare with such a powerful entity as the Imperial Legions. While the townships of the Roscaens followed their mother city, Ecoriobriga did not and would put fierce opposition for nearly four years, much of which was spent besieging the capital of the kingdom. After the conquest when Ural dismantled the Kingdom of Roscaerea, the old city of Roscaereath was formed into Roscaen Province and the capital of Ecoriobriga was established as a client Kingdom of Ecoriobriga. Each were beholden to the Empire, and each could rule under Imperial law their domains. However with Solitude annexing Roscrea in the Third Era the enforcement of Imperial law was all but gone as the garrisons returned to the eastern island.

As such even though it wasn't through force of arms, the Kingdom of Ecoriobriga asserted hegemony over Roscaen Province and itself annexed into the kingdom. It is unfortunate to see a city and people with such a rich history be just another Hold of the Kingdom of Ecoriobriga. Roscaenic Atmoriants are simultaneously a well functioning and urbanized people, yet are secluded and forlorn. The richness and bright expression of nobility found in Ecoriobriga is nowhere to be seen in this realm of the old and dragged. Too much love was expressed into stone and iron, in sugarcane and glass, into tin and bronze. That now the people are worn out and stagnant. If ever a more forlorn defeated folk exists, it is the author's opinion of amazement should it be found elsewhere beyond Roscaereath.

Edited by TheCzarsHussar
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Posted (edited)

Martial Prowess of the Native Roscreans
Imperial Battlemage Aldaril, Circa 3e 272
Dispatched to appointed Governor-General Claudius Atrius
 

Preface
In the event of a organized native revolt against Imperial Law, or future recruitment of native auxilia into the Legion, the office of my person has been appointed by the Blades to assess in detail the martial capabilities of the natives. My office is to assess the fields of hypothetically fielded warriors from the recruitment pool of the native holdings, by rebellious figures or Legion recruitment; observe the creation of treatises and manuscripts hereupon the martial arts of note practiced by the native warrior-class to better understand their warfare and effectively squander the effectiveness through countermeasures; and gather intelligence on the uncooperative theological cult to the northwest of Roscrea's coast.
 

Firstly of note was the issue of intelligence prior to the Emperor's campaign of 268. The order of this guide was established by the Blades due to the difficulties of infiltration prior to the campaign. The native population are very akin to the Giants of Skyrim, with a minute human population of primitive wild Nords living in the fringes of lowland mountains. Infiltration of native society was utterly impossible by agents of the Blades, the majority of the islanders are incredibly xenophobic and isolationist in the face of Tamriel. Nordic agents were too racially, and indeed, culturally distant from the near-giants to blend in their society unnoticed. Distant observations were equally disastrous due to the aforementioned cult. The personal adherents to that occult society always happened upon the hidden encampments of dispatched agents, the few which survived the unprovoked attacks included in their reports terrible magics used by white cloaked figures, a further comprehensive report is included further. Accordingly this is to prevent any future lack of information and knowledge of our subjects.


Projected Capabilities of Native Armament and Fielding of Armies
Despite the obstacles faced by the Blades in their intelligence gathering, an acute observation was hypothesized by their reports. Legion commanders recognized the potentially disastrous course of the invasion should the natives amass a united army of comparable size. Quite astute in our hypothesis it was a tremendous gambit should the natives be capable of fielding such an army, and while they are not entirely alike the giants of Skyrim, they are nevertheless quite similar in feats of strength and endurance, such an army of size though primitive in arms could match the Legion through sheer brute strength and force of will. Thankfully despite the inaccurate projections of the campaign, having persisted nearly three years longer than anticipated, the natives were taken completely by surprise. Through superior deployment, and employment, of tactics and stratagem the native rulers were unable to field armies of note. It is imperative that in revolt, the conflicting foe not be allowed to amass a following of comparable size. 

The garrisoned double strength Legion is assessed to be a credible deterrent, failing that the double strength Legion is projected to be equipped and fully capable of stamping out vestiges of hostility, or any attempts at defying Imperial Law. In relation to this, the allied tribes have been incited to service the Legion as Foederati. These allied tribes have sworn oaths of upholdment and loyalty, clever usage of divination by the Blades in Emperor Uriel's personage has captivated the primitives, the allied tribes believe our Emperor to be an incarnation of the Nordic variant of Talos, Ysmir. However, this exploitation is not universal. The dragon worshiping population of Western Roscrea does not worship any variant or vestige of the Nordic pantheon, it is a dear shame that Tiber Septim's mercenary dragon was slain long ago, his very existence would have pacified and aligned the western natives fully under the Empire. As it stands they are the most likely cause of revolt, whereas the eastern natives are firmly under cooperation. It is of the upmost importance to enact a policy of Imperialization. Only when native lifestyle is indistinguishable from Colovian customs can they be productive members of the Empire.

It is equally recommended that inclusion in both the Legion and positions of landed power be reserved towards the natives who completely adopt Imperial customs. Under concurrent commissions for the establishment of urban centers in the east will the previous condition be fulfilled. These colonies will transform rural fort-holding natives to a familiar and easily governed population, and one that offers a fair recruitment pool of future auxilia from. The residence of the Governor-General is currently established in the native great fortress complex of Nebbezzar, itself undergoing reconstruction and renovations for a joint population of colonists and natives. The full grandeur of Imperial architecture and innovation will encompass the future capital of Roscrea, the primitives will be enthralled by it's majesty alone and enforce to the natives that they are citizens of the Empire now and forever. So long as they adhere to Imperial Law, it will be a mutual relationship. Assessments of colonization within the island project a large population of which to draw on, suspected that the population will intermix into an amalgamation of half-breeds, it is unknown what the mixed population will entail. 

