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IIIIIIIIIIVVVVVVVV           VVVVVVVV
I::::::::IV::::::V           V::::::V
I::::::::IV::::::V           V::::::V
II::::::IIV::::::V           V::::::V
  I::::I   V:::::V           V:::::V 
  I::::I    V:::::V         V:::::V  
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II::::::II         V:::::::V         
I::::::::I          V:::::V          
I::::::::I           V:::V           
IIIIIIIIII            VVV            
                                     
                              
  ______   .______    __       __  ____    ____  __    ______   .__   __. 
 /  __  \  |   _  \  |  |     |  | \   \  /   / |  |  /  __  \  |  \ |  | 
|  |  |  | |  |_)  | |  |     |  |  \   \/   /  |  | |  |  |  | |   \|  | 
|  |  |  | |   _  <  |  |     |  |   \      /   |  | |  |  |  | |  . `  | 
|  `--'  | |  |_)  | |  `----.|  |    \    /    |  | |  `--'  | |  |\   | 
 \______/  |______/  |_______||__|     \__/     |__|  \______/  |__| \__| 
                                                                          

==========================================================================    
I:

###                                                                       
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### #    #   #   #    #  ####  #####   ####   ####    #   #  ####  #    # 

==========================================================================

This is a FAQ about the books of the Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion and it's
various offical mods including the Knights of the Nine and Shivering Isles,
where to find them, and the text that is in them.

=================================================
II:
 ____   __    ____  __    ____    _____  ____ 
(_  _) /__\  (  _ \(  )  ( ___)  (  _  )( ___)
  )(  /(__)\  ) _ < )(__  )__)    )(_)(  )__) 
 (__)(__)(__)(____/(____)(____)  (_____)(__)  
  ___  _____  _  _  ____  ____  _  _  ____  ___ 
 / __)(  _  )( \( )(_  _)( ___)( \( )(_  _)/ __)
( (__  )(_)(  )  (   )(   )__)  )  (   )(  \__ \
 \___)(_____)(_)\_) (__) (____)(_)\_) (__) (___/

===================================================

I. Introduction
II. Table of Contents
III. Contacting Me
IV. Version History
V. Book FAQ
V.1 Skill Books
V.2 The Books
VI. Credits
VII. Legal Stuff
VIII. The End

========================================================================
III:
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: ##:: ##:. ###: ##::::::: ##:::: ##:
'####: ##::. ##: ##:::::::. #######::
....::..::::..::..:::::::::.......:::
=========================================================================

You may contact me at theshadowdragon777@yahoo.com but only for the 
following things.

*Errors in my guide
*Spelling Mistakes
*Suggestions
*Praise
*Contributions
*Constructive Criticism
*Asking if you can use this FAQ on your site

Things you should not email to me:

*SPAM
*Things that have nothing to do with Oblivion
*Hate Mail/Flames
*etc...

=================================================
IV:
____   ____                  .__               
\   \ /   /___________  _____|__| ____   ____  
 \   Y   // __ \_  __ \/  ___/  |/  _ \ /    \ 
  \     /\  ___/|  | \/\___ \|  (  <_> )   |  \
   \___/  \___  >__|  /____  >__|\____/|___|  /
              \/           \/               \/ 
  ___ ___ .__          __                       
 /   |   \|__| _______/  |_  ___________ ___.__.
/    ~    \  |/  ___/\   __\/  _ \_  __ <   |  |
\    Y    /  |\___ \  |  | (  <_> )  | \/\___  |
 \___|_  /|__/____  > |__|  \____/|__|   / ____|
       \/         \/                     \/     

====================================================

Version Number: 0.1
Date Added: 07/04/07
What's New: Started

Version Number: 1.0
Date: 11/15/07
What's New: Finally got over lots of lazyness and finished it,
Everything is new.

Version Number: 1.1
Date: 11/20/07
What's New: Added Shivering Isles books

===========================================================================
V:
 _______ _            ____              _      ______      ____  
|__   __| |          |  _ \            | |    |  ____/\   / __ \ 
   | |  | |__   ___  | |_) | ___   ___ | | __ | |__ /  \ | |  | |
   | |  | '_ \ / _ \ |  _ < / _ \ / _ \| |/ / |  __/ /\ \| |  | |
   | |  | | | |  __/ | |_) | (_) | (_) |   <  | | / ____ \ |__| |
   |_|  |_| |_|\___| |____/ \___/ \___/|_|\_\ |_|/_/    \_\___\_\

===========================================================================

As in previous Elder Scrolls games, Oblivion is full of books.
In this FAQ I will list each one, where to find most of them,
and even have what is said within them. Many of the nonmagic
books are found all over Oblivion and there is not really a
specific spot to look for them so if there is a book without
a location usually that means it is one of these. If there is
a specific location for a book and I don't have in this FAQ
feel free to Email me and I may add it into the FAQ and give
you credit for finding it.

Table of Contents

ACROBATIC BOOKS
LOLZ01 - The Black Arrow, v1
LOLZ02 - A Dance in Fire, v1
LOLZ03 - A Dance in Fire, v4
LOLZ04 - Mystery of Talara, v1
LOLZ05 - Thief

ALCHEMY BOOKS
LOLZ06 - Calcinator Treatise
LOLZ07 - De Rerum Dirennis
LOLZ08 - A Game at Dinner
LOLZ09 - Mannimarco, King of Worms
LOLZ10 - Song of the Alchemists

ALTERATION BOOKS
LOLZ11 - Daughter of the Niben
LOLZ12 - The Dragon Break
LOLZ13 - The Lunar Lorkhan
LOLZ14 - Reality & Other Falsehoods
LOLZ15 - Sithis

ARMORER BOOKS
LOLZ16 - The Armorer's Challenge
LOLZ17 - Cherim's Heart of Anequina
LOLZ18 - Heavy Armor Repair
LOLZ19 - Last Scabbard of Akrash
LOLZ20 - Light Armor Repair

ATHLETICS BOOKS
LOLZ21 - The Argonian Account, Book 1
LOLZ22 - Beggar
LOLZ23 - A Dance in Fire, v3
LOLZ24 - The Ransom of Zarek
LOLZ25 - The Red Kitchen Reader

BLADE BOOKS
LOLZ26 - 2920, Morning Star (V1)
LOLZ27 - Battle of Sancre Tor
LOLZ28 - Fire and Darkness
LOLZ29 - Song of Hrormir
LOLZ30 - Words and Philosophy

BLOCK BOOKS
LOLZ31 - A Dance in Fire, V2
LOLZ32 - Death Blow of Abernaint
LOLZ33 - The Mirror
LOLZ34 - The Warp in the West
LOLZ35 - Warrior

BLUNT BOOKS
LOLZ36 - The Importance of Where
LOLZ37 - King
LOLZ38 - The Legendary Sancre Tor
LOLZ39 - Mace Etiquette
LOLZ40 - Night Falls on Sentinal

CONJURATION BOOKS
LOLZ41 - 2920, Frostfall (v10)
LOLZ42 - 2920, Hearth Fire (V9)
LOLZ43 - The Doors of Oblivion
LOLZ44 - Liminal Bridges
LOLZ45 - Mythic Dawn Commentaries 1
LOLZ46 - The Warrior's Charge

DESTRUCTION BOOKS
LOLZ47 - The Art of War Magic
LOLZ48 - The Horrors of Castle Xyr
LOLZ49 - A Hypothetical Treachery
LOLZ50 - Mystery of Talara, v3
LOLZ51 - Mythic Dawn Commentaries 2
LOLZ52 - Response to Bero's Speech

HAND TO HAND BOOKS
LOLZ53 - Ahzirr Traajijazeri
LOLZ54 - Immortal Blood
LOLZ55 - Master Zoaraym's Tale
LOLZ56 - Way of the Exposed Palm
LOLZ57 - The Wolf Queen, V2

HEAVY ARMOR BOOKS
LOLZ58 - 2920, MidYear (V6)
LOLZ59 - Chimarvamidium
LOLZ60 - Fighters Guild History, 1st Edition/History of the Fighers Guild
LOLZ61 - Hallgerd's Tale
LOLZ62 - How Orsinium Passed to Orcs

ILLUSION BOOKS
LOLZ63 - The Argonian Account, Book 3
LOLZ64 - Incident in Necrom
LOLZ65 - Mystery of Talara, v4
LOLZ66 - Mythic Dawn Commentaries 3
LOLZ67 - Palla, Volume 1
LOLZ68 - The Wolf Queen, v3

LIGHT ARMOR BOOKS
LOLZ69 - Ice and Chitin
LOLZ70 - Lord Jornibret's Last Dance
LOLZ71 - The Rear Guard
LOLZ72 - The Refugees
LOLZ73 - Rislav The Righteous

MARKSMAN BOOKS
LOLZ74 - A Dance in Fire, v5
LOLZ75 - The Black Arrow, v2
LOLZ76 - Father of the Niben
LOLZ77 - The Gold Ribbon of Merit
LOLZ78 - Vernaccus and Bourlor

MERCANTILE BOOKS
LOLZ79 - 2920, Sun's Height (v7)
LOLZ80 - The Buying Game
LOLZ81 - A Dance in Fire, v6
LOLZ82 - A Dance in Fire, v7
LOLZ83 - Wolf Queen, v4

MYSTICISM BOOKS
LOLZ84 - 2920, Sun's Dawn (v2)
LOLZ85 - Before the Ages of Man
LOLZ86 - The Black Arts On Trial
LOLZ87 - The Firsthold Revolt
LOLZ88 - Mythic Dawn Commentaries 4
LOLZ89 - Souls, Black and White

RESTORATION BOOKS
LOLZ90 - 2920, Rain's Hand (v4)
LOLZ91 - The Exodus
LOLZ92 - Mystery of Talara, v2
LOLZ93 - Notes on Racial Phylogeny
LOLZ94 - Withershins

SECURITY BOOKS
LOLZ95 - Advances in Lock Picking
LOLZ96 - The Locked Room
LOLZ97 - Proper Lock Design
LOLZ98 - Surfeit of Thieves
LOLZ99 - The Wolf Queen, v1

SNEAK BOOKS
LOLZ100 - 2920, Last Seed (v8)
LOLZ101 - Legend of Krately House
LOLZ102 - Purloined Shadows
LOLZ103 - Sacred Witness
LOLZ104 - The Wolf Queen, v6

SPEECHCRAFT BOOKS
LOLZ105 - 2920, Second Seed (v5)
LOLZ106 - Biography of the Wolf Queen
LOLZ107 - The Wolf Queen, v5
LOLZ108 - The Wolf Queen, v7

MARKER BOOKS
LOLZ109 - Agnar's Journal
LOLZ110 - Cleansing of the Fane
LOLZ111 - Knightfall
LOLZ112 - Modern Heretics

NON-MAGICAL BOOKS
LOLZ113 - 2920, First Seed (v3)
LOLZ114 - 2920, Sun's Dusk (v11)
LOLZ115 - 2920, Evening Star (v12)
LOLZ116 - Aevar Stone-Singer
LOLZ117 - Amantius Allectus' Diary
LOLZ118 - The Amulet of Kings
LOLZ119 - Ancotar's Journal
LOLZ120 - Arcana Restored
LOLZ121 - The Argonian Account, Book 2
LOLZ122 - The Argonian Account, Book 4
LOLZ123 - Ayleid Reference Text
LOLZ124 - Azura and the Box
LOLZ125 - Beggar Prince
LOLZ126 - Bible of the Deep Ones
LOLZ127 - Biography of Barenziah, v 1
LOLZ128 - Biography of Barenziah, v 2
LOLZ129 - Biography of Barenziah, v 3
LOLZ130 - A Bloody Journal
LOLZ131 - The Book of Daedra
LOLZ132 - Brenus Astis' Journal
LOLZ133 - Brief History of the Empire v 1
LOLZ134 - Brief History of the Empire v 2
LOLZ135 - Brief History of the Empire v 3
LOLZ136 - Brief History of the Empire v 4
LOLZ137 - The Brothers of Darkness
LOLZ138 - Children of the Sky
LOLZ139 - A Children's Anuad
LOLZ140 - Dar-Ma's Diary
LOLZ141 - Darkest Darkness
LOLZ142 - Diary of Springheel Jak
LOLZ143 - Drothan's Field Journal (Mehrunes Razor)
LOLZ144 - Drothan's Journal (Mehrunes Razor)
LOLZ145 - Dwemer History and Culture
LOLZ146 - Earana's Notes
LOLZ147 - The Eastern Provinces
LOLZ148 - Fall of the Snow Prince
LOLZ149 - Feyfolken I
LOLZ150 - Feyfolken II
LOLZ151 - Feyfolken III
LOLZ152 - The Firmament
LOLZ153 - Five Songs of King Wulfharth
LOLZ154 - The Five Tenets
LOLZ155 - Followers of the Gray Fox
LOLZ156 - Fragment: On Artaeum
LOLZ157 - Frontier, Conquest
LOLZ158 - Frostcrag Spire Memoirs (Wizard's Tower)
LOLZ159 - Fundaments of Alchemy
LOZL160 - Galerion the Mystic
LOLZ161 - Gelebourne's Journal
LOLZ162 - Glories and Laments
LOLZ163 - Gods and Worship
LOLZ164 - Greywyn's Journal (Vile Lair)
LOLZ165 - Guide to Anvil
LOLZ166 - Guide to Bravil
LOLZ167 - Guide to Cheydinhal
LOLZ168 - Guide to Chorrol
LOLZ169 - Guide to the Imperial City
LOLZ170 - Guide to Leyawiin
LOLZ171 - Guide to Skingrad
LOLZ172 - Hanging Gardens
LOLZ173 - Hiding With the Shadow
LOLZ174 - History of Lock Picking
LOLZ175 - Imbel Genealogy
LOLZ176 - Journal of the Lord Lovidicus
LOLZ177 - The Knights of the Nine
LOLZ178 - The Last King of the Ayleids
LOLZ179 - The Legendary Scourge
LOLZ180 - A Less Rude Song
LOLZ181 - A Life of Uriel Septim VII
LOLZ182 - Lithnilian's Research Notes
LOLZ183 - Log of the Emma May
LOLZ184 - The Lusty Argonian Maid
LOLZ185 - Macabre Manifest
LOLZ186 - The Madness of Pelagius
LOLZ187 - Mages Guild Charter
LOLZ188 - Magic from the Sky
LOLZ189 - Manifesto Cyrodiil Vampyrum (Vile Lair)
LOLZ190 - Manual of Armor
LOLZ191 - Manual of Arms
LOLZ192 - Manual of Spellcraft
LOLZ193 - Mixed Unit Tactics
LOLZ194 - More than Mortal 	
LOLZ195 - Mysterious Akavir
LOLZ196 - Mystery of Talara, v 5
LOLZ197 - Mysticism
LOLZ198 - Myth or Menace?
LOLZ199 - Necromancer's Moon
LOLZ200 - N'Gasta! Kvata! Kvakis!
LOLZ201 - The Old Ways
LOLZ202 - On Morrowind
LOLZ203 - On Oblivion
LOLZ204 - Opusculus Lamae Bal ta Mezzamortie (Vile Lair)
LOLZ205 - Origin of the Mages Guild
LOLZ207 - Palla, Volume 2
LOLZ208 - The Path of Transcendence
LOLZ209 - Pension of the Ancestor Moth
LOLZ210 - The Pig Children
LOLZ211 - The Posting of the Hunt
LOLZ212 - Provinces of Tamriel
LOLZ213 - The Real Barenziah, v 1
LOLZ214 - The Real Barenziah, v 2
LOLZ215 - The Real Barenziah, v 3
LOLZ216 - The Real Barenziah, v 4
LOLZ217 - The Real Barenziah, v 5
LOLZ218 - The Red Book of Riddles
LOLZ219 - Remanada
LOLZ220 - Report: Disaster at Ionith
LOLZ221 - Ruins of Kemel-Ze
LOLZ222 - Rolard Nordssen
LOLZ223 - The Seed
LOLZ224 - Shezarr and the Divines (Knights of the Nine)
LOLZ225 - Sir Amiel's Journal (Knights of the Nine)
LOLZ226 - The Song of Pelinal, v1 (Knights of the Nine)
LOLZ227 - The Song of Pelinal, v2 (Knights of the Nine)
LOLZ228 - The Song of Pelinal, v3 (Knights of the Nine)
LOLZ229 - The Song of Pelinal, v4 (Knights of the Nine)
LOLZ230 - The Song of Pelinal, v5 (Knights of the Nine)
LOLZ231 - The Song of Pelinal, v6 (Knights of the Nine)
LOLZ232 - The Song of Pelinal, v7 (Knights of the Nine)
LOLZ233 - The Song of Pelinal, v8 (Knights of the Nine)
LOLZ234 - Spirit of the Daedra
LOLZ235 - Ten Commands: Nine Divines
LOLZ236 - Thief of Virtue
LOLZ237 - The Third Door
LOLZ238 - Tome of Unlife
LOLZ239 - Traitor's Diary
LOLZ240 - Treatise on Ayleidic Cities (Mehrunes Razor)
LOLZ241 - Trials of St. Alessia
LOLZ242 - The True Nature of Orcs
LOLZ243 - Varieties of Daedra
LOLZ244 - The Waters of Oblivion
LOLZ245 - The Wild Elves 
LOLZ246 - The Wolf Queen, v8
LOLZ240A - Lord Kelvyn's Will
LOLZ240B - Lord Jaren's Journal

BLACK HORSE COURIOR (NORMAL)
(Normal Black Horse Papers can be found at
any time in many different locations ranging
from people's houses to guild halls. You can
also get them from couriors.)

LOLZ247 - Assassination!
LOLZ248 - Gray Fox, Man or Myth?
LOLZ249 - Gray Fox Unmasked!
LOLZ250 - New 'Doomstones' Series!
LOLZ251 - A New Guild for Fighters?
LOLZ252 - Night Mother Rituals!

BLACK HORSE COURIOR (TRIGGERED)

(Triggered Black Horse papers are ones
that will appear after a certain task
is done such as the compeletion of a 
certain quest)

LOLZ253 - Adamus Phillida Slain!
LOLZ254 - Anvil Tarts Thwarted!
LOLZ255 - Cheydinhal Heir Saved! 
LOLZ256 - Greatest Painter Safe!
LOLZ257 - New Watch Captain Named
LOLZ258 - Palace Break-In?
LOLZ259 - Pale Pass Discovery!
LOLZ260 - Poor Burdened by Taxes!
LOLZ261 - Pranks Spoils Society Gathering!
LOLZ262 - Rain of Burning Dogs!
LOLZ263 - Tragic Accident! Baenlin Dead!
LOLZ264 - Vampire Nest in the City!
LOLZ265 - Waterfront Raid Fails!

SHIVERING ISLES BOOKS
LOLZ266 - Alyssa's Journal
LOLZ267 - Brief Journal
LOLZ268 - Bark and Sap
LOLZ269 - Blessing of Sheogorath
LOLZ270 - Cindanwe's Notebook
LOLZ271 - An Elytra's Life
LOLZ272 - Fall of Vitharn
LOLZ273 - From Frog to Man
LOLZ274 - Grommok's Journal
LOLZ275 - Guide to New Sheoth
LOLZ276 - Heretical Thoughts
LOLZ277 - The Liturgy of Affliction
LOLZ278 - The Living Woods
LOLZ279 - Manual of Xedilian
LOLZ280 - Myths of Shegorath
LOLZ281 - The Predecessors
LOLZ282 - The Prophet Arden-Sul
LOLZ283 - The Ravings of Fenroy
LOLZ284 - Saints and Seducers
LOLZ285 - The Shivering Apothecary
LOLZ286 - The Shivering Bestiary
LOLZ287 - 16 Accords of Madness, v. VI
LOLZ288 - 16 Accords of Madness, v. IX
LOLZ289 - 16 Accords of Madness, v. XII
LOLZ290 - The Standing Stones
LOLZ291 - Traelius' Journal
LOLZ292 - Wabbajack
LOLZ293 - Zealotry


NOTES
(Will be added shortly)

                    -BOOKS BY SERIES-

~2920, THE LAST YEAR OF THE FIRST ERA~
-Morning Star (LOLZ26)
-Sun's Dawn   (LOLZ84)
-First Seed   (LOLZ113)
-Rain's Hand  (LOLZ90)
-Second Seed  (LOLZ105)
-MidYear      (LOLZ58)
-Sun's Height (LOLZ79)
-Last Seed    (LOLZ100)
-Hearth Fire  (LOLZ42)
-Frostfall    (LOLZ41)
-Sun's Desk   (LOLZ114)
-Evening Star (LOLZ115)

~A DANCE IN FIRE~
-Volume 1 (LOLZ02)
-Volume 2 (LOLZ31)
-Volume 3 (LOLZ23)
-Volume 4 (LOLZ03)
-Volume 5 (LOLZ74)
-Volume 6 (LOLZ81)
-Volume 7 (LOLZ82)

~~ANCIENT TALES OF THE DWEMER~~
Book II: The Seed                 (LOLZ223)
Book III: The Importance of Where (LOLZ36)
Book V: Song of the Alchemists    (LOLZ10)
BooK VI: Chimarvamidium           (LOLZ59)
Book X: More than Mortal          (LOLZ194)
Book XI: Azura and the Box        (LOLZ124)

~THE ARGONIAN ACCOUNT~
-Book 1 (LOLZ21)
-Book 2 (LOLZ121)
-Book 3 (LOLZ63)
-Book 4 (LOLZ122)

~THE BLACK ARROW~
-Volume 1 (LOLZ01)
-Volume 2 (LOLZ75)

~~MYSTERY OF TALARA~
-Volume 1 (LOLZ04)
-Volume 2 (LOLZ92)
-Volume 3 (LOLZ50)
-Volume 4 (LOLZ65)
-Volume 5 (LOLZ196)

~~MYTHIC DAWN COMMENTARIES~~
-Book 1 (LOLZ45)
-Book 2 (LOLZ51)
-Book 3 (LOLZ66)
-Book 4 (LOLZ88)

~~PALLA~~
-Book 1 (LOLZ67)
-Book 2 (LOLZ207)

~~STORY OF ESLAF EROL~~
-Beggar  (LOLZ22)
-Thief   (LOLZ04)
-Warrior (LOLZ35)
-King    (LOLZ37)

~~THE WOLF QUEEN~~
-Volume 1 (LOLZ99)
-Volume 2 (LOLZ57)
-Volume 3 (LOLZ68)
-Volume 4 (LOLZ83)
-Volume 5 (LOLZ107)
-Volume 6 (LOLZ104)
-Volume 7 (LOLZ108)
-Volume 8 (LOLZ246)

Template:
(Search Code: Enter this code using Control F while using the table of 
contents above to quickly find what you need or want.

Book Name: The Title of the Book

Character that "wrote it": It's ingame author

ID: The PC plays of this game can use this ID to create a copy of the book
whereever they are. For ID's that start with xx that means they are books
that come from one of the official mods and the xx will stand for what
number the mod is. If it is the first mod you installed the xx will be 01
and so on until the 9th mod which is 09. After that it gets a little tricky
as with the 10th mod the xx becomes 1A.

Where It can be Found: Where you can find the book. (Will be added soon)

It's Text: The text of the book so you can read it at your computer instead
of while playing the game.

                   ======ACROBATICS BOOKS======

                      (Search Code: LOLZ01)
                      ~~The Black Arrow, v1~~

                        Gorgic Guine

     Item ID: 000243CD
    

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I was young when the Duchess of Woda hired me as an assistant footman at
her summer palace. My experience with the ways of the titled aristocracy was
very limited before that day. There were wealthy merchants, traders,
diplomats, and officials who had large operations in Eldenroot, and
ostentatious palaces for entertaining, but my relatives were all far from
those social circles.

There was no family business for me to enter when I reached adulthood, but
my cousin heard that an estate far from the city required servants. It was
so remotely located that there were unlikely to be many applicants for the
positions. I walked for five days into the jungles of Valenwood before I met
a group of riders going my direction. They were three Bosmer men, one Bosmer
woman, two Breton women, and a Dunmer man, adventurers from the look of
them.

“Are you also going to Moliva?” asked Prolyssa, one of the Breton women,
after we had made our introductions.

“I don't know what that is,” I replied. “I'm seeking a domestic position 
with the Duchess of Woda.”

“We'll take you to her gate,” said the Dunmer Missun Akin, pulling me up to
his horse. “But you would be wise not to tell Her Grace that students from 
Moliva escorted you. Not unless you don't really want the position in her 
service.”

Akin explained himself as we rode on. Moliva was the closest village to the
Duchess's estate, where a great and renowned archer had retired after a long
life of military service. His name was Hiomaste, and though he was retired,
he had begun to accept students who wished to learn the art of the bow. In
time, when word spread of the great teacher, more and more students arrived
to learn from the Master. The Breton women had come down all the way from
the Western Reach of High Rock. Akin himself had journeyed across the
continent from his home near the great volcano in Morrowind. He showed me
the ebony arrows he had brought from his homeland. I had never seen anything
so black.

“From what we've heard,” said Kopale, one of the Bosmer men. “The Duchess is
an Imperial whose family has been here even before the Empire was formed, so
you might think that she was accustomed to the common people of Valenwood.
Nothing could be further from the truth. She despises the village, and the
school most of all.”

“I suppose she wants to control all the traffic in her jungle,” laughed
Prolyssa.

I accepted the information with gratitude, and found myself dreading more
and more my first meeting with the intolerant Duchess. My first sight of the
palace through the trees did nothing to assuage my fears.

It was nothing like any building I had ever seen in Valenwood. A vast 
edifice of stone and iron, with a jagged row of battlements like the jaws of
a great beast. Most of the trees near the palace had been hewn away long
ago: I could only imagine the scandal that must have caused, and what fear
the Bosmer peasants must have had of the Duchy of Woda to have allowed it.
In their stead was a wide gray-green moat circling in a ring around the
palace, so it seemed to be on a perfect if artificial island. I had seen
such sights in tapestries from High Rock and the Imperial Province, but
never in my homeland.

“There'll be a guard at the gate, so we'll leave you here,” said Akin,
stopping his horse in the road. “It'd be best for you if you weren't damned
by association with us.”

I thanked my companions, and wished them good luck with their schooling.
They rode on and I followed on foot. In a few minutes' time, I was at the
front gate, which I noticed was linked to tall and ornate railings to keep
the compound secure. When the gate-keeper understood that I was there to
inquire about a domestic position, he allowed me past and signaled to
another guard across the open lawn to extend the drawbridge and allow me to
cross the moat.

There was one last security measure: the front door. An iron monstrosity
with the Woda Coat of Arms across the top, reinforced by more strips of
iron, and a single golden keyhole. The man standing guard unlocked the door
and gave me passage into the huge gloomy gray stone palace.

Her Grace greeted me in her drawing room. She was thin and wrinkled like a
reptile, cloaked in a simple red gown. It was obviously that she never
smiled. Our interview consisted of a single question.

“Do you know anything about being a junior footman in the employment of an
Imperial noblewoman?” Her voice was like ancient leather.

“No, Your Grace.”

“Good. No servant ever understands what needs to be done, and I particularly
dislike those who think they do. You're engaged.”

Life at the palace was joyless, but the position of junior footman was very
undemanding. I had nothing to do on most days except to stay out of the
Duchess's sight. At such times, I usually walked two miles down the road to
Moliva. In some ways, there was nothing special or unusual about the village
- there are thousands of identical places in Valenwood. But on the hillside
nearby was Master Hiomaste's archery academy, and I would often take my
luncheon and watch the practice.

Prolyssa and Akin would sometimes meet me afterwards. With Akin, the
subjects of conversation very seldom strayed far from archery. Though I was
very fond of him, I found Prolyssa a more enchanting companion, not only
because she was pretty for a Breton, but also because she seemed to have
interests outside the realm of marksmanship.

“There's a circus in High Rock I saw when I was a little girl called the
Quill Circus,” she said during one of our walks through the woods. “They've
been around for as long as anyone can remember. You have to see them if you
ever can. They have plays, and sideshows, and the most amazing acrobats and
archers you've ever seen. That's my dream, to join them some day when I'm
good enough.”

“How will you know when you're a good enough archer?” I asked.

She didn't answer, and when I turned, I realized that she had disappeared. I
looked around, bewildered, until I heard laughter from the tree above me. She
was perched on a branch, grinning.

“I may not join as an archer, maybe I'll join as an acrobat,” she said. “Or
maybe as both. I figured that Valenwood would be the place to go to see what
I could learn. You've got all those great teachers to imitate in the trees
here. Those ape men.”

She coiled up, bracing her left leg before springing forward on her right. In
a second, she had leapt across to a neighboring branch. I found it difficult
to keep talking to her.

“The Imga, you mean?” I stammered. “Aren't you nervous up at that height?”

“It's a cliche, I know,” she said, jumping to an even higher branch, “But the
secret is not to ever look down.”

“Would you mind coming down?”

“I probably should anyhow,” she said. She was a good thirty feet up now,
balancing herself, arms outstretched, on a very narrow branch. She gestured
toward the gate just barely visible on the other side of the road. “This tree
is actually as close as I want to get to your Duchess's palace.”

I held back a gasp as she dove off the branch, somersaulting until she landed
on the ground, knees slightly bent. That was the trick, she explained.
Anticipating the blow before it happened. I expressed to her my confidence
that she would be a great attraction at the Quill Circus. Of course, I know
now that never was to be.

On that day, as I recall, I had to return early. It was one of the rare
occasions when I had work, of a sort, to do. Whenever the Duchess had guests,
I was to be at the palace. That is not to say that I had any particular
duties, except to be seen standing at attention in the dining room. The
stewards and maids worked hard to bring in the food and clear the plates
afterwards, but the footmen were purely decorative, a formality.

But at least I was an audience for the drama to come.

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                     (Search Code: LOLZ02)
                    ~~A Dance in Fire, v1~~

                         Waughin Jarth

     Item ID: 000243CB 	

    

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 Chapter 1

    Scene: The Imperial City, Cyrodiil 
    Date: 7 Frost Fall, 3E 397 

It seemed as if the palace had always housed the Atrius Building Commission,
the company of clerks and estate agents who authored and notarized nearly
every construction of any note in the Empire. It had stood for two hundred
and fifty years, since the reign of the Emperor Magnus, a plain-fronted and
austere hall on a minor but respectable plaza in the Imperial City. Energetic
and ambitious middle-class lads and ladies worked there, as well as 
complacent middle-aged ones like Decumus Scotti. No one could imagine a world
without the Commission, least of all Scotti. To be accurate, he could not
imagine a world without himself in the Commission.

“Lord Atrius is perfectly aware of your contributions,” said the managing
clerk, closing the shutter that demarcated Scotti's office behind him. “But
you know that things have been difficult.”

“Yes,” said Scotti, stiffly.

“Lord Vanech's men have been giving us a lot of competition lately, and we
must be more efficient if we are to survive. Unfortunately, that means 
releasing some of our historically best but presently underachieving senior
clerks.”

“I understand. Can't be helped.”

“I'm glad that you understand,” smiled the managing clerk, smiling thinly and
withdrawing. “Please have your room cleared immediately.”

Scotti began the task of organizing all his work to pass on to his successor.
It would probably be young Imbrallius who would take most of it on, which was
as it should be, he considered philosophically. The lad knew how to find
business. Scotti wondered idly what the fellow would do with the contracts
for the new statue of St Alessia for which the Temple of the One had applied.
Probably invent a clerical error, blame it on his old predecessor Decumus
Scotti, and require an additional cost to rectify.

“I have correspondence for Decumus Scotti of the Atrius Building Commission.”

Scotti looked up. A fat-faced courier had entered his office and was
thrusting forth a sealed scroll. He handed the boy a gold piece, and opened
it up. By the poor penmanship, atrocious spelling and grammar, and overall
unprofessional tone, it was manifestly evident who the writer was. Liodes
Jurus, a fellow clerk some years before, who had left the Commission after
being accused of unethical business practices.

    “Dear Sckotti, 

    I emagine you alway wondered what happened to me, and the last plase you
would have expected to find me is out in the woods. But thats exactly where I
am. Ha ha. If your'e smart and want to make lot of extra gold for Lord Atrius
(and yourself, ha ha), youll come down to Vallinwood too. If you have'nt or
have been following the politics hear lately, you may or may not know that
ther's bin a war between the Boshmer and there neighbors Elswere over the
past two years. Things have only just calm down, and ther's a lot that needs
to be rebuilt. 

    Now Ive got more business than I can handel, but I need somone with some
clout, someone representing a respected agencie to get the quill in the ink.
That somone is you, my fiend. Come & meat me at the M'ther Paskos Tavern in
Falinnesti, Vallinwood. Ill be here 2 weeks and you wont be sorrie. 

    -- Jurus 

    P.S.: Bring a wagenload of timber if you can.” 

“What do you have there, Scotti?” asked a voice.

Scotti started. It was Imbrallius, his damnably handsome face peeking through
the shutters, smiling in that way that melted the hearts of the stingiest of
patrons and the roughest of stonemasons. Scotti shoved the letter in his
jacket pocket.

“Personal correspondence,” he sniffed. “I'll be cleared up here in a just a
moment.”

“I don't want to hurry you,” said Imbrallius, grabbing a few sheets of blank
contracts from Scotti's desk. “I've just gone through a stack, and the junior
scribes hands are all cramping up, so I thought you wouldn't miss a few.”

The lad vanished. Scotti retrieved the letter and read it again. He thought
about his life, something he rarely did. It seemed a sea of gray with a black
insurmountable wall looming. There was only one narrow passage he could see
in that wall. Quickly, before he had a moment to reconsider it, he grabbed a
dozen of the blank contracts with the shimmering gold leaf ATRIUS BUILDING
COMMISSION BY APPOINTMENT OF HIS IMPERIAL MAJESTY and hid them in the satchel
with his personal effects.

The next day he began his adventure with a giddy lack of hesitation. He
arranged for a seat in a caravan bound for Valenwood, the single escorted
conveyance to the southeast leaving the Imperial City that week. He had
scarcely hours to pack, but he remembered to purchase a wagonload of timber.

“It will be extra gold to pay for a horse to pull that,” frowned the convoy
head.

“So I anticipated,” smiled Scotti with his best Imbrallius grin.

Ten wagons in all set off that afternoon through the familiar Cyrodilic
countryside. Past fields of wildflowers, gently rolling woodlands, friendly
hamlets. The clop of the horses' hooves against the sound stone road reminded
Scotti that the Atrius Building Commission constructed it. Five of the
eighteen necessary contracts for its completion were drafted by his own hand.

“Very smart of you to bring that wood along,” said a gray-whiskered Breton
man next to him on his wagon. “You must be in Commerce.”

“Of a sort,” said Scotti, in a way he hoped was mysterious, before
introducing himself: “Decumus Scotti.”

“Gryf Mallon,” said the man. “I'm a poet, actually a translator of old Bosmer
literature. I was researching some newly discovered tracts of the Mnoriad
Pley Bar two years ago when the war broke out and I had to leave. You are no
doubt familiar with the Mnoriad, if you're aware of the Green Pact.”

Scotti thought the man might be speaking perfect gibberish, but he nodded his
head.

“Naturally, I don't pretend that the Mnoriad is as renowned as the Meh
Ayleidion, or as ancient as the Dansir Gol, but I think it has a remarkable
significance to understanding the nature of the merelithic Bosmer mind. The
origin of the Wood Elf aversion to cutting their own wood or eating any plant
material at all, yet paradoxically their willingness to import plantstuff
from other cultures, I feel can be linked to a passage in the Mnoriad,”
Mallon shuffled through some of his papers, searching for the appropriate
text.

To Scotti's vast relief, the carriage soon stopped to camp for the night.
They were high on a bluff over a gray stream, and before them was the great
valley of Valenwood. Only the cry of seabirds declared the presence of the
ocean to the bay to the west: here the timber was so tall and wide, twisting
around itself like an impossible knot begun eons ago, to be impenetrable. A
few more modest trees, only fifty feet to the lowest branches, stood on the
cliff at the edge of camp. The sight was so alien to Scotti and he found
himself so anxious about the proposition of entering the wilderness that he
could not imagine sleeping.

Fortunately, Mallon had supposed he had found another academic with a passion
for the riddles of ancient cultures. Long into the night, he recited Bosmer
verse in the original and in his own translation, sobbing and bellowing and
whispering wherever appropriate. Gradually, Scotti began to feel drowsy, but
a sudden crack of wood snapping made him sit straight up.

“What was that?”

Mallon smiled: “I like it too. 'Convocation in the malignity of the moonless
speculum, a dance of fire --'”

“There are some enormous birds up in the trees moving around,” whispered
Scotti, pointing in the direction of the dark shapes above.

“I wouldn't worry about that,” said Mallon, irritated with his audience. “Now
listen to how the poet characterizes Herma-Mora's invocation in the
eighteenth stanza of the fourth book.”

The dark shapes in the trees were some of them perched like birds, others
slithered like snakes, and still others stood up straight like men. As Mallon
recited his verse, Scotti watched the figures softly leap from branch to
branch, half-gliding across impossible distances for anything without wings.
They gathered in groups and then reorganized until they had spread to every
tree around the camp. Suddenly they plummeted from the heights.

“Mara!” cried Scotti. “They're falling like rain!”

“Probably seed pods,” Mallon shrugged, not turning around. “Some of the trees
have remarkable --”

The camp erupted into chaos. Fires burst out in the wagons, the horses wailed
from mortal blows, casks of wine, fresh water, and liquor gushed their
contents to the ground. A nimble shadow dashed past Scotti and Mallon,
gathering sacks of grain and gold with impossible agility and grace. Scotti
had only one glance at it, lit up by a sudden nearby burst of flame. It was a
sleek creature with pointed ears, wide yellow eyes, mottled pied fur and a
tail like a whip.

“Werewolf,” he whimpered, shrinking back.

“Cathay-raht,” groaned Mallon. “Much worse. Khajiti cousins or some such
thing, come to plunder.”

“Are you sure?”

As quickly as they struck, the creatures retreated, diving off the bluff
before the battlemage and knight, the caravan's escorts, had fully opened
their eyes. Mallon and Scotti ran to the precipice and saw a hundred feet
below the tiny figures dash out of the water, shake themselves, and disappear
into the wood.

“Werewolves aren't acrobats like that,” said Mallon. “They were definitely
Cathay-raht. Bastard thieves. Thank Stendarr they didn't realize the value of
my notebooks. It wasn't a complete loss.”

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                         (Search Code: LOLZ03)
                        ~~A Dance in Fire, v4~~

                           Waughin Jarth

     Item ID: 000243CC 	


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 Chapter 4

Eighteen Bosmeri and one Cyrodilic former senior clerk for an Imperial
building commission trudged through the jungle westward from the Xylo River
to the ancient village of Vindisi. For Decumus Scotti, the jungle was
hostile, unfamiliar ground. The enormous vermiculated trees filled the bright
morning with darkness, and resembled nothing so much as grasping claws, bent
on impeding their progress. Even the fronds of the low plants quivered with
malevolent energy. What was worse, he was not alone in his anxiety. His
fellow travelers, the natives who had survived the Khajiit attacks on the
villages of Grenos and Athay, wore faces of undisguised fear.

There was something sentient in the jungle, and not merely the mad but
benevolent indigenous spirits. In his peripheral vision, Scotti could see the
shadows of the Khajiiti following the refugees, leaping from tree to tree.
When he turned to face them, the lithe forms vanished into the gloom as if
they had never been there. But he knew he had seen them. And the Bosmeri saw
them too, and quickened their pace.

After eighteen hours, bitten raw by insects, scratched by a thousand thorns,
they emerged into a valley clearing. It was night, but a row of blazing
torches greeted them, illuminating the leather-wrought tents and jumbled
stones of the hamlet of Vindisi. At the end of the valley, the torches marked
a sacred site, a gnarled bower of trees pressed closed together to form a
temple. Wordlessly, the Bosmeri walked the torch arcade toward the trees.
Scotti followed them. When they reached the solid mass of living wood with
only one gaping portal, Scotti could see a dim blue light glowing within. A
low sonorous moan from a hundred voices echoed within. The Bosmeri maiden he
had been following held out her hand, stopping him.

"You do not understand, but no outsider, not even a friend may enter," she
said. "This is a holy place."

Scotti nodded, and watched the refugees march into the temple, heads bowed.
Their voices joined with the ones within. When the last wood elf had gone
inside, Scotti turned his attention back to the village. There must be food
to be had somewhere. A tendril of smoke and a faint whiff of roasting venison
beyond the torchlight led him.

They were five Cyrodiils, two Bretons, and a Nord, the group gathered around
a campfire of glowing white stones, pulling steaming strips of meat from the
cadaver of a great stag. At Scotti's approach, they rose up, all but the Nord
who was distracted by his hunk of animal flesh.

"Good evening, sorry to interrupt, but I was wondering if I might have a
little something to eat. I'm afraid I'm rather hungry, after walking all day
with some refugees from Grenos and Athay."

They bade him to sit down and eat, and introduced themselves.

"So the war's back on, it seems," said Scotti amiably.

"Best thing for these effete do-nothings," replied the Nord in between bites.
"I've never seen such a lazy culture. Now they've got the Khajiiti striking
them on land, and the high elves at sea. If there's any province that
deserves a little distress, it's damnable Valenwood."

"I don't see how they're so offensive to you," laughed one of the Bretons.

"They're congenital thieves, even worse than the Khajiiti because they are so
blessed meek in their aggression," the Nord spat out a gob of fat which
sizzled on the hot stones of the fire. "They spread their forests into
territory that doesn't belong to them, slowly infiltrating their neighbors,
and they're puzzled when Elsweyr shoves back at them. They're all villains of
the worst order."

"What are you doing here?" asked Scotti.

"I'm a diplomat from the court of Jehenna," muttered the Nord, returning to
his food.

"What about you, what are you doing here?" asked one of the Cyrodiils.

"I work for Lord Atrius's building commission in the Imperial City," said
Scotti. "One of my former colleagues suggested that I come down to Valenwood.
He said the war was over, and I could contract a great deal of business for
my firm rebuilding what was lost. One disaster after another, and I've lost
all my money, I'm in the middle of a rekindling of war, and I cannot find my
former colleague."

"Your former colleague," murmured another of the Cyrodiils, who had
introduced himself as Reglius. "He wasn't by any chance named Liodes Jurus,
was he?"

"You know him?"

"He lured me down to Valenwood in nearly the exact same circumstances,"
smiled Reglius, grimly. "I worked for your employer's competitor, Lord
Vanech's men, where Liodes Jurus also formerly worked. He wrote to me, asking
that I represent an Imperial building commission and contract some post-war
construction. I had just been released from my employment, and I thought that
if I brought some new business, I could have my job back. Jurus and I met in
Athay, and he said he was going to arrange a very lucrative meeting with the
Silvenar."

Scotti was stunned: "Where is he now?"

"I'm no theologian, so I couldn't say," Reglius shrugged. "He's dead. When
the Khajiiti attacked Athay, they began by torching the harbor where Jurus
was readying his boat. Or, I should say, my boat since it was purchased with
the gold I brought. By the time we were even aware of what was happening
enough to flee, everything by the water was ash. The Khajiiti may be animals,
but they know how to arrange an attack."

"I think they followed us through the jungle to Vindisi," said Scotti
nervously. "There was definitely a group of something jumping along the
treetops."

"Probably one of the monkey folk," snorted the Nord. "Nothing to be concerned
about."

"When we first came to Vindisi and the Bosmeri all entered that tree, they
were furious, whispering something about unleashing an ancient terror on
their enemies," the Breton shivered, remembering. "They've been there ever
since, for over a day and a half now. If you want something to be afraid of,
that's the direction to look."

The other Breton, who was a representative of the Daggerfall Mages Guild, was
staring off into the darkness while his fellow provincial spoke. "Maybe. But
there's something in the jungle too, right on the edge of the village,
looking in."

"More refugees maybe?" asked Scotti, trying to keep the alarm out his voice.

"Not unless they're traveling through the trees now," whispered the wizard.
The Nord and one of the Cyrodiils grabbed a long tarp of wet leather and
pulled it across the fire, instantly extinguishing it without so much as a
sizzle. Now Scotti could see the intruders, their elliptical yellow eyes and
long cruel blades catching the torchlight. He froze with fear, praying that
he too was not so visible to them.

He felt something bump against his back, and gasped.

Reglius's voice hissed from up above: "Be quiet for Mara's sake and climb up
here."

Scotti grabbed hold of the knotted double-vine that hung down from a tall
tree at the edge of the dead campfire. He scrambled up it as quickly as he
could, holding his breath lest any grunt of exertion escape him. At the top
of the vine, high above the village, was an abandoned nest from some great
bird in a trident-shaped branch. As soon as Scotti had pulled himself into
the soft, fragrant straw, Reglius pulled up the vine. No one else was there,
and when Scotti looked down, he could see no one below. No one, that is
except the Khajiiti, slowly moving toward the glow of the temple tree.

"Thank you," whispered Scotti, deeply touched that a competitor had helped
him. He turned away from the village, and saw that the tree's upper branches
brushed against the mossy rock walls that surrounded the valley below. "How
are you at climbing?"

"You're mad," said Reglius under his breath. "We should stay here until they
leave."

"If they burn Vindisi like they did Athay and Grenos, we'll be dead sure as
if we were on the ground," Scotti began the slow careful climb up the tree,
testing each branch. "Can you see what they're doing?"

"I can't really tell," Reglius stared down into the gloom. "They're at the
front of the temple. I think they also have ... it looks like long ropes,
trailing off behind them, off into the pass."

Scotti crawled onto the strongest branch that pointed toward the wet, rocky
face of the cliff. It was not a far jump at all. So close, in fact, that he
could smell the moisture and feel the coolness of the stone. But it was a
jump nevertheless, and in his history as a clerk, he had never before leapt
from a tree a hundred feet off the ground to a sheer rock. He pictured in his
mind's eye the shadows that had pursued him through the jungle from the
heights above. How their legs coiled to spring, how their arms snapped
forward in an elegant fluid motion to grasp. He leapt.

His hands grappled for rock, but long thick cords of moss were more
accessible. He held hard, but when he tried to plant his feet forward, they
slipped up skyward. For a few seconds, he found himself upside down before he
managed to pull himself into a more conventional position. There was a narrow
outcropping jutting out of the cliff where he could stand and finally exhale.

"Reglius. Reglius. Reglius," Scotti did not dare to call out. In a minute,
there was a shaking of branches, and Lord Vanech's man emerged. First his
satchel, then his head, then the rest of him. Scotti started to whisper
something, but Reglius shook his head violently and pointed downward. One of
the Khajiiti was at the base of the tree, peering at the remains of the
campfire.

Reglius awkwardly tried to balance himself on the branch, but as strong as it
was it was exceedingly difficult with only one free hand. Scotti cupped his
palms and then pointed at the satchel. It seemed to pain Reglius to let it
out of his grasp, but he relented and tossed it to Scotti.

There was a small, almost invisible hole in the bag, and when Scotti caught
it, a single gold coin dropped out. It rang as it bounced against the rock
wall on the descent, a high soft sound that seemed like the loudest alarm
Scotti had ever heard.

Then many things happened very quickly.

The Cathay-Raht at the base of the tree looked up and gave a loud wail. The
other Khajiiti followed in chorus, as the cat below crouched down and then
sprung up into the lower branches. Reglius saw it below him, climbing up with
impossible dexterity, and panicked. Even before he jumped, Scotti could tell
that he was going to fall. With a cry, Reglius the Clerk plunged to the
ground, breaking his neck on impact.

A flash of white fire erupted from every crevice of the temple, and the moan
of the Bosmeri prayer changed into something terrible and otherworldly. The
climbing Cathay-Raht stopped and stared.

"Keirgo," it gasped. "The Wild Hunt."

It was as if a crack in reality had opened wide. A flood of horrific beasts,
tentacled toads, insects of armor and spine, gelatinous serpents, vaporous
beings with the face of gods, all poured forth from the great hollow tree,
blind with fury. They tore the Khajiiti in front of the temple to pieces. All
the other cats fled for the jungle, but as they did so, they began pulling on
the ropes they carried. In a few seconds time, the entire village of Vindisi
was boiling with the lunatic apparitions of the Wild Hunt.

Over the babbling, barking, howling horde, Scotti heard the Cyrodiils in
hiding cry out as they were devoured. The Nord too was found and eaten, and
both Bretons. The wizard had turned himself invisible, but the swarm did not
rely on their sight. The tree the Cathay-Raht was in began to sway and rock
from the impossible violence beneath it. Scotti looked at the Khajiiti's
fear-struck eyes, and held out one of the cords of moss.

The cat's face showed its pitiful gratitude as it leapt for the vine. It
didn't have time to entirely replace that expression when Scotti pulled back
the cord, and watched it fall. The Hunt consumed it to the bone before it
struck the ground.

Scotti's own jump up to the next outcropping of rock was immeasurably more
successful. From there, he pulled himself to the top of the cliff and was
able to look down into the chaos that had been the village of Vindisi. The
Hunt's mass had grown and began to spill out through the pass out of the
valley, pursuing the fleeing Khajiiti. It was then that the madness truly
began.

In the moons' light, from Scotti's vantage, he could see where the Khajiiti
had attached their ropes. With a thunderous boom, an avalanche of boulders
poured over the pass. When the dust cleared, he saw that the valley had been
sealed. The Wild Hunt had nowhere to turn but on itself.

Scotti turned his head, unable to bear to look at the cannibalistic orgy. The
night jungle stood before him, a web of wood. He slung Reglius's satchel over
his shoulder, and entered. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ04)
                ~~Mystery of Talara, v1~~

                      Waughin Jarth

     Item ID:  000243CE	


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The year was 3E 405. The occasion was the millennial celebration of the
founding of the Breton Kingdom of Camlorn. Every grand boulevard and narrow
alley was strung with gold and purple banners, some plain, some marked with
the heraldic symbols of the Royal Family or the various principalities and
dukedoms which were vassals of the King. Musicians played in the plazas great
and small, and on every street corner was a new exotic entertainer: Redguard
snake charmers, Khajiiti acrobats, magicians of genuine power and those whose
flamboyant skill was equally impressive if largely illusion.

The sight that drew most of the male citizens of Camlorn was the March of
Beauty. A thousand comely young women, brightly and provocatively dressed,
danced their way down the long, wide main street of the city, from the Temple
of Sethiete to the Royal Palace. The menfolk jostled one another and craned
their necks, picking their favorites. It was no secret that they were all
prostitutes, and after the March and the Flower Festival that evening, they
would be available for more intimate business.

Gyna attracted much of the attention with her tall, curvaceous figure barely
covered by strips of silk and her curls of flaxen hair specked with flower
petals. In her late twenties, she wasn't the youngest of the prostitutes, but
she was certainly one of the most desirable. It was clear by her demeanor
that she was used to the lascivious glances, though she was far from jaded at
the sight of the city in splendor. Compared to the squalid quarter of
Daggerfall where she made her home, Camlorn at the height of celebration
seemed so unreal. And yet, what was even stranger was how, at the same time,
familiar it all looked, though she had never been there before.

The King's daughter Lady Jyllia rode out of the palace gates, and immediately
cursed her misfortune. She had completely forgotten about the March of
Beauty. The streets were snarled, at a standstill. It would take hours to
wait for the March to pass, and she had promised her old nurse Ramke a visit
in her house south of the city. Jyllia thought for a moment, picturing in her
mind the arrangement of streets in the city, and devised a shortcut to avoid
the main street and the March.

For a few minutes she felt very clever as she wound her way through tight,
curving side streets, but presently she came upon temporary structures, tents
and theaters set up for the celebration, and had to improvise a new path. In
no time at all, she was lost in the city where she had lived all but five
years of her life.

Peering down an alley, she saw the main avenue crowded with the March of
Beauty. Hoping that it was the tale end, and desirous not to be lost again,
Lady Jyllia guided her horse toward the festival. She did not see the snake-
charmer at the mouth of the alley, and when his pet hissed and spread its
hood, her charge reared up in fear.

The women in the parade gasped and surged back at the sight, but Lady Jyllia
quickly calmed her stallion down. She looked abashed at the spectacle she had
caused.

"My apologies, ladies," she said with a mock military salute.

"It's all right, madam," said a blonde in silk. "We'll be out of your way in
a moment."

Jyllia stared as the March passed her. Looking at that whore had been like
looking in a mirror. The same age, and height, and hair, and eyes, and 
figure, almost exactly. The woman looked back at her, and it seemed as if she
was thinking the same thing.

And so Gyna was. The old witches who sometimes came in to Daggerfall had
sometimes spoke of doppelgangers, spirits that assumed the guise of their
victims and portended certain death. Yet the experience had not frightened
her: it seemed only one more strangely familiar aspect of the alien city.
Before the March had danced it way into the palace gates, she had all but
forgotten the encounter.

The prostitutes crushed into the courtyard, as the King himself came to the
balcony to greet them. At his side was his chief bodyguard, a battlemage by
the look of him. As for the King himself, he was a handsome man of middle
age, rather unremarkable, but Gyna was awed at the sight of him. A dream,
perhaps. Yes, that was it: she could see him as she had dreamt of him, high
above her as he was now, bending now to kiss her. Not a one of lust as she
had experienced before, but one of small fondness, a dutiful kiss.

"Dear ladies, you have filled the streets of the great capitol of Camlorn
with your beauty," cried the King, forcing a silence on the giggling,
murmuring assembly. He smiled proudly. His eyes met Gyna's and he stopped,
shaken. For an eternity, they stayed locked together before His Highness
recovered and continued his speech.

Afterwards, while the women were all en route back to their tents to change
into their costumes for the evening, one of the older prostitutes approached
Gyna: "Did you see how the King looked at you? If you're smart, you'll be the
new royal mistress before this celebration ends."

"I've seen looks of hunger before, and that wasn't one of them," laughed
Gyna. "I'd wager he thought I was someone else, like that lady who tried to
run us over with her horse. She's probably his kin, and he thought she had
dressed up like a courtesan and joined the March of Beauty. Can you imagine
the scandal?"

When they arrived at the tents, they were greeted by a stocky, well-dressed
young man with a bald pate and a commanding presence of authority. He
introduced himself as Lord Strale, ambassador to the Emperor himself, and
their chief patron. It was Strale who had hired them, on the Emperor's
behalf, as a gift to the King and the kingdom of Camlorn.

"The March of Beauty is but a precursor to the Flower Festival tonight," he
said. Unlike the King, he did not have to yell to be heard. His voice was
loud and precise in its natural modulations. "I expect each of you to perform
well, and justify the significant expense I've suffered bringing you all the
way up here. Now hurry, you must be dressed and in position on Cavilstyr Rock
before the sun goes down."

The ambassador needn't have worried. The women were all professionals,
experts at getting dressed and undressed with none of the time-consuming
measures less promiscuous females required. His manservant Gnorbooth offered
his assistance, but found he had little to do. Their costumes were simplicity
itself: soft, narrow sheets with a hole for their heads. Not even a belt was
required, so the gowns were open at the sides exposing the frame of their
skin.

So it was long before the sun had set that the prostitutes turned dancers
were at Cavilstyr Rock. It was a great, wide promontory facing the sea, and
for the occasion of the Festival of Flowers, a large circle of unlit torches
and covered baskets had been arranged. As early as they were, a crowd of
spectators had already arrived. The women gathered in the center of the
circle and waited until it was time.

Gyna watched the crowd as it grew, and was not surprised when she saw the
lady from the March approaching, hand-in-hand with a very old, very short
white-haired woman. The old woman was distracted, pointing out islands out at
sea. The blonde lady seemed nervous, unsure of what to say. Gyna was used to
dealing with uneasy clients, and spoke first.

"Good to see you again, madam. I am Gyna of Daggerfall."

"I'm glad you bear me no ill will because of the whores, I mean horse," the
lady laughed, somewhat relieved. "I am Lady Jyllia Raze, daughter of the
King."

"I always thought that daughters of kings were called princess," smiled Gyna.

"In Camlorn, only when they are heirs to the throne. I have a younger brother
from my father's new wife whom he favors," Jyllia replied. She felt her head
swim. It was madness, speaking to a common prostitute, talking of family 
politics so intimately. "Relative to that subject, I must ask you something
very peculiar. Have you ever heard of the Princess Talara?"

Gyna thought a moment: "The name sounds somewhat familiar. Why would I have?"

"I don't know. It was a name I just thought you might recognize," sighed Lady
Jyllia. "Have you been to Camlorn before?"

"If I did, it was when I was very young," said Gyna, and suddenly she felt it
was her turn to be trusting. Something about the Lady Jyllia's friendly and
forthcoming manner touched her. "To be honest, I don't remember anything at
all of my childhood before I was nine or ten. Perhaps I was here with my
parents, whoever they were, when I was a little girl. I tell you, I think
perhaps I was. I don't recall ever being here before, but everything I've
seen, the city, you, the King himself, all seem ... like I've been here 
before, long ago."

Lady Jyllia gasped and took a step back. She gripped the old woman, who had
been looking out to sea and murmuring, by the hand. The elderly creature 
looked to Jyllia, surprised, and then turned to Gyna. Her ancient, half-blind
eyes sparkled with recognition and she made a sound like a grunt of surprise.
Gyna also jumped. If the King had seemed like something out of a half-
forgotten dream, this woman was someone she knew. As clear and yet indistinct
as a guardian spirit.

"I apologize," stammered Lady Jyllia. "This is my childhood nursemaid,
Ramke."

"It's her!" the old woman cried, wild-eyed. She tried to run forward, arms
outstretched, but Jyllia held her back. Gyna felt strangely naked, and pulled
her robe against her body.

"No, you're wrong," Lady Jyllia whispered to Ramke, holding the old woman
tightly. "The Princess Talara is dead, you know that. I shouldn't have
brought you here. I'll take you back home." She turned back to Gyna, her eyes
welling with tears. "The entire royal family of Camlorn was assassinated over
twenty years ago. My father was Duke of Oloine, the King's brother, and so he
inherited the crown. I'm sorry to have bothered you. Goodnight."

Gyna gazed after Lady Jyllia and the old nurse as they disappeared into the
crowd, but she had little time to consider all she had heard. The sun was 
setting, and it was time for the Flower Festival. Twelve young men emerged 
from the darkness wearing only loincloths and masks, and lit the torches. The
moment the fire blazed, Gyna and all the rest of the dancers rushed to the
baskets, pulling out blossoms and vines by the handful.

At first, the women danced with one another, sprinkling petals to the wind.
The crowd then joined in as the music swelled. It was a mad, beautiful chaos.
Gyna leapt and swooned like a wild forest nymph. Then, without warning, she
felt rough hands grip her from behind and push her.

She was falling before she understood it. The moment the realization hit, she
was closer to the bottom of the hundred foot tall cliff than she was to the
top. She flailed out her arms and grasped at the cliff wall. Her fingers 
raked against the stone and her flesh tore, but she found a grip and held it.
For a moment, she stayed there, breathing hard. Then she began to scream.

The music and the festival were too loud up above: no one could hear her - 
she could scarcely hear herself. Below her, the surf crashed. Every bone in
her body would snap if she fell. She closed her eyes, and a vision came. A
man was standing below her, a King of great wisdom, great compassion, looking
up, smiling. A little girl, golden-haired, mischievous, her best friend and
cousin, clung to the rock beside her.

"The secret to falling is making your body go limp. And with luck, you won't
get hurt," the girl said. She nodded, remembering who she was. Eight years of
darkness lifted.

She released her grip and let herself fall like a leaf into the water below.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ05)
                         ~~Thief~~

                           Reven 

     Item ID: 000243CA	


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If the reader has not yet had the pleasure of reading the first volume in
these series on the life of Eslaf Erol, 'Beggar,' he should close this book
immediately, for I shan't recap.

I will tell you this much, gentle reader. When we last saw Eslaf, he was a
boy, an orphan, a failed beggar, running through the wildy winter woods of
Skyrim, away from his home of Erolgard. He continued running, stopping here
and there, for many more years, until he was a young man.

Eslaf discovered that among the ways of getting food, asking for it was the
most troublesome. Far easier was finding it in the wilderness, or taking it
from unguarded market stalls. The only thing worse than begging to get food
was begging for the opportunity to work for the money to buy it. That seemed
needlessly complicated.

No, as far as Eslaf was concerned, he was best off being a scavenger, a
beggar, and a thief.

He commited his first act of thievery shortly after leaving Erolgard, while in
the southern woods of Tamburkar in the rugged land near Mount Jensen just east
of the village of Hoarbeld. Eslaf was starving, having not eaten anything but
a rather scrawny raw squirrel in four days, and he smelled meat cooking and
then found the smoke. A band of minstral bards was making camp. He watched
them from the bushes as they cooked, and joked, and flirted, and sang.

He could've asked them for some food, but so many others had refused him
before. Instead, he rushed out, grabbed a piece of meat from the fire, and
wincing from the burns, scrambled up the nearest tree to devour it while the
bards stood under him and laughed.

'What is your next move, thief?' giggled a fair, red-headed woman who was
covered with tattoos. 'How do you intend to disappear without us catching and
punishing you?'

As the hunger subsided, Eslaf realized she was right. The only way to get out
of the tree without falling in their midst was to take the branch down to
where it hung over a creek. It was a drop off a cliff of about fifty feet.
That seemed like the wisest strategy, so Eslaf began crawling in that
direction.

'You do know how to fall, boy?' called out a young Khajiiti, but a few years
older than Eslaf, thin but muscular, graceful in his slightest movements. 'If
you don't, you should just climb down here and take what's coming to you. It's
idiotic to break your neck, when we'd just give you some bruises and send you
on your way.'

'Of course I know how to fall,' Eslaf called back, but he didn't. He just
thought the trick of falling was to have nothing underneath you, and let
nature take its course. But fifty feet up, when you're looking down, is enough
to give anyone pause.

'I'm sorry to doubt your abilities, Master Thief,' said the Khajiiti,
grinning. 'Obviously you know to fall feet first with your body straight but
loose to avoid cracking like an egg. It seems you are destined to escape us.'

Eslaf wisely followed the Khajiiti's hints, and leapt into the river, falling
without much grace but without hurting himself. In the years that followed, he
had to make several more drops from even greater heights, usually after a
theft, sometimes without water beneath him, and he improved the basic
technique.

When he arrived in the western town of Jallenheim on the morning of his
twenty-first birthday, it didn't take him long to find out who was the richest
person, most deserving of being burgled. An impregnable palace in a park near
the center of town was owned by a mysterious young man named Suoibud. Eslaf
wasted no time in finding the palace and watching it. A fortified palace he
had come to learn was like a person, with quirks and habits beneath its hard
shell.

It was not an old place, evidently whatever money this Suoibud had come into
was fairly recent. It was regularly patrolled by guards, implying that the
rich man was fearful of been burgled, with good reason. The most distinctive
feature of the palace was its tower, rising a hundred feet above the stone
walls, doubtless giving the occupant a good defensive view. Eslaf guessed that
that if Suoibud was as paranoid as he guessed him to be, the tower would also
provide a view of the palace storehouse. The rich man would want to keep an
eye on his fortune. That meant that the loot couldn't be directly beneath the
tower, but somewhere in the courtyard within the walls.

The light in the tower shone all night long, so Eslaf boldly decided that the
best time to burgle was by the light of day, when Suoibud must sleep. That
would be the time the guards would least expect a thief to pounce.

And so, when the noon sun was shining over the palace, Eslaf quickly scaled
the wall near the front gate and waited, hidden in the crenelations. The
interior courtyard was plain and desolate, with few places to hide, but he saw
that there were two wells. One the guards used from time to time to draw up
water and slake their thirst, but Eslaf noticed that guards would pass by the
other well, never using it.

He waited until the guards were distracted, just for a second, by the arrival
of a merchant in a wagon, bearing goods for the palace. While they were
searching his wagon, Eslaf leapt, elegantly, feet first, from the wall into
the well.

It was not a particularly soft landing for, as Eslaf had guessed, the well was
not full of water, but gold. Still, he knew how to roll after a fall, and he
didn't hurt himself. In the dank subterranean storehouse, he stuffed his
pockets with gold and was about to go to the door which he assumed would lead
to the tower when he noticed a gem the size of an apple, worth more than all
the gold that was left. Eslaf found room for it down his pants.

The door did indeed lead to the tower, and Eslaf followed its curving
stairwell up, walking quietly but quickly. At the top, he found the master of
the palace's private quarters, ornate and cold, with invaluable artwork and
decorative swords and shields on the walls. Eslaf assumed the snoring lump
under the sheets was Suoibud, but he didn't investigate too closely. He crept
to the windows and looked out.

It was going to be a difficult fall, for certes. He needed to jump from the
tower, past the walls, and hit the tree on the other side. The tree branches
would hurt, but they would break his fall, and there was a pile of hay he had
left under the tree to prevent further injury.

Eslaf was about to leap when the occupant of the room woke up with a start,
yelling, 'My gem!'

Eslaf and stared at him for a second, wide-eyed. They looked alike. Not
surprising, since they were brothers.

Eslaf Erol's story is continued in the book 'Warrior.' 

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                   ~~ALCHEMY BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ06)
                 ~~Calcinator Treatise~~

                       Anonymous 

     Item ID: 00073A5F
     

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Argonian alchemists of the Black Marsh have long held that the phases of the
moon dictate the precise positioning of the Calcinator. During the full moon,
the Calcinator should face due South, aligned with the Southron pole star. It
is well known that the Southron pole star is slightly offset from true south.
The diligent Alchemist will refer to star charts for the specific day and time
to more precisely align the Calcinator.

For each night of the phases of the moon after full, the Calcinator should be
rotated clockwise one twenty-eighth of a circle. If the Alchemist is closer to
the Southron pole star than the Northern Sisters, he should rotate it counter-
clockwise instead. Set the device where the moonlight is shining on half of
it. Of course, if it is a new moon, the Calcinator should be fully exposed
instead.

Proper alignment of the Calcinator will create one part in forty-seven more
purity of the distillate. Obviously this is a highly desired attribute, even
though the effect may not be that noticeable. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ07)
                  ~~De Rerum Dirennis~~

                     Vorian Direnni
       

     Item ID: 000243D2
     
   It is found on a shelf on the second floor of All Things Alchemical.

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I am six-hundred-and-eleven years old. I have never had children of my own,
but I have many nieces and nephews and cousins who have been raised with the
tales and traditions of our ancient, illustrious, and occasionally notorious
clan, the Direnni. Few families in Tamriel can boast so many famous figures,
wielding so much power over the fate of so many. Our warriors and kings are
stuff of legend, and it is not to dismiss their honor and their achievements
to say you have heard quite enough about them.

I myself have never picked up a sword or written an important law, but I am
part of a lesser known but still important Direnni tradition: the way of the
wizard. My own autobiography would be of little interest to posterity — though
my nephew, nieces, and cousins indulge me to tell wild tales of life in the
chaotic Second Era of Tamriel — but I have a few ancestors whose stories
should be told. They may have changed history as we know it as dramatically as
my better known relatives, but their names are in danger of being forgotten.

Most recently, Lysandus, the King of Daggerfall, was able to conquer his
ancient enemies of Sentinel in part thanks to his court sorceress, Medora
Direnni. Her grandfather Jovron Direnni was Imperial Battlemage to the court
of the Dunmer Empress of Tamriel, Katariah, assisting her in creating peace in
a time of turmoil. His great great grandfather Pelladil Direnni had a similar
role with the first Potentate, and encouraged the Guild Act without which we
would not have all the professional organizations we have today. His ancestor,
many times back, was the witch Raven Direnni, who with her better known
cousins Aiden and Ryain, brought an end to the tyranny of the latter Alessian
Empire. Before the Psijics of Artaeum, it is said, she created the art of
enchantment, learning how to bind a soul into a gem and use that to ensorcel
all manners of weaponry.

But it is the story of an ancestor even more ancient, more distant than Raven
I wish to tell.

Asliel Direnni harkens back to the humble beginnings of our clan, in the tiny
farming village of Tyrigel on the banks of the river Caomus which was then
called the Diren, hence the family name. Like all on Summurset Isle in those
days, he was a simple planter of the fields. But while others only grew enough
to sustain their immediate kin, even distant cousins of the Dirennis worked
together. They would decide as a group which fields were best for wheat,
orchard, vine, livestock, or apiary, and thereby always have the best yields
of any farm which worked alone, doing the best as it could with what it had.

Asliel had a particularly poor farm for most kind of agriculture, but small
herbs found its stony, loamless, acidic soil very comfortable. Out of
necessity more than anything else he became an expert on all manners of herbs.
For the most part, of course, they were used in flavoring cooking, but as you
know, hardly any plant grows on the surface of our world without a magickal
potential.

Even so long ago, witches already were in existence. It would be ridiculous
for me to suggest that Asliel Direnni invented alchemy. What he did, what we
can all be grateful for, is that he formulated it into an art and science.

There were no witches' covens in Tyrigel, and, of course, there would be no
Mages Guild yet for thousands of years, so people would come to him for cures.
He learned for himself the exact formula for combining black lichen and
roobrush to create a cure for all manners of poison, and the amount of willow
anther to crush and mix with chokeweed to cure diseases.

There were few much greater threats in Tyrigel in those peaceful days than
disease or accidental poisonings. Yes, there were some dark forces in the
wilderness, trolls, chimera, the occasional malevolent fairy folk and Will-O-
the-Wisp, but even the youngest, most foolish Altmer knew how to avoid them.
There were, however, a few unusual threats which Asliel had a hand in 
defeating.

One of the tales told of him that I believe to be true is how he was brought a
young niece who had been suffering from an unknown disease. Despite his 
ministrations, she grew weaker and weaker every morning. Finally, he gave her
a bitter tasting drink, and the next morning, ashes were found all around her
bed. A vampire had been feeding on the poor girl, but Asliel's potion had
turned her very blood into poison, without harming her in the least.

If only this formula had not been lost in the mists of history!

This would have been enough to make him a minor but significant figure in the
annals of early Summurset, but at that point in history, a barbarian tribe
called the Locvar had found their way down the Diren River, and recognized
Tyrigel as a rich target for raids. The Direnni, not being warriors yet but
simple farmers, were helpless and could only flee and watch the Locvar take
the best of their crops, raid after raid.

Asliel, however, had been experimenting with the vampire dust, and brought his
cousins to him with a plan. The next time the Locvar were sighted on the
Diren, the word went out and all the most able-bodied came to Asliel's
laboratory. When the barbarians arrived in Tyrigel, they found the farms
deserted, and assumed that all had fled as usual. As they set about stealing
the bounty, they suddenly found themselves under attack by invisible forces.
Believing the Direnni farms to be haunted, they ran away very quickly.

They attempted a few more raids, for their greed would always eventually
overpower their fear, and each time, they were set upon by attackers who they
could not see. As barbaric as they were, they were not stupid, and they
changed their mind about the source of their defeat. It could not be that the
farms were haunted, because the crops were still being tended and harvested,
and the animals seemed to show no fear. The Locvar decided to send a scout to
the farm to see if he could spy their secrets.

The scout sent word back to the Locvar that the Direnni farms were populated
with flesh and blood, entirely visible Altmer. He continued to watch as his
barbarian cohorts moved down the river, and he saw the elderly and children
flee for the hills, while the able-bodied farmers and their wives went to
Asliel's laboratory. He saw them go in; he saw no one come out.

As usual, the Locvar were repelled by invisible forces, but their scout soon
told them what he saw happening in the laboratory.

The next night, two of the Locvar approached Asliel's farm very stealthily,
and managed to kidnap him without alerting the rest of the Direnni. The Locvar
chieftain, knowing that the farmers could no longer count on the alchemist to
make them invisible, considered an immediate attack on the farms. But he was a
vengeful sort, and felt he had been humiliated by these simple farmers. A
crafty plan emerged in his mind. What if the Direnni, who always saw his
barbarian tribe coming, for once did not? Imagine the slaughter if no one even
had a chance to flee.

The scout had told the chieftain that Asliel had used the dust of a vampire to
make the farmers invisible, but he was not sure what the other ingredient had
been. He described an incandescent powder that Asliel had mixed into the dust.
Asliel, of course, refused to help the Locvar, but they were experts in 
torture as well as pillage, and he knew he would have to talk or die.

Finally after hours of torture, he agreed to tell them what the incandescent
powder was. He did not know the name, but he called it "Glow Dust," the only
remains of a slain Will-O-The-Wisp. He told them they would need a lot of it
if they wanted to turn the whole tribe invisible for the raid.

The Locvar grumbled that not only did they have to find and kill a vampire to
attain his dust, but find and kill several Will-O-The-Wisps to get theirs. In
a few days time, they came back with the ingredients the alchemist asked for.
The chieftain, not being a complete idiot, made Asliel taste the potion first.
He did as he was told and turned invisible, demonstrating that it did truly
work. The chieftain put him to work creating more. No one apparently noticed
that while he did, he was nibbling on black lichen and roobrush.

The Locvar took the potion as he doled it out, and soon, but not too soon that
they didn't suffer, they were all dead.

The scout who had seen Asliel mixing the invisibility potion had apparently
mistook the glow of the candlelight in the laboratory for an incandescence
which the second ingredient of the invisibility potion did not possess. The
second ingredient was actually dull, simple redwort, one of the most common
herbs in Tamriel. When they had insisted during torture that Asliel tell them
what the incandescent powder was, Asliel remembered that he had once
experimentally mixed glow dust and vampire dust together once and created a
powerful poison. It was simple enough to steal a little redwort from the
barbarian's camp, mix that with the vampire and glow dust mixture, and create
a potion that was in fact an invisibility poison. After curing himself, he
gave the poison to the barbarians.

The Locvar, being dead, never again raided the Direnni farms, and having no
other enemies, they were able to grow more and more prosperous and powerful.
Generations later, they left Summurset and began their historic adventures on
the Tamriel mainland. Asliel Direnni, because of his excellence as an 
alchemist, was invited to Artaeum and became a Psijic. It is not known how
many more of the common formulas we know today were invented by him there, but
I have no doubt, the science and art of alchemy as we know it today would not
exist without him.

But that is all in the distant past. Asliel's innovations, like my modest
ones, like the achievements of the Dirennis throughout history, are but a
stepping stone to the wonders which will come in the future. I wish I could be
there to witness them, but if I can only share some of the past with the
children of Direnni and the children of Tamriel, then I will consider my life
well spent. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ08)
                  ~~A Game at Dinner~~

                     An Anonymous Spy
       

     Item ID: 000243CF
     

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    Forward From The Publisher: 

    The history behind this letter is almost as interesting and dark as the
story it tells. The original letter to the mysterious Dhaunayne was copied and
began circulating around the Ashlands of Vvardenfell a few months ago. In
time, a print found its way to the mainland and Prince Hlaalu Helseth's palace
outside Almalexia. While the reader may conclude after reading this letter
that the Prince would be furious about such a work, impugning his highness
with great malevolence, quite the reverse was true. The Prince and his mother,
Queen Barenziah, had it privately printed into bound copies and sent to
libraries and booksellers throughout Morrowind. 
    As matter of record, the Prince and the Queen have not officially stated
whether the letter is a work of pure imagination or based on an actual 
occurrence. The House Dres has publicly denounced the work, and indeed, no one
named Dhaunayne, despite the suggestions in the letter, has ever been linked
to the house. We leave the reader to interpret the letter as he or she
believes. 
    — Nerris Gan, Publisher 


Dark Liege Dhaunayne,

You asked for a detailed description of my experience last night and the
reasons for my plea to House Dres for another assignment. I hope I have served
you well in my capacity as informant in the court of Prince Helseth, a man who
I have stated in many previous reports could teach Molag Bal how to scheme. As
you know, I've spent nearly a year now working my way into his inner circle of
advisors. He was in need of friendship when he first arrived in Morrowind and
eagerly took to me and a few others. Still, he was disinclined to trust any of
us, which is perhaps not surprising, given his tenuous position in Morrowind
society.

For your unholiness's recollection, the Prince is the eldest son of Barenziah,
who was once the Queen of Morrowind and once the Queen of the High Rock
kingdom of Wayrest. At the death of her husband, Prince Helseth's stepfather,
King Eadwyre, there was a power struggle between the Prince and Eadwyre's
daughter, the Princess Elysana. Though details of what transpired are
imperfect, it is clear that Elysana won the battle and became Queen, banishing
Helseth and Barenziah. Barenziah's only other child, Morgiah, had already left
court to marry and become Queen of the Summurset Isle kingdom of Firsthold.

Barenziah and Helseth crossed the continent to return to Morrowind only last
year. They were well received by Barenziah's uncle, our current king, Hlaalu
Athyn Llethan, who had taken the throne after Barenziah's abdication more than
forty years ago. Barenziah made it clear that she had no designs on reclaiming
the throne, but merely to retire to her family estates. Helseth, as you know,
has lingered in the royal court, and many have whispered that while he lost
the throne of Wayrest, he does not intend to lose the throne of Morrowind at
Llethan's death.

I've kept your unholiness informed of the Prince's movements, meetings, and
plots, as well as the names and characters of his other advisors. As you may
recall, I've often thought that I was not the only spy in Helseth's court. I
told you before that a particular Dunmer counselor of Helseth looked like a
fellow I had seen in the company of Tholer Saryoni, the Archcanon of the
Tribunal Temple. Another, a young Nord woman, has been verified to visit the
Imperial fortress in Balmora. Of course, in their cases, they might well have
been on Helseth's own business, but I couldn't be certain. I had begun to
think myself paranoid as the Prince himself when I found myself doubting the
sincere loyalty of the Prince's chamberlain, Burgess, a Breton who had been in
his employ since his days in the court of Wayrest.

That is the background on that night, last night.

Yesterday morning, I received a curt invitation to dine with the Prince. Based
only on my own paranoia, I dispatched one of my servants, who is a good and
loyal servant of the House Dres, to watch the palace and report back anything
unusual. Just before dinner, he returned and told me what he had witnessed.

A man cloaked in rags had been given entrance into the palace, and had stayed
there for some time. When he left, my servant saw his face beneath the cloak —
an alchemist of infamous repute, said to be a leading suppliers of exotic 
poisons. A fine observer, my servant also noticed that the alchemist entered
the palace smelling of wickwheat, bittergreen, and something alien and sweet.
When he left, he was odorless.

He had come to the same conclusion as I did. The Prince had procured
ingredients to prepare a poison. Bittergreen alone is deadly when eaten raw,
but the other ingredients suggested something far deeper. As your unholiness
can doubtless imagine, I went to dinner that night, prepared for any
eventuality.

All of Prince Helseth's other counselors were in attendance, and I noticed
that all were slightly apprehensive. Of course, I imagined that I was in a
nest of spies, and all knew of the Prince's mysterious meeting. It is just as
likely that some knew of the alchemist's visit, while others were simply 
concerned by the nature of the Prince's invitation, and still others merely
unconsciously adopted the tense disposition of their fellow, better informed
counselors.

The Prince, however, was in fine mettle and soon had everyone relaxed and at
ease. At nine, we were all ushered into his dining hall where the feast had 
been laid out. And what a feast! Honeyed gorapples, fragrant stews, roasts in
various blood sauces, and every variety of fish and fowl expertly and 
ostentatiously prepared. Crystal and gold flagons of wine, flin, shein, and
mazte were at our seats to be savored as appropriate with each course. As 
tantalizing as the aromas were, it occurred to me that in such a maze of 
spices and flavors, a discreet poison would be undetectable.

Throughout the meal, I maintained the illusion of eating the food and drinking
the liquor, but I was surreptitious and swallowed nothing. Finally, the plates
and food were cleared from the table, and a tureen of a spicy broth was placed
in the center of the banquet. The servant who brought it then retired, closing
the banquet hall door behind him.

“It smells divine, my Prince,” said the Marchioness Kolgar, the Nord woman.
“But I cannot eat another thing.”

“Your Highness,” I added, feigning a tone of friendliness and slight
intoxication. “You know that every one at this table would gladly die to put
you on the throne of Morrowind, but is it really necessary that we gorge
ourselves to death?”

The others at the table agreed with appreciative groans. Prince Helseth 
smiled. I swear by Vaernima the Gifter, my dark liege, even you have never
seen a smile such as this one.

“Ironic words. You see, an alchemist visited me today, as some of you already
doubtless know. He showed me how to make a marvelous poison and its antidote.
A most potent potion, excellent for my purposes. No Restoration spell will aid
you once you've ingested it. Only the antidote in the tureen will save you 
from certain death. And what a death, from what I've heard. I am eager to see
if the effects are all that the alchemist promised. It should be horribly 
painful for the afflicted, but quite entertaining.”

No one said a word. I could feel my heart beating hard in my chest.

“Your Highness,” said Allarat, the Dunmer I suspected of alliance with the 
Temple. “Have you poisoned someone at this table?”

“You are very astute, Allarat,” said Prince Helseth, looking about the table,
eying each of his advisors carefully. “Little wonder I value your counsel. As
indeed I value all in this room. It would be perhaps easiest for me to say who
I haven't poisoned. I haven't poisoned any who serve but one master, any whose
loyalty to me is sincere. I haven't poisoned any person who wants to see King
Helseth on the throne of Morrowind. I haven't poisoned anyone who isn't a spy
for the Empire, the Temple, the House of Telvanni, the House of Redoran, the
House of Indoril, the House of Dres.”

Your unholiness, he looked directly at me at his last words. I know that in
certainty. My face is practiced at keeping my thoughts from showing, but I 
immediately thought of every secret meeting I've had, every coded message I
sent to you and the House, my dark liege. What could he know? What could he,
even without knowing, suspect?

I felt my heart beating even faster. Was it fear, or poison? I couldn't speak,
certain as I was that my voice would betray my calm facade.

“Those loyal to me who wish harm on my enemies may be wondering how can I be
certain that the poison has been ingested. Is it possible that the guilty 
party, or dare I say, parties were suspicious and merely pretended to eat and
drink tonight? Of course. But even the craftiest of pretenders would have to 
raise a glass to his or her lips and put empty forks or spoons in their mouths
to play the charade. The food, you see, was not poisoned. The cups and cutlery
were. If you did not partake out of fear, you're poisoned just the same, and
sadly, missed an excellent roast.”

Sweat beaded on my face and I turned from the Prince so he would not see. My 
fellow advisors, all of them, were frozen in their seats. From the Marchioness
Kolgar, white with fear, to Kema Inebbe, visibly shaking; from the furrowed,
angry brow of Allarat to the statue-like stare of Burgess.

I couldn't help thinking then, could the Prince's entire counsellorship be
comprised of nothing but spies? Was there any person at the table loyal? And 
then I thought, what if I were not a spy myself, would I trust Helseth to know
that? No one knows better than his advisors both the depth of the Prince's 
paranoia and the utter implacability of his ambition. If I were not a spy for
the House Dres, even then would I be safe? Could a loyalist be poisoned 
because of a not-so-innocent misjudgment?

The others must have been thinking the same, loyalists and spies alike.

While my mind whirled, I could hear the Prince's voice, addressing all 
assembled: “The poison acts quickly. If the antidote is not taken within one
minute from now, there will be death at the table.”

I couldn't decide whether I had been poisoned or not. My stomach ached, but I
reminded myself it might have been the result of sitting at a sumptuous 
banquet and not partaking. My heart shook in my chest and a bitter taste like
Trama Root stung my lips. Again, was it fear or poison?

“These are the last words you will hear if you are disloyal to me,” said 
Prince Helseth, still smiling that damned smile as he watched his advisors 
squirming in their seats. “Take the antidote and live.”

Could I believe him? I thought of what I knew of the Prince and his character.
Would he kill a self-confessed spy at his court, or would he rather send the
vanquished back to his masters? The Prince was ruthless, but either 
possibility was within his manner. Surely the theatricality of this whole 
dinner was meant to be a presentation to instill fear. What would my ancestors
say if I joined them after sitting at a table, eventually dying of poison? 
What would they say if I took the antidote, confessing my allegiance to you 
and the House Dres, and was summarily executed? And, I confess, I thought of 
what you might to do me even after I was dead.

I had grown so light-headed and filled with my own thoughts, that I didn't see
Burgess jump from his seat. I was only suddenly aware that he had the tureen
in his hands and was gulping down the liquid within. There were guards all 
around, though I never noticed them entering.

“Burgess,” said Prince Helseth, still smiling. “You have spent some time at 
Ghostgate. House Redoran?”