The defunct Kingdom of Roscaerea in the west has a considerable population to draw upon, having been divided into two provinces and a client kingdom drawn around existing cultural boundaries. The client Kingdom of Ecoriobriga, established from the heartland of the dismantled kingdom has by treaty avoided established colonies of Tamrielic colonists and settlers. Stemming from treaties due to the inability to conquer the palatial-city of it's namesake, is within the Middland Plateau and are under the census as "Middlander Roscreans". The native client kingdom resides and rules over a population accustomed to palatial-citadels, the allotted territory they are permitted to govern is the entirety of the rich arctic meadows and fertile extinct volcanic valleys spread across the majority of the central-western plateau. They are an agrarian society that avoids the active volcanic plots and lava fields. They preside over the largest urban-concentrated population of the island and as such are the primary risk of revolt with the greatest capacity to field an army of sufficient size. In the event of state backed rebellion against the Empire by the client Kingdom of Ecoriobriga, there are detailed demands in the potential treaty that will fully dismantle native rule. In short it is expected and enforced that any revolt be allowed to gain sufficient momentum as to implicate King Cassivelogenos in it's organization.

The Imperial ruled provinces of Old Dowry and Roscaen Province respectively are garrisoned and plans of colonization are expected to yield similar results of Imperialization as the eastern island. The Old Dowry is not unlike the east with it's rural fort-holding tribes and sufficient establishment of infrastructure around the coastal fortress-complex of Boiliobris should establish a proper basin of Imperial culture of which to lead the west's Imperialization. For Roscaen Province, the province is ripe with industrial potential. Part of the Middland Plateau, the province houses several urban centers and is plentiful in precious metals, glass is among the most valuable resource currently extracted by the province in it's still active volcanoes, though resources such as iron, tin, bronze, copper and the like are worked on by the natives. What the province excels in through mineral wealth, mostly unfound throughout the rest of the island, is severally lacking in farmable land. It is overall too mountainous, too volcanically active, and infertile to support large populations. The assessment of potential auxilia or revolt from either province is low, especially with legionary garrisons.
 

Native Martial Arts
This chapter is entirely dedicated to understanding the practice of natives with their martial arts. Understanding several key factors is paramount to surviving combat against the natives. First and foremost, you are weaker then they. It has little precedence if you are a Nordic or Orcish Legionary, unless you are the spawn between the union of one aforementioned and a giant. Myself I have witnessed a peasant native armed with nothing more then a wicker shield and wooden club break a Nord's skull with a single downward strike, the Nord was a veteran Legionary of previous conflicts, armed in full. He was of far greater skill then the peasant and of much greater prowess-of-arms as well, yet a single worthy strike ended his life. Secondly the peasantry, and lower warrior classes enter into battle in the Nordic fashion, that is by organized shield walls. There is little in the way of frenzied charges. What differs massively from the Nordic fashion are the arms present, even Nordic peasant farmers often own an axe of some makeup. Roscrean peasants are often poorly armed, amassing stone tipped spears and wooden clubs, protecting themselves behind wicker oval shields, some with hide atop them. The poorest peasant with nothing to their name can still find sturdy wood to carve, and stones to hew. Third, metal resources are far more scarce in Roscrea than elsewhere, even the wealthier rural population often cannot afford the luxury of metal weaponry and armor. Although a hallmark of recognizing a wealthier rural warrior is through better protection of their person, such as forms of linen armor and better quality shields. Forth, the greatest advantages the Legion has over the natives are logistics and technology. Entering into the melee with the natives always amasses casualties on our front lines, avoiding the clash of shieldwalls is perhaps the most important aspect of warfare against the native amassed peasantry.

With the understanding of how the lowest class of Roscreans do battle, the focus most now shift to the dedicated warrior-classes of the natives. It varies depending on the region as access to wealth and resources varies across the island. Beginning from the lowest caste of warriors, that as should be noted is still a place of good standing in their societies, are the Bondsmen. Bondsmen can be described as Warrior-Servants, bound by service to their master through gifts these are the semi-professional warriors of Roscrea. Their position and arms varies from master to master. In the service of their master they are equipped from his household. When attached to wealthy noble's service they often dedicate their lives to martial practices, gifted fine arms of iron and bronze. However, when attached to the service of lesser masters they often serve their role as Warrior-Servants alongside another profession. It has been observed that the majority of Bondsmen are members of urban middle and lower classes. When attached to wealthier masters and can dedicate their profession entirely to warfare, they should accordingly be counted among the higher warrior classes in terms of ability, only outstripped by the superior arms and armors of the nobility.

When assessing the arms and armor of the nobility, and those in their service it must be noted the prevalence of chainmail. Popular across the entire island, bar the even more primitive lowlanders of central Roscrea, native mail is considerably thicker and heavier than Tamrielic counterparts. Almost always worn atop some form of linen armor such as gambeson. It varies in length, form, and extravagance as there is no uniformity of arms. There are further regional variations to this, the eastern Roscrean nobility often wears lamellar woven with their mail, while the Middlanders sometimes adorn cuirasses atop theirs. The most well equipped nobles can be expected to wear armor from head to toe. Full mail coifs with heavy iron helmets, sleeved hauberks that extend below their knees, well padded with linen armor, mail chausses. The heavy mail is extremely difficult to slash or cut, even with Nordic handaxes, thrusts with a gladius or other sword fair better but are similarly ineffective. Against the well armored native, warhammers are best used in melee, or a better alternative is to target these individuals with battlemages and other ranged choices. Although as will be written further, arcane abilities are a detriment when faced with certain nobles.

The upper warrior-classes consist of lesser nobility and the greatest of elevated Bondsmen. Retainers are the personal household guards of an individual, often of the nobility. These are the elites of the natives and accompany their lord wherever he may be. Traditional Roscrean warfare are duels between elite retinues of retainers and their nobles, instead of large scale pitched battles that the Legion is unparalleled in. It is extremely romanticized in the Roscrean cultures, that their ancestral way of war is sophisticated and that our warfare of pitched battles are barbaric. Retainers are often equipped like the nobility, and are only told apart from their lord by the extravagance of his arms and armor compared to the retainers. Among the upper class combatants faced, retainers are the most common and the entirety of that caste dedicates their life to martial pursuits. They can be described as Masters-at-Arms for their proficiency with many manner of weapons. The upper warrior-classes near universally prefers polearms and poleaxes to any other weapon, with a universal focus of martial arts in combination with poleaxes.

The most loyal and skilled among the retainers are champions, they are the most favored of the retainers and are never left wanting of gifts and good positions in society. Where retainers can be described as household guards of an individual, Roscrean champions are their personal bodyguards. They are indistinguishable in quality and extravagance of arms from their master and by merit are the cream of the crop of the warrior-classes. By right they are allowed to sit at the inner circles of the feasting tables reserved for the high nobility and may be the personal supplicant of their master in duels with other nobles and their champions. Currently the judicial relationship between the nobility and their champions have been disenfranchised everywhere except the client Kingdom of Ecoriobriga, as it is a barbaric and uncivilized relationship. Much more importantly by removing the native laws surrounding and encompassing the nobility and their champions, a very dangerous caste of warriors have been nearly removed from existence through law. Unrest was narrowly avoided by elevating the champions to noble classes, this practice need only continue a few generations.

Finally this brings us to the nobility and the treatises of Roscrean martial arts. Again much is dependent on the location, wealth and availability of resources, that the Roscrean Nobility is often dedicated to their primitive mundane and arcane educations, theological and martial pursuits. Roscrean martial arts is very heavily focused on the expression of raw strength, and while it would be easy to dismiss their martial prowess as sheer brutish lumbering and swinging, it cannot be further from the reality. They are notoriously disciplined in their form, and when equipped with their favored poleaxes does their martial expression fully reveal itself. There is an incredible design of forcefulness and grace. They are far from the swiftest warriors, though their movement of arms can be applauded for how technically advanced their are. In campaign I have personally observed their advanced stature and form, they are incredibly reactionary both in offensive and defensive measures which in their martial arts are one and the same. There is never a strike parried without reprisal, and in every reprisal there is never a strike made that cannot be defended in turn, and often becomes a vicious cycle until one is left defeated. Beyond their skill of arms, the greatest danger against the native proficient in native noble combat is the skill at which they attempt to overpower you.

Form is the most highly disciplined aspect of the proficient warrior. Against one another it is a battle of 'cleverness of strength', one and another use their bodies and poleaxes to break the other's form and either deliver a killing blow, or knock the other to the ground and partake a killing blow. A warrior so completely steadfast and hunkered to the ground that he cannot be toppled or struck in wounding blow is considered perfection by native contemporaries. The Roscrean polearms are the perfect weapon for their extraordinary stature and strength, no other allows for such wide array of potential. Against man, mer, or beastfolk the Roscrean's martial arts are at their most dangerous. These are professional warrior-classes that train in such fashions and under no circumstances should they be dismissed. And furthermore, under absolutely no circumstances are they ever to be engaged in duels. The Legion operates as one cohesive unit, the moment one breaks to answer the challenge of single combat by the warrior-class is the moment they are dead men walking.

The nobility of the Middland Plateau are exceptionally harrowing in combat, they are deeply beholden to the arcane study. Many of their nobles are of a priestly class and wield powerful and sometimes alien magics. As the natives lifespan is on average three times that of man, their arcane-attuned nobles should be treated as if facing an Elven opponent, with extreme caution. They've had several lifetimes to hone their art, both martially and in the Middland Plateau, magically. As I myself am an Altmer, have found no resemblance of familiarity in their race. They are inhuman yes, though unless they and the Giants of Skyrim are a long lost Elven race, are an anomaly of the world.

Cult of Jhunal
Perhaps the most pertinent issue of the island is the reclusive theological cult that resides in the Isle of Long Stones, as the natives call it. They have opposed the Legion both directly and indirectly during the campaign. These "Druids" as the natives call them are of a sinister makeup, they are supposedly worshipers of the Nordic aspect of Julianos called Jhunal, who's worship has long subsided in Skyrim. The Druids are revered by the natives as much as they are feared, from what is gathered there is a great power held on the Isle of Long Stones. From what was observed, the cult employs mages cloaked in white robes and white cloaks. They are hidden from the mundane and yet are ever present, they are rarely seen and yet all natives know of their power and presence. So little is known about these practitioners of the occult, yet they are a threat to the Imperial administration of Roscrea.

Attempts to land on the Isle of Long Stones have always been met with disaster. Vessels are torn apart by reefs that were not there moments ago, survivors pulled down underwater by the unseen and drowned. Mages cloaked with invisibility and water walking spells are never seen again once they reach the forested shores of that dark island. It is constantly permeated by a everlasting visage, untouched by winter monsoons and blizzards. The natives claim that only those welcomed by the Druids may set foot on the isle, and that those who have returned are beholden to the cult. Attempts at extracting the information from these individuals and priests have failed, no manner of coercion or force reveals anything of use. Furthermore, those involved in the attempted extraction of information disappear from the face of the island. Each action against their cult invoked a harsher reaction, after a year of occupation it is decreed that best leave the cult alone. Any Legionary that witnesses the white cloaked cultists should make no action against them, unless they are in violation of a serious crime. No interaction of any kind is encouraged.