“You didn't know?” Burgess laughed sourly. “No House. I report to your 
stepsister, the Queen of Wayrest. I've always been in her employ. By Akatosh, 
you poisoned me because you thought I was working for some damnable Dark 
Elves?”

“You're half right,” said the Prince. “I didn't guess who you were working 
for, or even that you were a spy. But you're also wrong about me poisoning 
you. You poisoned yourself when you drank from the tureen.”

Your unholiness, you don't need to hear how Burgess died. I know that you have
seen much over the many, many years of your existence, but you truly don't 
want to know. I wish I could erase the memory of his agonies from my own mind.

The council was dismissed shortly thereafter. I do not know if Prince Helseth
knows or suspects that I too am a spy. I do not know how many others that 
night, last night, were as close as I was from drinking from the tureen before
Burgess did. I only know that if the Prince does not suspect me now, he will.
I cannot win at the games he mastered long ago at the court of Wayrest, and I
beg your unholiness, my dark liege Dhaunayne to use your influence in the 
House Dres and dismiss your loyal servant from this charge.



Publisher's Note: Of course, the anonymous writer's signature has not been on
any reprint of the letter since the original. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ09)
                  ~~Mannimarco, King of Worms~~

                       Horicles
       

     Item ID: 000243D0 	
     

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O sacred isle Artaeum, where rosy light infuses air,
O'er towers and through flowers, gentle breezes flow,
Softly sloping green-kissed cliffs to crashing foam below,
Always springtide afternoon housed within its border,
This mystic, mist-protected home of the Psijic Order:
Those counselors of kings, cautious, wise, and fair.

Ten score years and thirty since the mighty Remans fell,
Two brilliant students studied within the Psijics' fold.
One's heart was light and warm, the other dark and cold.
The madder latter, Mannimarco, whirled in a deathly dance,
His soul in bones and worms, the way of the necromance.
Entrapping and enslaving souls, he cast a wicked spell.

The former, Galerion had magic bold and bright as day.
He confronted Mannimarco beneath gray Ceporah Tower,
Saying, 'Your wicked mysticism is no way to wield your power,
Bringing horror to the spirit world, your studies must cease.'
Mannimarco scoffed, hating well the ways of life and peace,
And returned to his dark artistry; his paints, death and decay.

O sacred isle Artaeum, how slow to perceive the threat,
When the ghastly truth revealed, how weak the punishment.
The ghoulish Mannimarco from the isle of the wise was sent
To the mainland Dawn's Beauty, more death and souls to reap.
'You have found a wolf, and sent the beast to flocks of sheep,'
Galerion told his Masters, 'A terror on Tamriel has set.'

'Speak no more of him,' the sage Cloaks of Gray did say.
'Twas not the first time Galerion thought his Masters callous,
Unconcerned for men and mer, aloof in their island palace.
'Twas not the first time Galerion thought 'twas time to build
A new Order to bring true magic to all, a mighty Mages Guild.
But 'twas the time he left, at last, fair Artaeum's azure bay.

O, but sung we have of Vanus Galerion many times before,
How cast he off the Psijics' chains, bringing magic to the land.
Throughout the years, he saw the touch of Mannimarco's hand,
Through Tamriel's deserts, forests, towns, mountains, and seas.
The dark grip stretching out, growing like some dread disease
By his dark Necromancers, collecting cursed artifacts of yore.

They brought to him these tools, mad wizards and witches,
And brought blood-tainted herbs and oils to his cave of sin,
Sweet Akaviri poison, dust from saints, sheafs of human skin,
Toadstools, roots, and much more cluttered his alchemical shelf,
Like a spider in his web, he sucked all their power into himself,
Mannimarco, Worm King, world's first of the undying liches.

Corruption on corruption, 'til the rot sunk to his very core,
Though he kept the name Mannimarco, his body and his mind
Were but a living, moving corpse as he left humanity behind.
The blood in his veins became instead a poison acid stew.
His power and his life increased as his fell collection grew .
Mightiest were these artifacts, long cursed since days of yore.

They say Galerion left the Guild, calling it 'a morass,'
But untruth is a powerful stream, polluting the river of time.
Galerion beheld Mannimarco's rise through powers sublime,
To his mages and Lamp Knights, 'Before my last breath,
Face I must the tyranny of worms, and kill at last, undeath.'
He led them north to cursed lands, to a mountain pass.

O those who survived the battle say its like was never seen.
Armored with magicka, armed with ensorcelled sword and axe,
Galerion cried, echoing, 'Worm King, surrender your artifacts,
And their power to me, and you shall live as befits the dead.'
A hollow laugh answered, 'You die first,' Mannimarco said.
The mage army then clashed with the unholy force obscene.

Imagine waves of fire and frost, and the mountain shivers,
Picture lightning arching forth, crackling in a dragon's sigh.
Like leaves, the battlemages fly to rain down from the sky,
At the Necromancers' call, corpses burst from earth to fight,
To be shattered into nothingness with a flood of holy light.
A maelstrom of energy unleashed, blood cascades in rivers.

Like a thunderburst in blue skies or a lion's sudden roar,
Like sharp razors tearing over delicate embroidered lace,
So at a touch did Galerion shake the mountain to its base.
The deathly horde fell fatally, but heeding their dying cries
From the depths, the thing they called Worm King did rise.
Nirn itself did scream in the Mages' and Necromancers' war

His eyes burning dark fire, he opened his toothless maw,
Vomiting darkness with each exhalation of his breath,
All sucking in the fetid air felt the icy touch of death.
In the skies above the mountain, darkness overcame pale,
Then Mannimarco Worm King felt his dismal powers fail:
The artifacts of death pulled from his putrid skeletal claw.

A thousand good and evil perished then, history confirms.
Among, alas, Vanus Galerion, he who showed the way,
It seemed once that Mannimarco had truly died that day.
Scattered seemed the Necromancers, wicked, ghastly fools,
Back to the Mages Guild, victors kept the accursed tools,
Of him, living still in undeath, Mannimarco, King of Worms.

Children, listen as the shadows cross your sleeping hutch,
And the village sleeps away, streets emptied of the crowds,
And the moons do balefully glare through the nightly clouds,
And the graveyard's people rest, we hope, in eternal sleep,
Listen and you'll hear the whispered tap of the footsteps creep,
Then pray you'll never feel the Worm King's awful touch.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ10)
                  ~~Song of the Alchemists~~

                       Marobar Sul
       

     Item ID: 000243D1
     
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When King Maraneon's alchemist had to leave his station
After a laboratory experiment that yielded detonation,
The word went out that the King did want
A new savant
To mix his potions and brews.
But he declared he would only choose
A fellow who knew the tricks and the tools.
The King refused to hire on more fools.

After much deliberation, discussions, and debates,
The King picked two well-learned candidates.
Ianthippus Minthurk and Umphatic Faer,
An ambitious pair,
Vied to prove which one was the best.
Said the King, "There will be a test."
They went to a large chamber with herbs, gems, tomes,
Pots, measuring cups, all under high crystalline domes.

"Make me a tonic that will make me invisible,"
Laughed the King in a tone some would call risible.
So Umphatic Faer and Ianthippus Minthurk
Began to work,
Mincing herbs, mashing metal, refining strange oils,
Cautiously setting their cauldrons to burbling boils,
Each on his own, sending mixing bowls mixing,
Sometimes peeking to see what the other was fixing.

After they had worked for nearly three-quarters an hour,
Both Ianthippus Minthurk and Umphatic Faer
Winked at the other, certain he won.
Said King Maraneon,
"Now you must taste the potions you've wrought,
Take a spoon and sample it right from your pot."
Minthurk vanished as his lips touched his brew,
But Faer tasted his and remained apparent in view.

"You think you mixed silver, blue diamonds, and yellow grass!"
The King laughed, "Look up, Faer, up to the ceiling glass.
The light falling makes the ingredients you choose
Quite different hues."
"What do you get," asked the floating voice, bold,
"Of a potion of red diamonds, blue grass, and gold?"
"By [Dwemer God]," said Faer, his face in a wince,
"I've made a potion to fortify my own intelligence."

Publisher's Note:

This poetry is so clearly in the style of Gor Felim that it really does not
need any commentary. Note the simple rhyming scheme of AA/BB/CC, the sing-song
but purposefully clumsy meter, and the recurring jokes at the obviously absurd
names, Umphatic Faer and Ianthippus Minthurk. The final joke that the stupid
alchemist invents a potion to make himself smarter by pure accident would have
appealed to the anti-intellectualism of audiences in the Interregnum period,
but would certainly be rejected by the Dwemer.

Note that even "Marobar Sul" refuses to name any Dwemer gods. The Dwemer
religion, if it can even be called that, is one of the most complex and
difficult puzzles of their culture.

Over the millennia, the song became a popular tavern song in High Rock before
eventually disappearing from everything but scholarly books. Much like the 
Dwemer themselves.

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                  ~~ALTERATION BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ11)
                ~~Daughter of the Niben~~

                   Sathyr Longleat
       

     Item ID: 000243D4
     


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Bravil is one of the most charming towns in Cyrodiil, sparkling in her simple
beauty, illustrious by her past. No visit to the southern part of the Imperial
Province is complete without a walk along Bravil's exciting river port, a talk
with her friendly native children, and, of course, in the tradition of the 
village, a whispered word to the famous statue of the Lucky Old Lady.

Many thousands of years before the arrival of the Atmorans, the native Ayleid
people had long lived in the vicinity of modern day Bravil. The Niben then, as
now, provided food and transportation, and the village was even more populous
than it is today. We are not certain what they called their region: as insular
as they were, the word they used would be translated to simply mean "home."
These savage Ayleids were so firmly entrenched that the Bravil region was one
of the very last areas to be liberated by the Alessian army in the second 
century of the 1st era. Though little remains of that era culturally or 
archeologically, thank Mara, the tales of debauchery and depravity have 
entered into the realm of legends.

How the Ayleids were able to survive such a long siege is debated by scholars
to this day. All, however, grant the honor of the victory to one of the 
Empress Alessia's centurions, a man called Teo Bravillius Tasus, the man for
whom the modern town is named.

It was said he invaded the village no less than four times, after heavy
resistance, but each time upon the morning dawning, all his soldiery within
would be dead, murdered. By the time more centuria had arrived, the fortified
town was repopulated with Ayleids. After the second successful invasion, 
secret underground tunnels were found and filled in, but once again, come 
morning, the soldiers were again dead, and the citizens had returned. After 
the third successful siege, legions were posted outside of the town, watching
the roads and riverway for signs of attacks, but no one came. The next 
morning, the bodies of the invading soldiers were thrown from the parapets of
town's walls.

Teo Bravillius Tasus knew that the Ayleids must be hiding themselves somewhere
in the town, waiting until nightfall, and then murdering the soldiers while 
they slept. The question was where. After the fourth invasion, he himself led
the soldiers in a thorough inspection of every corner, every shadow. Just as 
they were ready to give up, the great centurion noticed two curious things. 
High in the sheer walls of the town, beyond anyone's ability to climb, there 
were indentations, narrow platforms. And by the river just inside the town, he
discovered a single footprint from someone clearly not wearing the Imperial 
boot.

The Ayleids, it seemed, had taken two routes to hide themselves. Some had 
levitated up to the walls and hidden themselves high above, and others had 
slipped into the river, where they were able to breathe underwater. It was a 
relatively easy task once the strange elves' even stranger hiding holes had 
been discovered to rout them out, and see to it that there were no more 
midnight assassinations of the Empress's troops.

It may seem beyond belief that an entire community could be so skilled in 
these spells hundreds and hundreds of years before the Mages Guild was formed
to teach the ways of magicka to the common folk. There does, however, appear 
to be evidence that, just as the Psijics on the Isle of Artaeum developed 
Mysticism long before there was a name for it, the even more obscure Ayleids 
of southern Cyrodiil had developed what was to be known as the school of 
Alteration. It is not, after all, much of a stretch when one considers that 
other Ayleids at the time of Bravil's conquering and even later were 
shapeshifters. The community of pre-Bravil could not turn into beasts and 
monsters, but they could alter their bodies to hide themselves away. A related
and useful skill, to be sure. But not so effective to save themselves in the 
end.

Very little is left of the Ayleid presence in Bravil of today, though 
archetectural marvels of other kinds are very evident. As beautiful and 
arresting as the Benevolence of Mara cathedral and the lord's palace are, no 
manmade structure in Bravil is as famous as the statue called The Lucky Old 
Lady.

The tales about the Lady and who she was are too numerous to list.

It was said she was born the illegitimate daughter of a prostitute in Bravil,
certainly an inauspicious beginning to a lucky life. She was teased by the 
other children, who forever asked her who her father was. Every day, she would
run back to her little shack in tears from their cruelty.

One day, a priest of Stendarr came to Bravil to do charitable work. He saw the
weeping little girl, and when asked, she told him the cause of her misery: she
didn't know who her father was.

"You have kind eyes and a mouth that tells no lies," replied the priest after
a moment, smiling. "You are clearly a child of Stendarr, the God of Mercy, 
Charity, and Well-Earned Luck."

The priest's thoughtful words changed the girl forever. Whenever she was asked
who her father was, she would cheerfully reply, "I am a child of Luck."

She grew up to be a barmaid, it was said, kind and generous to her customers, 
frequently allowing them to pay when they were able to. On a particularly 
rainy night, she gave shelter to a young man dressed in rags, who not only had
no money to pay, but was belligerent and rude to her as she fed him and gave 
him a room. The next morning, he left without so much as a thank you. Her 
friends and family admonished her, saying that she had to be careful, he might
have even been dangerous.

A week later, a royal carriage arrived in Bravil, with an Imperial prince 
within. Though he was scarcely reconizable, it was the same young man the Lady
had helped. He apologized profusely for his appearance and behavior, 
explaining that he had been kidnapped and cursed by a band of witches, and it
wasn't until later he had returned to his senses. The Lady was showered with
riches, which she, of course, generously shared with all the people of Bravil,
where she lived to a content old age.

No one knows when the statue to her was erected in the town square, or who the
artist was, but it has stood there for thousands of years, since the first 
era. To this day, visitors and Bravillians alike go to the Lucky Old Lady to
ask for her to bless them with luck in their travails.

Just one more charming aspect of the charming, and very lucky village of 
Bravil.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ12)
                  ~~The Dragon Break~~

                      Fal Droon
       

     Item ID: 000243D5
     

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The late 3rd era was a period of remarkable religious ferment and creativity.
The upheavals of the reign of Uriel VII were only the outward signs of the 
historical forces that would eventually lead to the fall of the Septim 
Dynasty. The so called "Dragon Break" was first proposed at this time, by a
wide variety of cults and fringe sects across the Empire, connected only by a
common obsession with the events surrounding Tiber Septim's rise to power -- 
the "founding myth", if you will, of the Septim Dynasty.

The basis of the Dragon Break doctrine is now known to be a rather prosaic 
error in the timeline printed in the otherwise authoritative "Encyclopedia 
Tamrielica", first published in 3E 12, during the early years of Tiber 
Septim's reign. At that time, the archives of Alinor were still inaccessible
to human scholars, and the extant records from the Alessian period were 
extremely fragmentary. The Alessians had systematically burned all the 
libraries they could find, and their own records were largely destroyed during
the War of Righteousness.

The author of the Encyclopedia Tamrielica was apparently unfamiliar with the
Alessian "year", which their priesthood used to record all dates. We now know
this refers to the length of the long vision-trances undertaken by the High 
Priestess, which might last anywhere from a few weeks to several months. Based
on analysis of the surviving trance scrolls, as well as murals and friezes 
from Alessian temples, I estimate that the Alessian Order actually lasted only
about 150 years, rather than the famous "one thousand and eight years" given 
by the Encyclopedia Tamrielica. The "mystery" of the millennial-plus rule of 
the Alessians was accepted but unexplained until the spread of the Lorkhan 
cults in the late 3rd era, when the doctrine of the Dragon Break took hold. 
Because this dating (and explanation) was so widely held at the time, and then
repeated by historians down through today, it has come to have the force of 
tradition. Recall, however, that the 3rd era historians were already separated
from the Alessians by a gulf of more than 2,000 years. And history was still 
in its infancy, relying on the few archives from those early days.

Today, modern archaeology and paleonumerology have confirmed what my own 
research in Alessian dating first suggested: that the Dragon Break was 
invented in the late 3rd era, based on a scholarly error, fueled by obsession 
with eschatology and Numidiumism, and perpetuated by scholarly inertia. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ13)
                  ~~The Lunar Lorkhan~~

                      Fal Droon
       

     Item ID: 000243D8
     

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I will not go into the varying accounts of what happened at Adamantine Tower,
nor will I relate the War of Manifest Metaphors that rendered those stories 
unable to support most qualities of what is commonly known as "narrative." We
all have our favorite Lorkhan story and our favorite Lorkhan motivation for 
the creation of Nirn and our favorite story of what happened to His Heart. But
the Theory of the Lunar Lorkhan is of special note.

In short, the Moons were and are the two halves of Lorkhan's 'flesh-divinity'.
Like the rest of the Gods, Lorkhan was a plane(t) that participated in the 
Great Construction... except where the Eight lent portions of their heavenly 
bodies to create the mortal plane(t), Lorkhan's was cracked asunder and his 
divine spark fell to Nirn as a shooting star "to impregnate it with the 
measure of its existence and a reasonable amount of selfishness."

Masser and Secunda therefore are the personifications of the dichotomy-- the
"Cloven Duality," according to Artaeum-- that Lorkhan legends often rail 
against: ideas of the anima/animus, good/evil, being/nothingness, the poetry 
of the body, throat, and moan/silence-as-the-abortive, and so on -- set in the
night sky as Lorkhan's constant reminder to his mortal issue of their duty.

Followers of this theory hold that all other "Heart Stories" are mythical 
degradations of the true origin of the moons (and it needn't be said that they
observe the "hollow crescent theory" as well). 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ14)
             ~~Reality & Other Falsehoods~~
       

     Item ID: 00073A69
     

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It is easy to confuse Illusion and Alteration. Both schools of magic attempt
to create what is not there. The difference is in the rules of nature. 
Illusion is not bound by them, while Alteration is. This may seem to indicate
that Alteration is the weaker of the two, but this is not true. Alteration
creates a reality that is recognized by everyone. Illusion's reality is only
in the mind of the caster and the target.

To master Alteration, first accept that reality is a falsehood. There is no 
such thing. Our reality is a perception of greater forces impressed upon us 
for their amusement. Some say that these forces are the gods, other that they
are something beyond the gods. For the wizard, it doesn't really matter. What
matters is the appeal couched in a manner that cannot be denied. It must be 
insistent without being insulting.

To cast Alteration spells is to convince a greater power that it will be 
asier to change reality as requested than to leave it alone. Do not assume 
that these forces are sentient. Our best guess is that they are like wind and
water. Persistent but not thoughtful. Just like directing the wind or water, 
diversions are easier than outright resistance. Express the spell as a subtle
change and it is more likely to be successful.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ15)
                       ~~Sithis~~

                        Anonymous
      

     Item ID: 000243D6
     

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Sithis is the start of the house. Before him was nothing, but the foolish
Altmer have names for and revere this nothing. That is because they are lazy
slaves. Indeed, from the Sermons, 'stasis asks merely for itself, which is 
nothing.'

Sithis sundered the nothing and mutated the parts, fashioning from them a
myriad of possibilities. These ideas ebbed and flowed and faded away and this
is how it should have been.

One idea, however, became jealous and did not want to die; like the stasis, he
wanted to last. This was the demon Anui-El, who made friends, and they called 
themselves the Aedra. They enslaved everything that Sithis had made and 
created realms of everlasting imperfection. Thus are the Aedra the false gods,
that is, illusion.

So Sithis begat Lorkhan and sent him to destroy the universe. Lorkhan! 
Unstable mutant!

Lorkhan had found the Aedric weakness. While each rebel was, by their nature,
immeasurable, they were, through jealously and vanity, also separate from each
other. They were also unwilling to go back to the nothing of before. So while 
they ruled their false dominions, Lorkhan filled the void with a myriad of new
ideas. These ideas were legion. Soon it seemed that Lorkhan had a dominion of
his own, with slaves and everlasting imperfections, and he seemed, for all the
world, like an Aedra. Thus did he present himself as such to the demon Anui-El
and the Eight Givers: as a friend.

Go unto the Sharmat Dagoth Ur as a friend.

AE HERMA MORA ALTADOON PADHOME LKHAN AE AI. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ16)
               ~~The Armorer's Challenge~~

                      Mymophonus 
      

     Item ID: 000243D9
     


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Three hundred years ago, when Katariah became Empress, the first and only 
Dunmer to rule all of Tamriel, she faced opposition from the Imperial Council.
Even after she convinced them that she would be the best regent to rule the 
Empire while her husband Pelagius sought treatment for his madness, there was
still conflict. In particular from the Duke of Vengheto, Thane Minglumire, who
took a particular delight in exposing all of the Empress's lack of practical 
knowledge.

In this particular instance, Katariah and the Council were discussing the 
unrest in Black Marsh, the massacre of Imperial troops outside the village of
Armanias. The sodden swampland and the sweltering climate, particular in 
summertide, would endanger the troops if they wore their usual armor.

"I know a very clever armorer," said Katariah, "His name is Hazadir, an 
Argonian who knows the environments our army will be facing. He knew him in 
Vivec where he was a slave to the master armorer there, before he moved to the
Imperial City as a freedman. We should have him design armor and weaponry for 
the campaign."

Minglumire gave a short, barking laugh: "She wants a slave to design the armor
and weaponry for our troops! Sirollus Saccus is the finest armorer in the 
Imperial City. Everyone knows that."

After much debate, it was finally decided to have both armorers contend for 
the commission. The Council also elected two champions of equal power and 
prowess, Nandor Beraid and Raphalas Eul, to battle using the arms and 
armaments of the real competitors in the struggle. Whichever champion won, the
armorer who supplied him would earn the Imperial commission. It was decided 
that Beraid would be outfitted by Hazadir, and Eul by Saccus.

The fight was scheduled to commence in seven days.

Sirollus Saccus began work immediately. He would have preferred more time, but
he recognized the nature of the test. The situation in Armanias was urgent. 
The Empire had to select their armorer quickly, and once selected, the 
preferred armorer had to act swiftly and produce the finest armor and weaponry
for the Imperial army in Black Marsh. It wasn't just the best armorer they 
were looking for. It was the most efficient.

Saccus had only begun steaming the half-inch strips of black virgin oak to 
bend into bands for the flanges of the armor joints when there was a knock at
his door. His assistant Phandius ushered in the visitor. It was a tall 
reptilian of common markings, a dull, green-fringed hood, bright black eyes, 
and a dull brown cloak. It was Hazadir, Katariah's preferred armorer.

"I wanted to wish you the best of luck on the — is that ebony?"

It was indeed. Saccus had bought the finest quality ebony weave available in 
the Imperial City as soon as he heard of the competition and had begun the 
process of smelting it. Normally it was a six month procedure refining the 
ore, but he hoped that a massive convection oven stoked by white flames born 
of magicka would shorten the operation to three days. Saccus proudly pointed 
out the other advancements in his armory. The acidic lime pools to sharpen the
blade of the dai-katana to an unimaginable degree of sharpness. The Akaviri 
forge and tongs he would use to fold the ebony back and forth upon itself. 
Hazadir laughed.

"Have you been to my armory? It's two tiny smoke-filled rooms. The front is a
shop. The back is filled with broken armor, some hammers, and a forge. That's
it. That's your competition for the millions of gold pieces in Imperial 
commission."

"I'm sure the Empress has some reason to trust you to outfit her troops," said
Sirollus Saccus, kindly. He had, after all, seen the shop and knew that what 
Hazadir said was true. It was a pathetic workshop in the slums, fit only for 
the lowliest of adventurers to get their iron daggers and cuirasses repaired.
Saccus had decided to make the best quality regardless of the inferiority of 
his rival. It was his way and how he became the best armorer in the Imperial 
City.

Out of kindness, and more than a bit of pride, Saccus showed Hazadir how, by 
contrast, things should be done in a real professional armory. The Argonian 
acted as an apprentice to Saccus, helping him refine the ebony ore, and to 
pound it and fold it when it cooled. Over the next several days, they worked 
together to create a beautiful dai-katana with an edge honed to a keen sharp 
enough to trim a mosquito's eyebrows, and a suit of armor of bound wood, 
leather, silver, and ebony to resist the winds of Oblivion.

On the day of the battle, Saccus, Hazadir, and Phandius finished polishing the
armor and brought in Raphalas Eul for the fitting. Hazadir left only then, 
realizing that Nandor Beraid would be at his shop shortly to be outfitted.

The two warriors met in the arena in the Imperial City with an audience of the
Empress and the Imperial Council two hours later. From the moment Saccus saw 
Eul in his suit of shining ebony and dai-katana blazing and Beraid in his 
collection of dusty, rusted merchandise from Hazadir's shop, he knew who would
win. And he was right.

The first blow from the dai-katana lodged in the soft shield, as there was no
metal trim to deflect it. Before l could pull his sword back, Beraid lashed 
out with his long sword at the weak points in the armor, it was the perfect 
weapon to perforate the joints. Eul retrieved his sword and slashed at Beraid
but his armor was scaled and angled, and the attacks rolled off like water. 
When Eul's armor began to fall off, the Empress and Council, out of mercy, 
called a victor.

Hazadir received the commission and thanks to his knowledge of Argonian battle
tactics and weaponry and how best to combat them, he designed implements of 
war that brought down the insurrection in Armanias. Katariah won the respect 
of Council, and even, grudgingly, that of Thane Minglumire. Sirollus Saccus 
went to Morrowind to learn what Hazadir learned there, and was never heard 
from again. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ17)
               ~~Cherim's Heart of Anequina~~

      Livillus Perus, Professor at the Imperial University 
      

     Item ID: 000243DC
     


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Contemporary with Maqamat Lusign (interviewed in volume seventeen of this 
series) is the Khajiti Cherim, whose tapestries have been hailed as 
masterpieces all over the Empire for nigh on thirty years now. His four 
factories located throughout Elsweyr make reproductions of his work, but his
original tapestries command stellar prices. The Emperor himself owns ten 
Cherim tapestries, and his representatives are currently negotiating the sale
of five more.

The muted use of color contrasted with the luminous skin tones of Cherim's 
subjects is a marked contrast with the old style of tapestry. The subjects of
his work in recent years have been fabulous tales of the ancient past: the 
Gods meeting to discuss the formation of the world; the Chimer following the 
Prophet Veloth into Morrowind; the Wild Elves battling Morihaus and his 
legions at the White Gold Tower. His earliest designs dealt with more 
contemporary subjects. I had the opportunity to discuss with him one of his 
first masterpieces, The Heart of Anequina, at his villa in Orcrest.

The Heart of Anequina presents an historic battle of the Five Year War between
Elsweyr and Valenwood which raged from 3E 394 (or 3E 395, depending on what 
one considers to be the beginning of the war) until 3E 399. In most fair 
accounts, the war lasted 4 years and 9 months, but artistic license from the 
great epic poets added an additional three months to the ordeal.

The actual details of the battle itself, as interpreted by Cherim, are 
explicit. The faces of a hundred and twenty Wood Elf archers can be 
differentiated one from the other, each registering fear at the approach of 
the Khajiti army. Their hauberks catch the dim light of the sun. The menacing 
shadows of the Elsweyr battlecats loom on the hills, every muscle strained, 
ready to pounce in command. It is not surprising that he got all the details 
right, because Cherim was in the midst of it, as a Khajiti foot soldier.

Every minute part of the Khajiti medium-weight armor can be seen in the 
soldiers in the foreground. The embroidered edging and striped patterns on the
tunics. Each lacquered plate on loose-fitting leather in the Elsweyr style. 
The helmets of cloth and fluted silver.

“Cherim does not understand the point of plate mail,” said Cherim. “It is hot,
for one, like being both burned and buried alive. Cherim wore it at the 
insistence of our Nord advisors during the Battle of Zelinin, and Cherim 
couldn't even turn to see what my fellow Khajiit were doing. Cherim did some 
sketches for a tapestry of the Battle of Zelinin, but Cherim finds that to 
make it realistic, the figures came out very mechanical, like iron golems or 
dwemer centurions. Knowing our Khajiti commanders, Cherim would not be 
surprised if giving up the heavy plate was more aesthetic than practical.”

“Elsweyr lost the Battle of Zelinin, didn't she?”

“Yes, but Elsweyr won the war, starting at the next battle, the Heart of 
Anequina,” said Cherim with a smile. “The tide turned as soon as we Khajiit 
sent our Nordic advisors back to Solitude. We had to get rid of all the heavy
armor they brought to us and find enough traditional medium armor our troops 
felt comfortable wearing. Obviously, the principle advantage of the medium 
armor was that we could move easily in it, as you can see from the natural 
stances of the soldiers in the tapestry.

“Now if you look at this poor perforated Cathay-raht who just keeps battling 
on in the bottom background, you see the other advantage. It seems strange to
say, but one of the best features of medium armor is that an arrow will either
deflect completely or pass all the way through. An arrow head is like a hook,
made to stick where it strikes if it doesn't pass through. A soldier in medium
armor will find himself with a hole in his body and the bolt on the other 
side. Our healers can fix such a wound easily if it isn't fatal, but if the 
arrow still remains in the armor, as it does with heavier armor, the wound 
will be reopened every time the fellow moves. Unless the Khajiit strips off 
the armor and pulls out the arrow, which is what we had to do at the Battle of
Zelinin. A difficult and time-consuming process in the heat of battle, to say 
the least.”

I asked him next, “Is there a self portrait in the battle?”

“Yes,” Cherim said with another grin. “You see the small figure of the Khajiit
stealing the rings off the dead Wood Elf? His back is facing you, but he has a
brown and orange striped tail like Cherim's. Cherim does not say that all 
stereotypes about the Khajiit are fair, but Cherim must sometimes acknowledge
them.”

A self-deprecating style in self-portraiture is also evident in the tapestries
of Ranulf Hook, the next artist interviewed in volume nineteen of this series. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ18)
                  ~~Heavy Armor Repair~~

                       Anonymous
      

     Item ID: 00073A68
     


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Heavy armor must be designed to take a lot of punishment. It will receive 
direct blows from all sorts of weapons while protecting the wearer. Such armor
tends to be made from a few large pieces rather than lots of small pieces like
light armor.

Iron and steel are easy to work. Just heat them up and pound them back into 
shape. You can even use a camp fire for field repairs. Avoid filing off any of
the metal. Always try to conserve the metal and work it back into shape.

If a piece needs a lot of hammering, it may become brittle. Reheating the 
armor every now and then can reduce the brittleness after severe repairs. Once
the hammering is done, be sure to oil it well. The freshly hammered surfaces 
will rust more quickly and need to be protected.

Dwarven and Orcish armor require small and large hammers. Heat should be used
sparingly, particularly with Orcish. Both types respond better to many small 
hammer strokes rather than fewer heavy strokes.

Ebony can only be hammered when heated. It will develop small cracks that 
eventually shatter the material if hammered cold. Daedric should always be 
worked on at night... ideally under a new or full moon, and never during an 
eclipse. A red harvest moon is best. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ19)
              ~~Last Scabbard of Akrash~~

                       Tabar Vunqidh      

     Item ID: 000243DA
     


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For several warm summer days in the year 3E 407, a young, pretty Dunmer woman
in a veil regularly visited one of the master armorers in the city of Tear. 
The locals decided that she was young and pretty by her figure and her poise,
though no one ever saw her face. She and the armorer would retire to the back
of his shop, and he would close down his business and dismiss his apprentices
for a few hours. Then, at mid-afternoon, she would leave, only to return at 
precisely the same time the next day. As gossip goes, it was fairly meager 
stuff, though what the old man was doing with such a well dressed and 
attractively proportioned woman was the source of several crude jokes. After 
several weeks, the visits stopped, and life returned to normal in the slums of
Tear.

It was not until a month or two after the visits had stopped, that in one of 
the many taverns in the neighborhood, a young local tailor, having imbibed too
much sauce, asked the armorer, “So whatever happened to your lady friend? You
break her heart?”

The armorer, well aware of the rumors, simply replied, “She is a proper young
lady of quality. There was nothing between her and the likes of me.”

“What was she doing at your shop every day for?” asked the tavern wench, who 
had been dying to get the subject open.

“If you must know,” said the armorer. “I was teaching her the craft.”

“You're putting us on,” laughed the tailor.

“No, the young lady had a particular fascination with my particular kind of 
artistry,” the armorer said, with a hint of pride before getting lost in the 
reverie. “I taught her how to mend swords specifically, from all kinds of 
nicks and breaks, hairline fissures, cracked pommels, quillons, and grips. 
When she first started, she had no idea how to secure the grips to the tang of
the blade... Well, of course she was green to start off with, why wouldn't she
be? But she weren't afraid to get her hands dirty. I taught her how to patch 
the little inlaid silver and gold filigree you find on really fine blades, and
how to polish it all to a mirror sheen so the sword looks like the gods just 
pulled it from their celestial anvil.”

The tavern wench and the tailor laughed out loud. No matter what he alleged,
the armorer was speaking of the young lady's training as another man speaks of
a long lost love.

More of the locals in the tavern would have listened to the armorer's pathetic
tale, but more important gossip had taken precedence. There was another 
murdered slave-trader found in the center of town, gutted from fore to aft. 
That made six of them total in barely a fortnight. Some called the killer “The
Liberator,” but that sort of anti-slavery zeal was rare among the common folk.
They preferred calling him “The Lopper,” as several of the earlier victims had
been completely beheaded. Others had been simply perforated, sliced, or 
gutted, but “The Lopper” still kept his original sobriquet.

While the enthusiastic hooligans made bets about the condition of the next 
slave-trader's corpse, several dozen of the surviving members of that trade 
were meeting at the manor house of Serjo Dres Minegaur. Minegaur was a minor 
houseman of House Dres, but a major member of the slave-trading fraternity. 
Perhaps his best years were behind him, but his associates still counted on 
him for wisdom.

“We need to take what we know of this Lopper and search accordingly,” said 
Minegaur, seated in front of his opulent hearth. “We know he has an 
unreasonable hatred of slavery and slave-traders. We know he is skilled with a
blade. We know he has the stealth and finesse to execute our most well-secured
brethren in their most secure abodes. It sounds to me to be an adventurer, an 
Outlander. Surely no citizen of Morrowind would strike at us like this.”

The slave-traders nodded in agreement. An Outlander seemed most likely for 
their troubles. It was always true.

“Were I fifty years younger, I would take down my blade Akrash from the 
hearth,” Minegaur made an expansive gesture to the shimmering weapon. “And 
join you in seeking out this terror. Search him out where adventurers meet --
taverns and guildhalls. Then show him a little lopping of my own.”

The slave-traders laughed politely.

“You wouldn't let us borrow your blade for the execution, I suppose, would 
you, Serjo?” asked Soron Jeles, a young toadying slaver enthusiastically.

“It would be an excellent use for Akrash,” sighed Minegaur. “But I vowed to 
retire her when I retired.”

Minegaur called for his daughter Peliah to bring the slavers more flin, but 
they waved the girl away. It was to be a night for hunting the Lopper, not 
drinking away their troubles. Minegaur heartily approved of their devotion, 
particular as expensive as the liquor was getting to be.

When the last of the slavers had left, the old man kissed his daughter on the 
head, took one last admiring look at Akrash, and toddled off to his bed. No 
sooner had he done so then Peliah had the blade off the mantle, and was flying
with it across the field behind the manor house. She knew Kazagh had been 
waiting for her for hours in the stables.

He sprung out at her from the shadows, and wrapping his strong, furry arms 
around her, kissed her long and sweet. Holding him as long as she dared to, 
she finally broke away and handed him the blade. He tested its edge.

“The finest Khajiiti swordsmith couldn't hone an edge this keen,” he said, 
looking at his beloved with pride. “And I know I nicked it up good last 
night.”

“That you did,” said Peliah. “You must have cut through an iron cuirass.”

“The slavers are taking precautions now,” he replied. “What did they say 
during their meeting?”

“They think it's an Outlander adventurer,” she laughed. “It didn't occur to 
any of them that a Khajiiti slave would possess the skill to commit all these
'loppings.'”

“And your father doesn't suspect that it's his dear Akrash that is striking 
into the heart of oppression?”

“Why would he, when every day he finds it fresh as the day before? Now I must
go before anyone notices I'm gone. My nurse sometimes comes in to ask me some
detail about the wedding, as if I had any choice in the matter at all.”

“I promise you,” said Kazagh very seriously. “You will not be forced into any
marriage to cement your family's slave-dealing dynasty. The last scabbard 
Akrash will be sheathed into will be your father's heart. And when you are an
orphan, you can free the slaves, move to a more enlightened province, and 
marry who you like.”

“I wonder who that will be,” Peliah teased, and raced out of the stables.

Just before dawn, Peliah awoke and crept out to the garden, where she found 
Akrash hidden in the bittergreen vines. The edge was still relatively keen,
but there were scratches vertically across the blade's surface. Another 
beheading, she thought, as she took pumice stone and patiently rubbed out the
marks, finally polishing it with a solution of salt and vinegar. It was up on
the mantle in pristine condition when her father came into the sitting room 
for his breakfast.

When the news came that Kemillith Torom, Peliah's husband-to-be, had been 
found outside of a canton, his head on a spike some feet away, she did not 
have to pretend to grieve. Her father knew she did not want to marry him.

“It is a shame,” he said. “The lad was a good slaver. But there are plenty of
other young men who would appreciate an alliance with our family. What about 
young Soron Jeles?”

Two days nights later, Soron Jeles was visited by the Lopper. The struggle did
not take long, but Soron had had armed himself with one small defense -- a 
needle dipped in the ichor of poisonplant, hidden up his sleeve. After the 
mortal blow, he collapsed forward and stuck Kazagh in the calf with the pin. 
By the time he made it back to the Minegaur manorhouse, he was dying.

Vision blurring, he climbed up to the eaves of the house to Peliah's window 
and rapped. Peliah did not answer immediately, as she was in a deep, wonderful
sleep, dreaming about her future with her Khajiiti lover. He rapped louder, 
which woke up not only Peliah, but also her father in the next room.

“Kazagh!” she cried, opening up the window. The next person in the bedroom was
Minegaur himself.

As he saw it, this slave, his property, was about to lop off the head of his 
daughter, his property, with his sword, his property. Suddenly, with the 
energy of a young man, Minegaur rushed at the dying Khajiit, knocking the 
sword out of his hand. Before Peliah could stop him, her father had thrust the
blade into her lover's heart.

The excitement over, the old man dropped the sword and turned to the door to
call the Guard. As an after thought, it occurred to him to make certain that 
his daughter hadn't been injured and might require a Healer. Minegaur turned 
to her. For a moment, he felt simply disoriented, feeling the force of the 
blow, but not the blade itself. Then he saw the blood and then felt the pain. 
Before he fully realized that his daughter had stabbed him with Akrash, he was
dead. The blade, at last, found its scabbard.

A week later, after the official investigations, the slave was buried in an 
unmarked grave in the manor field, and Serjo Dres Minegaur found his resting
place in a modest corner of the family's opulent mausoleum. A larger crowd of
curious onlookers came to view the funeral of the noble slaver whose secret 
life was as the savage Lopper of his competitors. The audience was 
respectfully quiet, though there was not a person there not imagining the 
final moments of the man's life. Attacking his own daughter in his madness, 
luckily defended by the loyal, hapless slave, before turning the blade on 
himself.

Among the viewers was an old armorer who saw for one last time the veiled 
young lady before she disappeared forever from Tear. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ20)
                  ~~Light Armor Repair~~

                       Anonymous    

     Item ID:  00073A67
     

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There are two classes of light armor, metallic and non-metallic. Chainmail,
Elven, Mithril and Glass are all examples of metallic light armor. You may be
surprised to think that Glass can be thought of as metallic, but appearances 
are deceiving. What we call Glass is nothing like the windows panes you see in
houses. The greenish material is far stronger and has a much higher melting 
point.

Non-metallic armors are Fur and Leather. For these armor types, the hammer is
less useful than the sewing kit. A sharp awl is necessary to restitch the 
thick material. Holes frequently have to be patched with spare material. The
rule of thumb is once you have to patch a patch, it's time to throw out the 
armor and get a new set.

Metallic armor will occasionally need a patch. Usually it can be repaired by 
hammering the torn pieces back together. Elven and Mithril will repair better 
when heated. Chainmail is usually malleable enough to work on cold.

The trickiest of all is Glass. Hammer blows struck across the grain run the 
risk of shattering the armor. Whenever possible, allign the hammer blows with
the grain. In extreme cases, place the armor in tub of oil. Place the anvil so
that the affected piece is on the anvil, but just under the oil. Vibrations 
from the hammer blows are absorbed by the oil and less likely to shatter the 
Glass. 


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                    ~~ATHLETIC BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ21)
            ~~The Argonian Account, Book 1~~

                      Waughin Jarth   

     Item ID: 000243E2
     


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On a minor but respectable plaza in the Imperial City sat, or perhaps lounged,
Lord Vanech's Building Commission. It was an unimaginative, austere building 
not noted so much for its aesthetic or architectural design as for its 
prodigious length. If any critics wondered why such an unornamented, extended
erection held such fascination for Lord Vanech, they kept it to themselves.

In the 398th year of the 3rd Era, Decumus Scotti was a senior clerk at the 
Commission.

It had been a few months since the shy, middle-aged man had brought Lord 
Vanech the most lucrative of all contracts, granting the Commission the 
exclusive right to rebuild the roads of Valenwood which had been destroyed in 
the Five Year War. For this, he had become the darling of the managers and the
clerks, spending his days recounting his adventures, more or less 
faithfully... although he did omit the ending of the tale, since many of them
had partaken in the celebratory Unthrappa roast provided by the Silenstri. 
Informing one's listeners that they've gorged on human flesh improves very few
stories of any good taste.

Scotti was neither particularly ambitious nor hard-working, so he did not mind
that Lord Vanech had not given him anything to actually do.

Whenever the squat little gnomish man would happen upon Decumus Scotti in the
offices, Lord Vanech would always say, "You're a credit to the Commission. 
Keep up the good work."

In the beginning, Scotti had worried that he was supposed to be doing 
something, but as the months went on, he merely replied, "Thank you. I will."