Edited by TheCzarsHussar
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The Masters of Tel Mora
By Ulyn Radarys
 

The crowning of Helseth, the fall of the Tribunal, the invasions from Oblivion, the withdrawal of the Empire. There can be no doubt that we live in an age of change and uncertainty unlike anything Morrowind has experienced before. Indeed, even as I pen these words, disgruntled citizens of Balmora, emboldened by poverty and much loss, gather in the streets seeking recompense from our lords of House Hlaalu.

However, in the midst of ever-increasing chaos, there has been one one constant here in Vvardenfell, one persistent body whose presence seems utterly immune to all the Padomay of Nirn. More than that, the entities in question wield Padomay like an ambitious son wields the knife that he would use to slay his father.

I refer, of course, to the wizard-lords of the Great House Telvanni. While our ancient institutions crumble and dissolve, the reclusive sorcerers remain in their towers pursuing their mysterious ends. While we pray to gods who seem to live only in our memories, they weave spells and laugh at the notion of worship. While we die by the thousands, they drink tea and converse with the very daedra who slay us. Such is how it has always been with the Telvanni, and such is how it seems it will always be.

That is not to say that they do not experience change, however. Indeed, the hierarchy of House Telvanni is a steep ladder and every rung is barbed with spikes. No Great House is more cutthroat, nor so rewarding of the viscous ambition that permeates the wizard-lords' ranks. It is a cruel creed that they live by: that the powerful define the standards of virtue. And thus it is that the only way to become great within that house is to attain the power required to displace those above oneself, be it political power through alliances and blackmail, or the raw power of personal mastery.

Because of this, it should be of no surprise that the highest positions within the Telvanni are exclusively held by some of the oldest and most powerful Dunmer in all of Vvardenfell. And while the lower echelons constantly clamber up that spiked ladder only to fall and be replaced, it is a truly rare thing for one of the Masters to fall, themselves. The death and replacement of three in one decade (one being the Archmagister, himself) might in fact be a rarer occurrence than the recent collapse of Cyrodiil's ruling dynasty, if not even the daedric crisis that brought it about.

It is the overlooked rarity of these circumstances that has inspired my next three volumes. In this one, I focus on the most recent, and in many ways most extreme, transition of lordship. I refer to a region of northeastern Vvardenfell that is better known among outsiders than most of the Telvanni holdings, to the city of Vos and more importantly to the nearby island of Tel Mora, whose millennia-old Mistress passed away during the height of the Oblivion Crisis.

For context, I would refer readers to any of the numerous biographies of Mistress Dratha, whose trademark eccentricities included an extreme distrust of men (to such an extent that only women were permitted to live on Tel Mora), an apparent dislike of any who she considered upstarts with potential, extreme detachment from those who considered her their ruler (even by Telvanni standards), and an apparent immortality that gained her the esteemed reputation as the second-oldest Dunmer in all of Vvardenfell.

The details of Mistress Dratha's death are elusive. While it is true that Vos and Tel Mora were major targets of the Oblivion Crisis (Master Aryon's nearby holding of Tel Vos being destroyed entirely), it is a well-known fact that the forces of Dagon never succeeded in setting foot on the island itself. Some speculate that Dratha met her demise defending against the endless waves, though no witnesses have been found who can verify this claim. Others believe that her immortality was derived from Oblivion itself, and that the shattering of barriers between it and the Mundus overwhelmed her mortal form. The most popular theory, and the most controversial, is that Mistress Dratha was killed by none other than the man who replaced her, the Great House Telvanni's newest and youngest Master Wizard: Endar Drenim.

For his part, Master Drenim is very much the sort of upstart that Dratha was known to hate. Rare is it that one so young (relatively speaking) finds success in advancing the ranks of House Telvanni past a point. Power and reputation are everything, and neither is easily attained in such a way that would catch the attention of other Masters within a normal Dunmer's lifetime. While Master Drenim's many accolades and distinctly-Telvanni pursuits of knowledge and power go back almost as far as his name can be traced, it was his admirable (or perhaps self-serving -not that the two are exclusive when it comes to the Telvanni) defense of Tel Mora during the crisis that earned him the recognition of the other wizard lords. Indeed, it is not the thousands of years' worth of accumulated knowledge wielded by Dratha that is credited with the closing of those gates, but instead the timely arrival of then-Spellwright Drenim and his freshly-raised militia of lesser mages. Between the death of Mistress Dratha and the magnitude of his victory, Endar Drenim was well-positioned to proclaim himself the Great House's newest Master Wizard, which is exactly what he did. Although there were mutterings of detractors within the ruling Parliament of Bugs, none opted to oppose him.

Did Drenim use the Oblivion Crisis as a cover to kill and replace Telvanni's oldest councillor? Is he a mere upstart who cannot last among the ancient wizards he now stands equal to? What will become of Vos and Tel Mora now? These were the questions that prompted me to travel there and speak to the locals myself, and the ones that jostled about in my mind like bottled fetcherflies as the island's sprawling mushroom tower became visible over the lip of our silt strider's shell. After arriving, I conducted a series of interviews with an assortment of interesting characters who reside in the region. Unfortunately, I did not have the pleasure of meeting Master Drenim himself, as I lack the knowledge and undoubtedly the capability to cast the levitation spells required to reach the upper levels of his tower. I was privileged, however, to meet with his Mouth, one Galar Rothan, who was an intriguing figure to put it mildly. If the servant is at all a reflection of the master, then I believe it is entirely likely that Endar Drenim is the embodiment of everything we outsiders have come to think of the Telvanni.

Below I have compiled several excerpts from the interviews in question, to shed light on some of the positions and sentiments held by the local wizards and retainers of Vos and Tel Mora.


Thilse Aralas, farmer from Vos

"What kind of Master is Endar? It's hard to say, really. Most of us here in town have only seen him from a distance. I mean, we owe him our lives and I will always be grateful for that, but as far as lording goes, he's no Aryon. In fact, he seems as distant as Dratha was. The only change I've noticed is he lets men live on the island, meaning there are less of them here. That's a shame. By the way, are you doing anything later?"