There was, on the other hand, the future to consider. He was not a young man, 
and though he was receiving a respectable salary for someone not doing actual 
work, Scotti considered that soon he might have to retire and not get paid for
not doing work. It would be nice, he decided, if Lord Vanech, out of gratitude
for the millions of gold the Valenwood contract was generating, might deign to
make Scotti a partner. Or at least give him a small percentage of the bounty.

Decumus Scotti was no good at asking for things like that, which was one of 
the reasons why, previous to his signal successes in Valenwood as a senior 
clerk for Lord Atrius, he was a lousy agent. He had just about made up his 
mind to say something to Lord Vanech, when his lordship unexpectedly pushed 
things along.

"You're a credit to the Commission," the waddling little thing said, and then
paused. "Do you have a moment free on your schedule?"

Scotti nodded eagerly, and followed his lordship to his hideously decorated 
and very enviable hectare of office space.

"Zenithar blesses us for your presence at the Commission," the little fellow
squeaked grandly. "I don't know whether you know this, but we were having a 
bad time before you came along. We had impressive projects, for certain, but 
they were not successful. In Black Marsh, for example, for years we've been 
trying to improve the roads and other routes of travel for commerce. I put my 
best man, Flesus Tijjo, on it, but every year, despite staggering investments 
of time and money, the trade along those routes only gets slower and slower. 
Now, we have your very clean, very, very profitable Valenwood contract to 
boost the Commission's profits. I think it's time you were rewarded."

Scotti grinned a grin of great modesty and subtle avarice.

"I want you to take over the Black Marsh account from Flesus Tijjo."

Scotti shook as if awaking from a pleasant dream to hideous reality, "My Lord,
I - I couldn't -"

"Nonsense," chirped Lord Vanech. "Don't worry about Tijjo. He will be happy to
retire on the money I give him, particularly as soul-wrenchingly difficult as
this Black Marsh business has been. Just your sort of a challenge, my dear 
Decumus."

Scotti couldn't utter a sound, though his mouth feebly formed the word "No" as
Lord Vanech brought out the box of documentation on Black Marsh.

"You're a fast reader," Lord Vanech guessed. "You can read it all en route."

"En route to ..."

"Black Marsh, of course," the tiny fellow giggled. "You are a funny chap. 
Where else would you go to learn about the work that's being done, and how to
improve it?"

The next morning, the stack of documentation hardly touched, Decumus Scotti 
began the journey south-east to Black Marsh. Lord Vanech had hired an able-
bodied guard, a rather taciturn Redguard named Mailic, to protect his best 
agent. They rode south along the Niben, and then south-east along the 
Silverfish, continuing on into the wilds of Cyrodiil, where the river 
tributaries had no names and the very vegetation seemed to come from another 
world than the nice, civilized gardens of the northern Imperial Province.

Scotti's horse was tied to Mailic's, so the clerk was able to read. It made it
difficult to pay attention to the path they were taking, but Scotti knew he 
needed at least a cursory familiarity with the Commission's business dealings
in Black Marsh.

It was a huge box of paperwork going back forty years, when the Commission had
first been given several million in gold by a wealthy trader, Lord Xellicles 
Pinos-Revina, to improve the condition of the road from Gideon to Cyrodiil. At
that time, it took three weeks, a preposterously long time, for the rice and 
root he was importing to arrive, half-rotten, in the Imperial Province. Pinos-
Revina was long dead, but many other investors over the decades, including 
Pelagius IV himself, had hired the Commission to build roads, drain swamps, 
construct bridges, devise anti-smuggling systems, hire mercenaries, and, in 
short, do everything that the greatest Empire in history knew would work to 
aid trade with Black Marsh. According to the latest figures, the result of 
this was that it took two and a half months for goods, now thoroughly rotten,
to arrive.

Scotti found that when he looked up after concentrating on what he was 
reading, the landscape had always changed. Always dramatically. Always for the
worse.

"This is Blackwood, sir," said Mailic to Scotti's unspoken question. It was 
dark and woodsy, so Decumus Scotti thought that a very appropriate name.

The question he longed to ask, which in due course he did ask, was, "What's
that terrible smell?"

"Slough Point, sir," Mailic replied as they turned the next bend, where the 
umbrageous tunnel of tangled tree and vine opened to a clearing. There 
squatted a cluster of formal buildings in the dreary Imperial design favored 
by Lord Vanech's Commission and every Emperor since Tiber, together with a 
stench so eye-blindingly, stomach-wrenchingly awful that Scotti wondered, 
suddenly, if it were deadly poisonous. The swarms of blood-colored, sand-
grain-sized insects obscuring the air did not improve the view.

Scotti and Mailic batted at the buzzing clouds as they rode their horses 
towards the largest of the buildings, which on approach revealed itself to be
perched at the edge of a thick, black river. From its size and serious aspect,
Scotti guessed it to be the census and excise office for the wide, white 
bridge that stretched across the burbling dark water to the reeds on the other
side. It was a very nice, bright, sturdy-looking bridge, built, Scotti knew, 
by his Commission.

A poxy, irritable official opened the door quickly on Scotti's first knock. 
"Come in, come in, quickly! Don't let the fleshflies in!"

"Fleshflies?" Decumus Scotti trembled. "You mean, they eat human flesh?"

"If you're fool enough to stand around and let them," the soldier said, 
rolling his eyes. He had half an ear, and Scotti, looking around at the other
soldiers in the fort noted that they all were well-chewed. One of them had no
nose at all to speak of. "Now, what's your business?"

Scotti told them, and added that if they stood outside the fortress instead of
inside, they might catch more smugglers.

"You better be more concerned with getting across that bridge," the soldier 
sneered. "Tide's coming up, and if you don't get a move on, you won't get to 
Black Marsh for four days."

That was absurd. A bridge swamped by a rising tide on a river? Only the look 
in the soldier's eyes told Scotti he wasn't joking.

Upon stepping out of the fort, he saw that the horses, evidently tired of 
being tortured by the fleshflies, had ripped free of their restraints and were
bounding off into the woods. The oily water of the river was already lapping 
on the planks, oozing between the crevices. Scotti reflected that perhaps he 
would be more than willing to endure a wait of four days before going to Black
Marsh, but Mailic was already running across.

Scotti followed him, wheezing. He was not in excellent shape, and never had 
been. The box of Commission materials was heavy. Halfway across, he paused to
catch his breath, and then discovered he could not move. His feet were stuck.

The black mud that ran through the river was a thick gluey paste, and having 
washed over the plank Scotti was on, it held his feet fast. Panic seized him.
Scotti looked up from his trap and saw Mailic leaping from plank to plank 
ahead of him, closing fast on the reeds on the other side.

"Help!" Scotti cried. "I'm stuck!"

Mailic did not even turn around, but kept jumping. "I know, sir. You need to
lose weight."

Decumus Scotti knew he was a few pounds over, and had meant to start eating 
less and exercising more, but embarking on a diet hardly seemed to promise 
timely aid in his current predicament. No diet on Nirn would have helped him 
just then. However, on reflection, Scotti realized that the Redguard intended 
that he drop the box of documents, for Mailic was no longer carrying any of 
the essential supplies he had had with him previously.

With a sigh, Scotti threw the box of Commission notes into the glop, and felt
the plank under him rise a quarter of an inch, just enough to free him from 
the mud's clutches. With an agility born of extreme fear, Scotti began leaping
after Mailic, dropping onto every third plank, and springing up before the 
river gripped him.

In forty-six leaps, Decumus Scotti crashed through the reeds onto the solid 
ground behind Mailic, and found himself in Black Marsh. He could hear behind 
him a slurping sound as the bridge, and his container of important and 
official records of Commission affairs, was consumed by the rising flood of
dark filth, never to be seen again. 


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                  (Search Code: LOLZ22)
                        ~~Beggar~~

                           Reven
   

     Item ID:  000243E1
     


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Eslaf Erol was the last of the litter of five born to the Queen of the 
prosperous Nordic kingdom of Erolgard, Lahpyrcopa, and her husband, the King
of Erolgard, Ytluaf. During pregnancy, the Queen had been more than twice as
wide as she was tall, and the act of delivery took three months and six days 
after it had begun. It is perhaps understandable that the Lahpyrcopa elected, 
upon expelling Eslaf to frown, say, 'Good riddance,' and die.

Like many Nords, Ytluaf did not care very much for his wife and less for his 
children. His subjects were puzzled, therefore, when he announced that he 
would follow the ancient tradition of his people of Atmora of following his 
beloved spouse to the grave. They had not thought they were particularly in 
love, nor were they aware that such a tradition existed. Still, the simple 
people were grateful, for the little royal drama alleviated their boredom, 
which was and is a common problem in the more obscure parts of northern 
Skyrim, particularly in wintertide.

He gathered his household staff and his five fat, bawling little heirs in 
front of him, and divided his estate. To his son Ynohp, he gave his title; to
his son Laernu, he gave his land; to his son Suoibud, he gave his fortune; to
his daughter Laicifitra, he gave his army. Ytluaf's advisors had suggested he 
keep the inheritance together for the good of the kingdom, but Ytluaf did not
particularly care for his advisors, or the kingdom, for that matter. Upon 
making his announcement, he drew his dagger across his throat.

One of the nurses, who was rather shy, finally decided to speak as the King's 
life ebbed away. 'Your highness, you forgot your fifth child, little Eslaf.'

Good Ytluaf groaned. It is somewhat hard to concentrate with blood gushing 
from one's throat, after all. The King tried in vain to think of something to
bequeath, but there was nothing left.

Finally he sputtered, irritably, 'Eslaf should have taken something then' and
died.

That a babe but a few days old was expected to demand his rightful inheritance
was arguably unfair. But so Eslaf Erol was given his birthright with his 
father's dying breath. He would have nothing, but what he had taken.

Since no one else would have him, the shy nurse, whose name was Drusba, took 
the baby home. It was a decrepit little shack, and over the years that 
followed, it became more and more decrepit. Unable to find work, Drusba sold 
all of her furnishings to buy food for little Eslaf. By the time he was old 
enough to walk and talk, she had sold the walls and the roof as well, so they 
had nothing but a floor to call home. And if you've ever been to Skyrim, you 
can appreciate that that is scarcely sufficient.

Drusba did not tell Eslaf the story of his birth, or that his brothers and 
sister were leading quite nice lives with their inheritances, for, as we have 
said, she was rather shy, and found it difficult to broach the subject. She 
was so painfully shy, in fact, that whenever he asked any questions about 
where he came from, Drusba would run away. That was more or less her answer to
everything, to flee.

In order to communicate with her at all, Eslaf learned how to run almost as 
soon as he could walk. He couldn't keep up with his adopted mother at first, 
but in time he learned to go toe-heel toe-heel if he anticipated a short but 
fast sprint, and heel-toe heel-toe if it seemed Drusba was headed for a long 
distance marathon flight. He never did get all the answers he needed from her,
but Eslaf did learn how to run.

The kingdom of Erolgard had, in the years that Eslaf was growing, become quite
a grim place. King Ynohp did not have a treasury, for Suoibud had been given 
that; he did not have any property for income, for Laernu had been given that;
he did not have an army to protect the people, for Laicifitra had been given 
that. Futhermore, as he was but a child, all decisions in the kingdom went 
through Ynohp's rather corrupt council. It had become a bureaucratic
exploitative land of high taxes, rampant crime, and regular incursions from 
neighboring kingdoms. Not a particular unusual situation for a kingdom of 
Tamriel, but an unpleasant one nonetheless.

The time finally came when the taxcollector arrived to Drusba's hovel, such as
it was, to collect the only thing he could - the floor. Rather than protest, 
the poor shy maid ran away, and Eslaf never saw her again.

Without a home or a mother, Eslaf did not know what to do. He had grown 
accustomed to the cold open air in Drusba's shack, but he was hungry.

'May I have a piece of meat?' he asked the butcher down the street. 'I'm very
hungry.'

The man had known the boy for years, often spoke to his wife about how sorry 
he felt for him, growing up in a home with no ceilings or walls. He smiled at
Eslaf and said, 'Go away, or I'll hit you.'

Eslaf hurriedly left the butcher and went to a nearby tavern. The tavernkeeper
had been a former valet in the king's court and knew that the boy was by right
a prince. Many times, he had seen the poor ragged lad in the streets, and 
sighed at the way fate had treated him.

'May I have something to eat?' Eslaf asked this tavernkeeper. 'I'm very 
hungry.'

'You're lucky I don't cook you up and eat you,' replied the tavernkeeper.

Eslaf hurriedly left the tavern. For the rest of the day, the boy approached 
the good citizens of Erolgard, begging for food. One person had thrown 
something at him, but it turned out to be an inedible rock.

As night fell, a raggedy man came up to Eslaf and, without saying a word, 
handed him a piece of fruit and a piece of dried meat. The lad took it, wide-
eyed, and as he devoured it, he thanked the man very sweetly.

'If I see you begging on the streets tomorrow,' the man growled. 'I'll kill 
you myself. There are only so many beggars we of the guild allow in any one 
town, and you make it one too many. You're ruining business.'

It was a good thing Eslaf Erol knew how to run. He ran all night.

Eslaf Erol's story is continued in the book 'Thief.' 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ23)
                 ~~A Dance in Fire, v3~~

                      Waughin Jarth
   

     Item ID:  000243DF
     


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 Chapter 3

Mother Pascost disappeared into the sordid hole that was her tavern, and 
emerged a moment later with a scrap of paper with Liodes Jurus's familiar 
scrawl. Decumus Scotti held it up before a patch of sunlight that had found 
its way through the massive boughs of the tree city, and read.

    Sckotti, 

    So you made it to Falinnesti, Vallinwood! Congradulatens! Im sure you had
quit a adventure getting here. Unfortonitly, Im not here anymore as you 
probaby guess. Theres a town down rivver called Athie Im at. Git a bote and 
join me! Its ideal! I hope you brot a lot of contracks, cause these peple need
a lot of building done. They wer close to the war, you see, but not so close 
they dont have any mony left to pay. Ha ha. Meat me down here as son as you 
can. 

    -- Jurus 

So, Scotti pondered, Jurus had left Falinesti and gone to some place called 
Athie. Given his poor penmanship and ghastly spelling, it could equally well 
be Athy, Aphy, Othry, Imthri, Urtha, or Krakamaka. The sensible thing to do, 
Scotti knew, was to call this adventure over and try to find some way to get 
back home to the Imperial City. He was no mercenary devoted to a life of 
thrills: he was, or at least had been, a senior clerk at a successful private
building commission. Over the last few weeks, he had been robbed by the 
Cathay-Raht, taken on a death march through the jungle by a gang of giggling 
Bosmeri, half-starved to death, drugged with fermented pig's milk, nearly 
slain by some kind of giant tick, and attacked by archers. He was filthy, 
exhausted, and had, he counted, ten gold pieces to his name. Now the man whose
proposal brought him to the depths of misery was not even there. It was both 
judicious and seemly to abandon the enterprise entirely.

And yet, a small but distinct voice in his head told him: You have been 
chosen. You have no other choice but to see this through.

Scotti turned to the stout old woman, Mother Pascost, who had been watching 
him curiously: "I was wondering if you knew of a village that was at the edge
of the recent conflict with Elsweyr. It's called something like Ath-ie?"

"You must mean Athay," she grinned. "My middle lad, Viglil, he manages a dairy
down there. Beautiful country, right on the river. Is that where your friend 
went?"

"Yes," said Scotti. "Do you know the fastest way to get there?"

After a short conversation, an even shorter ride to Falinesti's roots by way 
of the platforms, and a jog to the river bank, Scotti was negotiating 
transport with a huge fair-haired Bosmer with a face like a pickled carp. He 
called himself Captain Balfix, but even Scotti with his sheltered life could 
recognize him for what he was. A retired pirate for hire, a smuggler for 
certain, and probably much worse. His ship, which had clearly been stolen in 
the distant past, was a bent old Imperial sloop.

"Fifty gold and we'll be in Athay in two days time," boomed Captain Balfix 
expansively.

"I have ten, no, sorry, nine gold pieces," replied Scotti, and feeling the 
need for explanation, added, "I had ten, but I gave one to the Platform 
Ferryman to get me down here."

"Nine is just as fine," said the captain agreeably. "Truth be told, I was 
going to Athay whether you paid me or not. Make yourself comfortable on the 
boat, we'll be leaving in just a few minutes."

Decumus Scotti boarded the vessel, which sat low in the water of the river, 
stacked high with crates and sacks that spilled out of the hold and galley and
onto the deck. Each was marked with stamps advertising the most innocuous 
substances: copper scraps, lard, ink, High Rock meal (marked "For Cattle"), 
tar, fish jelly. Scotti's imagination reeled picturing what sorts of illicit 
imports were truly aboard.

It took more than those few minutes for Captain Balfix to haul in the rest of 
his cargo, but in an hour, the anchor was up and they were sailing downriver 
towards Athay. The green gray water barely rippled, only touched by the 
fingers of the breeze. Lush plant life crowded the banks, obscuring from sight
all the animals that sang and roared at one another. Lulled by the serene 
surroundings, Scotti drifted to sleep.

At night, he awoke and gratefully accepted some clean clothes and food from 
Captain Balfix.

"Why are you going to Athay, if I may ask?" queried the Bosmer.

"I'm meeting a former colleague there. He asked me to come down from the 
Imperial City where I worked for the Atrius Building Commission to negotiate 
some contracts," Scotti took another bite of the dried sausages they were 
sharing for dinner. "We're going to try to repair and refurbish whatever 
bridges, roads, and other structures that got damaged in the recent war with 
the Khajiiti."

"It's been a hard two years," the captain nodded his head. "Though I suppose 
good for me and the likes of you and your friend. Trade routes cut off. Now 
they think there's going to be war with the Summurset Isles, you heard that?"

Scotti shook his head.

"I've done my share of smuggling skooma down the coast, even helping some 
revolutionary types escape the Mane's wrath, but now the wars've made me a 
legitimate trader, a business-man. The first casualties of war is always the 
corrupted."

Scotti said he was sorry to hear that, and they lapsed into silence, watching
the stars and moons' reflection on the still water. The next day, Scotti awoke
to find the captain wrapped up in his sail, torpid from alcohol, singing in a 
low, slurred voice. When he saw Scotti rise, he offered his flagon of jagga.

"I learned my lesson during revelry at western cross."

The captain laughed, and then burst into tears, "I don't want to be 
legitimate. Other pirates I used to know are still raping and stealing and 
smuggling and selling nice folk like you into slavery. I swear to you, I never
thought the first time that I ran a real shipment of legal goods that my life 
would turn out like this. Oh, I know, I could go back to it, but Baan Dar 
knows not after all I've seen. I'm a ruined man."

Scotti helped the weeping mer out of the sail, murmuring words of reassurance.
Then he added, "Forgive me for changing the subject, but where are we?"

"Oh," moaned Captain Balfix miserably. "We made good time. Athay's right 
around the bend in the river."

"Then it looks like Athay's on fire," said Scotti, pointing.

A great plume of smoke black as pitch was rising above the trees. As they 
drifted around the bend, they next saw the flames, and then the blackened 
skeletal remains of the village. Dying, blazing villagers leapt from rocks 
into the river. A cacophony of wailing met their ears, and they could see, 
roaming along the edges of the town, the figures of Khajiiti soldiers bearing
torches.

"Baan Dar bless me!" slurred the captain. "The war's back on!"

"Oh, no," whimpered Scotti.

The sloop drifted with the current toward the opposite shore away from the 
fiery town. Scotti turned his attention there, and the sanctuary it offered. 
Just a peaceful arbor, away from the horror. There was a shudder of leaves in
two of the trees and a dozen lithe Khajiit dropped to the ground, armed with 
bows.

"They see us," hissed Scotti. "And they've got bows!"

"Well, of course they have bows," snarled Captain Balfix. "We Bosmer may have
invented the bloody things, but we didn't think to keep them secret, you 
bloody bureaucrat."

"Now, they're setting their arrows on fire!"

"Yes, they do that sometimes."

"Captain, they're shooting at us! They're shooting at us with flaming arrows!"

"Ah, so they are," the captain agreed. "The aim here is to avoid being hit."

But hit they were, and very shortly thereafter. Even worse, the second volley
of arrows hit the supply of pitch, which ignited in a tremendous blue blaze. 
Scotti grabbed Captain Balfix and they leapt overboard just before the ship 
and all its cargo disintegrated. The shock of the cold water brought the 
Bosmer into temporary sobriety. He called to Scotti, who was already swimming
as fast as he could toward the bend.

"Master Decumus, where do you think you're swimming to?"

"Back to Falinesti!" cried Scotti.

"It will take you days, and by the time you get there, everyone will know 
about the attack on Athay! They'll never let anyone they don't know in! The 
closest village downriver is Grenos, maybe they'll give us shelter!"

Scotti swam back to the captain and side-by-side they began paddling in the 
middle of the river, past the burning residuum of the village. He thanked Mara
that he had learned to swim. Many a Cyrodiil did not, as largely land-locked 
as the Imperial Province was. Had he been raised in Mir Corrup or Artemon, he 
might have been doomed, but the Imperial City itself was encircled by water, 
and every lad and lass there knew how to cross without a boat. Even those who 
grew up to be clerks and not adventurers.

Captain Balfix's sobriety faded as he grew used to the water's temperature. 
Even in wintertide, the Xylo River was fairly temperate and after a fashion, 
even comfortable. The Bosmer's strokes were uneven, and he'd stray closer to 
Scotti and then further away, pushing ahead and then falling behind.

Scotti looked to the shore to his right: the flames had caught the trees like 
tinder. Behind them was an inferno, with which they were barely keeping pace. 
To the shore on their left, all looked fair, until he saw a tremble in the 
river-reeds, and then what caused it. A pride of the largest cats he had ever 
seen. They were auburn-haired, green-eyed beasts with jaws and teeth to match 
his wildest nightmares. And they were watching the two swimmers, and keeping 
pace.

"Captain Balfix, we can't go to either that shore or the other one, or we'll 
be parboiled or eaten," Scotti whispered. "Try to even your kicking and your 
strokes. Breath like you would normally. If you're feeling tired, tell me, and
we'll float on our backs for a while."

Anyone who has had the experience of giving rational advice to a drunkard 
would understand the hopelessness. Scotti kept pace with the captain, slowing
himself, quickening, drifting left and right, while the Bosmer moaned old 
ditties from his pirate days. When he wasn't watching his companion, he 
watched the cats on the shore. After a stretch, he turned to his right. 
Another village had caught fire. Undoubtedly, it was Grenos. Scotti stared at
the blazing fury, awed by the sight of the destruction, and did not hear that
the captain had ceased to sing.

When he turned back, Captain Balfix was gone.

Scotti dove into the murky depths of the river over and over again. There was
nothing to be done. When he surfaced after his final search, he saw that the 
giant cats had moved on, perhaps assuming that he too had drowned. He 
continued his lonely swim downriver. A tributary, he noted, had formed a final
barrier, keeping the flames from spreading further. But there were no more 
towns. After several hours, he began to ponder the wisdom of going ashore. 
Which shore was the question.

He was spared the decision. Ahead of him was a rocky island with a bonfire. He
did not know if he were intruding on a party of Bosmeri or Khajiiti, only that
he could swim no more. With straining, aching muscles, he pulled himself onto
the rocks.

They were Bosmer refugees he gathered, even before they told him. Roasting 
over the fire was the remains of one of the giant cats that had been stalking
him through the jungle on the opposite shore.

"Senche-Tiger," said one of the young warriors ravenously. "It's no animal --
it's as smart as any Cathay-Raht or Ohmes or any other bleeding Khajiiti. Pity
this one drowned. I would have gladly killed it. You'll like the meat, though.
Sweet, from all the sugar these asses eat."

Scotti did not know if he was capable of eating a creature as intelligent as a
man or mer, but he surprised himself, as he had done several times over the 
last days. It was rich, succulent, and sweet, like sugared pork, but no 
seasonings had been added. He surveyed the crowd as he ate. A sad lot, some 
still weeping for lost family members. They were the survivors of both the 
villages of Grenos and Athay, and war was on every person's lips. Why had the
Khajiiti attacked again? Why -- specifically directed at Scotti, as a Cyrodiil
-- why was the Emperor not enforcing peace in his provinces?

"I was to meet another Cyrodiil," he said to a Bosmer maiden who he understood
to be from Athay. "His name was Liodes Jurus. I don't suppose you know what 
might have happened to him."

"I don't know your friend, but there were many Cyrodiils in Athay when the 
fire came," said the girl. "Some of them, I think, left quickly. They were 
going to Vindisi, inland, in the jungle. I am going there tomorrow, so are 
many of us. If you wish, you may come as well."

Decumus Scotti nodded solemnly. He made himself as comfortable as he could in
the stony ground of the river island, and somehow, after much effort, he fell
asleep. But he did not sleep well.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ24)
                 ~~The Ransom of Zarek~~

                      Marobar Sul
   

     Item ID: 000243DE
     

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Jalemmil stood in her garden and read the letter her servant had brought to 
her. The bouquet of joss roses in her hand fell to the ground. For a moment it
was as if all birds had ceased to sing and a cloud had passed over the sky. 
Her carefully cultivated and structured haven seemed to flood over with 
darkness.

"We have thy son," it read. "We will be in touch with thee shortly with our 
ransom demands."

Zarek had never made it as far as Akgun after all. One of the brigands on the
road, Orcs probably, or accursed Dunmer, must have seen his well-appointed 
carriage, and taken him hostage. Jalemmil clutched at a post for support, 
wondering if her boy had been hurt. He was but a student, not the sort to 
fight against well-armed men, but had they beaten him? It was more than a 
mother's heart could bear to imagine.

"Don't tell me they sent the ransom note so quickly," called a family voice, 
and a familiar face appeared through the hedge. It was Zarek. Jalemmil hurried
to embrace her boy, tears running down her face.

"What happened?" she cried. "I thought thou had been kidnapped."

"I was," said Zarek. "Three huge soaring Nords attacked by carriage on the 
Frimvorn Pass. Brothers, as I learned, named Mathais, Ulin, and Koorg. Thou 
should have seen these men, mother. Each one of them would have had trouble 
fitting through the front door, I can tell thee."

"What happened?" Jalemmil repeated. "Were thou rescued?"

"I thought about waiting for that, but I knew they'd send off a ransom note 
and I know how thou does worry. So I remembered what my mentor at Akgun always
said about remaining calm, observing thy surroundings, and looking for thy 
opponent's weakness," Zarek grinned. "It took a while, though, because these 
fellows were truly monsters. And then, when I listened to them, bragging to 
one another, I realized that vanity was their weakness."

"What did thou do?"

"They had me chained at their camp in the woods not far from Cael, on a high
knoll over-looking a wide river. I heard one of them, Koorg, telling the 
others that it would take the better part of an hour to swim across the river
and back. They were nodding in agreement, when I spoke up.

"'I could swim that river and back in thirty minutes,' I said.

"'Impossible,' said Koorg. 'I can swim faster than a little whelp like thee.'

"So it was agreed that we would dive off the cliff, swim to the center island,
and return. As we went to our respective rocks, Koorg took it upon himself to
lecture me about all the fine points of swimming. The importance of 
synchronized movements of the arms and legs for maximum speed. How essential 
it was to breathe after only third or fourth stroke, not too often to slow 
thyself down, but not too often to lose one's air. I nodded and agreed to all
his fine points. Then we dove off the cliffs. I made it to the island and back
in a little over an hour, but Koorg never returned. He had dashed his brains 
at the rocks at the base of the cliff. I had noticed the telltale undulations
of underwater rocks, and had taken the diving rock on the right."

"But thou returned?" asked Jalemmil, astounded. "Was that not then when thou 
escaped?"

"It was too risky to escape then," said Zarek. "They could have easily caught
me again, and I wasn't keen to be blamed for Koorg's disappearance. I said I 
did not know what happened to him, and after some searching, they decided he 
had forgotten about the race and had swum ashore to hunt for food. They could
not see how I could have had anything to do with his disappearance, as fully 
visible as I was throughout my swim. The two brothers began making camp along
the rocky cliff-edge, picking an ideal location so that I would not be able to
escape.

"One of the brothers, Mathais, began commenting on the quality of the soil and
the gradual incline of the rock that circled around the bay below. Ideal, he 
said, for a foot race. I expressed my ignorance of the sport, and he was keen 
to give me details of the proper technique for running a race. He made absurd
faces, showing how one must breathe in through the nose and out through the 
mouth; how to bend one's knees to the proper angle on the rise; the importance
of sure foot placement. Most important, he explained, was that the runner keep
an aggressive but not too strenuous pace if one intends to win. It is fine to 
run in second place through the race, he said, provided one has the willpower
and strength to pull out in the end.

"I was an enthusiastic student, and Mathais decided that we ought to run a 
quick race around the edge of the bay before night fell. Ulin told us to bring
back some firewood when we came back. We began at once down the path, skirting
the cliff below. I followed his advice about breath, gait, and foot placement,
but I ran with all my power right from the start. Despite his much longer 
legs, I was a few paces ahead as we wound the first corner.

"With his eyes on my back, Mathais did not see the gape in the rock that I 
jumped over. He plummeted over the cliff before he had a chance to cry out. I 
spent a few minutes gathering some twigs before I returned to Ulin at camp."

"Now thou were just showing off," frowned Jalemmil. "Surely that would have 
been a good time to escape."

"Thou might think so," agreed Zarek. "But thou had to see the topography -- a
few large trees, and then nothing but shrubs. Ulin would have noticed my 
absence and caught up with me in no time, and I would have had a hard time 
explaining Mathais's absence. However, the brief forage around the area 
allowed me to observe some of the trees close up, and I could formulate my 
final plan.

"When I got back to camp with a few twigs, I told Ulin that Mathais was slow 
coming along, dragging a large dead tree behind him. Ulin scoffed at his 
brother's strength, saying it would take him time to pull up a live tree by 
the roots and drop it on the bonfire. I expressed reasonable doubt.

"'I'll show thee,' he said, ripping up a ten foot tall specimen effortlessly.

"'But that's scarcely a sapling,' I objected. 'I thought thou could rip up a 
tree.' His eyes followed mine to a magnificent, heavy-looking one at the edge 
of the clearing. Ulin grabbed it and began to shake it with a tremendous force
to loosen its roots from the dirt. With that, he loosened the hive from the 
uppermost branches, dropping it down onto his head.

"That was when I made my escape, mother," said Zarek, in conclusion, showing a
little schoolboy pride. "While Mathais and Koorg were at the base of the 
cliff, and Ulin was flailing about, engulfed by a swarm."

Jalemmil embraced her son once again.

Publisher's Note

    I was reluctant to publish the works of Marobar Sul, but when the 
University of Gwylim Press asked me to edit this edition, I decided to use 
this as an opportunity to set the record straight once and for all.


    Scholars do not agree on the exact date of Marobar Sul's work, but it is 
generally agreed that they were written by the playwright "Gor Felim," famous 
for popular comedies and romances during the Interregnum between the fall of 
the First Cyrodilic Empire and the rise of Tiber Septim. The current theory 
holds that Felim heard a few genuine Dwemer tales and adapted them to the 
stage in order to make money, along with rewritten versions of many of his own
plays.


    Gor Felim created the persona of "Marobar Sul" who could translate the 
Dwemer language in order to add some sort of validity to the work and make it 
even more valuable to the gullible. Note that while "Marobar Sul" and his 
works became the subject of heated controversy, there are no reliable records
of anyone actually meeting "Marobar Sul," nor was there anyone of that name 
employed by the Mages Guild, the School of Julianos, or any other intellectual
institution.


    In any case, the Dwemer in most of the tales of "Marobar Sul" bear little
resemblance to the fearsome, unfathomable race that frightened even the 
Dunmer, Nords, and Redguards into submission and built ruins that even now 
have yet to be understood.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ25)
               ~~The Red Kitchen Reader~~

                      Simocles Quo
   

     Item ID: 000243E0
   
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Though naturally modest, I must admit to some pleasure in being dubbed by our
Emperor's father, the late Pelagius IV, as "the finest connoisseur in 
Tamriel." He was also good enough to appoint me the first, and to this day, 
the only Master of Cuisine in the Imperial Court. Other Emperors, of course, 
had master chefs and cooks in their staff, but only during the reign of 
Pelagius was there someone of rarefied tastes to plan the menus and select the
finest produce to be served at court. His son Uriel requested that I continue
in that position, but I was forced to graciously decline the invitation, 
because of age and poor health.


This book, however, is not intended to be autobiography. I have had a great 
many adventures in my life as a knight of fine dining, but my intention for 
this book is much more specific. Many times I have been asked, "What is the 
best thing you ever ate?"

The answer to that is not a simple one. Much of the pleasure of a great meal 
is not only in the food: it is in the setting, the company, the mood. Eat an 
indifferently cooked roast or a simple stew with your one true love, and it is
a meal to be remembered. Have an excellent twelve-course feast with dull 
company, while feeling slightly ill, and it will be forgotten, or remembered 
only with distaste.

Sometimes meals are memorable for the experiences that come before them.

Fairly recently, in northern Skyrim, I had a bit of bad luck. I was with a 
group of fishermen, observing their technique of capturing a very rare, very 
delicious fish called Merringar. The fish is found only far from shore, so it 
was a week's voyage out beyond civilization. Well, we found our school of 
Merringar, but as the fishermen began spearing them, the blood in the water 
attracted a family of Dreugh, who capsized the boat and everyone on it. I 
managed to save myself, but the fishermen and all our supplies were lost. 
Sailing is not, alas, a skill I have picked up over the years, and it took me
three weeks, with no provisions, to find my way back to the kingdom of 
Solitude. I had managed to catch enough small fish to eat raw, but I was still
delirious from hunger and thirst. The first meal I had on shore, of Nordic 
roast boar, Jazbay wine, and, yes, filet of Merringar would have been 
excellent under any circumstances, but because of the threat of starvation I 
had faced, it was divine beyond words.

Sometimes meals are even memorable for the experiences that follow them.

In a tavern in Falinesti, I was introduced to a simple peasant dish called 
Kollopi, delicious little balls of flesh, thick with spices and juice, so 
savory I asked the proprietress whence they came. Mother Pascost explained 
that the Kollopi were an arboreal rodent that fed exclusively on the most 
tender branches of the graht-oak, and I was fortunate enough to be in 
Valenwood at the time of the annual harvest. I was invited to join with a 
small colony of Imga monkeys, who alone could gather these succulent little 
mice. Because they lived only on the slenderest branches of the trees, and 
only on the ends of those same branches, the Imga had to climb beneath them 
and jump up to "pick" the Kollopi from their perches. Imga are, of course, 
naturally dexterous, but I was then relatively young and spry, and they let me
help them. While I could never jump as high they could, with practice, I found
that if I kept my head and upper body rigid, and launched off the ground with 
a scissors-like kick, I could reach the Kollopi on the lowest branches of the 
tree. I believe I gathered three Kollopi myself, though with considerable 
effort.

To this day, I salivate at the thought of Kollopi, but my mind is on the image
of myself and several dozen Imgas leaping around beneath the shade of the 
graht-oaks.

Then, of course, there are the rare meals memorable for what came before, 
after, and during the meal, which brings me to the finest thing I ever ate, 
the meal that began my lifelong obsession with excellent cuisine.

As a child growing up in Cheydinhal, I did not care for food at all. I 
recognized the value of nutrition, for I was not a complete dullard, but I 
cannot say that mealtime brought me any pleasure at all. Partly, of course, 
this was the fault of my family's cook, who believed that spices were an 
invention of the Daedra, and that good Imperials should like their food 
boiled, textureless and flavorless. Though I think she was alone in assigning 
a religious significance to this, my sampling of traditional Cyrodilic cuisine
suggests that the philosophy is regrettably common in my homeland.

Though I did not enjoy food per se, I was not a morose, unadventurous child in
other respects. I enjoyed the fights in the Arena, of course, and nothing made
me happier than wandering the streets of my town, with my imagination as my 
only companion. It was on one such jaunt on a sunny Fredas in Mid Year that I 
made a discovery that changed my heart and my life.

There were several old abandoned houses down the street from my own home, and
I often played around them, imagining them to be filled with desperate outlaws
or haunted by hundreds of evil spirits. I never had the nerve to go inside. In
fact, had I not that day seen some other children who had delighted in teasing
me in the past, I would never have gone in. But I needed a sanctuary, so I ran
into the closest one.

The house seemed to be as desolate on the inside as on the outside, further 
proof that no one lived there, and had not for some time. When I heard 
footsteps, I could only assume that the loathsome little urchins I hoped to 
avoid had followed me in. I escaped to the basement, and from there, past a 
broken-down wall that led to a well. I could still hear the footsteps above,
and I decided that I was still loath to confront my tormentors. Knocking aside
the rusty locks on the well, I slipped down below.

The well was dry, but I discovered it was far from empty. There was a sort of 
a sub-basement to the house, three large rooms that were clean, furnished, and
evidently not abandoned at all. My senses told me someone was living in the 
house, after all: not only my sense of sight, but my sense of smell. For one 
of the rooms was a large red-painted kitchen, and spread out on the coals of 
the oven was a roast, carved into small morsels. Passing a beautiful and 
appropriate bas-relief of a mother carving a roast for her grateful children,
I beheld the kitchen and the wonders within.

Like I said, food had never interested me before, but I was transfixed, and 
even now as I write this, words fail me in describing the rich aroma that hung
in the air. It was like nothing I had ever smelled in my family's kitchen, and
I was unable to stop myself from popping one of the steaming chunks of meat 
into my mouth. The taste was magical, the flesh tender and sweet. Before I 
knew it, I had eaten everything on the stove, and I learned at that very 
second the truth that that food can and should be sublime.

After gorging myself and having my culinary epiphany, I was conflicted on what
to do. Part of me wanted to wait down in that red kitchen until the chef 
returned, so I could ask him what his secret recipe was for the delicious 
meat. Part of me recognized that I had stolen into someone's house and eaten 
their dinner, and it would be wise to leave while I could. That was what I 
did.

Time and again, I've tried to return to that strange, wonderful place, but 
Cheydinhal has changed over time. Old houses have been reclaimed, and new 
houses abandoned. I know what to look for on the inside of the house - the 
well, the beautiful etching of a woman preparing to carve out a roast for her 
children, the red kitchen itself - but I have never been able to find the 
house again. After a while, as I grew older, I stopped trying. It is better as
it remains in my memory, the most perfect meal I ever ate.

The inspiration for my life that followed all was cooked up, together with 
that fabulous meat, right there in the Red Kitchen.

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                    ~~BLADE BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ26)
               ~~2920, Morning Star (V1)~~

                      Simocles Quo
   

     Item ID: 000243E4
     

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    1 Morning Star, 2920 
    Mournhold, Morrowind 

Almalexia lay in her bed of fur, dreaming. Not until the sun burned through 
her window, infusing the light wood and flesh colors of her chamber in a milky
glow did she open her eyes. It was quiet and serene, a stunning reverse of the
flavor of her dreams, so full of blood and celebration. For a few moments, she
simply stared at the ceiling, trying to sort through her visions.

In the courtyard of her palace was a boiling pool which steamed in the 
coolness of the winter morning. At the wave of her hand, it cleared and she 
saw the face and form of her lover Vivec in his study to the north. She did 
not want to speak right away: he looked so handsome in his dark red robes, 
writing his poetry as he did every morning.

“Vivec,” she said, and he raised his head in a smile, looking at her face 
across thousands of miles. “I have seen a vision of the end of the war.”

“After eighty years, I don't think anyone can imagine an end,” said Vivec with
a smile, but he grew serious, trusting Almalexia's prophecies. “Who will win? 
Morrowind or the Cyrodilic Empire?”

“Without Sotha Sil in Morrowind, we will lose,” she replied.

“My intelligence tells me the Empire will strike us to the north in early 
springtide, by First Seed at the latest. Could you go to Artaeum and convince 
him to return?”

“I'll leave today,” she said, simply.


    4 Morning Star, 2920 
    Gideon, Black Marsh 

The Empress paced around her cell. Wintertide gave her wasteful energy, while
in the summer she would merely sit by her window and be grateful for each 
breath of stale swamp wind that came to cool her. Across the room, her 
unfinished tapestry of a dance at the Imperial Court seemed to mock her. She 
ripped it from its frame, tearing the pieces apart as they drifted to the 
floor.

Then she laughed at her own useless gesture of defiance. She would have plenty
of time to repair it and craft a hundred more. The Emperor had locked her up 
in Castle Giovesse seven years ago, and would likely keep her here until he or
she died.

With a sigh, she pulled the cord to call her knight, Zuuk. He appeared at the 
door within minutes, fully uniformed as befitted an Imperial Guard. Most of 
the native Kothringi tribesmen of Black Marsh preferred to go about naked, but
Zuuk had taken a positive delight to fashion. His silver, reflective skin was 
scarcely visible, only on his face, neck, and hands.

“Your Imperial Highness,” he said with a bow.

“Zuuk,” said Empress Tavia. “I'm bored. Lets discuss methods of assassinating
my husband today.”


    14 Morning Star, 2920 
    The Imperial City, Cyrodiil 

The chimes proclaiming South Wind's Prayer echoed through the wide boulevards
and gardens of the Imperial City, calling all to their temples. The Emperor 
Reman III always attended a service at the Temple of the One, while his son 
and heir Prince Juilek found it more political to attend a service at a 
different temple for each religious holiday. This year, it was at the 
cathedral Benevolence of Mara.

The Benevolence's services were mercifully short, but it was not until well 
after noon that the Emperor was able to return to the palace. By then, the 
arena combatants were impatiently waiting for the start of the ceremony. The 
crowd was far less restless, as the Potentate Versidue-Shaie had arranged for
a demonstration from a troupe of Khajiiti acrobats.

“Your religion is so much more convenient than mine,” said the Emperor to his
Potentate by way of an apology. “What is the first game?”

“A one-on-one battle between two able warriors,” said the Potentate, his scaly
skin catching the sun as he rose. “Armed befitting their culture.”

“Sounds good,” said the Emperor and clapped his hands. “Let the sport 
commence!”

As soon as he saw the two warriors enter the arena to the roar of the crowd, 
Emperor Reman III remembered that he had agreed to this several months before 
and forgotten about it. One combatant was the Potentate's son, Savirien-
Chorak, a glistening ivory-yellow eel, gripping his katana and wakizashi with 
his thin, deceptively weak looking arms. The other was the Emperor's son, 
Prince Juilek, in ebony armor with a savage Orcish helm, shield and longsword 
at his side.

“This will be fascinating to watch,” hissed the Potentate, a wide grin across 
his narrow face. “I don't know if I've even seen a Cyrodiil fight an Akavir 
like this. Usually it's army against army. At last we can settle which 
philosophy is better -- to create armor to combat swords as your people do, or
to create swords to combat armor as mine do.”

No one in the crowd, aside from a few scattered Akaviri counselors and the 
Potentate himself wanted Savirien-Chorak to win, but there was a collective 
intake of breath at the sight of his graceful movements. His swords seemed to 
be a part of him, a tail coming from his arms to match the one behind him. It 
was a trick of counterbalance, allowing the young serpent man to roll up into 
a circle and spin into the center of the ring in offensive position. The 
Prince had to plod forward the less impressive traditional way.

As they sprang at each other, the crowd bellowed with delight. The Akaviri was
like a moon in orbit around the Prince, effortlessly springing over his 
shoulder to attempt a blow from behind, but the Prince whirled around quickly 
to block with his shield. His counter-strike met only air as his foe fell flat
to the ground and slithered between his legs, tripping him. The Prince fell to
the ground with a resounding crash.

Metal and air melted together as Savirien-Chorak rained strike after strike 
upon the Prince, who blocked every one with his shield.

“We don't have shields in our culture,” murmured Versidue-Shaie to the 
Emperor. “It seems strange to my boy, I imagine. In our country, if you don't
want to get hit, you move out of the way.”

When Savirien-Chorak was rearing back to begin another series of blinding 
attacks, the Prince kicked at his tail, sending him falling back momentarily.
In an instant, he had rebounded, but the Prince was also back on his feet. The
two circled one another, until the snake man spun forward, katana extended. 
The Prince saw his foe's plan, and blocked the katana with his longsword and 
the wakizashi with his shield. Its short punching blade impaled itself in the 
metal, and Savirien-Chorak was thrown off balance.

The Prince's longblade slashed across the Akavir's chest and the sudden, 
intense pain caused him to drop both his weapons. It a moment, it was over. 
Savirien-Chorak was prostate in the dust with the Prince's longsword at his 
throat.

“The game's over!” shouted the Emperor, barely heard over the applause from 
the stadium.

The Prince grinned and helped Savirien-Chorak up and over to a healer. The 
Emperor clapped his Potentate on the back, feeling relieved. He had not 
realized when the fight had begun how little chance he had given his son at 
victory.

“He will make a fine warrior,” said Versidue-Shaie. “And a great emperor.”

“Just remember,” laughed the Emperor. “You Akaviri have a lot of showy moves,
but if just one of our strikes comes through, it's all over for you.”

“Oh, I'll remember that,” nodded the Potentate.

Reman thought about that comment for the rest of the games, and had trouble 
fully enjoying himself. Could the Potentate be another enemy, just as the 
Empress had turned out to be? The matter would bear watching.


    21 Morning Star, 2920 
    Mournhold, Morrowind 

“Why don't you wear that green gown I gave you?” asked the Duke of Mournhold, 
watching the young maiden put on her clothes.

“It doesn't fit,” smiled Turala. “And you know I like red.”

“It doesn't fit because you're getting fat,” laughed the Duke, pulling her 
down on the bed, kissing her breasts and the pouch of her stomach. She laughed
at the tickles, but pulled herself up, wrapping her red robe around her.

“I'm round like a woman should be,” said Turala. “Will I see you tomorrow?”

“No,” said the Duke. “I must entertain Vivec tomorrow, and the next day the 
Duke of Ebonheart is coming. Do you know, I never really appreciated Almalexia
and her political skills until she left?”

“It is the same with me,” smiled Turala. “You will only appreciate me when I'm
gone.”

“That's not true at all,” snorted the Duke. “I appreciate you now.”

Turala allowed the Duke one last kiss before she was out the door. She kept 
thinking about what he said. Would he appreciate her more or less when he knew
that she was getting fat because she was carrying his child? Would he 
appreciate her enough to marry her?

The Year Continues in Sun's Dawn 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ27)
                 ~~Battle of Sancre Tor~~

                       Anonymous 
   

     Item ID: 00073A61
     

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In 2E852, allied Nord and Breton forces crossed the borders into Cyrodiil and
occupied the major passes and settlements in the Jerall Mountains. Making 
their headquarters for the winter at Sancre Tor, the Nord-Breton allies dared
King Cuhlecain's new general, Talos, to assault them in their mountain 
fastnesses.

When they learned that General Talos had mustered an army in the dead of 
winter and was marching to assault Sancre Tor, they were elated. Sancre Tor 
was impregnable, its citadel on high cliffs overlooking the lower city, 
nestled in a high mountain basin with steep, unscalable cliffs in their rear.

The Cyrodilic army was small, poorly trained and outfitted, short on rations, 
and unprepared for winter campaigning. As their ragged units assembled in the 
lowlands beneath the citadel, the Nord-Breton allies confidently assumed that 
their enemy had delivered himself into their trap.

The citadel was not only protected by an unscalable cliff in front and 
unscalable heights in their rear, but the entrance to the citadel was 
magically concealed under the appearance of a large mountain lake in the basin
beneath the heights. Accordingly, the Nord-Breton allies left on a small force
to defend the citadel, descending through lower passages to attack and 
overwhelm the cold, hungry Cyrodilic forces before them. They expected to 
defeat, overrun, and annihilate General Talos' army, leaving no one to oppose
their springtime descent into the Cyrodilic Heartlands.

Thus did General Talos lure the Nord-Breton allies to their doom.

Leaving a weak force in the lowlands to draw out the defenders, General Talos
approached the citadel of Sancre Tor from the rear, descending the supposedly
unscalable heights behind the citadel, and sneaking into the supposedly 
magically concealed entrance to the inner citadel. This remarkable feat is 
attributed to the agency of a single unnamed traitor, by tradition a Breton 
turncoat sorcerer, who revealed both the existence of an obscure mountain 
trail down the heights behind the citadel and the secret of the citadel 
entrance concealed beneath its illusory lake surface.

While the Cyrodilic army in the lowlands fought a desperate defense against 
the Nord-Breton sortie, General Talos and his men entered the citadel, swept 
aside the sparse defense, captured the Nord-Breton nobles and generals, and 
compelled them to surrender the citadel and their armies. The confused and 
demoralized Nord captives, already suspicious of the scheming High Rock 
sorcerer aristocracy and their overreaching dreams of Heartlands conquests, 
deserted the alliance and swore loyalty to Tiber Septim. The Skyrim generals 
joined their rank and file in Tiber Septim's army; the High Rock battlemage 
command was summarily executed and the captive Bretons imprisoned or sold into
slavery.

Thus was the concerted allied invasion of Cyrodiil foiled, and General Talos' 
army swelled by the hardened Nord veteran troops that played so crucial a role
in General Talos' succeeding campaigns which consolidated the Colovian and 
Nibenean into the core of the Cyrodilic Empire, and which resulting in the 
crowning of General Talos as Emperor Tiber Septim.

Historians marvel at Tiber Septim's tactical daring in assaulting a fortified
mountain citadel in the dead of winter against vastly superior numbers. Later
Tiber Septim attributed his unwavering resolve against overwhelming obstacles
to have been inspired by his divine vision of the Amulet of Kings in the Tomb
of Reman III.

The young Talos may indeed have been inspired by his belief that he was fated
to recover this ancient sacred symbol of the Covenant and to lead Tamriel to 
the high civilization of the Third Empire. Nonetheless, this should in no way
reduce our admiration for the dash and genius of this defining military 
triumph against impossible odds. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ28)
                  ~~Fire and Darkness~~

                       Ynir Gorming
   

     Item ID: 000243E5
     


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"Brother, I still call you brother for we share our bonds of blood, tested but
unbroken by hatred. Even if I am murdered, which seems inevitable now, know 
that, brother. You and I are not innocents, so our benedictions of mutual 
enmity is not tragedy, but horror. This state of silent, shadowed war, of 
secret poisons and sleeping men strangled in their beds, of the sudden arrow 
and the artful dagger, has no end that I can see. No possibility for peace. I 
see the shadows in the room move though the flame of my candle is steady. I 
know the signs that I …"

This note was found where it had fallen beneath the floorboards of an 
abandoned house in the Nordic village of Jallenheim in the 358th year of the 
second era. It was said that a quiet cobbler lived in the house, whispered by
some to be a member of the dread Morag Tong, the assassin's guild outlawed 
throughout Tamriel thirty-four years previously. The house itself was 
perfectly in order, as if the cobbler had simply vanished. There was a single
drop of blood on the note.

The Dark Brotherhood had paid a call.

This note and others like it are rare. Both the Morag Tong and its hated 
child, the Dark Brotherhood, are scrupulous about leaving no evidence behind —
their members know that to divulge secrets of their orders is a lethal 
infraction. This obviously makes the job of the historian seeking to trace 
their histories very difficult.

The Morag Tong, according to most scholars, had been a facet of the culture of
Morrowind almost since its beginning. After all, the history of Resdayn, the 
ancient name of Morrowind, is rife with assassination, blood sacrifice, and 
religious zealotry, hallmarks of the order. It is commonly said that the Morag
Tong then as now murdered for the glory of the Daedra Prince Mephala, but 
common assumptions are rarely completely accurate. It is my contention that 
the earliest form of the Tong additionally worshipped an even older and more 
malevolent deity than Mephala. As terrifying as that Prince of Oblivion is, 
they had and have reverence for a far greater evil.

Writs of assassination from the first era offer rare glimpses into the Morag 
Tong's earliest philosophy. They are as matter of fact as current day writs, 
but many contain snatches of poetry which have perplexed our scholars for 
hundreds of years. "Lisping sibilant hisses,' 'Ether's sweet sway,' 'Rancid 
kiss of passing sin,' and other strange, almost insane insertions into the 
writs were codes for the name of the person to be assassinated, his or her 
location, and the time at which death was to come. They were also direct 
references to the divine spirit called Sithis.

Evidence of the Morag Tong's expertise in assassination seems scarcely 
necessary. The few instances of someone escaping a murder attempt by them are 
always remarkable and rare, proving that they were and are patient, capable 
murderers who use their tools well. A fragment of a letter found among the 
effects of a well-known armorer has been sealed in our vaults for some time. 
It was likely penned by an unknown Tong assassin ordering weapons for his 
order, and offers some illumination into what they looked for in their blades,
as well the mention of Vounoura, the island where the Tong sent its agents in 
retirement —

'I congratulate you on your artistry, and the balance and heft of your 
daggers. The knife blade is whisper thin, elegantly wrought, but inpractical. 
It must have a bolder edge, for arteries, when cut, have a tendencies to self 
seal, preventing adequate blood loss. I will be leaving Vounoura in two weeks 
time to inspect your new tools, hoping they will be more satisfactory.'

The Morag Tong spread quietly throughout Tamriel in the early years of the 
second era, worshipping Mephala and Sithis with blood, as they had always 
done.

When the Morag Tong assassinated the Emperor Reman in the year 2920 of the 
first era, and his successor, Potentate Versidae-Shae in the 324th year of the
second era, the assassins so long in the shadows were suddenly thrust into the
light. They had become brazen, drunk with murder, literally painting the words
'MORAG TONG' on the wall in the Potentate's blood.

The Morag Tong was instantly and unanimously outlawed in all corners of 
Tamriel, with the exception of its home province of Morrowind. There they 
continued to operate with the blessings of the Houses, apparently cutting off 
all contact with their satellite brothers to the west. There they continue 
their quasi-legal existence, accepting black writs and murdering with 
impunity.

Most scholars believe that the birth of the Dark Brotherhood, the secular, 
murder-for- profit order of assassins, was as a result of a religious schism 
in the Morag Tong. Given the secrecy of both cults, it is difficult to divine
the exact nature of it, but certain logical assumptions can be made.

In order to exist, the Morag Tong must have appealed to the highest power in 
Morrowind, which at that time, the Second Era, could only have been the 
Tribunal of Almalexia, Sotha Sil, and Vivec. Mephala, whom the Tong worshipped
with Sithis, was said to have been the Anticipation of Vivec. Is it not 
logical to assume that in exchange for toleration of their continued 
existence, the Tong would have ceased their worship of Mephala in exchange for
the worship of Vivec?

The Morag Tong continues, as we know, to worship Sithis. The Dark Brotherhood
is not considered a religious order by most, merely a secular organization, 
offering murder for gold. I have seen, however, proof positive in the form of 
writs to the Brotherhood that Sithis is still revered above all.

So where, the reader, asks, is the cause for the schism? How could a silent 
war have begun, when both groups are so close? Both assassin's guilds, after 
all, worship Sithis. And yet, a figure emerges from history who should give 
those with this assumption pause.

The Night Mother.

Who the Night Mother is, where she came from, what her functions are, no one 
knows. Carlovac Townway in his generally well-researched historical fiction 
2920: The Last Year of the First Era tries to make her the leader of the Morag
Tong. But she is never historically associated with the Tong, only the Dark 
Brotherhood.

The Night Mother, my dear friend, is Mephala. The Dark Brotherhood of the 
west, unfettered by the orders of the Tribunal, continue to worship Mephala. 
They may not call her by her name, but the daedra of murder, sex, and secrets 
is their leader still. And they did not, and still do not, to this day, 
forgive their brethren for casting her aside.

The cobbler who met his end in the second era, who saw no end in the war 
between the Brotherhood and the Tong, was correct. In the shadows of the 
Empire, the Brothers of Death remain locked in combat, and they will likely 
remain that way forever.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ29)
                   ~~Song of Hrormir~~
   

     Item ID: 000243E6
     


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    Hrormir
    Son of Hrorgar
    Summoned to the Court of Vjindak,
    Son of Vjinmore, King of Evensnow.

        "Mighty caster of magic,

    I charge thee to go to Aelfendor,
    For its hoary Warriors do threaten my Land
    And bring forth their cousin Demons
    To terrify my People."
    Hrormir
    Son of Hrorgar
    Heard the Words of Vjindak Evensnow.

        "By Icestaff,

    Surely I would help thee
    But I have already a Quest to drink
    Twelve Flagons of Mead in one Hour,
    And then to bed four Wenches,
    Twice each.
    So I must with grace decline."
    The King he did not smile
    At Hrormir and his jolly Spirit.

        "By thine Honor

    Must thou aidest my Cause
    For must thou takest up the Sword
    Of thy Companion Darfang
    Who took the Quest and failed."
    Hrormir laughed.

        "Now I know thou jest.

    My boon Mate Darfang wouldst not fail.
    There be no finer Bladesman.
    If thou chargest him, he wouldst not fall."

        "I did not say he fell.

    He joined the Dark Kings of Aelfendor
    And by doing so dishonored
    Himself and thee, his Friend."


    Hrormir could not believe the Words,
    And yet, he knew Eversnow
    Didst not lie.
    So for twenty Days and three rodeth he
    To the Land of Night, the Kingdom of Fear,
    Where the Peasants ever carried Candles
    Knowing what Evil awaiteth them
    Should they stray beyond the Glow.
    The Sovereigncy of three Dark Kings:
    Aelfendor.
    There, Torch in Hand, didst Hrormir
    Pass through haunted Countryside
    And frightened Villages,
    And through the black Gates
    Of the blacker Castle of Aelfendor.
    The three Dark Kings didst sneer
    At the sight of mighty Hrormir
    And summoned they their Champion
    Darfang the Blade.

        "My boon Companion!"

    Hrormir called in the Hall of Night.

        "I dare not trust my Eyes,

    For then I wouldst believe
    That thou hast joined with Evil,
    And turned thy Way from Honor
    And Brotherhood!"


        "Hrormir!"

    Darfang the Blade didst cry.

        "If thou dost not go now,

    One of us must die, for I hate thee!"
    But Hrormir was battle ready,
    And in the echoing Halls of Night
    The Blade of Darfang
    And the Staff of Hrormir
    Didst strike again and yet again.
    Mighty Warriors and Mages both,
    The boon Companions now Foes,
    Shook Mundus with their War.
    They might have fought for a Year
    If there were Sun in Aelfendor
    To mark Time,
    And either Hrormir or Darfang
    May verily have won.
    But Hrormir saweth through the Dark
    The Tears in the Eyes of his former Friend,
    And then he saweth the Shadow of Darfang
    Wert not his own.
    And so with Icestaff, he did strike
    Not Darfang, but his Shadow, which cried.

        "Hold, Mortal Man!"


    The Shadow becameth the Hag,
    Bent and twisted, in her Cloak and Hood.
    From her faceless Shadows, she hissed.

        "Mortal Man called Hrormir

    The Soul of thy boon Companion
    Is my Plaything,
    But I will take thine in trade,
    For though ye both have strong Arms,
    Thou hast the more clever Mind
    Which my Sons the Dark Kings need
    For a Champion of Aelfendor."
    Hrormir the brave didst not take a Breath
    Or pause before he boldly said.

        "Shadowy Hag, release Darfang,

    And thou mayst use me as thou will."
    The Hag didst laugh and freed Darfang.

        "To save thine Honor this thou hast done,

    But now thou must be without Honor
    Mortal Man, as the Champion
    Of the Dark Kings, my Heirs of Gray Maybe,
    Thou must help them divide Aelfendor,
    And love me,
    Thy Shadowy Hag and thy Mistress well."


    For his loss of Honor,
    And his dear Friend's Sacrifice,
    Noble Darfang prepared to take his Dagger
    And plunge it in his good Heart,
    But Hrormir stayed his Brother's Hand and whispered.

        "No, boon Companion,

    Wait for me at the Village Banquet Hall."
    And then did Darfang the Blade leave the Castle
    While Hrormir took the withered Claw
    Of the Hag, and pressed it to his Lips.

        "Shadowy Hag, to thee I pledge

    To only honor thy black Words
    To turn my back on Truth
    To aid thy Dark Kings' Ambition
    To divide their Inheritance fairly
    To love thee
    To think thee beautiful."
    Then to the Chamber in the Heart of Night
    Hrormir and the Hag did retire
    Kissed he there her wrinkled Lips
    And her wrinkled, sagging Breasts,
    For ten Days and Nights and three did Hrormir
    And his Icestaff
    Battle thus.


    Then Sweet Kynareth blew honeyed Winds
    O'er the Hills and Forest Glens of Aelfendor,
    And the Caress of warm blooded Dibella
    Coaxed the Blossoms to wanton Display
    So that Aelfendor became a Garden
    Of all the Senses.
    The frightened Servants of the Dark Kings
    Woke to find there was naught to fear
    And through the once dark Streets of the Village
    Came the Cries of Celebration.
    In the Banquet Hall of the Village
    Hrormir and his boon Companion Darfang
    Embraced and drank of rich Mead.
    The Shadowy Hag too was smiling,
    Sleeping still in her soft Bed,
    Until the morning Sun touched her naked Face
    And she awoke, and saw All,
    And knew All saw her.
    And she cried out:

        "Mortal Man!"


    Night fell fast upon the Land
    As the Hag flew into the Banquet Hall
    Casting blackest Darkness in her Wake
    But all the Celebrants still could see
    Her Anger
    In her monstrous Face
    And they shook with Fear.
    The Hag had said the Kingdom was
    To be divided among her Heirs.
    But Aelfendor had been kept whole
    While her Children divided,
    Drawn and quartered.
    Hrormir was mightily amused.
    He swallowed his Laughter
    In his Mead,
    For none should laugh outright
    At the Daedra Lord Nocturnal.
    Without her gray Cowl of shadowed Night,
    Her hideous Face forced the Moons
    To hide themselves.
    Hrormir the mighty did not quail.

        "Wherest be thine Hood, shadowy hag?"
        "Mortal Man hast taken it from me unaware.

    When I awoke, my Face unmasked,
    My Kingdom cast into the Light,
    My Dark King Heirs in Pieces cast,
    And here, my Champion smiles.
    Yet in truth, thou kept thy Promise truly,
    To never keep thy Promise true."


    Hrormir
    Son of Hrorgar
    Bowed to the Hag, his Queen.

        "And evermore,

    'Til thou releaseth me, will I serve thee so."

        "A clever Mind in a Champion

    Is a much overvalued Trait."
    The Hag released Hrormir's Soul
    And he released her Hood.
    And so in the Light of darkest Dark,
    She left Aelfendor evermore.
    And after drinking twelve Flagons of Mead,
    And bedding four Wenches
    Twice each,
    Did Darfang return to Eversnow
    With Hrormir
    Son of Hrorgar. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ30)
                 ~~Words and Philosophy~~

                      Anonymous
   

     Item ID: 000243E3
     


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Lady Allena Benoch, former master of the Valenwood Fighter's Guild and head of
the Emperor's personal guard in the Imperial City, has been leading a campaign
to reacquaint the soldiers of Tamriel with the sword. I met with her on three 
different occasions for the purposes of this book. The first time was at her 
suite in the palace, on the balcony overlooking the gardens below.

I was early for the interview, which had taken me nearly six months to 
arrange, but she gently chided me for not being even earlier.

"I've had time to put up my defenses now," she said, her bright green eyes 
smiling.

Lady Benoch is a Bosmer, a Wood Elf, and like her ancestors, took to the bow 
in her early years. She excelled at the sport, and by the age of fourteen, she
had joined the hunting party of her tribe as a Jaqspur, a long distance 
shooter. During the black year of 396, when the Parikh tribe began their 
rampage through southeastern Valenwood with the aid of powers from the 
Summurset Isle, Lady Benoch fought the futile battle to keep her tribe's land.

"I killed someone for the first time when I was sixteen," she says now. "I 
don't remember it very well -- he or she was just a blur on the horizon where 
I aimed my bow. It meant no more to me than shooting animals. I probably 
killed a hundred people like that during that summer and fall. I didn't really
feel like a killer until that wintertide, when I learned what it was like to 
look into a man's eyes as you spilled his blood.

"It was a scout from the Parikh tribe who surprised me while I was on camp 
watch. We surprised each other, I suppose. I had my bow at my side, and I just
panicked, trying to string an arrow when he was half a yard away from me. It 
was the only thing I knew to do. Of course, he struck first with his blade, 
and I just fell back in shock.

"You always remember the mistakes of your first victim. His mistake was 
assuming because he had drawn blood and I had fallen, that I was dead. I 
rushed at him the moment he turned from me towards the sleeping camp of my 
tribesmen. He was caught off guard, and I wrested his blade away from him.

"I don't know how many times I stabbed at him. By the time I stopped, when the
next watch came to relieve me, my arms were black and blue with strain, there
was not a solid piece of him left. I had literally cut him into pieces. You 
see, I had no concept of how to fight or how much it took to kill a man."

Lady Benoch, aware of this deficiency in her education, began teaching herself
swordsmanship at once.

"You can't learn how to use a sword in Valenwood," she says. "Which isn't to 
say Bosmer can't use blades, but we're largely self-taught. As much as it hurt
when my tribe found itself homeless, pushed to the north, it did have one good
aspect: it afforded me the opportunity to meet Redguards."

Studying all manners of weapon wielding under the tutelage of Warday A'kor, 
Lady Benoch excelled. She became a freelance adventurer, traveling through the
wilds of southern Hammerfell and northern Valenwood, protecting caravans and 
visiting dignitaries from the various dangers indigenous to the population.

Unfortunately, before we were able to pursue her story of her early years any
further, Lady Benoch was called away on urgent summons from the Emperor. Such 
is often the case with the Imperial Guard, and in these troubled times, 
perhaps, more so than in the past. When I tried to contact her for another 
talk, her servants informed me than their mistress was in Skyrim. Another 
month passed, and when I visited her suite, I was told she was in High Rock.

To her credit, Lady Benoch actually sought me out for our second interview on 
Sun's Dusk of that year. I was in a tavern in the City called the Blood and 
Rooster, when I felt her hand on my shoulder. She sat down at the rude table 
and continued her tale as if it had never been interrupted.

She returned to the theme of her days as an adventurer, and told me about the 
first time she ever felt confident with a sword.

"I owned at that time an enchanted daikatana, quite a good one, of daedric 
metal. It wasn't an original Akaviri, not even of design. I didn't have that 
kind of money, but it served my primary purpose of delivering as much damage 
with as little effort on my part as possible. A'kor had taught me how to 
fence, but when faced with a life or death situation, I always fell back on 
the old overhand wallop.

"A pack of orcs had stolen some gold from a local chieftain in Meditea, and I 
went looking for them in one of the ubiquitous dungeons that dot the
countryside in that region. There were the usual rats and giant spiders, and I
was enough of a veteran by then to dispatch them with relative ease. The 
problem came when I found myself in a pitch black room, and all around me, I 
heard the grunts of orcs nearing in.

"I waved my sword around me, connecting with nothing, hearing their footsteps 
coming ever nearer. Somehow, I managed to hold back my fear and to remember 
the simple exercises Master A'kor had taught me. I listened, stepped sideways,
swung, twisted, stepped forward, swung a circle, turned around, side-stepped, 
swung.

"My instinct was right. The orcs had gathered in a circle around me, and when
I found a light, I saw that they were all dead.

"That's when I focused on my study of swordplay. I'm stupid enough to require 
a near death experience to see the practical purposes, you see."

Lady Benoch spent the remainder of the interview, responding in her typically 
blunt way to the veracity of various myths that surrounded her and her career.
It was true that she became the master of the Valenwood Fighter's Guild after 
winning a duel with the former master, who was a stooge of the Imperial 
Battlemage, the traitor Jagar Tharn. It was not true that she was the one 
responsible for the Valenwood Guild's disintegration two years later 
("Actually, the membership in the Valenwood chapter was healthy, but in 
Tamriel overall the mood was not conducive for the continued existence of a 
nonpartisan organization of freelance warriors.") It was true that she first 
came to the Emperor's attention when she defended Queen Akorithi of Sentinel 
from a Breton assassin. It was not true that the assassin was hired by someone
in the high court of Daggerfall ("At least," she says wryly, "That has never 
been proven."). It was also true that she married her former servant Urken 
after he had been in her service for eleven years ("No one knows how to keep 
my weaponry honed like he does," she says. "It's a practical business. I 
either had to give him a raise or marry him.").

The only story I asked her that she would neither admit nor refute was the one
about Calaxes, the Emperor's bastard. When I brought up the name, she 
shrugged, professing no knowledge of the affair. I pressed on with the details
of the story. Calaxes, though not in line for succession, had been given the 
Archbishopric of The One: a powerful position in the Imperial City, and indeed
over all Tamriel where that religion is honored. Whispering began immediately 
that Calaxes believed that the Gods were angered with the secular governments 
of Tamriel and the Emperor specifically. It was even said that Calaxes 
advocated full-scale rebellion to establish a theocracy over the Empire.

It is certainly true, I pressed on, that the Emperor's relationship with 
Calaxes had become very stormy, and that legislation had been passed to limit 
the Church's authority. That is, up until the moment when Calaxes disappeared,
suddenly, without notice to his closest of friends. Many said that Lady Benoch
and the Imperial Guard assassinated the Archbishop Calaxes in the sacristy of 
his church -- the date usually given was the 29th of Sun's Dusk 3E 498.

"Of course," responds Lady Benoch with one of her mysterious grins. "I don't 
need to tell you that the Imperial Guard's position is as protectors of the 
throne, not assassins."

"But surely, no one is more trusted that the Guard for such a sensitive 
operation," I say, carefully.

Lady Benoch acknowledges that, but merely says that such details of her duties
must remain secret as a matter of Imperial security. Unfortunately, her 
ladyship had to leave early the next morning, as the Emperor had business down
south -- of course, I couldn't be told more specifics. She promised to send me
word when she returned so we could continue our interview.

As it turned out, I had business of my own in the Summurset Isle, compiling a
book on the Psijic Order. It was therefore with surprise that I met her 
ladyship three months later in Firsthold. We managed to get away from our 
respective duties to complete our third and final interview, on a walk along 
the Diceto, the great river that passes through the royal parks of the city.

Steering away from questions of her recent duties and assignments, which I 
guessed rightly she was loath to answer, I returned to the subject of 
swordfighting.

"Frandar Hunding," she says. "Lists thirty-eight grips, seven hundred and 
fifty offensive and eighteen hundred defensive positions, and nearly nine 
thousand moves essential to sword mastery. The average hack-and-slasher knows 
one grip, which he uses primarily to keep from dropping his blade. He knows 
one offensive position, facing his target, and one defensive position, 
fleeing. Of the multitudinous rhythms and inflections of combat, he knows less
than one.

"The ways of the warrior were never meant to be the easiest path. The 
archetype of the idiot fighter is as solidly ingrained as that of the 
brilliant wizard and the shrewd thief, but it was not always so. The figure of
the philosopher swordsman, the blade-wielding artist are creatures of the 
past, together with the swordsinger of the Redguards, who was said to be able
to create and wield a blade with but the power of his mind. The future of the
intelligent blade-wielder looks bleak in comparison to the glories of the 
past."

Not wanting to end our interviews on a sour note, I pressed Lady Allena Benoch
for advice for young blade-swingers just beginning their careers.

"When confronted with a wizard," she says, throwing petals of Kanthleaf into 
the Diceto. "Close the distance and hit 'im hard." 

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                     ~~BLOCK BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ31)
                 ~~A Dance in Fire, v2~~

                      Waughin Jarth
   

     Item ID: 000243EA
     
 

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 Chapter 2

It was a complete loss. The Cathay-Raht had stolen or destroyed almost every 
item of value in the caravan in just a few minutes' time. Decumus Scotti's 
wagonload of wood he had hoped to trade with the Bosmer had been set on fire 
and then toppled off the bluff. His clothing and contracts were tattered and 
ground into the mud of dirt mixed with spilt wine. All the pilgrims, 
merchants, and adventurers in the group moaned and wept as they gathered the 
remnants of their belongings by the rising sun of the dawn.

“I best not tell anyone that I managed to hold onto my notes for my 
translation of the Mnoriad Pley Bar,” whispered the poet Gryf Mallon. “They'd 
probably turn on me.”

Scotti politely declined the opportunity of telling Mallon just how little 
value he himself placed on the man's property. Instead, he counted the coins 
in his purse. Thirty-four gold pieces. Very little indeed for an entrepreneur 
beginning a new business.

“Hoy!” came a cry from the wood. A small party of Bosmer emerged from the 
thicket, clad in leather mail and bearing arms. “Friend or foe?”

“Neither,” growled the convoy head.

“You must be the Cyrodiils,” laughed the leader of the group, a tall skeleton-
thin youth with a sharp vulpine face. “We heard you were en route. Evidently, 
so did our enemies.”

“I thought the war was over,” muttered one of the caravan's now ruined 
merchants.

The Bosmer laughed again: “No act of war. Just a little border enterprise. You
are going on to Falinesti?”

“I'm not,” the convoy head shook his head. “As far as I'm concerned, my duty 
is done. No more horses, no more caravan. Just a fat profit loss to me.”

The men and women crowded around the man, protesting, threatening, begging, 
but he refused to step foot in Valenwood. If these were the new times of 
peace, he said, he'd rather come back for the next war.

Scotti tried a different route and approached the Bosmer. He spoke with an 
authoritative but friendly voice, the kind he used in negotiations with 
peevish carpenters: “I don't suppose you'd consider escorting me to Falinesti.
I'm a representative for an important Imperial agency, the Atrius Building 
Commission, here to help repair and alleviate some of the problems the war 
with the Khajiit brought to your province. Patriotism --”

“Twenty gold pieces, and you must carry your own gear if you have any left,” 
replied the Bosmer.

Scotti reflected that negotiations with peevish carpenters rarely went his way
either.

Six eager people had enough gold on them for payment. Among those without 
funds was the poet, who appealed to Scotti for assistance.

“I'm sorry, Gryf, I only have fourteen gold left over. Not even enough for a 
decent room when I get to Falinesti. I really would help you if I could,” said
Scotti, persuading himself that it was true.

The band of six and their Bosmer escorts began the descent down a rocky path 
along the bluff. Within an hour's time, they were deep in the jungles of 
Valenwood. A never-ending canopy of hues of browns and greens obscured the 
sky. A millennia's worth of fallen leaves formed a deep, wormy sea of 
putrefaction beneath their feet. Several miles were crossed wading through the
slime. For several more, they took a labyrinthian path across fallen branches 
and the low-hanging boughs of giant trees.

All the while, hour after hour, the inexhaustible Bosmer host moved so fast, 
the Cyrodiils struggled to keep from being left behind. A red-faced little 
merchant with short legs took a bad step on a rotten branch and nearly fell. 
His fellow provincials had to help him up. The Bosmer paused only a moment, 
their eyes continually darting to the shadows in the trees above before moving
on at their usual expeditious pace.

“What are they so nervous about?” wheezed the merchant irritably. “More 
Cathay-Raht?”

“Don't be ridiculous,” laughed the Bosmer unconvincingly. “Khajiiti this far 
into Valenwood? In times of peace? They'd never dare.”

When the group passed high enough above the swamp that the smell was somewhat
dissipated, Scotti felt a sudden pang of hunger. He was used to four meals a 
day in the Cyrodilic custom. Hours of nonstop exertion without food was not 
part of his regimen as a comfortably paid clerk. He pondered, feeling somewhat
delirious, how long they had been trotting through the jungle. Twelve hours? 
Twenty? A week? Time was meaningless. Sunlight was only sporadic through the 
vegetative ceiling. Phosphorescent molds on the trees and in the muck below 
provided the only regular illumination.

“Is it at all possible for us to rest and eat?” he hollered to his host up 
ahead.

“We're near to Falinesti,” came the echoing reply. “Lots of food there.”

The path continued upward for several hours more across a clot of fallen logs,
rising up to the first and then the second boughs of the tree line. As they 
rounded a long corner, the travelers found themselves midway up a waterfall 
that fell a hundred feet or more. No one had the energy to complain as they 
began pulling up the stacks of rock, agonizing foot by foot. The Bosmer 
escorts disappeared into the mist, but Scotti kept climbing until there was no
more rock left. He wiped the sweat and river water from his eyes.

Falinesti spread across the horizon before him. Sprawling across both banks of
the river stood the mighty graht-oak city, with groves and orchards of lesser 
trees crowding it like supplicants before their king. At a lesser scale, the 
tree that formed the moving city would have been extraordinary: gnarled and 
twisted with a gorgeous crown of gold and green, dripping with vines and 
shining with sap. At a mile tall and half as wide, it was the most magnificent
thing Scotti had ever seen. If he had not been a starving man with the soul of
a clerk, he would have sung.

“There you are,” said the leader of the escorts. “Not too far a walk. You 
should be glad it's wintertide. In summertide, the city's on the far south end
of the province.”

Scotti was lost as to how to proceed. The sight of the vertical metropolis 
where people moved about like ants disoriented all his sensibilities.

“You wouldn't know of an inn called,” he paused for a moment, and then pulled
Jurus's letter from his pocket. “Something like 'Mother Paskos Tavern'?”

“Mother Pascost?” the lead Bosmer laughed his familiar contemptuous laugh. 
“You won't want to stay there? Visitors always prefer the Aysia Hall in the 
top boughs. It's expensive, but very nice.”

“I'm meeting someone at Mother Pascost's Tavern.”

“If you've made up your mind to go, take a lift to Havel Slump and ask for 
directions there. Just don't get lost and fall asleep in the western cross.”

This apparently struck the youth's friends as a very witty jest, and so it was
with their laughter echoing behind him that Scotti crossed the writhing root 
system to the base of Falinesti. The ground was littered with leaves and 
refuse, and from moment to moment a glass or a bone would plummet from far 
above, so he walked with his neck crooked to have warning. An intricate 
network of platforms anchored to thick vines slipped up and down the slick 
trunk of the city with perfect grace, manned by operators with arms as thick 
as an ox's belly. Scotti approaches the nearest fellow at one of the 
platforms, who was idly smoking from a glass pipe.

“I was wondering if you might take me to Havel Slump.”

The mer nodded and within a few minutes time, Scotti was two hundred feet in 
the air at a crook between two mighty branches. Curled webs of moss stretched 
unevenly across the fork, forming a sharing roof for several dozen small 
buildings. There were only a few souls in the alley, but around the bend 
ahead, he could hear the sound of music and people. Scotti tipped the 
Falinesti Platform Ferryman a gold piece and asked for the location of Mother 
Pascost's Tavern.

“Straight ahead of you, sir, but you won't find anyone there,” the Ferryman 
explained, pointing in the direction of the noise. “Morndas everyone in Havel 
Slump has revelry.”

Scotti walked carefully along the narrow street. Though the ground felt as 
solid as the marble avenues of the Imperial City, there were slick cracks in 
the bark that exposed fatal drops into the river. He took a moment to sit 
down, to rest and get used to the view from the heights. It was a beautiful 
day for certain, but it took Scotti only a few minutes of contemplation to 
rise up in alarm. A jolly little raft anchored down stream below him had 
distinctly moved several inches while he watched it. But it hadn't moved at 
all. He had. Together with everything around him. It was no metaphor: the city
of Falinesti walked. And, considering its size, it moved quickly.

Scotti rose to his feet and into a cloud of smoke that drifted out from around
the bend. It was the most delicious roast he had ever smelled. The clerk 
forgot his fear and ran.

The “revelry” as the Ferryman had termed it took place on an enormous platform
tied to the tree, wide enough to be a plaza in any other city. A fantastic 
assortment of the most amazing people Scotti had ever seen were jammed 
shoulder-to-shoulder together, many eating, many more drinking, and some 
dancing to a lutist and singer perched on an offshoot above the crowd. They 
were largely Bosmer, true natives clad in colorful leather and bones, with a 
close minority of orcs. Whirling through the throng, dancing and bellowing at
one another were a hideous ape people. A few heads bobbing over the tops of 
the crowd belonged not, as Scotti first assumed, to very tall people, but to a
family of centaurs.

“Care for some mutton?” queried a wizened old mer who roasted an enormous 
beast on some red-hot rocks.

Scotti quickly paid him a gold piece and devoured the leg he was given. And 
then another gold piece and another leg. The fellow chuckled when Scotti began
choking on a piece of gristle, and handed him a mug of a frothing white drink.
He drank it and felt a quiver run through his body as if he were being 
tickled.

“What is that?” Scotti asked.

“Jagga. Fermented pig's milk. I can let you have a flagon of it and a bit more
mutton for another gold.”

Scotti agreed, paid, gobbled down the meat, and took the flagon with him as he
slipped into the crowd. His co-worker Liodes Jurus, the man who had told him 
to come to Valenwood, was nowhere to be seen. When the flagon was a quarter 
empty, Scotti stopped looking for Jurus. When it was half empty, he was 
dancing with the group, oblivious to the broken planks and gaps in the 
fencework. At three quarters empty, he was trading jokes with a group of 
creatures whose language was completely alien to him. By the time the flagon 
was completely drained, he was asleep, snoring, while the revelry continued on
all around his supine body.

The next morning, still asleep, Scotti had the sensation of someone kissing 
him. He made a face to return the favor, but a pain like fire spread through 
his chest and forced him to open his eyes. There was an insect the size of a 
large calf sitting on him, crushing him, its spiky legs holding him down while
a central spiral-bladed vortex of a mouth tore through his shirt. He screamed 
and thrashed but the beast was too strong. It had found its meal and it was 
going to finish it.

It's over, thought Scotti wildly, I should have never left home. I could have
stayed in the City, and perhaps found work with Lord Vanech. I could have 
begun again as a junior clerk and worked my way back up.

Suddenly the mouth released itself. The creature shivered once, expelled a 
burst of yellow bile, and died.

“Got one!” cried a voice, not too distantly.

For a moment, Scotti lay still. His head throbbed and his chest burned. Out of
the corner of his eye he saw movement. Another of the horrible monsters was 
scurried towards him. He scrambled, trying to push himself free, but before he
could come out, there was a sound of a bow cracking and an arrow pierced the 
second insect.

“Good shot!” cried another voice. “Get the first one again! I just saw it move
a little!”

This time, Scotti felt the impact of the bolt hit the carcass. He cried out,
but he could hear how muffled his voice was by the beetle's body. Cautiously,
he tried sliding a foot out and rolling under, but the movement apparently had
the effect of convincing the archers that the creature still lived. A volley 
of arrows was launched forth. Now the beast was sufficiently perforated so 
pools of its blood, and likely the blood of its victims, began to seep out 
onto Scotti's body.

When Scotti was a lad, before he grew too sophisticated for such sports, he 
had often gone to the Imperial Arena for the competitions of war. He recalled 
a great veteran of the fights, when asked, telling him his secret, “Whenever 
I'm in doubt of what to do, and I have a shield, I stay behind it.”

Scotti followed that advice. After an hour, when he no longer heard arrows 
being fired, he threw aside the remains of the bug and leapt as quickly as he 
could to a stand. It was not a moment too soon. A gang of eight archers had 
their bows pointing his direction, ready to fire. When they saw him, they 
laughed.

“Didn't anyone ever tell you not to sleep in the western cross? How're we 
going to exterminate all the hoarvors if you drunks keep feeding 'em?”

Scotti shook his head and walked back along the platform, round the bend, to 
Havel Slump. He was bloodied and torn and tired and he had far too much 
fermented pig's milk. All he wanted was a proper place to lie down. He stepped
into Mother Pascost's Tavern, a dank place, wet with sap, smelling of mildew.

“My name is Decumus Scotti,” he said. “I was hoping you have someone named 
Jurus staying here.”

“Decumus Scotti?” pondered the fleshy proprietress, Mother Pascost herself. 
“I've heard that name. Oh, you must be the fellow he left the note for. Let me
go see if I can find it.”

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ32)
                 ~~Death Blow of Abernanit~~

            Anonymous (annotated by Geocrates Varnus)
   

     Item ID: 000243E8
     

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With Explains by the sage Geocrates Varnus

Broken battlements and wrecked walls
Where worship of the Horror (1) once embraced.
The bites of fifty winters (2) frost and wind
Have cracked and pitted the unholy gates,
And brought down the cruel, obscene spire.
All is dust, all is nothing more than dust.
The blood has dried and screams have echoed out.
Framed by hills in the wildest, forelorn place
Of Morrowind
Sits the barren bones of Abernanit.