Unsil Galen, Hireling battlemage and veteran of the Oblivion Crisis

"When Drenim told us what we would be doing, I thought he was a damned loon. But by Azura, it actually worked! First at Vos, then in Oblivion itself. I still think he's a loon, but he's also a genius. No, I won't tell you how we did it. Drenim's secrets are his own. As for Dratha, the crone croaked during the fighting. Everyone knows that."
 

Daynali Dren, Tel Mora alchemist

"Being honest, it's been a blessing. My husband was not allowed to live here on the island, and I could not carry out my duties without living here myself. Mistress Dratha was a fine woman and I hope her spirit rests easy, but in truth, well... she was very old, you know? They say she didn't always forbid men. That's only been the last, oh I don't know... thousand years, give or take. What I do know is that she didn't have much use for an alchemist. Master Drenim's different. He's got me working nonstop, tending the tower and helping prepare it for the new sections he intends to grow. It's more than a single person could possibly handle on their own. Good thing I can put my husband to work now!"
 

Sadela Arieth, Tel Mora bug-tamer

"Am I happy? Of course not. Mistress Dratha was like a mother to me. I mean- a mostly absent mother who only saw me once a decade or so and barely looked at me when she did... but still a mother! To all of us! All these ungrateful s'wits harping about 'change' and 'not getting torn apart by dremora' ought to remember that it was our Mistress who kept all you man types away. Won't be long now before this place is filled with that disgusting... musk you've got on you now, and soon there will be eugh... children. Have you ever heard an infant's wails, Hlaalu? I'll take the daedra over that any day."
 

Yakin Bael, healer from Vos

"We thought we were dead, you understand? After Tel Vos fell, Dratha wouldn't let us retreat to her island. Threatened to burn our boats if a single man was seen on them as they crossed. 'Women only'. It was a funny thing, back in the day. A quirk like all the Masters are said to have. But letting us die while she sat behind her wards? Oblivion take the bitch... You know, I had over a hundred wounded in my care by the time Master Drenim arrived. For some, it was all I could do to relieve the pain while daedric curses dissolved their insides. Yes... I'm glad Drenim killed her. No, I can't prove it, but I don't think anything short of a master could've ended that old hag."


Galar Rothan, recently-appointed Mouth of Endar Drenim

"I would like to start by saying that you should consider yourself lucky, Hlaalu, for it is not every day that I waste time conversing with one of so little import. But as it happens, I find myself unable to sleep and the droning on of inconsequential outsiders has a particular hum about it that sometimes aids me in that endeavor. Secondly, no you cannot see Master Drenim, so don't bother to ask. If you lack the power to reach him yourself, then you are not someone who has any business in his presence anyway. Now, as for your questions... Don't look at me like that! I know you haven't asked them yet. I'm not some blind child. You want to know about Master Drenim: What sort of Master he is, how different things will be with him here, if he's as powerful as the others, what his ambitions are, did he murder Dratha, and so on and so on. I will tell you this and this only: Master Drenim has done and will do what he pleases, and nothing else. That is what it means to be Telvanni."

Note: After this comment, I proceeded to follow up with my own thoughts and further questions for the Mouth. If he did not care to speak about his master, then perhaps he would enlighten me to the new goings-on of Tel Mora and his own role in its day-to-day affairs. It was at this point that I noticed Rothan's eyes starting to glaze as though fighting sleep. Soon after, he dismissed me from the fungal tower stating that I had fulfilled my purpose.

 

With all said and done, I can confidently say that for all I learned, I left Tel Mora with more questions than answers. Despite his comparative youth, Endar Drenim appears to be no less secretive and mysterious than the most reclusive of his peers. I daresay we may never know the truth about Dratha's death or what exactly he did while defending Tel Mora. And perhaps he is just a young upstart who is playing with fire, but after speaking to so many around him and looking in the eyes of those who stood beside him in the depths of Oblivion, I'm not so sure. For my drakes, I would wager that in Endar, the Masters of House Telvanni have gained a capable and dangerous new peer who they would be wise not to dismiss due to age. After all, it is Endar Drenim who now possesses the ancient tower of Tel Mora, while the oldest Master in living memory is but ashes within an urn.

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It's always nice when your writing gets reinforced by the canon after you come up with it.

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Contemplations
Far-North Skaldic War-Poem

Terrible is the power of my arm
The Nord crumbles by the axe it bears
I stand in want of mead, hungry and tired
The Nord-Ghost echoes a prayer.


From the sky, a Terrifying Nightmare appears
Wreathed in stormcloud, her throat-curse strikes me
Ailing in squalor I see the sky part
Sovngarde.

As I lay in squalor, deathly prayers fill my heart
The Nord-Ghost sits high, never in want of mead
I call to the Nightmare, in uplifting prayer
The smell of deathly serpents is strong, as prayers go unanswered.


I am uncertain, what awaits us?

Edited by TheCzarsHussar
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The Splendor of the Giants of Roscrea
Rolff Spindle-Foot
~3e, 396

 

It is under the authority of King Thain and his court that I have been word-whipped northward, to further the renaissance of Solitude. As the bureaucracy of annexing the fiefdom of Roscrea is in full effect in the courts of king and emperor, my purpose should be known, to appraise and head the census of the settled tribes and clans of Roscrea; a monumental undertaking. 

My undertaking began in earnest when the longship-charter docked into the port of Hesinak Meadery; itself several miles upwind. My lodging in the meadery was a pleasant endeavor, the subsidiary of the East Empire Company enjoyed hegemony over importing and production of several Nordic brews. The master of the meadery, Ale-Bringer as the natives have called every master since it's founding, enjoys no moderate amount of influence and splendor in this arctic realm of giants. The giants of Roscrea are ravenous, draining entire bottles of mead in single gulps and are never lacking in want of more. It is no wonder that the Ale-Bringer holds such favor, indeed the mead-trade alone is almost worth the island's annexation. The Ale-Bringer invited my personage to be counted among his retinue; a high privilege, where I spent several weeks fulfilling my duty, both to my king and my thirst. 