When thrice-blessed Rangidil (3) first saw Abernanit,
It burnished silver bright with power and permanence.
A dreadful place with dreadful men to guard it
With fever glassed eyes and strength through the Horror.
Rangidil saw the foes' number was far greater
Than the few Ordinators and Buoyant Armigers he led,
Watching from the hills above, the field and castle of death
While it stood, it damned the souls of the people
Of Morrowind.
Accursed, iniquitous castle Abernanit.

The alarum was sounded calling the holy warriors to battle
To answer villiany's shield with justice's spear,
To steel themselves to fight at the front and be brave.
Rangidil too grasped his shield and his thin ebon spear
And the clamor of battle began with a resounding crash
To shake the clouds down from the sky.
The shield wall was smashed and blood staunched
The ground of the field, a battle like no other
Of Morrowind
To destroy the evil of Abernanit.

The maniacal horde were skilled at arms, for certes,
But the three holy fists of Mother, Lord, and Wizard (4) pushed
The monster's army back in charge after charge.
Rangidil saw from above, urging the army to defend,
Dagoth Thras (5) himself in his pernicious tower spire,
And knew that only when the heart of evil was caught
Would the land e'er be truly saved.
He pledge then by the Temple and the Holy Tribunal
Of Morrowind
To take the tower of Abernanit.

In a violent push, the tower base was pierced,
But all efforts to fell the spire came to naught
As if all the strength of the Horror held that one tower.
The stairwell up was steep and so tight
That two warriors could not ascend it side by side.
So single-file the army clambered up and up
To take the tower room and end the reign
Of one of the cruellest petty tyrants in the annals
Of Morrowind,
Dagoth Thras of Abernanit.

They awaited a victory cry from the first to scale the tower
But silence only returned, and then the blood,
First only a rivulet and then a scarlet course
Poured down the steep stairwell, with the cry from above,
“Dagoth Thras is besting our army one by one!”
Rangidil called his army back, every Ordinator and
Buoyant Armiger, and he himself ascended the stairs,
Passing the bloody remains of the best warriors
Of Morrowind
To the tower room of Abernanit.

Like a raven of death on its aerie was Dagoth Thras
Holding bloody shield and bloody blade at the tower room door.
Every thrust of Rangidil's spear was blocked with ease;
Every slash of Rangidil's blade was deflected away;
Every blow of Rangidil's mace was met by the shield;
Every quick arrow shot could find no purchase
For the Monster's greatest power was in his dread blessing
That no weapon from no warrior found in all
Of Morrowind
Could pass the shield of Abernanit.

As hour passed hour, Rangidil came to understand
How his greatest warriors met their end with Dagoth Thras.
For he could exhaust them by blocking their attacks
And then, thus weakened, they were simply cut down.
The villain was patient and skilled with the shield
And Rangidil felt even his own mighty arms growing numb
While Dagoth Thras anticipated and blocked each cut
And Rangidil feared that without the blessing of the Divine Three
Of Morrowind
He'd die in the tower of Abernanit.

But he still poured down blows as he yelled,
“Foe! I am Rangidil, a prince of the True Temple,
And I've fought in many a battle, and many a warrior
Has tried to stop my blade and has failed.
Very few can anticipate which blow I'm planning,
And fewer, knowing that, know how to arrest the design,
Or have the the strength to absord all of my strikes.
There is no greater master of shield blocking in all
Of Morrowind
Than here in the castle Abernanit.

My foe, dark lord Dagoth Thras, before you slay me,
I beg you, tell me how you know how to block.”
Wickedly proud, Dagoth Thras heard Rangidil's plea,
And decided that before he gutted the Temple champion,
He would deign to give him some knowledge for the afterlife,
How his instinct and reflexes worked, and as he started
To explain, he realized that he did not how he did it,
And watched, puzzled, as Rangidil delivered what the tales
Of Morrowind
Called “The death blow of Abernanit.”

(1) “The Horror” refers to the daedra prince Mehrunes Dagon.
(2) “Fifty winters” suggests that the epic was written fifty years after the 
Siege of Abernanit, which took place in 3E 150.
(3) “Thrice-blessed Rangidil” is Rangidil Ketil, born 2E 803, died 3E 195. He
was the commander of the Temple Ordinators, and “thrice-blessed” by being 
blessed by the Tribunal of Gods.
(4) “Mother, Lord, and Wizard” refers to the Tribunal of Almalexia, Vivec, and
Sotha Sil.
(5) “Dagoth Thras” was a powerful daedra-worshipper of unknown origin who 
declared himself the heir of the Sixth House, though there is little evidence
he descended from the vanished family. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ33)
                        ~~The Mirror~~

                      Berdier Wreans
   

     Item ID: 000243E9
     


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The wind blew over the open plain, jostling the few trees within to move back
and forth with the irritation of it. A young man in bright green turban 
approached the army and gave his chieftain's terms for peace to the commander.
He was refused. It was to be battle, the battle of Ain-Kolur.

So the chief Iymbez had decreed his open defiance and his horsemen were at war
once again. Many times the tribe had moved into territory that was not theirs 
to occupy, and many times the diplomatic approach had failed. It had come to 
this, at long last. It was just as well with Mindothrax. His allies may win or
lose, but he would always survive. Though he had occasionally been on the 
losing side of a war, never once in all his thirty-four years had he lost in 
hand-to-hand combat.

The two armies poured like dual frothing streams through the dust, and when 
they met a clamor rang out, echoing into the hills. Blood, the first liquor 
the clay had tasted in many a month, danced like powder. The high and low 
battle cries of the rival tribes met in harmony as the armies dug into one 
another's flesh. Mindothrax was in the element he loved.

After ten hours of fighting with no ground given, both commanders called a 
mutual and honorable withdrawal from the field.

The camp was positioned in a high-walled garden of an old burial ground, 
adorned by springtide blossoms. As Mindothrax toured the grounds, he was 
reminded of his childhood home. It was a happy and a sad recollection, the 
purity of childhood ambition, all of his schooling in the ways of battle, but 
tinged with memories of his poor mother. A beautiful woman looking down at her
son with both pride and unspoken sorrow. She never talked about what troubled 
her, but it came as no surprise to any when she took the walk across the moors
and was found days later, her throat slit open by her own hand.

The army itself was like a colony of ants, newly shaken. Within a half hour's 
time after the end of the battle, they had reorganized as if by instinct. As 
the medicos looked to the wounded, someone remarked, with a measure of 
admiration and astonishment, “Look at Mindothrax. His hair isn't even out of 
place.”

“He is a mighty swordsman,” said the attending physician.

“The sword is a greatly overvalued article,” said Mindothrax, nevertheless 
pleased with the attention. “Warriors pay too much attention to striking and 
not enough in defending strikes. The proper way to go into battle is to defend
yourself, and to hit your opponent only when the ideal moment arises.”

“I prefer a more straight-forward approach,” smiled one of the wounded. “It is
the way of the horse men.”

“If it is the way of the Bjoulsae tribes to fail, then I renounce my 
heritage,” said Mindothrax, making a quick sign to the spirits that he was 
being expressive not blasphemous. “Remember what the great blademaster Gaiden
Shinji said, 'The best techniques are passed on by the survivors.' I have been
in thirty-six battles, and I haven't a scar to show for them. That is because 
I rely on my shield, and then my blade, in that order.”

“What is your secret?”

“Think of melee as a mirror. I look to my opponent's left arm when I am 
striking with my right. If he is prepared to block my blow, I blow not. Why 
exert undue force?” Mindothrax cocked an eyebrow, “But when I see his right 
arm tense, my left arm goes to my shield. You see, it takes twice as much 
power to send force than it does to deflect it. When your eye can recognize 
whether your opponent is striking from above, or at angle, or in an uppercut 
from below, you learn to pivot and place your shield just so to protect 
yourself. I could block for hours if need be, but it only takes a few minutes,
or even seconds, for your opponent, used to battering, to leave a space open 
for your own strike.”

“What was the longest you've ever had to defend yourself?” asked the wounded 
man.

“I fought a man once for an hour's time,” said Mindothrax. “He was tireless 
with his bludgeoning, never giving me a moment to do aught but block his 
strikes. But finally, he took a moment too long in raising his cudgel and I 
found my mark in his chest. He struck my shield a thousand times, and I struck
his heart but once. But that was enough.”

“So he was your greatest opponent?” asked the medico.

“Oh, indeed not,” said Mindothrax, turning his great shield so the silvery 
metal reflected his own face. “There is he.”

The next day, the battle recommenced. Chief Iymbez had brought in 
reinforcements from the islands to the south. To the horror and disgrace of 
the tribe, mercenaries, renegade horsemen and even some Reachmen witches were
included in the war. As Mindothrax stared across the field at the armies 
assembling, putting on his helmet and readying his shield and blade, he 
thought again of his poor mother. What had tortured her so? Why had she never
been able to look at her son without grief?

Between sunrise and sundown, the battle raged. A bright blue-sky overhead 
burned down on the combatants as they rushed against one another over and over
again. In every melee, Mindothrax prevailed. A foe with an ax rained a series
of strokes against his shield, but every one was deflected until at last 
Mindothrax could best the warrior. A spear maiden nearly pierced the shield 
with her first strike, but Mindothrax knew how to give with the blow, throwing
her off balance and leaving her open for his counterstrike. Finally, he met a
mercenary on the field, armed with shield and sword and a helm of golden 
bronze. For an hour and a half they battled.

Mindothrax tried every trick he knew. When the mercenary tensed his left arm,
he held back his strike. When his opponent rose his sword, his shield rose too
and expertly blocked. For the first time in his life, he was battling another
defensive fighter. Stationary, reflective, with energy to battle for days if 
need be. Occasionally, another warrior would enter into the fray, sometimes 
from Mindothrax's army, sometimes from his opponent's. These distractions were
swiftly dispatched, and the champions returned to their fight.

As they fought, circling one another, matching block for blow and blow for 
block, it dawned on Mindothrax that here at last he was fighting the perfect 
mirror.

It became more a game, almost a dance, than a battle of blood. It was not 
until Mindothrax missed his own step, striking too soon, throwing himself off 
balance, that the promenade was ended. He saw, rather than felt, the 
mercenary's blade rip across him from throat to chest. A good strike. The sort
he himself might have delivered.

Mindothrax fell to the ground, feeling his life passing. The mercenary stood 
over him, prepared to give his worthy adversary the killing blow. It was a 
strange, honorable deed for an outsider to do, and Mindothrax was greatly 
moved. Across the battlefield, he heard someone call a name, similar to his 
own.

“Jurrifax!”

The mercenary removed his helmet to answer the call. As he did so, Mindothrax 
saw through the slits of his helmet his own reflection in the man. It was his 
own close-set eyes, red and brown hair, thin and wide mouth, and blunt chin. 
For a moment he marveled at the mirror, before the stranger turned back to him
and delivered the death stroke.

Jurrifax returned to his commander and was well paid for his part in the day's
victory. They retired for a hot meal under the stars in a garden by an old 
cairn that had previously been occupied by their foes. The mercenary was 
strangely quiet as he observed the land.

“Have you been here before, Jurrifax?” asked one of the tribesmen who had 
hired him.

“I was born a horseman just like you. My mother sold me when I was just a 
babe. I have always wondered how my life might have been different had I not 
been bartered away. I might never have been a mercenary.”

“There are many things that decide our fate,” said the witch. “It is madness 
to try to see how you might have taken this turn or that in the world. There 
are none exactly like yourself, so it is foolish to compare.”

“But there is one,” said Jurrifax, looking to the stars. “My master, before he
set me free, said that my mother had twin sons when I was born. She could only
afford to raise but one child, but somewhere out there, there is a man just 
like me. My brother. I hope to meet him.”

The witch saw the spirits before her and knew the truth that the twins had met
already. She remained silent and stared into the fire, banishing the thoughts
from her head, too wise to tell all. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ34)
                ~~The Warp in the West~~

                       Ulvius Tero 
   

     Item ID: 000243EC
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

* Secret: For Your Eyes Only *

Let me offer my congratulations to Your Lordship for your recent appointment 
as ambassador to the Court of Wayrest.


Your Lordship asked me for a review of existing Blades accounts from 3E 417 
concerning 'The Warp in the West', and for a summary of the current state of 
affairs there.

Since Your Lordship was in Black Marsh serving in the staff of Admiral 
Sosorius at the time, you probably know of these events only from Imperial 
proclamations and Chapel declarations, which identify this period as the 
'Miracle of Peace'. During the 'Miracle of Peace', according to official 
accounts, the formerly war-wracked Iliac Bay region was transformed overnight
from a patchwork of squabbling duchies and petty kingdoms into the peaceful 
modern counties of Hammerfell, Sentinel, Wayrest, and Orsinium. The 'Miracle 
of Peace', also known as the 'The Warp in the West', is celebrated as the 
product of the miraculous interventions of Stendarr, Mara, and Akatosh to 
transform this troublesome region into peaceful, well-governed Imperial 
counties. The catastrophic destruction of landscape and property and the large
loss of life attending upon this miracle is understood to have been 'tragic, 
and beyond mortal comprehension.'

In as much as this account confirms and validates the current borders of these
counties, and identifies the rulers and boundaries of these counties as 
'ordained by the Nine', the 'Miracle of Peace' serves Imperial objectives of 
peaceful consolidation of ancient petty states and sovereigns into manageable 
Imperial jurisdictions. The other remarkable features of these events -- mass 
disappearances, armies mysteriously transported hundreds of miles or 
completely annihilated, titanic storms and celestial phenomena, apparent local
discontinuities of time -- fit comfortably into the notion that these events 
are part of a vast, mysterious divine intervention.

However, this is only the public account of these events, and, as you may 
suspect, it conflicts with many other accounts. In short, while this 
explanation suits Imperial policy, it has little historical validity.

Your Lordship should know that the Blades have concluded there is no plausible
historical account of these events, and despairs that a plausible historical 
account shall ever be produced. The Blades have concluded that a 'miracle' 
occurred, insofar as the events are inexplicable, but the Blades strongly 
doubt the miracle was of divine origin.

There is good reason to believe that the ruling families of the four modern 
Iliac Bay counties had forewarning of the event. There is also some evidence 
that some of these ruling families may have been directly or indirectly 
responsible for the event. We do not know the exact sequence of actions that 
produced the event, although we are confident that the 'Totem' artifact was 
involved, and that a Blades agent was involved in employing that artifact. We
unfortunately lost contact with that agent immediately after the event; his 
report might have gone some way to resolving the contradictory and paradoxical
accounts of the event.

The Blades have on file few reports from agents dating from the "Warp in the
West" period. Most of our agents were lost in the initial dislocations, and 
others were lost in the confusion after the event. I present a few of these 
reports to give you a general sense of their limitations, including the report
of your diplomatic predecessor, Lord Strale. You will have had access to other
private and rumored accounts of the period. I believe you will agree that 
these documents raise more questions than they answer.


The Report of Hammerfell Agent 'Briarbird'
'I was on assignment in the Alik'r Desert, a few miles south of Bergama on the
9th of Frostfall. I was encamped, as it was still early morning, when I felt 
the ground shake so violently, I was thrown to the ground. Dazed, I was aware 
of a great roar of a sandstorm, which alarmed me, as I had been on a high dune
and had seen nothing like that on the horizon. It was on me before I was even 
on my knees, burying me and my camp.


When I crawled my way out of the sand, I realized that I must make haste and 
get to Bergama as soon as possible, as all my food and water had been swept 
away. The sun was just rising as I began, like I said. When I reached Bergama,
it was nightfall. The town was in chaos, filled with the soldiers of Sentinel.
The Lord of Bergama's fortress was in ruins.

There had been an attack, but no one had seen it, only the invasion that 
followed it. The soldiers of Queen Akorithi of Sentinel refused to be 
interviewed about how they had accomplished this sneak attack, but I came to 
learn that the whole of northern Hammerfell now belonged to them. Even 
stranger, I discovered that my walk from sunrise to sundown had not taken me
not one day, but two. It was now the 11th day of the month, not the 10th. I 
had lost a day somewhere, and so apparently had everyone else... except 
Akorithi's soldiers, who somehow were aware of the correct date.

I since have concluded that they had received advance warning, and so were 
better prepared to deal with the strange confusion of time and dates 
associated with the Warp.'

The Report of High Rock Agent 'Graylady'
'I was, at the time of the Warp, undercover as a witch in the Skeffington 
Coven of Phyrgias, in central High Rock. In order to give my report, I had 
volunteered for an expedition to gather supplies, which would allow me the 
freedom to reach my contact in Camlorn. I was traveling north-east along the 
foothills of the Wrothgarian Mountains, on the 9th of Frostfall, when I felt a
great heat behind me, like a fire. I turned, but I regret to say I cannot tell
you what I saw. The healers tell me my eyes were burned out of my sockets.


I think I must have fallen into a state of semi-consciousness, for I 
distinctly remember falling as the ground seemed to give way beneath me. Then
there was a series of explosions in the distance, to the south, and I heard 
high whistling noises that were getting louder, coming closer. I had my shield
with me, and fortunately anticipated that volleys of some sort were falling 
from the sky. Though I could not see them, I could hear them coming from a 
distance away, and was able to use my shield to block them from striking me.

The assault stopped suddenly, and I could smell smoke. I learned later that 
most of the forest of Ykalon and Phygias had caught fire, in an inferno that
started further south in Daenia and the Ilessan Hills. Fortunately, I kept my 
bearings, and moved north, finally reaching a temple in the wilderness where 
my wounds were healed, as well as they could be.

It was there I learned that there had been a three-way clash between 
Daggerfall, Wayrest, and Orsinium not far from where I had been, and that the
land midway between their kingdoms had been decimated.'



The Report of Ambassador Lord Naigon Strale
'His Imperial Majesty had sent me on a delicate errand, the details of which I
cannot convey in this unsecure report, but my official capacity was to be the
Emperor's ambassador to the court of Wayrest. From there, I was to meet with 
an old friend, Lady Brisienna, who was already in the vicinity. Forgoing any 
attempt at stealth, I was on an Imperial barge, sailing westward on the 
Bjoulsae, the morning of the 9th of Frostfall. I remember it was a slightly 
chilly day, but the sky was very blue.


'We had just passed the delightful riverside village of Candlemass when the 
captain sounded the alarum. There, in front of us, was a colossal wall of 
water, at least thirty feet high. It smashed our barge to splinters before any
of us had a chance to react. I woke up on the shore, having been rescued by 
one of my servants who had miraculously not lost consciousness. He and I and 
one other man were the only survivors.

I thought at first that it was suspiciously similar to what happened to 
another agent of ours in High Rock but a short time before, where a freak 
storm had shipwrecked him in the Iliac Bay near Privateer's Hold. Furious and 
determined to see if similar forces were at work, I began a quick march to 
Wayrest.

The march, however, was not so terribly quick. The villages all along the 
Bjoulsae were on fire, and battles raged between the orcs of Orsinium and the 
soldiers of King Eadwyre in the formerly independent principality of Gauvadon,
just east of Wayrest. I am an accomplished mage, and quite able to defend 
myself, but it took the better part of a week to make it those few miles to 
Wayrest.

King Eadwyre and his queen Barenziah were celebrating their great victories 
when I arrived. By then, I had gathered the barest facts of the matter, that 
simultaneously there were seven great battles in the Iliac Bay, and no one 
could describe them at all, only their bloodsoaked aftermath.

To summarize: on the 9th of Frostfall, there had been forty-four independent 
kingdoms, counties, baronies, and dukedoms surrounding the Iliac Bay, if one 
includes the unconquered territories of the Wrothgarian Mountains, the 
Dragontail Mountains, the High Rock Sea Coast, the Isle of Balfiera, and the 
Alik'r Desert. On the 11th of Frostfall, there were but four - Daggerfall, 
Sentinel, Wayrest, and Orsinium - and all the points where they met lay in 
ruins, as the armies continued to do battle.

I was determined to find the truth from the King, even if I had to be a most 
undiplomatic diplomat to do it.

Eadwyre, though a generally jovial sort, had blustered, saying he did not want
to give out military secrets. The Queen, ever calm with those unreadable red 
eyes of hers, told me, 'We do not know.'

I think it is safe to assume that Barenziah did not tell me everything, but 
the facts of her story - which I later verified after pointed interviews in 
Daggerfall, Sentinel, and Orsinium - was that they had learned that a certain
powerful, ancient weapon was going to be activated. I shan't give the name of
it here. Out of fear that it would be used against Wayrest, the King had 
attempted to buy it from the young adventurer who had discovered its 
wherebouts. Eadwyre believed, as it turns out quite rightly, that other powers
in the Bay had also attempted to win ownership of this device.

What happened then, as Barenziah said, 'We do not know.'

The morning of the 9th and the morning of the 11th somehow merged through some
sort of Warp in the West, and Wayrest found themselves at war. Their land had 
expanded three-fold, but they were under attack by Daggerfall to the west, 
Orsinium to the east, and Sentinel to the south. There had been no time to 
understand what had happened, the King said. They had simply reacted, sending
their armies to defend their lands against these enemies whose kingdoms had 
also gained great territorial advantage.

The battles continue on, now months later, as I return to the Imperial City to
make my report. What more do I have to say? They are bloody, violent clashes, 
as is always the case with modern warfare, but I have been to the blackened, 
desolate no-man's land between the four remaining kingdoms. No mortal army 
caused that devastation.

I can say that the force that shook the Iliac Bay on the 10th of Frostfall 3E
417 was infinitesimally greater than the power these mighty kingdoms are 
wielding today.

I can say that there were other strange events on that day which kept the 
kingdoms from breaking free of the Empire, and accomplished likely more 
besides.

And I can say there is nothing left of it - this power, this weapon - in the 
Bay. The Warp that it created swallowed it up.'



Current Political Affairs in the Iliac Bay
Almost twenty years have passed, and the region, though transformed, has 
stabilized. There are no more disputed territories, and the kingdoms of 
Daggerfall, Wayrest, Sentinel, and Orsinium hold their new borders in relative
peace.


Wayrest spreads across the eastern coast of the Bay, stretching from the land
formerly called Anticlere to half of Gauvadon. Eadwyre has passed on to his 
ancestors, leaving his kingdom in the hands of his daughter, Elysana, who has 
two children by her royal consort, and seems likely to hold her father's 
lands. Your Lordship may also choose to communicate directly with King Helseth
and Queen Barenziah in Mournhold. Their primary preoccupations are, of course,
with Morrowind's affairs, but they may still have useful observations upon 
Wayrest's ruling families and political environment that may aid you in your 
understanding of the court of Queen Elysana.

King Gortwog of Orsinium controls much of the Wrothgarian Mountains as well as
the profitable rivercoast of the Bjoulsae. He persists in his demands that 
Orsinium be recognized as an Imperial province separate from High Rock. The 
Elder Council treats Gortwog as a recognized king, and collects taxes directly
from Orsinium, but officially Orsinium remains a county of High Rock, though 
technically it spans both the provinces of High Rock and Hammerfell.

Sentinel has gained the most land, sprawling across the entire southern Iliac
Bay from Abibon-Gora, beyond the Dragontail Mountains, to the edge of 
Mournoth, Orsinium's territory. Queen Akorithi at her death left her enormous
kingdom to her only surviving son, Lhotun, who is now surely one of the most 
powerful kings in Tamriel.

Daggerfall is still ruled by the Breton King Gothryd and the Redguard Queen 
Aubk-I. Their land now encompasses all of western High Rock, from the border 
they share with Wayrest at Anticlere to the east, to Ykalon to the north. They
have four children now, and are much beloved in their realm.

If there are other repercussions of the mysterious Warp in the West, they have
not yet come to our attention in the course of twenty years of observation.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ35)
                        ~~Warrior~~
                      
                          Reven
   

     Item ID: 000243EB
     


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This is the third book in a four-book series. If you have not read the first 
two books, 'Beggar' and 'Thief,' you would be well advised to do so.

Suoibud Erol did not know much of his past, nor did he care to.

As a child, he had lived in Erolgard, but the kingdom was very poor and taxes 
were as a result very high. He was too young to manage his abundant 
inheritance, but his servants, fearing that their master would be ruined, 
moved him to Jallenheim. No one knew why that location was picked. Some old 
maid, long dead now, had thought it was a good place to raise a child. No one
else had a better idea.

There may have been children with a more pampered, more spoiled existence than
young Suoibud, but that is doubtful. As he grew, he understood that he was 
rich, but he had nothing else. No family, no social position, no security at 
all. Loyalty, he found out on more than one occasion, cannot truly be bought.
Knowing that he had but one asset, a vast fortune, he was determined to 
protect it, and, if possible, increase it.

Some otherwise perfectly nice people are greedy, but Suoibud was that rare 
accident of nature or breeding who has no other interest but acquiring and 
hoarding gold. He was willing to do anything to increase his fortune. Most 
recently, he had begun secretly hiring mercenaries to attack desirable 
properties, and then buying them when no one wanted to live there any more. 
The attacks would then, of course, cease, and Suoibud would have profitable 
land which he had purchased for a song. It had begun small with a few farms, 
but recently he had begun a more ambitious campaign.

In north-central Skyrim, there is an area called The Aalto, which is of unique
geographical interest. It is a dormant volcanic valley surrounded on all sides
by glaciers, so the earth is hot from the volcano, but the constant water 
drizzle and air is frigid. A grape called Jazbay grows there comfortably, and
everywhere else in Tamriel it withers and dies. The strange vineyard is a 
privately owned, and the wine produced from it is thus rare and extremely 
expensive. It is said that the Emperor needs the permission of the Imperial 
Council to have a glass of it once a year.

In order to harass the owner of The Aalto into selling his land cheap, Suoibud
had to hire more than a few mercenaries. He had to hire the finest private 
army in Skyrim.

Suoibud did not like spending money, but he had agreed to pay the general of
the army, a woman called Laicifitra, a gem the size of an apple. He had not 
given it to her yet — payment was to be delivered on the success of the 
mission — but he had trouble sleeping knowing that he was going to giving up 
such a prize. He always slept during the day so he could watch his storehouse
by night, when he knew thieves were about.

That brings us up to this moment when, after a fitful sleep, Suoibud woke up
at about noon, and surprised a thief in his bedroom. The thief was Eslaf.

Eslaf had been contemplating a leap from the window, a hundred feet down, into
the branches of a tree beyond the walls of the fortified palace, and a tumble 
into a stack of hay. Anyone who has ever attempted such a feat will testify 
that it takes some concentration and nerve to do such a thing. When he saw 
that the rich man sleeping in the room had awakened, both left him, and Eslaf
slipped behind a tall ornamental shield on display to wait for Suoibud to go 
back to sleep.

Suoibud did not go back to sleep. He had heard nothing, but could feel someone
in the room with him. He stood up and began pacing the room.

Suoibud paced and paced, and gradually decided that he was imagining things. 
No one was there. His fortune was safe and secure.

He was returning to his bed when he heard a clunk. Turning around, he saw the
gem, the one he was to give to Laicifitra on the floor by the Atmoran cavalry 
shield. A hand reached out from behind the shield and grabbed it up.

'Thief!' Suoibud cried out, grabbing a jeweled Akaviri katana from the wall 
and lunging at the shield.

The 'fight' between Eslaf and Suoibud will not go down in the annals of great 
duels. Suoibud did not know how to use a sword, and Eslaf was no expert at 
blocking with a shield. It was clumsy, it was awkward. Suoibud was furious, 
but was psychologically incapable of using the sword in any way that could 
damage its fine filligree, reducing its market value. Eslaf kept moving, 
dragging the shield with him, trying to keep it between him and the blade, 
which is, after all, the most essential part of any block.

Suoibud screamed in frustration as he struck at the shield, bumping its way 
across the room. He even tried negotiating with the thief, explaining that the
gem was promised to a great warrior named Laicifitra, and if he would give it 
back, Suoibud would happily give him something else in return. Eslaf was not a
genius, but he did not believe that.

By the time Suoibud's guards came to the bedroom in response to their master's
calls, he had succeeded in backing the shield into a window.

They fell on the shield, having considerable more expertise with their swords
than Suoibud did, but they discovered that there was no one behind it. Eslaf 
had leapt out the window and escaped.

As he ran heavily through the streets of Jallenheim, making jingling noises 
from the gold coins in his pockets, and feeling the huge gem chafe where he 
had hidden it, Eslaf did not know where he should go next. He knew only that 
he could never go back to that town, and he must avoid this warrior named 
Laicifitra who had claims on the jewel.

Eslaf Erol's story is continued in the book 'King.'

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                     ~~BLUNT BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ36)
               ~~The Importance of Where~~

             Ancient Tales of the Dwemer, Part III
                      
                         Marobar Sul
   

     Item ID: 000243EE
     
     

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The chieftain of Othrobar gathered his wise men together and said, “Every 
morning a tenfold of my flock are found butchered. What is the cause?”

Fangbith the Warleader said, “A Monster may be coming down from the Mountain 
and devouring your flock.”

Ghorick the Healer said, “A strange new disease perhaps is to blame.”

Beran the Priest said, “We must sacrifice to the Goddess for her to save us.”

The wise men made sacrifices, and while they waited for their answers from the
Goddess, Fangbith went to Mentor Joltereg and said, “You taught me well how to
forge the cudgel of Zolia, and how to wield it in combat, but I must know now 
when it is wise to use my skill. Do I wait for the Goddess to reply, or the 
medicine to work, or do I hunt the Monster which I know is in the Mountain?”

“When is not important,” said Joltereg. “Where is all that is important.”

So Fangbith took his Zolic cudgel in hand and walked far through the dark 
forest until he came to the base of the Great Mountain. There he met two 
Monsters. One bloodied with the flesh of the chieftain of Othrobar's flock 
fought him while its mate fled. Fangbith remembered what his master had taught
him, that “where” was all that was important.

He struck the Monster on each of its five vital points: head, groin, throat, 
back, and chest. Five blows to the five points and the Monster was slain. It 
was too heavy to carry with him, but still triumphant, Fangbith returned to 
Othrobar.

“I say I have slain the Monster that ate your flock,” he cried.

“What proof have you that you have slain any Monster?” asked the chieftain.

“I say I have saved the flock with my medicine,” said Ghorick the Healer.

“I say The Goddess has saved the flock by my sacrifices,” said Beran the Priest.

Two mornings went by and the flocks were safe, but on the morning of the third
day, another tenfold of the chieftain's flock was found butchered. Ghorick the
Healer went to his study to find a new medicine. Beran the Priest prepared 
more sacrifices. Fangbith took his Zolic cudgel in hand, again, and walked far
through the dark forest until he came to the base of the Great Mountain. There
he met the other Monster, bloodied with the flesh of the chieftain of 
Othrobar's flock. They did battle, and again Fangbith remembered what his 
master had taught him, that “where” was all that was important.

He struck the Monster five times on the head and it fled. Chasing it along the
mountain, he struck it five times in the groin and it fled. Running through 
the forest, Fangbith overtook the Monster and struck it five times in the 
throat and it fled. Entering into the fields of Othrobar, Fangbith overtook 
the Monster and struck it five times in the back and it fled. At the foot of 
the stronghold, the chieftain and his wise men emerged to the sound of the 
Monster wailing. There they beheld the Monster that had slain the chieftain's 
flock. Fangbith struck the Monster five times in the chest and it was slain.

A great feast was held in Fangbith's honor, and the flock of Othrobar was 
never again slain. Joltereg embraced his student and said, “You have at last 
learned the importance of where you strike your blows.”

Publisher's Note: This tale is another, which has an obvious origin among the
Ashlander tribes of Vvardenfell and is one of their oldest tales. "Marobar 
Sul" merely changed the names of the character to sound more "Dwarven" and 
resold it as part of his collection. The Great Mountain in the tale is clearly
"Red Mountain," despite its description of being forested. The Star-Fall and 
later eruptions destroyed the vegetation on Red Mountain, giving it the wasted
appearance it has today.

This tale does have some scholarly interest, as it suggests a primitive 
Ashlander culture, but it talks of living in "strongholds" much like the 
ruined strongholds on Vvardenfell today. There are even references to a 
stronghold of "Othrobar" somewhere between Vvardenfell and Skyrim, but few 
strongholds outside of sparsely-settled Vvardenfell have survived to the 
present. Scholars do not agree on who built these strongholds or when, but I 
believe it is clear from this story and other evidence that the Ashlander 
tribes used these strongholds in the ancient past instead of making camps of 
wickwheat huts as they do today.

The play on words that forms the lesson of the fable -- that it is as 
important to know where the monster should be slain, at the stronghold, as it
is to know where the monster must be struck on its body to be slain -- is 
typical of many Ashlander tales. Riddles, even ones as simple as this one, are
loved by both the Ashlanders and the vanished Dwemer. Although the Dwemer are 
usually portrayed as presenting the riddles, rather than being the ones who 
solve it as in Ashlander tales. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ37)
                         ~~King~~

        The final book in the adventures of Eslaf Erol.
                      
                         Reven
   

     Item ID: 000243F0
     


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Gentle reader, you will not understand a word of what follows unless you have 
read and commited to memory the first three volumes in this series, 'Beggar,' 
'Thief,' and 'Warrior,' which leads up to this, the conclusion. I encourage 
you to seek them out at your favorite bookseller.

We last left Eslaf Erol fleeing for his life, which was a common enough 
occurance for him. He had stolen a lot of gold, and one particularly large 
gem, from a rich man in Jallenheim named Suoibud. The thief fled north, 
spending the gold wildly, as thieves generally do, for all sorts of illicit 
pleasures, which would no doubt disturb the gentleman or lady reading this, so
I will not go into detail.

The one thing he held onto was the gem.

He didn't keep it because of any particular attachment, but because he did not
know anyone rich enough to buy it from him. And so he found himself in the 
ironic situation of being penniless and having in his possession a gem worth 
millions.

'Will you give me a room, some bread, and a flagon of beer in exchange for 
this?' he asked a tavernkeep in the little village of Kravenswold, which was 
so far north, it was half situated on the Sea of Ghosts.

The tavernkeep looked at it suspiciously.

'It's just crystal,' Eslaf said quickly. 'But isn't it pretty?'

'Let me see that,' said a young armor-clad woman at the end of the bar. 
Without waiting permission, she picked up the gem, studied it, and smiled not 
very sweetly at Eslaf. 'Would you join me at my table?'

'I'm actually in a bit of a hurry,' replied Eslaf, holding out his hand for 
the stone. 'Another time?'

'Out of respect for my friend, the tavernkeep here, my men and I leave our 
weapons behind when we come in here,' the woman said casually, not handing the
gem back, but picking up a broom that was sitting against the bar. 'I can 
assure you, however, that I can use this quite effectively as a blunt 
instrument. Not a weapon, of course, but an instrument to stun, medicinally 
crush a bone or two, and then - once it is on the inside ...'

'Which table?' asked Eslaf quickly.

The young woman led him to a large table in the back of the tavern where ten 
of the biggest Nord brutes Eslaf had ever seen were sitting. They looked at 
him with polite disinterest, as if he were a strange insect, worth briefly 
studying before crushing.

'My name is Laicifitra,' she said, and Eslaf blinked. That was the name 
Suoibud had uttered before Eslaf had made his escape. 'And these are my 
lieutenants. I am the commander of a very large independent army of noble 
knights. The very best in Skyrim. Most recently we were given a job to attack
a vineyard in The Aalto to force its owner, a man named Laernu, to sell to our
employer, a man named Suoibud. Our payment was to be a gem of surpassing size
and quality, quite famous and unmistakable.

'We did as we were asked, and when we went to Suoibud to collect our fee, he 
told us he was unable to pay, due to a recent burglary. In the end, though, he
saw things our way, and paid us an amount of gold almost equal to the worth of
the prize jewel … It did not empty out his treasury entirely, but it meant he 
was unable to buy the land in the Aalto after all. So we were not paid enough,
Suoibud has taken a heavy financial blow, and Laernu's prize crop of Jazbay 
has been temporarily destroyed for naught,' Laicifitra took a long, slow drink
of her mead before continuing. 'Now, I wonder, could you tell me, how came you
in the possession of the gem we were promised?'

Eslaf did not answer at once.

Instead, he took a piece of bread from the plate of the savage bearded 
barbarian on his left and ate it.

'I'm sorry,' he said, his mouth full. 'May I? Of course, I couldn't stop you 
from taking the gem even if I wanted to, and as a matter of fact, I don't mind
at all. It's also useless to deny how it came into my possession. I stole it 
from your employer. I certainly didn't mean you or your noble knights any harm
by it, but I can understand why the word of a thief is not suitable for one 
such as yourself.'

'No,' replied Laicifitra, frowning, but her eyes showing amusement. 'Not 
suitable at all.'

'But before you kill me,' Eslaf said, grabbing another piece of bread. 'Tell
me, how suitable is it for noble knights such as yourself to be paid twice for
one job? I have no honor myself, but I would have thought that since Suoibud 
took a profit loss to pay you, and now you have the gem, your handsome profit 
is not entirely honorable.'

Laicifitra picked up the broom and looked at Eslaf. Then she laughed, 'What is
your name, thief?'

'Eslaf,' said the thief.

'We will take the gem, as it was promised to us. But you are right. We should
not be paid twice for the same job. So,' said the warrior woman, putting down
the broomstick. 'You are our new employer. What would you have your own army 
do for you?'

Many people could find quite a few good uses for their own army, but Eslaf was
not among them. He searched his brain, and finally it was decided that it was
a debt to be paid later. For all her brutality, Laicifitra was an simple 
woman, raised, he learned, by the very army she commanded. Fighting and honor
were the only things she knew.

When Eslaf left Kravenswold, he had an army at his beck and call, but not a 
coin to his name. He knew he would have to steal something soon.

As he wandered the woods, scrounging for food, he was beset with a strange 
feeling of familiarity. These were the very woods he had been in as a child, 
also starving, also scrounging. When he came out on the road, he found that he
had come back on the kingdom where he had been raised by the dear, stupid, shy
maid Drusba.

He was in Erolgard.

It had fallen even deeper into despair since his youth. The shops that had 
refused him food were boarded up, abandoned. The only people left were hollow,
hopeless figures, so ravaged by taxation, despotism, and barbaric raids that 
they were too weak to flee. Eslaf realized how lucky he was to have gotten out
in his youth.

There was, however, a castle and a king. Eslaf immediately made plans to raid 
the treasury. As usual, he watched the place carefully, taking note of the 
security and the habits of the guards. This took some time. In the end, he 
realized there was no security and no guards.

He walked in the front door, and down the empty corridors to the treasury. It
was full of precisely nothing, except one man. He was Eslaf's age, but looked
much older.

'There's nothing to steal,' he said. 'Would that there was.'

King Ynohp, though prematurely aged, had the same white blond hair and blue 
eyes like broken glass that Eslaf had. In fact, he resembled Suoibud and 
Laicifitra as well. And though Eslaf had never met the ruined landlord of the
Aalto, Laernu, he looked him too. Not surprisingly, since they were 
quintuplets.

'So, you have nothing?' asked Eslaf, gently.

'Nothing except my poor kingdom, curse it,' the King grumbled. 'Before I came 
to the throne, it was powerful and rich, but I inherited none of that, only 
the title. For my entire life, I've had responsibility thrust on my shoulders,
but never had the means to handle it properly. I look over the desolation 
which is my birthright, and I hate it. If it were possible to steal a kingdom,
I would not lift a finger to stop you.'

It was, it turned out, quite possible to steal a kingdom. Eslaf became known 
as Ynohp, a deception easily done given their physical similarities. The real
Ynohp, taking the name of Ylekilnu, happily left his demesne, becoming 
eventually a simple worker in the vineyards of The Aalto. For the first time 
free of responsibility, he fell into his new life with gusto, the years 
melting off him.

The new Ynohp called in his favor with Laicifitra, using her army to restore 
peace to the kingdom of Erolgard. Now that it was safe, business and commerce
began to return to the land, and Eslaf reduced the tyrannical taxes to 
encourage it to grow. Upon hearing that, Suoibud, ever nervous about losing 
his money, elected to return to the land of his birth. When he died years 
later, out of greed, he had refused to name someone an heir, so the kingdom 
received its entire fortune.

Eslaf used part of the gold to buy the vineyards of The Aalto, after hearing 
great things of it from Ynohp.

And so it was that Erolgard was returned to its previous prosperity by the 
fifth born child of King Ytluaf - Eslaf Erol, beggar, thief, warrior (of 
sorts), and king. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ38)
              ~~The Legendary Sancre Tor~~
                      
                      Matera Chapel
   

     Item ID: 00073A62
     


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During the Skyrim Conquests [1E 240 - 415], ambitious Highland earls, envious
of the conquests and wealth of their northern cousins in High Rock and 
Morrowind, looked south over the ramparts of the Jerall Mountains for their 
opportunities. The Jerall Mountains proved to be too great a barrier, and 
northern Cyrodiil too poor a prize, to reward full scale Nord invasions. 
However, Alessia hired many ambitious Nord and Breton warbands as mercenaries
with the promises of rich lands and trade concessions. Once settled among the 
victorious Alessian Cyrodiils, the Nord and Breton warriors and battlemages 
were quickly assimilated into the comfortable and prosperous Nibenean culture.

Alessia received the divine inspiration for her Slave Rebellion at Sancre Tor,
and here she founded her holy city. Sancre Tor's mines provided some wealth, 
but the poor soils and harsh climate of the remote mountain site meant it must
be supplied with food and goods from the Heartlands. Further, located on one 
of the few passes through the Jeralls, its fortunes were subject to the 
instability of relations with Skyrim. When relations were good with Skyrim, it
 prospered through trade and alliance. When relations were bad with Skyrim, it
was vulnerable to siege and occupation by the Nords.

With the decline of the Alessian Order [circa 1E2321], the seat of religious 
rule of Cyrodiil moved south to the Imperial City, but Sancre Tor remained a 
mountain fortress and major religious center until the rise of the Septim 
Dynasty. In 2E852, the city was suffering under one of the periodic 
occupations by Skyrim and High Rock invaders. King Cuhlecain sent his new 
general, Talos, to recapture the city and expel the northern invaders. During
his siege, Sancre Tor was destroyed and abandoned. Realizing the strategic 
weakness of the site, General Talos -- later Tiber Septim -- resolved to 
abandon Sancre Tor, and during his reign, no effort was made to rebuild the 
city or citadel.