As it was, Ale-Bringer had scheduled several oxen-driven caravans of brews to be driven upland for mysterious Ecoriobriga, the giantry Hold capital of the Middland Plateau. He personally delivers it to the city's palatial citadel, home of the most powerful figures of giantry society; clan-lords, priest-mages of the clever-craft, warrior schools, dragon worshipping nobility all. Home of the island giant's king himself, Cassivelogenos Bright-Hewer. It is a journey the Ale-Bringer takes once every three or four months, the brewing of large swaths of drink is how he tells time.

Once the time came to bid the winter-shielded apiaries, meadfolk and meadery farewell, our caravan set off. Ale-Bringer and I rode inside a finely furbished wagon, pulled by hardy oxen. Ale-Bringer's retainers included a mammoth riding native warrior! Several other native retainers traveled on foot around the mead kegs in the two preceding carts. We traveled through frigid mountain valleys and volcanic deserts, braved steep gnarled cliffs and steered clear of lava flows. The scenery is nearly indescribable, if one ascended a mountain; knowing then it is not a volcano, it is not unlike frigid High Hrothgar yet there are sturdy mountain terraces and frost-laden wild Nords (and Giants) that dwell in caves and frozen glacial castles. Descend the mountains and find fertile ashen-soil with more civilized giantry villages...that or stumble into a volcanic desert valley that only a Dark Elf could love! Ale-Bringer told me of a great city of giants deep in the plateau, where a thousand congregated and a thousand more payed tribute to. I could hardly believe it, even though theses native giants are lesser in strength and visage to the savages of Skyrim, no dwelling could be built to accommodate such a throng, or so I thought. 

I write in full truth, of all that I saw. By hoary Ysmir believe it.

Ale-Bringer and I, after spending several days on the road came upon yet another mountain range. As it was later in the evening and the moons were not long away from cresting the sky, I couldn't fully take in it's majesty. For at this time the overcast clouds obscured the peeks of the 'mountain'. A hundred plums of smoke rose from all across the 'mountain', intermingling in union with the clouds above. In my astonishment this was no mountain, but the city itself! The capital of the plateau was bestrewn in the empty veins and chambers of a long-dead flat topped volcano, the masters of this realm lived in the clouds at the height of the volcano. There was no accumulation of snow or ice around the volcano, it's dark visage was like a warrior dressed in iron all alone in the snow, for the adjacent mountains were dressed all in white. Ecoriobriga was the smallest of the range, cradled and wind-shielded. It's valleys below were one of the few places on all of Roscrea where the land itself was free of permafrost, massive swaths of farmland were nestled in the range's valley.

For the second time in a theme of events, I was mesmerized when Ale-Bringer's caravan reached the entrance to Ecoriobriga. Leading into the city was something I can only describe as monumental, the indescribable was like the ancient ruins of old, restored. Very old Nordic architecture, it was very draconic in nature. An upward sloping outdoor structure led inward, it's only lacking was the remnants of monumental totemic pillars and statues that can be seen in the old ruins. As ruins were on my mind during this section's writing, the swept away remnants of old battlements once protected the entrance could still be seen, they were destroyed two hundred years ago by the Imperials and treaty forbid their reconstruction.

The armored mammoth riding warrior bid farewell to his master, the Ale-Bringer of course, and disembarked to a mammoth livery away from the city. The rest of continued, Ale-Bringer and I dismounted the wagon while the other retainers lifted the mead kegs themselves. At the crest of the entrance, just before the war-battered iron doors did our party meet the clan-communal oath-skald. He took in our oath-swears of friendship and comradery, and fairness to the city's clan-commune, hewing them into stone before being allowed entrance. The opening of the doors hit us all with a heavenly blast of warm air unbefitting of Roscrea.

The entrance-vein was adorned with sparse vegetation, brightly colored in reds and oranges. A permeating smell of brimstone, acidic and irritating assaulted my sense of smell. Ale-Bringer made mention it gets easier to tolerate. The veins were lit, a very close line between dimly and just enough, by sconces and wall-lanterns; as I would find out, the closer to the peek of the volcano the more these underground hollows were lit by arcane means. Ale-Bringer spoke of a labyrinth of hollows that delve deep into the earth, until a great underground caldera of boiling water, poison and undrinkable that the natives harnessed in hewn vein-tunnels to heat their dwellings within the volcano. The great majority of Ecoriobriga's population made their homesteads in the hollows and veins undergrown, only the highest nobles of the realm lived at the peek; which was our destination. 

We crossed through numerous gatehouses to gain entrance to the succeeding tier of the city. The higher we journey, the more splendid the underground dwellings. Our trek to the peek culminated in a wide, spiraling earthen rampart at the exposed caldera of the dead volcano. For the third time I was mesmerized, Ale-Bringer bespoke of towering stone palatial dwellings with metaled sloped roofs but I hadn't any idea they would be so splendid in magnitude. The flat topped volcanic peek was in truth not incredibly encompassing, the noble dwellings crested high above in the cramped peek. The colorfully long robed giant nobles emulated a splendor of ancient antiquity, their drabs were sewn to accommodate for the clouds that often waft about the peeks. I found it a slight struggle to breath in full.

Ale-Bringer was lauded and praised in tongues I did not recognize, even he only learned the language of their commontry as it was close in origin to ancient Nordic. These high nobles spoke a tongue of the old nobility, of Skyrim and Atmora. Two hundred years of being citizens of the Empire and not one know a lick of our language, backwater indeed, but profitable one. Ale-Bringer and I, despite being Nords and miniscule compared to these large giants must have seemed to be gargantuan, the way our coming caused commotion. My association with Ale-Bringer made me an honored guest. The commotion never really died down, once we entered the walls of the city's palatial-citadel, it only changed hands.

Ale-Bringer and by association myself would soon be busy in commotion, but for a brief period of time I was able to reflect with him on some things. I confessed to the man my surprise at such warmth extended by the natives, to himself I understood, he was the Ale-Bringer; but just by association I was extended the same. Having lived on the island some decades he revealed to me that these natives largely see Nords as far-flung kinsmen. There is still animosity for the Empire's conquest, especially by those still alive that fought them (Two hundred years ago!), yet they fondly think of us as equals and only wish to be treated the same. Our related ancestry, that of Atmora, is deeper than any conquest of Imperials; deeper than any division of faith. I only hope that following the annexation of these giants, we will prove ourselves deserving of their kindly thoughts.

[The following excerpt is a revisioned edition, the original continuation is lost to time.]

As for the palatial-citadel itself, it was a marvelous structure in of itself. Supposedly in ancient times, this was all that graced the volcano. It was the dwelling of a Dragon Priest, imagine that, a giant Dragon Priest, that fell into ruins before recorded history. Being reinhabited and rebuilt long after the Roscrean branch of the dragon cult died out. The city was later not so much built, as hewn into volcanic rock from preexisting hollow veins. Indeed there is a strange fascination of hewing stone among the citizens of the city, the current ruling clan's name is itself called Bright-Hewer after all. The walled parameter that encompasses the even more fortified palatial-citadel was untouched by war, the natives surrendered to Uriel V before his legions got this far up and was preserved very well. Besides the palatial-citadel, there was also a spectacular temple-structure to the World-Eater (may he never awaken!), though as any Nord may attest to I was less than excited about that.

Ale-Bringer and I were given well furnished lodging within the palatial-citadel, the royal clans actually reserved a room just for the master of Hesinak Meadery whenever they visit. The interior of the palatial-citadel was built and decorated by and large identical to much older Nordic fashions. I recognized many similarities to the palace of Windhelm's interior, although of larger scope and span. It was lesser however, the palatial-citadel could not match the splendor of the Palace of the Kings, or the Blue Palace. The fact it was rebuilt long after the Dragon Cult shows. I didn't much interact with many high nobles without Ale-Bringer to help translate, I did however meet two other humans. One was a member of the College in Winterhold, the other a fellow colleague of less experience; they were here of their own will to study with the communal-priesthood for some personal arcane pursuit. 


Now what I write next is the catalyst for this very parchment, had I not seen and experienced what was to unfold, I would not have been inspired to write this endeavor. By Ysmir, believe what I write, it is true.


Something that Ale-Bringer purposely did not mention was that whenever he makes the journey, mead kegs in toe, the nobles of the palatial-citadel always organize a grand feast to celebrate (and drink away nearly all that he brings). On the eve of the feast, two days after we entered the city, Ale-Bringer enlightened me to just how legendary the feasting hall was. He boldly claimed it was second only to Sovngarde! Of greater splendor than any in the south, even mighty Jorrvaskr was second to the giant's feasting hall; I gave him a friendly roughhousing-hand for that remark, but he claimed again it was true and that we would experience it firsthand. Now I am a well traveled man, I have been to every Hold in Skyrim, and every city in Cyrodiil. That was an exceedingly bold thing to claim, for someone who knew many different splendors.

And it was true, all of it.

At sundown, when appetites were at their peek, a great throng inhabited the palatial-citadel. All the important nobles of the city-peek made their presence known with their best clothing (and even war-wear for the veterans of old), influential clans from the underportion came smelling of brimstone, communal-priests and the two humans of Winterhold, and even the hoary warrior-king Cassivelogenos Bright-Hewer; a terrifying figure with a powerful voice and wrathful visage. All made their way and congregated in the palatial-citadel. Ale-Bringer and I were trying to outdrink one another in his room when the damndest thing came, a small blue skinned goblin dressed in humble garb came and mumbled something in the giant's native language before scampering off to alert more honored household guests. Ale-Bringer told me "Just you wait, it gets better!" before I could voice my confusion. It was time to ascend to the feasting hall, at the very top of the palatial-citadel.

The stream of we household guests poured atop the palatial-citadel, they were all too eager to enter the feasting hall. I, with Ale-Bringer following me, took in the structure and walked it's parameter; much impressed. It was shaped in traditional Nordic fashion, with two entrances on each of the long facing walls. However, this feasting hall was entirely hewn from stone, a tell-tell ancient Nordic style. The crackling of hearth-fires made their presence known from plums of smoke that rose from a monolithic tusked dragon-faced chimney. Going back I would have rushed in with the vigor of a giant rather than gawk at the building.

Finally did Ale-Bringer and I enter the feasting hall, already booming with song and mead-talk. His mustached face was smug as all could be at my dumbfound appearance. The feasting hall seated not a dozen, nor a few, but at least three hundred of the native giants! The interior was decorated in all kinds of votive offering to the hall, swords and foreign plunder decorated it's walls, rings, jewels and all assortments of valuable makeups were hewn into it as well. Even poems and blessings were hewn into the hall. Each who entered gave something in votive offering, man or giant; with thousands of years of offerings decorated the walls, tables, and furniture. Ale-Bringer, well he brought mead; I placed a gift of nine gold drakes into an upturned helmet as my offering. Mead kegs the size of houses were at one end of the feasting hall, while a grand kitchen; tirelessly operated by enslaved blue skinned goblins, under the watchful eyes of the master of the feast (a very powerful position in their society).
 