Alessian historians asserted that Sancre Tor was magically concealed and 
defended by the gods. Records of Sancre Tor's repeated defeats and occupations
by northern invaders gives the lie to this assertion. The entrance to the 
citadel was indeed concealed by sorcery, and the citadel and its labyrinthine 
subterranean complex were defended by magical traps and illusions, but their 
secrets were betrayed to besieging Nords by the Breton enchanters who crafted 
them.

One enduring feature of the legend of Sancre Tor is the ancient tombs of the 
Reman emperors. Following the defeat of the Akaviri invaders, Sancre Tor 
enjoyed a brief resurgence of wealth and culture under Reman Cyrodiil and his
descendants, Reman II and Reman III. Tracing his ancestry to St. Alessia, and 
following the tradition that St. Alessia was buried in the catacombs beneath 
Sancre Tor [1], Reman built splendid funerary precincts in the depths of the 
ancient citadel underpassages. Here the last Reman emperor, Reman III, was 
buried in his tomb with the Amulet of Kings.

During the Sack of Sancre Tor, General Talos is said to have recovered the 
Amulet of Kings from the tomb of Reman III. Theologians ascribe the long 
centuries of political and economic turmoil following the collapse of the 
Reman dynasty to the loss of the Amulet of Kings, and associate the 
renaissance of the Cyrodilic empire in the Third Era with Tiber Septim's 
recovery of the Amulet from Reman III's tomb.

Sancre Tor has lain in ruins since the beginning of the Third Age, and the 
surrounding region is virtually uninhabited. Now all communications with the 
north are through the passes at Chorrol and Bruma, and Sancre Tor's citadel 
and underpassages have become the refuge of various savage goblin tribes.

[1] The is a competing tradition that St. Alessia is buried on the site of the
Temple of the One in the Imperial City. The actual resting place of St. 
Alessia is unknown.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ39)
                   ~~Mace Etiquette~~
   

     Item ID: 00073A66
     

     

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Warriors sometimes make the mistake of thinking that there are no tactics with
a mace. They assume that the sword is all about skill and the mace is only 
about strength and stamina. As a veteran instructor of mace tactics, I can 
tell you they are wrong.

Wielding a mace properly is all about timing and momentum. Once the swing of 
the mace has begun, stopping it or slowing it down is difficult. The fighter 
is committed to not just the blow, but also the recoil. Begin your strike when
the opponent is leaning forward, hopefully off balance. It is completely 
predictable that he will lean backward, so aim for a point behind his head. By
the time the mace gets there, his head will be in it's path.

The mace should be held at the ready, shoulder high. The windup should not 
extend past the shoulders by more than a hand's width. When swinging, lead 
with the elbow. As the elbow passes the height of your collarbone, extend the 
forearm like a whip. The extra momentum will drive the mace faster and harder,
causing far more damage.

At the moment of impact, let the wrist loosen. The mace will bounce and hurt a
stiff wrist. Allow the recoil of the blow to drive the mace back into the 
ready position, thereby preparing the warrior for a quicker second strike.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ40)
               ~~Night Falls on Sentinel~~

                        Boali
   

     Item ID:  000243EF
     


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No music played in the Nameless Tavern in Sentinel, and indeed there was very
little sound except for discreet, cautious murmurs of conversation, the soft 
pad of the barmaid's feet on stone, and the delicate slurping of the regular 
patrons, tongues lapping at their flagons, eyes focused on nothing at all. If
anyone were less otherwise occupied, the sight of the young Redguard woman in
a fine black velvet cape might have aroused surprise. Even suspicion. As it 
were, the strange figure, out of place in an underground cellar so modest it 
had no sign, blended into the shadows.

"Are you Jomic?"

The stout, middle-aged man with a face older than his years looked up and 
nodded. He returned to his drink. The young woman took the seat next to him.

"My name is Haballa," she said and pulled out a small bag of gold, placing it 
next to his mug.

"Sure it be," snarled Jomic, and met her eyes again. "Who d'you want dead?"

She did not turn away, but merely asked, "Is it safe to talk here?"

"No one cares about nobody else's problems but their own here. You could take
off your cuirass and dance bare-breasted on the table, and no one'd even 
spit," the man smiled. "So who d'you want dead?"

"No one, actually," said Haballa. "The truth is, I only want someone ... 
removed, for a while. Not harmed, you understand, and that's why I need a 
professional. You come highly recommended."

"Who you been talking to?" asked Jomic dully, returning to his drink.

"A friend of a friend of a friend of a friend."

"One of them friends don't know what he's talking about," grumbled the man. "I
don't do that any more."

Haballa quietly took out another purse of gold and then another, placing them 
at the man's elbow. He looked at her for a moment and then poured the gold out
and began counting. As he did, he asked, "Who d'you want removed?"

"Just a moment," smiled Haballa, shaking her head. "Before we talk details, I
want to know that you're a professional, and you won't harm this person very 
much. And that you'll be discreet."

"You want discreet?" the man paused in his counting. "Awright, I'll tell you 
about an old job of mine. It's been - by Arkay, I can hardly believe it - more
'n twenty years, and no one but me's alive who had anything to do with the 
job. This is back afore the time of the War of Betony, remember that?"

"I was just a baby."

"'Course you was," Jomic smiled. "Everyone knows that King Lhotun had an older
brother Greklith what died, right? And then he's got his older sister Aubki, 
what married that King fella in Daggerfall. But the truth's that he had two 
elder brothers."

"Really?" Haballa's eyes glistened with interest.

"No lie," he chuckled. "Weedy, feeble fella called Arthago, the King and 
Queen's first born. Anyhow, this prince was heir to the throne, which his 
parents wasn't too thrilled about, but then the Queen she squeezed out two 
more princes who looked a lot more fit. That's when me and my boys got hired 
on, to make it look like the first prince got took off by the Underking or 
some such story."

"I had no idea!" the young woman whispered.

"Of course you didn't, that's the point," Jomic shook his head. "Discretion,
like you said. We bagged the boy, dropped him off deep in an old ruin, and 
that was that. No fuss. Just a couple fellas, a bag, and a club."

"That's what I'm interested in," said Haballa. "Technique. My... friend who 
needs to be taken away is weak also, like this Prince. What is the club for?"

"It's a tool. So many things what was better in the past ain't around no more,
just 'cause people today prefer ease of use to what works right. Let me 
explain: there're seventy-one prime pain centers in an average fella's body. 
Elves and Khajiiti, being so sensitive and all, got three and four more 
respectively. Argonians and Sloads, almost as many at fifty-two and sixty-
seven," Jomic used his short stubby finger to point out each region on 
Haballa's body. "Six in your forehead, two in your brow, two on your nose, 
seven in your throat, ten in your chest, nine in your abdomen, three on each 
arm, twelve in your groin, four in your favored leg, five in the other."

"That's sixty-three," replied Haballa.

"No, it's not," growled Jomic.

"Yes, it is," the young lady cried back, indignant that her mathematical 
skills were being question: "Six plus two plus two plus seven plus ten plus 
nine plus three for one arm and three for the other plus twelve plus four plus
five. Sixty-three."

"I must've left some out," shrugged Jomic. "The important thing is that to 
become skilled with a staff or club, you gotta be a master of these pain 
centers. Done right, a light tap could kill, or knock out without so much as a
bruise."

"Fascinating," smiled Haballa. "And no one ever found out?"

"Why would they? The boy's parents, the King and Queen, they're both dead now.
The other children always thought their brother got carried off by the 
Underking. That's what everyone thinks. And all my partners are dead."

"Of natural causes?"

"Ain't nothing natural that ever happens in the Bay, you know that. One fella
got sucked up by one of them Selenu. Another died a that same plague that took
the Queen and Prince Greklith. 'Nother fella got hisself beat up to death by a
burglar. You gotta keep low, outta sight, like me, if you wanna stay alive." 
Jomic finished counting the coins. "You must want this fella out of the way 
bad. Who is it?"

"It's better if I show you," said Haballa, standing up. Without a look back, 
she strode out of the Nameless Tavern.

Jomic drained his beer and went out. The night was cool with an unrestrained 
wind surging off the water of the Iliac Bay, sending leaves flying like 
whirling shards. Haballa stepped out of the alleyway next to the tavern, and 
gestured to him. As he approached her, the breeze blew open her cape, 
revealing the armor beneath and the crest of the King of Sentinel.

The fat man stepped back to flee, but she was too fast. In a blur, he found 
himself in the alley on his back, the woman's knee pressed firmly against his
throat.

"The King has spent years since he took the throne looking for you and your 
collaborators, Jomic. His instructions to me what to do when I found you were
not specific, but you've given me an idea."

From her belt, Haballa removed a small sturdy cudgel.

A drunk stumbling out of the bar heard a whimpered moan accompanied by a soft 
whisper coming from the darkness of the alley: "Let's keep better count this 
time. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven..." 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  ~~CONJURATION BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ41)
                  ~~2920, Frostfall (V10)~~

                     Carlovac Townway
   

     Item ID: 000243F5
     


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    10 Frostfall, 2920 
    Phrygias, High Rock 

The creature before them blinked, senseless, its eyes glazed, mouth opening 
and closing as if relearning its function. A thin glob of saliva burbled down 
between its fangs, and hung suspended. Turala had never seen anything of its 
kind before, reptilian and massive, perched on its hind legs like a man. 
Mynistera applauded enthusiastically.

“My child,” she crowed. “You have come so far in so short a time. What were 
you thinking when you summoned this daedroth?”

It took Turala a moment to recall whether she was thinking anything at all. 
She was merely overwhelmed that she had reached out across the fabric of 
reality into the realm of Oblivion, and plucked forth this loathsome creature,
conjuring it into the world by the power of her mind.

“I was thinking of the color red,” Turala said, concentrating. “The simplicity
and clarity of it. And then -- I desired, and spoke the charm. And this is 
what I conjured up.”

“Desire is a powerful force for a young witch,” said Mynistera. “And it is 
well matched in this instance. For this daedroth is nothing if not a simple 
force of the spirits. Can you release your desire as easily?”

Turala closed her eyes and spoke the dismissal invocation. The monster faded 
away like a painting in sunlight, still blinking confusedly. Mynistera 
embraced her Dark Elf pupil, laughing with delight.

“I never would have believed it, a month and a day you've been with the coven,
and you're already far more advanced than most of the women here. There is 
powerful blood in you, Turala, you touch spirits like you were touching a 
lover. You'll be leading this coven one day -- I have seen it!”

Turala smiled. It was good to be complimented. The Duke of Mournhold had 
praised her pretty face; and her family, before she had dishonored them, 
praised her manners. Cassyr had been nothing more than a companion: his 
compliments meant nothing. But with Mynistera, she felt she was home.

“You'll be leading the coven for many years yet, great sister,” said Turala.

“I certainly intend to. But the spirits, while marvelous companions and 
faultless tellers of truth, are often hazy about the when and hows. You can't 
blame them really. When and how mean so little to them,” Mynistera opened the 
door to the shed, allowing the brisk autumn breeze in to dispel the bitter and
fetid smells of the daedroth. “Now, I need you to run an errand to Wayrest. 
It's only a week's ride there, and a week's ride back. Bring Doryatha and 
Celephyna with you. As much as we try to be self-sufficient, there are herbs 
we can't grow here, and we seem to run through an enormous quantity of gems in
no time at all. It's important that the people of the city learn to recognize 
you as one of the wise women of Skeffington coven. You'll find the benefits of
being notorious far outweigh the inconveniences.”

Turala did as she was bade. As she and her sisters climbed aboard their 
horses, Mynistera brought her child, little five-month-old Bosriel to kiss her
mother good-bye. The witches were in love with the little Dunmer infant, 
fathered by a wicked Duke, birthed by wild Ayleid elves in the forest heart of
the Empire. Turala knew her nursemaids would protect her child with their 
lives. After many kisses and a farewell wave, the three young witches rode off
into the bright woods, under a covering of red, yellow, and orange.


    12 Frostfall, 2920 
    Dwynnen, High Rock 

For a Middas evening, the Least Loved Porcupine tavern was wildly crowded. A 
roaring fire in the pit in the center of the room cast an almost sinister glow
on all the regulars, and made the abundance of bodies look like a punishment 
tapestry inspired by the Arcturian Heresies. Cassyr took his usual place with 
his cousin and ordered a flagon of ale.

“Have you been to see the Baron?” asked Palyth.

“Yes, he may have work for me in the palace of Urvaius,” said Cassyr proudly.
“But more than that I can't say. You understand, secrets of state and all 
that. Why are there so many damned people here tonight?”

“A shipload of Dark Elves just came in to harbor. They've come from the war. I
was just waiting until you got here to introduce you as another veteran.”

Cassyr blushed, but regained his composure enough to ask: “What are they doing
here? Has there been a truce?”

“I don't know the full story,” said Palyth. “But apparently, the Emperor and 
Vivec are in negotiations again. These fellas here have investments they were 
keen to check on, and they figured things on the Bay were quiet enough. But 
the only way we can get the full story is to talk to the chaps.”

With that, Palyth gripped his cousin's arm and pulled him to the other side of
the bar so suddenly, Cassyr would have had to struggle violently to resist. 
The Dunmer travelers were spread out across four of the tables, laughing with
the locals. They were largely amiable young men, well-dressed, befitting 
merchants, animated in gesture made more extravagant by liquor.

“Excuse me,” said Palyth, intruding on the conversation. “My shy cousin Cassyr
was in the war as well, fighting for the living god, Vivec.”

“The only Cassyr I ever heard of,” said one of the Dunmer drunkenly with a 
wide, friendly smile, shaking Cassyr's free hand. “Was a Cassyr Whitley, who 
Vivec said was the worst spy in history. We lost Ald Marak due to his bungling
intelligence work. For your sake, friend, I hope the two of you were never 
confused.”

Cassyr smiled and listened as the lout told the story of his failure with 
bountiful exaggerations which caused the table to roar with laughter. Several 
eyes looked his way, but none of the locals sought to explain that the fool of
the tale was standing at attention. The eyes that stung the most were his 
cousin's, the young man who had believed that he had returned to Dwynnen a 
great hero. At some point, certainly, the Baron would hear about it, his 
idiocy increasing manifold with each retelling.

With every fiber in his soul, Cassyr cursed the living god Vivec.


    21 Frostfall, 2920 
    The Imperial City, Cyrodiil 

Corda, in a robe of blinding whiteness, a uniform of the priestesses of the 
Hegathe Morwha conservatorium, arrived in the City just as the first winter 
storm was passing. The clouds broke with sunlight, and the beauteous teenaged 
Redguard girl appeared in the wide avenue with escort, riding toward the 
Palace. While her sister was tall, thin, angular, and haughty, Corda was a 
small, round-faced lass with wide brown eyes. The locals were quick to draw 
comparisons.

“Not a month after Lady Rijja's execution,” muttered a housemaid, peering out 
the window, and winking to her neighbor.

“And not a month out of the nunnery neither,” the other woman agreed, reveling
in the scandal. “This one's in for a ride. Her sister weren't no innocent, and
look where she ended up.”


    24 Frostfall, 2920 
    Dwynnen, High Rock 

Cassyr stood on the harbor and watched the early sleet fall on the water. It 
was a pity, he thought, that he was prone to sea-sickness. There was nothing 
for him now in Tamriel to the east or to the west. Vivec's tale of his poor 
spycraft had spread to taverns everywhere. The Baron of Dwynnen had released 
him from his contract. No doubt they were laughing about him in Daggerfall, 
too, and Dawnstar, Lilmoth, Rimmen, Greenheart, probably in Akavir and Yokuda 
for that matter. Perhaps it would be best to drop into the waves and sink. The
thought, however, did not stay long in his mind: it was not despair that 
haunted him, but rage. Impotent fury that he could not assuage.

“Excuse me, sir,” said a voice behind him, making him jump. “I'm sorry to 
disturb you, but I was wondering whether you could recommend an inexpensive 
tavern for me to spend the night.”

It was a young man, a Nord, with a sack over his shoulder. Obviously, he had 
just disembarked from one of the boats. For the first time in weeks, someone 
was looking at Cassyr as something other than a colossal, famous idiot. He 
could not help, black as his mood was, but be friendly.

“You've just arrived from Skyrim?” asked Cassyr.

“No, sir, that's where I'm going,” said the fellow. “I'm working my way home. 
I've come up from Sentinel, and before that Stros M'kai, and before that 
Woodhearth in Valenwood, and before that Artaeum in Summurset. Welleg's my 
name.”

Cassyr introduced himself and shook Welleg's hand. “Did you say you came from
Artaeum? Are you a Psijic?”

“No, sir, not anymore,” the fellow shrugged. “I was expelled.”

“Do you know anything about summoning daedra? You see, I want to cast a curse
against a particularly powerful person, one might say a living god, and I 
haven't had any luck. The Baron won't allow me in his sight, but the Baroness 
has sympathy for me and allowed me the use of their Summoning Chambers.” 
Cassyr spat. “I did all the rituals, made sacrifices, but nothing came of it.”

“That'd be because of Sotha Sil, my old master,” replied Welleg with some 
bitterness. “The Daedra princes have agreed not to be summoned by any amateurs
at least until the war ends. Only the Psijics may counsel with the daedra, and
a few nomadic sorcerers and witches.”

“Witches, did you say?”


    29 Frostfall, 2920 
    Phrygias, High Rock 

Pale sunlight flickered behind the mist bathing the forest as Turala, 
Doryatha, and Celephyna drove their horses on. The ground was wet with a thin 
layer of frost, and laden down with goods, it was a slippery way over unpaved 
hills. Turala tried to contain her excitement about coming back to the coven. 
Wayrest had been an adventure, and she adored the looks of fear and respect 
the cityfolk gave her. But for the last few days, all she could think of was 
returning to her sisters and her child.

A bitter wind whipped her hair forward so she could see nothing but the path 
ahead. She did not hear the rider approach to her side until he was almost 
upon her. When she turned and saw Cassyr, she shouted with as much surprise as
pleasure at meeting an old friend. His face was pale and drawn, but she took 
it to be merely from travel.

“What brings you back to Phrygias?” she smiled. “Were you not treated well in 
Dwynnen?”

“Well enough,” said Cassyr. “I have need of the Skeffington coven.”

“Ride with us,” said Turala. “I'll bring you to Mynistera.”

The four continued on, and the witches regaled Cassyr with tales of Wayrest. 
It was evident that it was also a rare treat for Doryatha and Celephyna to 
leave Old Barbyn's Farm. They had been born there, as daughters and grand-
daughters of Skeffington witches. Ordinary High Rock city life was exotic to 
them as it was to Turala. Cassyr said little, but smiled and nodded his head, 
which was encouragement enough. Thankfully, none of the stories they had heard
were about his own stupidity. Or at the very least, they did not tell him.

Doryatha was in the midst of a tale she had heard in a tavern about a thief 
who had been locked overnight in a pawnshop when they crossed over a familiar 
hill. Suddenly, she halted in her story. The barn was supposed to be visible, 
but it was not. The other three followed her gaze into the fog, and a moment 
later, they rode as fast as they could towards what was once the site of the 
Skeffington coven.

The fire had long since burned out. Nothing but ashes, skeletons, and broken 
weaponry remained. Cassyr recognized at once the signs of an orc raid.

The witches fell from their horses, racing through the remains, wailing. 
Celephyna found a tattered, bloody piece of cloth that she recognized from 
Mynistera's cloak. She held it to her ashen face, sobbing. Turala screamed for
Bosriel, but the only reply was the high whistling wind through the ashes.

“Who did this?” she cried, tears streaking down her face. “I swear I'll 
conjure up the very flames of Oblivion! What have they done with my baby?”

“I know who did it,” said Cassyr quietly, dropping from his horse and walking
towards her. “I've seen these weapons before. I fear I met the very fiends 
responsible in Dwynnen, but I never thought they'd find you. This is the work
of assassins hired by the Duke of Mournhold.”

He paused. The lie came easily. Adopt and improvise. What's more, he could 
tell instantly that she believed it. Her resentment over the cruelty the Duke
had shown her had quieted, but never disappeared. One look at her burning eyes
told him that she would summon the daedra and wreak his, and her, revenge upon
Morrowind. And what's more, he knew they'd listen.

And listen they did. For the power that is greater than desire is rage. Even 
rage misplaced. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ42)
                 ~~2920, Hearth Fire (V9)~~

                     Carlovac Townway
   

     Item ID: 000243F4
     


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------


    2 Hearth Fire, 2920 
    Gideon, Black Marsh 

The Empress Tavia lay across her bed, a hot late summer wind she could not 
feel banging the shutters of her cell to and fro against the iron bars. Her 
throat felt like it was on fire but still she sobbed, uncontrollably, wringing
her last tapestry in her hands. Her wailing echoed throughout the hollow halls
of Castle Giovese, stopping maids in their washing and guards in their 
conversation. One of her women came up the narrow stairs to see her mistress, 
but her chief guard Zuuk stood at the doorway and shook his head.

“She's just heard that her son is dead,” he said quietly.


    5 Hearth Fire, 2920 
    The Imperial City, Cyrodiil 

“Your Imperial Majesty,” said the Potentate Versidue-Shaie through the door. 
“You can open the door. I assure you, you're perfectly safe. No one wants to 
kill you.”

“Mara's blood!” came the Emperor Reman III's voice, muffled, hysterical, 
tinged with madness. “Someone assassinated the Prince, and he was holding my 
shield! They could have thought he was me!”

“You're certainly correct, your Imperial Majesty,” replied the Potentate, 
expunging any mocking qualities from his voice while his black-slitted eyes 
rolled contemptuously. “And we must find and punish the evildoer responsible 
for your son's death. But we cannot do it without you. You must be brave for 
your Empire.”

There was no reply.

“At the very least, come out and sign the order for Lady Rijja's execution,” 
called the Potentate. “Let us dispose of the one traitor and assassin we know 
of.”

A brief pause, and then the sound of furniture scraping across the floor. 
Reman opened the door just a crack, but the Potentate could see his angry, 
fearful face, and the terrible mound of ripped tissue that used to be his 
right eye. Despite the best healers in the Empire, it was still a ghastly 
souvenir of the Lady Rijja's work in Thurzo Fortress.

“Hand me the order,” the Emperor snarled. “I'll sign it with pleasure.”


    6 Hearth Fire, 2920 
    Gideon, Cyrodiil 

The strange blue glow of the will o' the wisps, a combination, so she'd be 
told, of swamp gas and spiritual energy, had always frightened Tavia as she 
looked out her window. Now it seemed strangely comforting. Beyond the bog lay 
the city of Gideon. It was funny, she thought, that she had never stepped foot
in its streets, though she had watched it ever day for seventeen years.

“Can you think of anything I've forgotten?” she asked, turning to look back on
the loyal Kothringi Zuuk.

“I know exactly what to do,” he said simply. He seemed to smile, but the 
Empress realized that it was only her own face reflected in his silvery skin. 
She was smiling, and she didn't even realize it.

“Make certain you aren't followed,” she warned. “I don't want my husband to 
know where my gold's been hiding all these years. And do take your share of 
it. You've been a good friend.”

The Empress Tavia stepped forward and dropped from sight into the mists. Zuuk
replaced the bars on the tower window, and threw a blanket over some pillows 
on her bed. With any luck, they would not discover her body on the lawn until
morning, at which time he hoped to be halfway to Morrowind.


    9 Hearth Fire, 2920 
    Phrygias, High Rock 

The strange trees on all sides resembled knobby piles crowned with great 
bursts of reds, yellows, and oranges, like insect mounds caught fire. The 
Wrothgarian mountains were fading into the misty afternoon. Turala marveled at
the sight, so alien, so different from Morrowind, as she plodded the horse 
forward into an open pasture. Behind her, head nodding against his chest, 
Cassyr slept, cradling Bosriel. For a moment, Turala considered jumping the 
low painted fence that crossed the field, but she thought better of it. Let 
Cassyr sleep for a few more hours before giving him the reigns.

As the horse passed into the field, Turala saw the small green house on the 
next hill, half-hidden in forest. So picturesque was the image, she felt 
herself lull into a pleasant half-sleeping state. A blast of a horn brought 
her back to reality with a shudder. Cassyr opened his eyes.

“Where are we?” he hissed.

“I don't know,” Turala stammered, wide-eyed. “What is that sound?”

“Orcs,” he whispered. “A hunting party. Head for the thicket quickly.”

Turala trotted the horse into the small collection of trees. Cassyr handed her
the child and dismounted. He began pulling their bags off next, throwing them 
into the bushes. A sound started then, a distant rumbling of footfall, growing
louder and closer. Turala climbed off carefully and helped Cassyr unburden the
horse. All the while, Bosriel watched open-eyed. Turala sometimes worried that
her baby never cried. Now she was grateful for it. With the last of the 
luggage off, Cassyr slapped the horse's rear, sending it galloping into the 
field. Taking Turala's hand, he hunkered down in the bushes.

“With luck,” he murmured. “They'll think she's wild or belongs to the farm and
won't go looking for the rider.”

As he spoke, a horde of orcs surged into the field, blasting their horns. 
Turala had seen orcs before, but never in such abundance, never with such 
bestial confidence. Roaring with delight at the horse and its confused state, 
they hastened past the timber where Cassyr, Turala, and Bosriel hid. The 
wildflowers flew into the air at their stampede, powdering the air with seeds.
Turala tried to hold back a sneeze, and thought she succeeded. One of the orcs
heard something though, and brought another with him to investigate.

Cassyr quietly unsheathed his sword, mustering all the confidence he could. 
His skills, such as they were, were in spying, not combat, but he vowed to 
protect Turala and her babe for as long as he could. Perhaps he would slay 
these two, he reasoned, but not before they cried out and brought the rest of 
the horde.

Suddenly, something invisible swept through the bushes like a wind. The orcs 
flew backwards, falling dead on their backs. Turala turned and saw a wrinkled 
crone with bright red hair emerge from a nearby bush.

“I thought you were going to bring 'em right to me,” she whispered, smiling. 
“Best come with me.”

The three followed the old woman through a deep crevasse of bramble bushes 
that ran through the field toward the house on the hill. As they emerged on 
the other side, the woman turned to look at the orcs feasting on the remains 
of the horse, a blood-soaked orgy to the beat of multiple horns.

“That horse yours?” she asked. When Cassyr nodded, she laughed loudly. “That's
rich meat, that is. Those monsters'll have bellyaches and flatulence in the 
morning. Serves 'em right.”

“Shouldn't we keep moving?” whispered Turala, unnerved by the woman's 
laughter.

“They won't come up here,” she grinned, looking at Bosriel who smiled back. 
“They're too afraid of us.”

Turala turned to Cassyr, who shook his head. “Witches. Am I correct in 
assuming that this is Old Barbyn's Farm, the home of the Skeffington Coven?”

“You are, pet,” the old woman giggled girlishly, pleased to be so infamous. “I
am Mynista Skeffington.”

“What did you do to those orcs?” asked Turala. “Back there in the thicket?”

“Spirit fist right side the head,” Mynista said, continuing the climb up the 
hill. Ahead of them was the farmhouse grounds, a well, a chicken coop, a pond,
women of all ages doing chores, the laughter of children at play. The old 
woman turned and saw that Turala did not understand. “Don't you have witches 
where you come from, child?”

“None that I know of,” she said.

“There are all sorts of wielders of magic in Tamriel,” she explained. “The 
Psijics study magic like its their painful duty. The battlemages in the army 
on the other end of the scale hurl spells like arrows. We witches commune and
conjure and celebrate. To fell those orcs, I merely whispered to the spirits 
of the air, Amaro, Pina, Tallatha, the fingers of Kynareth, and the breath of 
the world, with whom I have an intimate acquaintance, to smack those bastards 
dead. You see, conjuration is not about might, or solving riddles, or 
agonizing over musty old scrolls. It's about fostering relations. Being 
friendly, you might say.”

“Well, we certainly appreciate you being friendly with us,” said Cassyr.

“As well you might,” coughed Mynista. “Your kind destroyed the orc homeland 
two thousand years ago. Before that, they never came all the way up here and 
bothered us. Now let's get you cleaned up and fed.”

With that, Mynista led them into the farm, and Turala met the family of the 
Skeffington Coven.


    11 Hearth Fire, 2920 
    The Imperial City, Cyrodiil 

Rijja had not even tried to sleep the night before, and she found the somber 
music played during her execution to have a soporific effect. It was as if she
was willing herself to be unconscious before the ax stroke. Her eyes were 
bound so she could not see her former lover, the Emperor, seated before her, 
glaring with his one good eye. She could not see the Potentate Versidue-Shaie,
his coil neatly wrapped beneath him, a look of triumph in his golden face. She
could feel, numbly, the executioner's hand touch her back to steady her. She 
flinched like a dreamer trying to awake.

The first blow caught the back of her head and she screamed. The next hacked 
through her neck, and she was dead.

The Emperor turned to the Potentate wearily, “Now that's done. You said she 
had a pretty sister in Hammerfell named Corda?”


    18 Hearth Fire, 2920 
    Dwynnen, High Rock 

The horse the witches had sold him was not as good as his old one, Cassyr 
considered. Spirit worship and sacrifice and sisterhood might be all well and 
good for conjuring spirits, but it tends to spoil beasts of burden. Still, 
there was little to complain about. With the Dunmer woman and her child gone, 
he had made excellent time. Ahead were the walls surrounding the city of his 
homeland. Almost at once, he was set upon by his old friends and family.

“How went the war?” cried his cousin, running to the road. “Is it true that 
Vivec signed a peace with the Prince, but the Emperor refuses to honor it?”

“That's not how it was, was it?” asked a friend, joining them. “I heard that 
the Dunmer had the Prince murdered and then made up a story about a treaty, 
but there's no evidence for it.”

“Isn't there anything interesting happening here?” Cassyr laughed. “I really 
don't have the least interest in discussing the war or Vivec.”

“You missed the procession of the Lady Corda,” said his friend. “She came 
across the bay with full entourage and then east to the Imperial City.”

“But that's nothing. What was Vivec like?” asked his cousin eagerly. “He 
supposed to be a living god.”

“If Sheogorath steps down and they need another God of Madness, he'll do,” 
said Cassyr haughtily.

“And the women?” asked the lad, who had only seen Dunmer ladies on very rare 
occasions.

Cassyr merely smiled. Turala Skeffington flashed into his mind for an instant 
before fading away. She would be happy with the coven, and her child would be 
well cared for. But they were part of the past now, a place and a war he 
wanted to forget forever. Dismounting his horse, he walked it into the city, 
chatting of trivial gossip of life on the Iliac Bay. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ43)
                 ~~The Door of Oblivion~~

                      Seif-ij Hidja
   

     Item ID: 000243F2
     


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'When thou enterest into Oblivion, Oblivion entereth into thee.'
-- Nai Tyrol-Llar

The greatest mage who ever lived was my master Morian Zenas. You have heard of
him as the author of the book 'On Oblivion,' the standard text for all on 
matters Daedric. Despite many entreaties over the years, he refused to update 
his classic book with his new discoveries and theories because he found that 
the more one delves into these realms, the less certain one is. He did not 
want conjecture, he wanted facts.

For decades before and after the publication of 'On Oblivion,' Zenas compiled
a vast personal library on the subject of Oblivion, the home of the Daedra. He
divided his time between this research and personal magickal growth, on the 
assumption that should he succeed in finding a way into the dangerous world 
beyond and behind ours, he would need much power to wander its dark paths.

Twelve years before Zenas began the journey he had prepared his life to make, 
he hired me as his assistant. I possessed the three attributes he required for
the position: I was young and eager to help without question; I could read any
book once and memorize its contents; and, despite my youth, I was already a 
Master of Conjuration.

Zenas too was a Master of Conjuration - indeed, a Master at all the known and 
unknown Schools - but he did not want to rely on his ability alone in the most
perilous of his research. In an underground vault, he summoned Daedra to 
interview them on their native land, and for that he needed another Conjurer 
to make certain they came, were bound, and were sent away again without 
incident.

I will never forget that vault, not for its look which was plain and 
unadorned, but for what you couldn't see. There were scents that lingered long
after the summoned creatures had left, flowers and sulfur, sex and decay, 
power and madness. They haunt me still to this very day.

Conjuration, for the layman unacquainted with its workings, connects the 
caster's mind with that of the summoned. It is a tenuous link, meant only to 
lure, hold, and dismiss, but in the hands of a Master, it can be much 
stronger. The Psijics and Dwemer can (in the Dwemer's case, perhaps I should 
say, could) connect with the minds of others, and converse miles apart - a 
skill that is sometimes called telepathy.

Over the course of my employment, Zenas and I developed such a link between 
one another. It was accidental, a result of two powerful Conjurers working 
closely together, but we decided that it would be invaluable should he succeed
in traveling to Oblivion. Since the denizens of that land could be touched 
even by the skills of an amateur Conjurer, it was possible we could continue 
to communicate while he was there, so I could record his discoveries.

The 'Doors to Oblivion,' to use Morian Zenas's phrase, are not easily found, 
and we exhausted many possibilities before we found one where we held the key.

The Psijics of Artaeum have a place they call The Dreaming Cave, where it is 
said one can enter into the Daedric realms and return. Iachesis, Sotha Sil, 
Nematigh, and many others have been recorded as using this means, but despite 
many entreaties to the Order, we were denied its use. Celarus, the leader of 
the Order, has told us it has been sealed off for the safety of all.

We had hopes of using the ruins of the Battlespire to access Oblivion. The 
Weir Gate still stands, though the old proving grounds of the Imperial 
Battlemages itself was shattered some years ago in Jagar Tharn's time. Sadly, 
after an exhaustive search through the detritus, we had to conclude that when 
it was destroyed, all access to the realms beyond, the Soul Cairn, the Shade 
Perilous, and the Havoc Wellhead, had been broken. It was probably for the 
good, but it frustrated our goal.

The reader may have heard of other Doors, and he may be assured we attempted 
to find them all.

Some are pure legend, or at any rate, not traceable based on the information 
left behind. There are references in lore to Marukh's Abyss, the Corryngton 
Mirror, the Mantellan Crux, the Crossroads, the Mouth, a riddle of an 
alchemical formula called Jacinth and Rising Sun, and many other places and 
objects that are said to be Doors, but we could not find.

Some exist, but cannot be entered safely. The whirlpool in the Abecean called 
the Maelstrom of Bal can make ships disappear, and may be a portal into 
Oblivion, but the trauma of riding its waters would surely slay any who tried.
Likewise, we did not consider it worth the risk to leap from the Pillar of 
Thras, a thousand foot tall spiral of coral, though we witnessed the 
sacrifices the sloads made there. Some victims were killed by the fall, but 
some, indeed, seemed to vanish before being dashed on the rocks. Since the 
sload did not seem certain why some were taken and some died, we did not favor
the odds of the plunge.

The simplest and most maddeningly complex way to go to Oblivion was simply to 
cease to be here, and begin to be there. Throughout history, there are 
examples of mages who seemed to travel to the realms beyond ours seemingly at 
will. Many of these voyagers are long dead, if they ever existed, but we were 
able to find one still living. In a tower off Zafirbel Bay on the island of 
Vvardenfell in the province of Morrowind there exists a very old, very 
reclusive wizard named Divayth Fyr.

He was not easy to reach, and he was reluctant to share with Morian Zenas the 
secret Door to Oblivion. Fortunately, my master's knowledge of lore impressed 
Fyr, and he taught him the way. I would be breaking my promise to Zenas and 
Fyr to explain the procedure here, and I would not divulge it even if I could.
If there is dangerous knowledge to be had, that is it. But I do not reveal too
much to say that Fyr's scheme relied on exploiting a series of portals to 
various realms created by a Telvanni wizard long missing and presumed dead. 
Against the disadvantage of this limited number of access points, we weighed 
the relative reliability and security of passage, and considered ourselves 
fortunate in our informant.

Morian Zenas then left this world to begin his exploration. I stayed at the 
library to transcribe his information and help him with any research he 
needed.

'Dust,' he whispered to me on the first day of his voyage. Despite the 
inherent dreariness of the word, I could hear his excitement in his voice, 
echoing in my mind. 'I can see from one end of the world to the other in a 
million shades of gray. There is no sky or ground or air, only particles, 
floating, falling, whirling about me. I must levitate and breathe by magickal
means …'

Zenas explored the nebulous land for some time, encountering vaporous 
creatures and palaces of smoke. Though he never met the Prince, we concluded 
that he was in Ashpit, said to be the home of Malacath, where anguish, 
betrayal, and broken promises like ash filled the bitter air.

'The sky is on fire,' I heard him say as he moved on to the next realm. 'The 
ground is sludge, but traversable. I see blackened ruins all around me, like a
war was fought here in the distant past. The air is freezing. I cast blooms of
warmth all around me, but it still feels like daggers of ice stabbing me in 
all directions.'

This was Coldharbour, where Molag Bal was Prince. It appeared to Zenas as if 
it were a future Nirn, under the King of Rape, desolate and barren, filled 
with suffering. I could hear Morian Zenas weep at the images he saw, and 
shiver at the sight of the Imperial Palace, spattered with blood and 
excrement.

'Too much beauty,' Zenas gasped when he went to the next realm. 'I am half 
blind. I see flowers and waterfalls, majestic trees, a city of silver, but it 
is all a blur. The colors run like water. It's raining now, and the wind 
smells like perfume. This surely is Moonshadow, where Azura dwells.'

Zenas was right, and astonishingly, he even had audience with the Queen of 
Dusk and Dawn in her rose palace. She listened to his tale with a smile, and 
told him of the coming of the Nevevarine. My master found Moonshadow so 
lovely, he wished to stay there, half-blind, forever, but he knew he must move
on and complete his journey of discovery.

'I am in a storm,' he told me as he entered the next realm. He described the 
landscape of dark twisted trees, howling spirits, and billowing mist, and I 
thought he might have entered the Deadlands of Mehrunes Dagon. But then he 
said quickly, 'No, I am no longer in a forest. There was a flash of lightning,
and now I am on a ship. The mast is tattered. The crew is slaughtered. 
Something is coming through the waves … oh, gods … Wait, now, I am in a dank 
dungeon, in a cell …'

He was not in the Deadlands, but Quagmire, the nightmare realm of Vaernima. 
Every few minutes, there was a flash of lightning and reality shifted, always 
to something more horrible and horrifying. A dark castle one moment, a den of 
ravening beasts the next, a moonlit swamp, a coffin where he was buried alive.
Fear got the better of my master, and he quickly passed to the next realm.

I heard him laugh, 'I feel like I'm home now.'

Morian Zenas described to me an endless library, shelves stretching on in 
every direction, stacks on top of stacks. Pages floated on a mystical wind 
that he could not feel. Every book had a black cover with no title. He could 
see no one, but felt the presence of ghosts moving through the stacks, rifling
through books, ever searching.

It was Apocrypha. The home of Hermaeus-Mora, where all forbidden knowledge can
be found. I felt a shudder in my mind, but I could not tell if it was my 
master's or mine.

Morian Zenas never traveled to another realm that I know of.

Throughout his visits to the first four realms, my master spoke to me 
constantly. Upon entering the Apocrypha, he became quieter, as he was lured 
into the world of research and study, the passions that had controlled his 
heart while on Nirn. I would frantically try to call to him, but he closed his
mind to me.

Then he would whisper, 'This cannot be …'

'No one would ever guess the truth …'

'I must learn more …'

'I see the world, a last illusion's shimmer, it is crumbling all around us …'

I would cry back to him, begging him to tell me what was happening, what he 
was seeing, what he was learning. I even tried using Conjuration to summon him
as if he were a Daedra himself, but he refused to leave. Morian Zenas was 
lost.

I last received a whisper from him six months ago. Before then, it had been 
five years, and three before that. His thoughts are no longer intelligible in 
any language. Perhaps he is still in Apocrypha, lost but happy, in a trap he 
refuses to escape.

Perhaps he slipped between the stacks and passed into the Madhouse of 
Sheogorath, losing his sanity forever.

I would save him if I could.

I would silence his whispers if I could.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ44)
                 ~~Liminal Bridges~~

                 Camilonwe of Alinor
   

     Item ID: 00073A60
     


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Transliminal passage of quickened objects or entities without the persistent 
agency of hyperagonal media is not possible, and even if possible, would 
result in instantaneous retromission of the transported referents. Only a 
transpontine circumpenetration of the limen will result in transits of greater
than infinitessimal duration.

Though other hyperagonal media may exist in theory, the only known 
transliminal artifact capable of sustained transpontine circumpenetration is 
the sigil stone. A sigil stone is a specimen of pre-Mythic quasi-crystalline 
morpholith that has been transformed into an extra-dimensional artifact 
through the arcane inscription of a daedric sigil. Though some common 
morpholiths like soul gems may be found in nature, the exotic morpoliths used 
to make sigil stones occur only in pocket voids of Oblivion, and cannot be 
prospected or harvested without daedric assistance.

Therefore, since both the morpholiths and the daedric sigils required for 
hyperagonal media cannot be obtained without traffic and commerce with Daedra 
Lords, it is necessary that a transliminal mechanic cultivate a working 
knowledge of conjuration — though purpose-built enchantments may be 
substituted if the mechanic has sufficient invocatory skill. Traffic and 
commerce with Daedra Lords is an esoteric but well-established practice, and 
lies outside the compass of this treatise. (1)

Presuming a sigil stone has been acquired, the transliminal mechanic must 
first prepare the morpholith to receive the daedric sigil.

Let the mechanic prepare a chamber, sealed against all daylight and 
disturbances of the outer air, roofed and walled with white stone and floored 
with black tiles. All surfaces of this chamber must be ritually purified with 
a solution of void salts in ether solvent.

A foursquare table shall be placed in the center of the room, with a dish to 
receive the morpholith. Four censers shall be prepared with incense compounded
from gorvix and harrada. On the equinox, the mechanic shall then place the 
morpolith in the dish and intone the rites of the Book of Law, beginning at 
dawn and continuing without cease until the sunset of the same day.

The mechanic may then present the purified morpholith to the Daedra Lord for 
his inscription. Once inscribed with the Daedra Lord's sigil, the morpholith 
becomes a true sigil stone, a powerful artifact that collects and stores 
arcane power — similar in many respects to a charged soul gem, but of a much 
greater magnitude. And it is this sigil stone that is required to provide the 
tremendous arcane power necessary to sustain the enchantment that supports the
transpontine circumpenetration of the limen.