Before writing further, I must educate the reader as I myself was on the clan hierarchy of native Roscrean noble society. A noble's standing in society is entirely based on their placement at the feasting table. There are three 'circles' of the feasting table or hall in this situation. The most powerful figure, normally the elder of a clan or peerless warrior sits in the most splendid seat, and feasts upon the best cuts of meat and oldest mead. Those to his sides, and those to their sides, and all those this powerful figure may directly look in the eyes, they sit in the First Circle. They partake in the best cuts of meat and share the oldest mead, conversing among one another as companions and equals. Here the king, Cassivelogenos Bright-Hewer sits in his throne (the only throne of the palace) and is flanked by four slightly lesser thrones to each side. They sit at a semi-circle table, beautifully woven with iron and stone on it's outer side, with Bright-Hewer at it's center. A slight rampart that encompasses the inner side parameter helps the blue skinned goblins bring a constant inflow of fresh meat and mead, of course with a grand plethora of other lesser foodstuffs. By tradition, the Master of the Feast has the right to the First Circle but it is horribly rude to abandon his duties to do so.

The Second Circle entails the seating of lesser, yet still influential figures. In some manner or function are seated away from having the direct ear of the powerful figure and must raise their voice to speak with those of the First Circle, denoting their inequality; however they still have the right to converse with the First Circle and all those of the Second Circle enjoy a respectable splendor of foodstuffs. Here the Ale-Bringer sat at the Second Circle, an oppositely facing semi-circle of lesser decoration, exactly thirty seats adorn the outward facing table. The First and Second Circles facing one another, and the blue skinned goblins tirelessly bringing new food and drink to their table.

The Third Circle is farthest away from splendor and normally any may seat themselves at this circle. Traditionally they may not refill their cups of mead, nor request more meat than what is given. The Third Circle is not so much an area of the feasting hall, or table as one that may not interact with the First and Second Circles. Here, I am seated at the Third Circle along with the college-folk, one of the many, many long rectangular wooden tables that fill the feasting hall. None are close enough to the preceding Circles to converse, and all who sit at this Circle dream to elevate themselves to the greater tables. Yet all who seat at the Third Circles are equal in all ways and often share among one another. At this most splendid feasting hall, the flow of mead is dictated only by what is left to drink. Though there is no slaves to bring it in constant supply, it must be taken yourself. Only the cut of meat is limited here, which for a Nord such as myself is nearly too much to eat in a single sitting.

In the greater ages of the past, when the Broadwall was still south of Roscrea, I was told the nobles of the city ate like this every day. What an age that would have been!

 

Having read this my friends, I implore any who are able, make a journey, or even better; Settle. For all that Roscrea is frozen and cold, you will find a splendor here that is lost to time anywhere else.
Rolff Spindle-Foot, trusted servant to the court of King Thain.

Edited by TheCzarsHussar
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The Head-Taking Nords of Clan Borr
Rolff Spindle-Foot
~3e 397


"Weak men are protected by giants, who then do the giants seek as hearthguard? The hird of Borr."
This most boastful word-saying is a strong reflection of this far northerly tribe of Nords. Who are no more foreigners than the giants of the isle-hinterland.

Clan Borr might be described as first era tribe far too isolated and thrice more stubborn to change with the passing of time. It is a testament to the prowess of the clan that for all the collective, ingrained death obsession, they have persisted in strength and splendor. Though they have no temples or alters of any kind, the folk of Borr live their entire lives; sometimes short lived indeed, in preparation for the afterlife. That is to say, when presenting themselves at the Hall of Shor, they might have splendid battle-talk and boastful deeds. The clan shuns any presence of clever craft for no other reason than the perceived weakness of valor, to suffer a horrible wound and rise again by no other will than the will of self has made and broken chieftains.

Equally so does Clan Borr promote conflict and strife, even inter-clan struggles are heartily encouraged if done so honorably. In my tenure at their horrifying hill-fort I witnessed several duels to the death between young berserkers just to earn a place in the Borrshird. The clan knows nothing of herding or trading, or even farm-tending. In the shadow of their mighty hill-fort, the semi-enslaved, semi-freeholders tend to the lesser-living in the tundra permafrost.

The highest of their society, the men of the Borrshird are clad not in armor of any kind, but brightly colored Nordic garb; wielding painted tapestry-shields of personal and familial sagas so that if slain, the foe knows what great a' man has been thrown down. They are the warriors of the chieftain who's voice is law above all other voices but the chieftain. Chieftaincy is so chosen not from a royal member of the clan, but among the members of the Borrshird following their illustrious master's death. An assembly among themselves is held to elect the greatest among the hird to elevate, it is a bloody affair that has destroyed the entire Borrshird many times. Only for the now chieftain to witness the rise of younger berserkers. Only the strongest of chieftains are elevated with the Borrshird intact.

Clan Borr dwells in the northwestern near-mountainous hills of Old Dowry hold, and though King Thain is by law their master, they do not recognize his authority so long as they are unconquered. Though the chieftain true-heartedly relished the could-be acclaim of dueling a Nord-King, for their ancestors had been denied death in battle by the conquering Uriel Septim; who wholly avoided the mad Nords that had before then never heard of Septim. Their hill-fort is devoid of stoneworks and soft-luxuries. They live thatched longhouses and partially underground mound-homes; their earthen walls are that of thousands of mighty pikes skewing the severed heads of honored foes. That is to say the mad Nords of Clan Borr have head-hunted far too many men, giants, or otherwise as they are sea-raiders too, so to build a wall of trophies.

It is within this census why I must insist that Clan Borr and all that they have enslaved or rule above should not be taxed, though they adore the concept of levying and must insist themselves be so in times of conflict.
~Rolff Spindle-Foot, trusted servant to the court of King Thain.

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