To open a gate to Oblivion, the mechanic must communicate directly, by spell 
or enchantment, with the Daedra Lord who inscribed the sigil stone in 
question. The Daedra Lord and the mechanic jointly invoke the conjurational 
charter (2), and the mechanic activates the charged sigil stone, which is 
immediately transported through the liminal barrier to the spot where its 
sigil was inscribed, thus opening a temporary portal between Mundus and 
Oblivion. This portal may only remain open for a brief period of time, 
depending on the strength of the liminal barrier at the chosen spots, several 
minutes being the longest ever reported, so the usefulness of such a gate is 
quite limited.


1 — Interested students are invited to consult the works of Albrecht 
Theophannes Bombidius and Galerion The Mystic for the fundaments of this 
discipline.

2 — Recommended examples of the conjurational charter may be found in 
Therion's Book of Most Arcane Covenants or Ralliballah's Eleven Ritual Forms.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ45)
              ~~Mythic Dawn Commentaries 1~~

        Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes Book One

      The first book read by initiates to the Mythic Dawn cult.
        This is Book One of Mythic Dawn Commentaries

             The daedric title reads DAGON

                      Mankar Camoran
   

     Item ID: 00022B04
     


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Greetings, novitiate, and know first a reassurance: Mankar Camoran was once 
like you, asleep, unwise, protonymic. We mortals leave the dreaming-sleeve of
birth the same, unmantled save for the symbiosis with our mothers, thus to 
practice and thus to rapprochement, until finally we might through new eyes 
leave our hearths without need or fear that she remains behind. In this moment
we destroy her forever and enter the demesne of Lord Dagon.

Reader, this book is your door to that demesne, and though you be a destroyer 
you must still submit to locks. Lord Dagon would only have those clever enough
to pause; all else the Aurbis claims in their fool running. Walk first. Heed. 
The impatience you feel is your first slave to behead.

Enter as Lord Dagon has written: come slow and bring four keys. Know that then
you are royalty, a new breed of destroyer, whose garden shall flood with 
flowers known and unknown, as it was in the mythic dawn. Thus shall you return
to your first primal wail and yet come out different. It shall this time be 
neonymbiosis, master akin to Master, whose Mother is miasma.

Every quarter has known us, and none bore our passing except with trembling. 
Perhaps you came to us through war, or study, or shadow, or the alignment of 
certain snakes. Though each path matters in its kind, the prize is always 
thus: welcome, novitiate, that you are here at all means that you have the 
worthiness of kings. Seek thy pocket now, and look! There is the first key, 
glinting with the light of a new dawn.

Night follows day, and so know that this primary insight shall fall alike unto
the turbulent evening sea where all faiths are tested. Again, a reassurance: 
even the Usurper went under the Iliac before he rose up to claim his fleet. 
Fear only for a second. Shaken belief is like water for a purpose: in the 
garden of the Dawn we shall breathe whole realities.

Enter as Lord Dagon has written: come slow and bring four keys. Our Order is 
based on the principles of his mighty razor: Novitiate, Questing Knight, 
Chaplain, and Master. Let the evil ones burn in its light as if by the excess
of our vision. Then shalt our Knowledge go aright. However, recall that your 
sight is yet narrow, and while you have the invitation, you have not the 
address.

My own summons came through a book Lord Dagon wrote himself in the deserts of 
rust and wounds. Its name is the 'Mysterium Xarxes', Aldmeretada aggregate, 
forefather to the wife of all enigma. Each word is razor-fed and secret, 
thinner than cataclysms, tarnished like red-drink. That I mention it at all is
testament to your new rank, my child. Your name is now cut into its weight.

Palace, hut, or cave, you have left all the fog worlds of conception behind. 
Nu-mantia! Liberty! Rejoice in the promise of paradise!

Endlessly it shall form and reform around you, deeds as entities, all-systems 
only an hour before they bloom to zero sums, flowering like vestments, divine 
raiment worn to dance at Lord Dagon's golden feet. In his first arm, a storm, 
his second the rush of plagued rain, the third all the tinder of Anu, and the 
fourth the very eyes of Padhome. Feel uplifted in thine heart that you have 
this first key, for it shall strike high and low into the wormrot of false 
heavens.

Roaring I wandered until I grew hoarse with the gospel. I had read the 
mysteries of Lord Dagon and feeling anew went mad with the overflow. My words
found no purchase until I became hidden. These were not words for the common 
of Tamriel, whose clergy long ago feigned the very existence of the Dawn. 
Learn from my mistake; know that humility was Mankar Camoran's original 
wisdom. Come slow, and bring four keys.

Offering myself to that daybreak allowed the girdle of grace to contain me. 
When my voice returned, it spoke with another tongue. After three nights I 
could speak fire.

Red-drink, razor-fed, I had glimpsed the path unto the garden, and knew that 
to inform others of its harbor I had to first drown myself in search's sea. 
Know ye that I have found my fleet, and that you are the flagship of my hope. 
Greetings, novitiate, Mankar Camoran was once you, asleep, unwise, protonymic,
but Am No More. Now I sit and wait to feast with thee on all the worlds of 
this cosmos. Nu-mantia! Liberty!

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ46)
                 ~~The Warrior's Charge~~

                         Anonymous

     Item ID: 000243F6
     


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 An old poem of the Redguards

The star sung far-flung tales
Wreathed in the silver of Yokuda fair,
Of a Warrior who, arrayed in hue sails
His charges through the serpent's snare

And the Lord of runes, so bored so soon,
Leaves the ship for an evening's dare,
Perchance to wake, the coiled snake,
To take its shirt of scales to wear

And the Lady East, who e'ery beast,
Asleep or a'prowl can rouse a scare,
Screams as her eye, alight in the sky
A worm no goodly sight can bear

And the mailed Steed, ajoins the deed
Not to be undone from his worthy share,
Rides the night, towards scale bright,
Leaving the seasoned Warrior's care

Then the serpent rose, and made stead to close,
The targets lay plain and there,
But the Warrior's blade the Snake unmade,
And the charges wander no more, they swear

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                  ~~DESTRUCTION BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ47)
                 ~~The Art of War Magic~~

    Zurin Arctus, with Commentary By Other Learned Masters 

     Item ID: 000243FA
     


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 Chapter 3: Dispositions

Master Arctus said:

   1. The moment to prepare your offense is the moment the enemy becomes 
vulnerable to attack.
          * Leros Chael: Knowledge of the enemy mage's mind is of the foremost
importance. Once you know his mind, you will know his weaknesses.
          * Sedd Mar: Master Arctus advised Tiber Septim before the battle of 
Five Bridges not to commit his reserves until the enemy was victorious. Tiber 
Septim said, “If the enemy is already victorious, what use committing the 
reserve?” To which Master Arctus replied, “Only in victory will the enemy be 
vulnerable to defeat.” Tiber Septim went on to rout an enemy army twice the 
size of his. 

   2. The enemy's vulnerability may be his strongest point; your weakness may
enable you to strike the decisive blow. 
          * Marandro Ur: In the wars between the Nords and the Chimer, the 
Nord shamans invariably used their mastery of the winds to call down storms 
before battle to confuse and dismay the Chimer warriors. One day, a clever 
Chimer sorcerer conjured up an ice demon and commanded him to hide in the 
rocks near the rear of the Chimer army. When the Nords called down the storms 
as usual, the Chimer warriors began to waver. But the ice demon rose up as the
storm struck, and the Chimer turned in fear from what they believed was a Nord
demon and charged into the enemy line, less afraid of the storm than of the 
demon. The Nords, expecting the Chimer to flee as usual, were caught off guard
when the Chimer attacked out of the midst of the storm. The Chimer were 
victorious that day. 

   3. When planning a campaign, take account of both the arcane and the 
mundane. The skillful battlemage ensures that they are in balance; a weight 
lifted by one hand is heavier than two weights lifted by both hands.

   4. When the arcane and mundane are in balance, the army will move 
effortlessly, like a swinging door on well-oiled hinges. When they are out of 
balance, the army will be like a three-legged dog, with one leg always 
dragging in the dust.

   5. Thus when the army strikes a blow, it will be like a thunderclap out of 
a cloudless sky. The best victories are those unforeseen by the enemy, but 
obvious to everyone afterwards.

   6. The skillful battlemage ensures that the enemy is already defeated 
before the battle begins. A close-fought battle is to be avoided; the fortunes
of war may turn aside the most powerful sorcery, and courage may undo the 
best-laid plans. Instead, win your victory ahead of time. When the enemy knows
he is defeated before the battle begins, you may not need to fight.

   7. Victory in battle is only the least kind of victory. Victory without 
battle is the acme of skill.

   8. Conserving your power is another key to victory. Putting forth your 
strength to win a battle is no demonstration of skill. This is what we call 
tactics, the least form of the art of war magic.
          * Thulidden dir'Tharkun: By 'tactics', Master Arctus includes all 
the common battle magics. These are only the first steps in an understanding 
of war magic. Any hedge mage can burn up his enemies with fire. Destroying the
enemy is the last resort of the skillful battlemage. 

   9. The battle is only a leaf on the tree; if a leaf falls, does the tree 
die? But when a branch is lopped off, the tree is weakened; when the trunk is 
girdled, the tree is doomed.

  10. If you plan your dispositions well, your victories will seem easy and 
you will win no acclaim. If you plan your dispositions poorly, your victories
will seem difficult, and your fame will be widespread.
          * Marandro Sul: Those commonly believed to be the greatest 
practitioners of war magic are almost always those with the least skill. The 
true masters are not known to the multitude. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ48)
               ~~The Horrors of Castle Xyr~~

                       Baloth-Kul

   
     Item ID: 000243F7
     


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    A One Act Play 

Dramatis Personae

    Clavides, Captain of the Imperial Guard. Cyrodilic. 
    Anara, a Dunmer maid. 
    Ullis, a Lieutenant of the Imperial Guard. Argonian. 
    Zollassa, a young Argonian mage 

Act I

    Late evening. The play opens in the interior Great Entrance Hall of a 
castle in Scath Anud, replete with fine furnishings and tapestries. Torches 
provide the only illumination. In the center of the foyer is a great iron 
door, the main entrance to the castle. The staircase up to the landing above 
is next to this door. On stage left is the door to the library, which is 
currently closed. On stage right is a huge suit of armor, twenty feet tall, 
nearly touching the ceiling of the room. Though no one can be seen, there is 
the sound of a woman singing coming from the library door. 
    A loud thumping knock on the iron front door stops the woman's singing. 
The door to the library opens and ANARA, a common-looking maid, comes out and 
hurries to open the front door. CLAVIDES, a handsome man in Imperial garb 
stands there. 

ANARA: Good evening to you, serjo.

CLAVIDES: Good evening. Is your master at home?

ANARA: No, serjo, it's only me here. My master Sedura Kena Telvanni Hordalf 
Xyr is at his winter estate. Is there something I can do for you?

CLAVIDES: Possibly. Would you mind if I came in?

ANARA: Not at all, serjo. Please. May I offer you some flin?

    Clavides comes into the Hall and looks around. 

CLAVIDES: No thank you. What's your name?

ANARA: Anara, serjo.

CLAVIDES: Anara, when did your master leave Scath Anud?

ANARA: More than a fortnight ago. That's why it's only me in the castle, 
serjo. All the other servants and slaves who tend to his lordship travel with 
him. Is there something wrong?

CLAVIDES: Yes, there is. Do you know an ashlander by the name of Sul-Kharifa?

ANARA: No, serjo. I don't know no one by that name.

CLAVIDES: Then you aren't likely to now. He's dead. He was found a few hours 
ago dying of frostbite in the ashlands. He was hysterical, nearly 
incomprehensible, but among his last words were “castle” and “Xyr.”

ANARA: Dying of frostbite in summertide in the ashlands? B'vek, that's 
strange. I suppose it's possible that my master knew this man, but being an 
ashlander and my master being of the House of Telvanni, well, if you'll pardon
me for being flippant, serjo, I don't think they coulda been friends.

CLAVIDES: That is your master's library? Would you mind if I looked in?

ANARA: Please, serjo, go wherever you want. We got nothing to hide. We're 
loyal Imperial subjects.

CLAVIDES: As, I hear, are all Telvanni.

    (Note from the playwright: this line should be delivered without sarcasm.
Trust the audience to laugh -- it never fails, regardless of the politics of 
the locals.) 

    Clavides enters the library and looks over the books. 

CLAVIDES: The library needs dusting.

ANARA: Yes, serjo. I was just doing that when you knocked at the door.

CLAVIDES: I'm grateful for that. If you had finished, I wouldn't notice the 
space in the dust where a rather large book has recently been removed. Your 
master is a wizard, it seems.

ANARA: No, serjo. I mean, he studies a lot, but he don't cast no spells, if 
that's what you mean by wizard. He's a kena, went to college and everything. 
You know, now that I think about it, I know what happened to that book. One of
the other kenas from the college been round yesterday, and borrowed a couple 
of books. He's a friend of the master, so I thought it'd be all fine.

CLAVIDES: This kena, was his name Warvim?

ANARA: Coulda been. I don't remember.

CLAVIDES: There is a suspected necromancer at the college named Kena Warvim we
arrested last night. We don't know what he was doing at the college, but it 
was something illegal, that's for certain. Was that the kena who borrowed the
book? A little fellow, a cripple with a withered leg?

ANARA: No, serjo, it weren't the kena from yesterday. He was a big fella who 
could walk, so I noticed.

CLAVIDES: I'm going to have a look around the rest of the house, if you don't 
mind.

    Clavides goes up the stairs, and delivers the following dialogue from the
landing and the rooms above. Anara continues straightening up the downstairs, 
moving a high-backed bench in front of the armor to scrub the floor. 

ANARA: Can I ask, serjo, what you're looking for? Maybe I could help you.

CLAVIDES: Are these all the rooms in the castle? No secret passages?

ANARA (laughing): Oh, serjo, what would Sedura Kena Telvanni Hordalf Xyr want 
with secret passages?

CLAVIDES (looking at the armor): Your master is a big man.

ANARA (laughing): Oh, serjo, don't tease. That's giant armor, just for 
decoration. My master slew that giant ten years ago, and kind of keeps it for 
a souvenir.

CLAVIDES: That's right, I remember hearing something about that when I first 
took my post here. It was someone named Xyr who killed the giant, but I didn't
think the first name was Hordalf. Memory fades I'm afraid. What was the 
giant's name?

ANARA: I'm afraid I don't remember, serjo.

CLAVIDES: I do. It was Torfang. “I got out of Torfang's Shield.”

ANARA: I don't understand, serjo. Torfang's shield?

    Clavides runs down the stairs, and examines the armor. 

CLAVIDES: Sul-Kharifa said something about getting out of Torfang's shield. I
thought he was just raving, out of his mind.

ANARA: But he ain't got a shield, serjo.

Clavides pushes the high-backed bench out of the way, revealing the large 
mounted shield at the base of the armor.

CLAVIDES: Yes, he does. You covered it up with that bench.

ANARA: I didn't do it on purpose, serjo! I was just cleaning! I see that armor
ever day, serjo, and b'vek I swear I ain't never noticed the shield before!

CLAVIDES: It's fine, Anara, I believe you.

    Clavides pushes on the shield and it pulls back to reveal a tunnel down. 

CLAVIDES: It appears that Sedura Kena Telvanni Hordalf Xyr does have a need 
for a secret passage. Could you get me a torch?

ANARA: B'vek, I ain't never seen that before!

    Anara takes a torch from the wall, and hands it to Clavides. Clavides 
enters the tunnel. 

CLAVIDES: Wait here.

    Anara watches Clavides disappear down the tunnel. She appears agitated, 
and finally runs for the front door. When she opens it, ULLIS, an Argonian 
lieutenant in the Imperial guard is standing at the entrance. She screams. 

ULLIS: I'm sorry to frighten you.

ANARA: Not now! Go away!

ULLIS: I'm afraid the Captain wouldn't like that, miss.

ANARA: You're ... with the Captain? Blessed mother.

    Clavides comes out of the tunnel, white-faced. It takes him a few moments 
to speak. 

ULLIS: Captain? What's down there?

CLAVIDES (to Anara): Did you know your master's a necromancer? That your 
cellar is filled with bodies?

    Anara faints. Ullis carries her to the bench and lays her down. 

ULLIS: Let me see, serjo.

CLAVIDES: You'll see soon enough. We're going to need every soldier from the 
post here to cart away all the corpses. Ullis, I've seen enough battles, but 
I've never seen anything like this. No two are alike. Khajiiti, sload, dunmer,
cyrodiil, breton, nord, burned alive, poisoned, electrified, melted, torn 
apart, turned inside out, ripped to shreds and sewn back up together.

ULLIS: You think the ashlander escaped, that's what happened?

CLAVIDES: I don't know. Why would someone do something like this, Ullis?

    There is a knock on the door. Clavides answers it. A young Argonian woman,
ZOLLASSA, is standing, holding a package and a letter. 

ZOLLASSA: Good morning, you're not Lord Xyr, are you?

CLAVIDES: No. What do you have there?

ZOLLASSA: A letter and a package I'm supposed to deliver to him. Will he be 
back shortly?

CLAVIDES: I don't believe so. Who gave you the package to deliver?

ZOLLASSA: My teacher at the college, Kema Warvim. He has a bad leg, so he 
asked me to bring these to his lordship. Actually, to tell you the truth, I 
was supposed to deliver them last night, but I was busy.

ULLIS: Greetings, sistre. We'll give the package to his lordship when we see 
him.

ZOLLASSA: Ah, hail, brothre. I had heard there was a handsome Argonian in 
Scath Anud. Unfortunately, I promised Kema Warvim that I'd deliver the package
directly to his lordship's hands. I'm already late, I can't just --

CLAVIDES: We're Imperial Guard, miss. We will take the package and the letter.

    Zollassa reluctantly hands Clavides the letter and the package. She turns 
to go. 

ULLIS: You're at the college, if we need to see you?

ZOLLASSA: Yes. Fare tidings, brothre.

ULLIS: Goodnight, sistre.

    Clavides opens the package as Zollassa exits. It is a book with many loose
sheets. 

CLAVIDES: It appears we've found the missing book. Delivered to our very 
hands.

    Clavides begins to read the book, silently to himself. 

ULLIS (to himself, very pleased): Another Argonian in Scath Anud. And a pretty
one, at that. I hope we weren't too rude to her. I'm tired of all these women 
with their smooth, wet skin, it would be wonderful if we could meet when I'm 
off duty.

    While Ullis talks, he opens the letter and reads it. 

ULLIS (continued): She looks like she's from the south, like me. You know, 
Argonians from northern Black Marsh are... much... less...

    Ullis continues reading, transfixed by the letter. Clavides skips to the 
back of the book, and reads the last sentences. 

CLAVIDES (reading): In black ink “The Khajiiti male showed surprisingly little
fortitude to a simple lightning spell, but I've had interesting physiological 
results with a medium-level acid spell cast slowly over several days.” In red 
ink on the margins, “Yes, I see. Was the acid spell cast uniformly over the 
entire body of the subject?” In black ink “The Nord female was subjected to 
sixteen hours of a frost spell which eventually crystalized her into a state 
of suspended animation, from which she eventually expired. Not so the Nord 
male, nor the Ashlander male who lapsed into their comas much earlier, but 
then recovered. The Ashlander then tried to escape, but I restrained him. The
Nord then had an interesting chemical overreaction to a simple fire spell and 
expired. See the accompanying illustration.” In red ink, “Yes, I see. The 
pattern of boils and lesions suggest some sort of internal incineration 
perhaps caused by the combination of a short burst of flame following a longer
session with frost. It's such a shame I can't come to see the experiment 
personally, but I compliment you on your excellent notation.” In black ink, 
“Thank you for the suggestion about slowly poisoning my maid Anara. The 
dosages you've suggested have had fascinating results, eroding her memory very
subtly. I intend to increase it expotentially and see how long it is before 
she notices. Speaking of which, it is a pity that I haven't any Argonian 
subjects, but the slave-traders promise me some healthy specimens in the 
autumn. I should like to test their metabolism in comparison to elves and 
humans. It's my theory that a medium-level lightning spell cast in a 
continuous wave on an Argonian wouldn't be lethal for several hours at least,
similiar to my results with the Cyrodilic female and, of course, the giant.” 
In red ink, “It'd be a shame to wait until autumn to see.”

ULLIS (reading the letter): In red ink, “Here is your Argonian. Please let me
know the results.” It's signed “Kema Warvim.”

CLAVIDES: By Kynareth, this isn't necromancy. It's Destruction. Kema Warvim 
and Kena Telvanni Hordalf Xyr haven't been experimenting with death, but with 
the limits of magical torture.

ULLIS: The letter isn't addressed to Kena Telvanni Hordalf Xyr. It's addressed
to Sedura Iachilla Xyr. His wife, do you think?

CLAVIDES: Iachilla. That was the Telvanni of the Xyr family who I heard about 
in connection with the giant slaying. We'd best get the maid out of here. 
She'll need to go to a healer.

    Clavides wakes up Anara. She appears disoriented. 

ANARA: What's happening? Who are you?

CLAVIDES: Don't worry, everything is going to be fine. We're going to take you
to a healer.

ULLIS: Do you need a coat, Iachilla?

ANARA: Thank you, no, I'm not cold --

    Anara/Iachilla stops, realizing that she's been caught. Clavides and Ullis
unsheathe their blades. 

CLAVIDES: You have black ink on your fingers, your ladyship.

ULLIS: And when you saw me at the door, you thought I was the Argonian your 
friend Warvim sent over. That's why you said, “Not now. Go away.”

ANARA/IACHILLA: You're much more observant than Anara. She never did 
understand what was happening, even when I tripled the poison spell and she 
expired in what I observed as considerable agony.

ULLIS: What were you going to use on me first, lightning or fire?

ANANA/IACHILLA: Lightning. I find fire to be too unpredictable.

    As she speaks, the flames in the torchs extinguish. The stage is utterly 
dark. 

    There is the sound of a struggle, swords clanging. Suddenly a bolt of 
lightning flashes out, and there is silence. From the darkness, Anana/Iachilla
speaks. 

ANANA/IACHILLA: Fascinating.

    There are several more flashes of lightning as the curtain closes. 

    THE END. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ49)
               ~~A Hypothetical Treachery~

                    Anthil Morvir

   
     Item ID: 000243F9
     


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Dramatis Personae
Malvasian: A High Elf battlemage
Inzoliah: A Dark Elf battlemage
Dolcettus: A Cyrodiil healer
Schiavas: An Argonian barbarian
A Ghost
Some bandits
Scene: Eldenwood


As the curtain rises, we see the misty labyrinthian landscape of the legendary
Eldengrove of Valenwood. All around we hear wolves howling. A bloodied 
reptilian figure, SCHIAVAS, breaks through the branches of one of the trees 
and surveys the area.


SCHIAVAS: It's clear.


INZOLIAH, a beautiful Dark Elf mage, climbs down from the tree, helped by the 
barbarian. There is the sound of footsteps nearby. Schiavas readies his sword 
and Inzoliah prepares to cast a spell. Nothing comes out.


INZOLIAH: You're bleeding. You should have Dolcettus heal that for you.


SCHIAVAS: He's still drained from all the spells he had to cast down in the 
caves. I'm fine. If we get out of this and no one needs it more, I'll take the
last potion of healing. Where's Malvasian?


MALVASIAN, a High Elf battlemage, and DOLCETTUS, a Cyrodiil healer, emerge 
from the tree, carrying a heavy chest between the two of them. They awkwardly 
try to get down from the tree, carrying their loot.


MALVASIAN: Here I am, though why I'm carrying the heavy load is beyond me. I 
always thought that the advantage of dungeon delving with a great barbarian 
was that he carried all the loot.


SCHIAVAS: If I carried that, my hands would be too full to fight. And tell me 
if I'm wrong, but not one of the three of you has enough magicka reserved to 
make it out of here alive. Not after you electrified and blasted all those 
homunculuses down below ground.


DOLCETTUS: Homunculi.


SCHIAVAS: Don't worry, I'm not going to do what you think I'm going to do.


INZOLIAH (innocently): What's that?


SCHIAVAS: Kill you all and take the Ebony Mail for myself. Admit it -- you 
thought I had that in mind.


DOLCETTUS: What a perfectly horrible thought. I never thought anyone, no 
matter how vile and degenerate --


INZOLIAH: Why not?


MALVASIAN: He needs porters, like he said. He can't carry the chest and fight 
off the inhabitants of Eldengrove both.


DOLCETTUS: By Stendarr, of all the mean, conniving, typically Argonian --


INZOLIAH: And why do you need me alive?


SCHIAVAS: I don't necessarily. Except that you're prettier than the other two,
for a smoothskin that is. And if something comes after us, it might go for you
first.


There is a noise in some bushes nearby.


SCHIAVAS: Go check that out.


INZOLIAH: It's probably a wolf. These woods are filled with them. You check it
out.


SCHIAVAS: You have a choice, Inzoliah. Go and you might live. Stay here, and 
you definitely won't.


Inzoliah considers and then goes to the bushes.


SCHIAVAS (to Malvasian and Dolcettus): The king of Silvenar will pay good 
money for the Mail, and we can divide it more nicely between three than four.


INZOLIAH: You're so right.


Inzoliah suddenly levitates up to the top of the stage. A semi-transparent 
Ghost appears from the bush and rushes at the next person, who happens to be 
Schiavas. As the barbarian screams and thrashes at it with his sword, it 
levels blasts of whirling gas at him. He crumbles to the ground. It turns next
to Dolcettus, the healer, and as the Ghost focuses its feasting chill on the 
hapless Dolcettus, Malvasian casts a ball of flame at it that causes it to 
vaporize into the misty air.


Inzoliah floats back down to the ground as Malvasian examines the bodies of 
Dolcettus and Schiavas, who are both white-faced from the draining power of 
the ghost.


MALVASIAN: You had some magicka reserved after all.


INZOLIAH: So did you. Are they dead?


Malvasian takes the potion of healing from Dolcettus's pack.


MALVASIAN: Yes. Fortunately, the potion of healing wasn't broken when he fell.
Well, I guess this leaves just the two of us to collect the reward.


INZOLIAH: We can't get out of this place without each other. Like it or not.


The two battlemages pick up the chest and begin plodding carefully through the
undergrowth, pausing from time to time at the sound of footsteps or other 
eerie noises.


MALVASIAN: Let me make sure I understand. You have a little bit of magicka 
left, so you elected to use it to make Schiavas the ghost's target, forcing me
to use most of my limited reserve to destroy the creature so I wouldn't be 
more powerful than you. That's first-rate thinking.


INZOLIAH: Thank you. It's only logical. Do you have enough power to cast any 
other spells?


MALVASIAN: Naturally. An experienced battlemage always knows a few minor but 
highly effective spells for just such a trial. I take it you, too, have a few
tricks up your sleeve?


INZOLIAH: Of course, like you said.


They pause for a moment before continuing as a fearful wail pierces the air. 
When it dies away, they slowly trudge on.


INZOLIAH: Just as an intellectual exercise, I wonder what spell you would cast
at me if we made it out of here without any more combat.


MALVASIAN: I hope you're not implying that I would dream of killing you so I 
would keep the treasure all to myself.


INZOLIAH: Of course not, nor would I do that to you. It is merely an 
intellectual exercise.


MALVASIAN: Well, in that case, purely as an intellectual exercise, I would 
probably cast a leech spell on you, to take away your life force and heal 
myself. After all, there are brigands on the road between here and Silvenar, 
and a wounded battlemage with a valuable artifact would make a tempting 
target. I'd hate to survive Eldengrove merely to die in the open.


INZOLIAH: That's a well-reasoned response. As for myself, again, not saying I 
would ever do this, but I think a simple, sudden electrical bolt would serve 
my purposes admirably. I agree about the danger of brigands, but don't forget,
we also have a potion of healing. I could easily slay you and heal myself to 
full capacity.


MALVASIAN: Very true. It would end up a question then of whose spell was more 
effective at that instant. If our spells counteracted one another and I 
leeched your life energy only to be crippled by your lightning bolt, then we 
could both be killed. Or so near death that a mere potion of healing would 
scarcely help either one of us, let alone both. How ironic it would be if two 
scheming battlemages, not saying we are scheming but for the purpose of this 
intellectual exercise, were left on the brink of death, completely drained of 
magicka, with one healing potion to choose from. Who would get it then?


INZOLIAH: Logically, whoever drank it first, which in this case would be you 
since you're holding it. Now, what if one of us were injured, but not killed?


MALVASIAN: Logic would dictate that a scheming battlemage would take the 
potion, leaving the injured party to the mercy of the elements, I suppose.


INZOLIAH: That does seem most sensible. But suppose that the battlemages, 
while certainly scheming types, had a certain respect for one another. Perhaps
in that case, the victorious one might, for instance, put the potion up a tree
near his or her gravely wounded victim. Then when the wounded party had enough
magicka replenished, he or she would be able to levitate to the tree branches 
and recover the potion. By that time, the victorious battlemage would have 
already collected the reward.


They pause for a moment at the sound of something in the bushes nearby. 
Carefully, they climb across the branches of a tree to bypass it.


MALVASIAN: I understand what you're saying, but it seems out of character for
our hypothetic scheming battlemage to allow his or her victim to live.


INZOLIAH: Perhaps. But it's been my observation that most scheming battlemages
enjoy the feeling of having bested someone in combat, and having that person 
alive to live with the humiliation.


MALVASIAN: These hypothetical scheming battlemages sound ... (excitedly) 
Daylight! Do you see it?


The two scurry across the branch dropping behind a bush, so we can no longer 
see them. We can, however, see the shimmering halo of sunlight.


MALVASIAN (behind the tall bush): We made it.


INZOLIAH (likewise, behind the tall bush): Indeed.


There is a sudden explosion of electrical energy and a wild howling aura of 
red light, and then silence. After a few moment's pause, we hear someone 
climbing up the tree. It is Malvasian, putting the potion high up in the 
bough. He chuckles as he climbs back down and the curtain drops.


Epilogue.


The curtain rises on a road to Silvenar. A gang of bandits have surrounded 
Malvasian, who is propped up on his staff, barely able to stand. They pull his
chest away from him with ease.


BANDIT #1: What have we got here? Don't you know it ain't safe to be out on 
the road, all sick like you are? Why don't we help you with your load?


MALVASIAN (weakly): Please ... Let me be ...


BANDIT #2: Go on, spellcaster, fight us for it!


MALVASIAN: I can't ... too weak ...


Suddenly, Inzoliah flies in, casting lightning bolts from her fingers at the 
bandits, who quickly scramble away. She lands on the ground and picks up the 
chest. Malvasian collapses, dying.


MALVASIAN: Hypothetically, what if ... a battlemage cast a spell on another 
which didn't harm him at once, but ... drained his life force and his magicka,
bit by bit, so he wouldn't know at the time, but ... feel confident enough to 
leave the potion of healing behind?


INZOLIAH: A most treacherous battlemage she'd be.


MALVASIAN: And ... hypothetically ... would she be likely to help her fallen 
foe ... so that she could enjoy the humiliation of him continuing ... to live?


INZOLIAH: From my experience, hypothetically, no. She doesn't sound like a 
fool.


As Inzoliah lugs the chest off toward Silvenar, and Malvasian expires on the 
stage, we drop the curtain. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ50)
               ~~Mystery of Talara, v3~~

                   Anthil Morvir

   
     Item ID: 00243FB
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Gnorbooth was leaving his favorite pub in Camlorn, The Breaking Branch, when 
he heard someone calling his name. His was not the sort of a name that could 
be mistaken for another. He turned and saw Lord Eryl, the Royal Battlemage 
from the palace, emerge from the darkness of the alley.

"Milord," said Gnorbooth with a pleasant smile.

"I'm surprised to see you out this evening, Gnorbooth," grinned Lord Eryl with
a most unpleasant smile. "I have not seen you and your master very much since 
the millennial celebration, but I understand you've been very busy. What I've 
been wondering is what you've been busy doing."

"Protecting the Imperial interests in Camlorn is busy work, milord. But I 
cannot imagine you would be interested in the minutiae of the ambassador's 
appointments."

"But I am," said the battlemage. "Especially as the ambassador has begun 
acting most mysteriously, most undiplomatically lately. And I understand that 
he has taken one of the whores from the Flower Festival into his house. I 
believe her name is Gyna?"

Gnorbooth shrugged: "He's in love, I would imagine, milord. It can make men 
act very strangely, as I'm sure you've heard before."

"She is a most comely wench," laughed Lord Eryl. "Have you noticed how much 
she resembles the late Princess Talara?"

"I have only been in Camlorn for fifteen years, milord. I never saw her late 
majesty."

"Now I could understand it if he had taken to writing poetry, but what man in
love spends his days in the kitchens of the palace, talking to old servants? 
That hardly sounds like molten passion to me, even based on my limited 
experience." Lord Eryl rolled his eyes. "And what is this business he has now
in - oh, what is the name of that village?"

"Umbington?" replied Gnorbooth, and immediately wished he hadn't. Lord Eryl 
was too canny an actor to reveal it, but Gnorbooth knew at the pit of his 
stomach that the battlemage did not even know Lord Strale had left the 
capitol. He had to get away to let the ambassador know, but there was still a 
game to be carefully played. "He's not leaving for there until tomorrow. I 
believe it's just to put a stamp on some deed that needs the Imperial seal."

"Is that all? How tedious for the poor fellow. I suppose I'll see him when he
returns then," Lord Eryl bowed. "Thank you for being so informative. Farewell."

The moment the royal battlemage turned the corner, Gnorbooth leapt onto his 
horse. He had drunk one or two ales too many, but he knew he must find his way
to Umbington before Lord Eryl's agents did. He galloped east out of the 
capitol, hoping there were signs along the road.

Seated in a tavern that smelled of mildew and sour beer, Lord Strale marveled 
at how the Emperor's agent Lady Brisienna always found the most public of 
places for her most private of conferences. It was harvest time in Umbington,
and all of the field hands were drinking away their meager wages in the 
noisiest of fashions. He was dressed appropriately for the venue, rough 
trousers and a simple peasant's vest, but he still felt conspicuous. In 
comparison to his two female companions, he certainly was. The woman to his 
right was used to frequenting the low places of Daggerfall as a common 
prostitute. Lady Brisienna to his left was even more clearly in her element.

"By what name would you prefer I call you?" Lady Brisienna asked solicitously.

"I am used to the name Gyna, though that may have to change," was her reply. 
"Of course, it may not. Gyna the Whore may be the name writ on my grave."

"I will see to it that there is no attempt on your life like that the Flower 
Festival," Lord Strale frowned. "But without the Emperor's help, I won't be 
able to protect you forever. The only permanent solution is to capture those 
who would do you harm and then to raise you to your proper station."

"Do you believe my story?" Gyna turned to Lady Brisienna.

"I have been the Emperor's chief agent in High Rock for many years now, and I 
have heard few stranger tales. If your friend the ambassador hadn't 
investigated and discovered what he has, I would have dismissed you outright 
as a madwoman," Brisienna laughed, forcing a smile onto Gyna's face to match. 
"But now, yes, I do believe you. Perhaps that makes me the madwoman."

"Will you help us?" asked Lord Strale simply.

"It is a tricky business interfering in the affairs of the provincial 
kingdoms," Lady Brisienna looked into the depths of her mug thoughtfully. 
"Unless there is a threat to the Empire itself, we find it is best not to 
meddle. What we have in your case is a very messy assassination that happened 
twenty years ago, and its aftermath. If His Imperial Majesty involved itself 
in every bloody hiccup in the succession in each of his thousand vassal 
kingdoms, he would never accomplish anything for the greater good of Tamriel."

"I understand," murmured Gyna. "When I remembered everything, who I was and 
what happened to me, I resolved to do nothing about it. In fact, I was leaving
Camlorn and going back home to Daggerfall when I saw Lord Strale again. He was
the one who began this quest to resolve this, not me. And when he brought me 
back, I only wanted to see my cousin to tell her who I was, but he forbade 
me."

"It would have been too dangerous," growled Strale. "We still don't know yet 
the depths of the conspiracy. Perhaps we never will."

"I'm sorry, I always find myself giving long explanations to short questions. 
When Lord Strale asked if I would help, I should have begun by saying 'yes,'" 
Lady Brisienna laughed at the change in Lord Strale and Gyna's expressions. "I
will help you, of course. But for this to turn out well, you must accomplish 
two things to the Emperor's satisfaction. First, you must prove with absolute 
certainty who is the power behind this plot you've uncovered. You must get 
someone to confess."

"And secondly," said Lord Strale, nodding. "We must prove that this is a 
matter worthy of His Imperial Majesty's consideration, and not merely a minor 
local concern."

Lord Strale, Lady Brisienna, and the woman who called herself Gyna discussed 
how to accomplish their goals for a few hours more. When it was agreed what 
had to be done, Lady Brisienna took her leave to find her ally Proseccus. 
Strale and Gyna set off to the west, toward Camlorn. It was not long after 
beginning their ride through the woods that they heard the sound of galloping
hoof beats far up ahead. Lord Strale unsheathed his sword and signaled for 
Gyna to position her horse behind him.

At that moment, they were attacked on all sides. It was an ambush. Eight men, 
armed with axes, had been lying in wait.

Lord Strale quickly yanked Gyna from her horse, pulling her behind him. He 
made a brief, deft motion with his hands. A ring of flame materialized around 
them, and rushed outward, striking their assailants. The men roared in pain 
and dropped to their knees. Lord Strale jumped the horse over the closest one,
and galloped at full speed westward.

"I thought you were an ambassador not a mage!" laughed Gyna.

"I still believe there are times for diplomacy," replied Lord Strale.

The horse and rider they had heard before met them on the road. It was 
Gnorbooth. "Milord, it's the royal battlemage! He found out you two were in 
Umbington!"

"With considerable ease, I might add," Lord Eryl's voice boomed out of the 
woods. Gnorbooth, Gyna, and Lord Strale scanned the dark trees, but they 
showed nothing. The battlemage's voice seemed to emanate from everywhere and 
nowhere.

"I'm sorry, milord," groaned Gnorbooth. "I tried to warn you as soon as I 
could."

"In your next life, perhaps you'll remember not to trust your plans to a 
drunkard!" laughed Lord Eryl. He had them in his sight, and the spell was 
unleashed.

Gnorbooth saw him first, by the light of the ball of fire that leapt from his 
fingertips. Later, Lord Eryl was to wonder to himself what the fool had 
intended to do. Perhaps he was rushing forward to pull Lord Strale out of the 
path. Perhaps he was trying to flee the path of destruction, and had simply 
moved left when he should have moved right. Perhaps, as unlikely as it seemed,
he was willing to sacrifice himself to save his master. Whatever the reason, 
the result was the same.

He got in the way.

There was an explosion of energy that filled the night, and an echoing boom 
that shook birds from the trees for a mile around. On the few square feet 
where Gnorbooth and his horse had stood was nothing but black glass. They had 
been reduced to less than vapor. Gyna and Lord Strale were thrown back. Their 
horse, when it recovered its senses, galloped away as fast as it could. In the
lingering glowing aura of the spell's detonation, Lord Strale looked straight 
into the woods and into the wide eyes of the battlemage.

"Damn," said Lord Eryl and began to run. The ambassador jumped to his feet and
pursued.

"That was an expensive use of magicka, even for you," said Lord Strale as he 
ran. "Don't you know well enough not to use ranged spells unless you are 
certain your target won't be blocked?"

"I never thought - that idiot -" Lord Eryl was struck from behind and knocked 
to the wet forest floor before he had a chance to finish his lamentation.

"It doesn't matter what you thought," said Lord Strale calmly, flipping the 
battlemage around and pinning his arms to the ground with his knees. "I'm not 
a battlemage, but I knew enough not to use my entire reserve on your little 
ambush. Perhaps it's a matter of philosophy, as a government agent, I feel 
inclined toward conservatism."

"What are you going to do?" whimpered Lord Eryl.

"Gnorbooth was a good man, one of the best, and so I'm going to hurt you quite
a lot," the ambassador made a slight movement and his hands began to glow 
brightly. "That's a certainty. How much more I'm going to hurt you after that 
depends on what you tell me. I want to hear about the former Duke of Oloine."

"What do you want to know?" Lord Eryl screamed.

"Let's start with everything," replied Lord Strale with perfect patience. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ51)
             ~~Mythic Dawn Commentaries 2~~
       Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes Book Two

   The second book read by initiates to the Mythic Dawn cult.
      This is Book Two of Mythic Dawn Commentaries

         The daedric title reads ALTADOON

                     Mankar Camoran

   
     Item ID: 00022B05
     


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Whosoever findeth this document, I call him brother.

Answers are liberations, where the slaves of Malbioge that came to know 
Numantia cast down their jailer king, Maztiak, which the Xarxes Mysterium 
calls the Arkayn. Maztiak, whose carcass was dragged through the streets by 
his own bone-walkers and whose flesh was opened on rocks thereon and those 
angels who loved him no longer did drink from his honeyed ichors screaming 
"Let all know free will and do as they will!"

Your coming was foretold, my brother, by the Lord Dagon in his book of razors.
You are to come as Idols drop away from you one by one. You are exalted in 
eyes that have not yet set on you; you, swain to well-travelled to shatterer 
of mantles. You, brother, are to sit with me in Paradise and be released of 
all unknowns. Indeed, I shall show you His book and its foul-and-many-
feathered rubric so that you can put into symbols what you already know: the 
sphere of destruction is but the milk of the unenslaved. I fault not your 
stumbling, for they are expected and given grace by the Oils. I crave not your
downfalls, though without them you might surpass me even in the coming Earth 
of all infinities. Lord Dagon wishes you no ills but the momentous. And as He
wants, you must want, and so learn from the pages of God this: the Ritual of 
Want:

Whisper to earth and earth, where the meddlers take no stones except to blood,
as blood IS blood, and to the cracking of bone, as bone IS bone, and so to 
crack and answer and fall before the one and one, I call you Dragon as brother
and king.

Hides of dreugh: 7 and 7, draught of Oil, 1 and 1, circles drawn by wet 
Dibellites: three concentric and let their lower blood fall where it may, a 
birth watched by blackbirds: Hearthfire 1st. Incant the following when your 
hearing becomes blurred:

Enraptured, he who finally goes unrecorded.

Recorded, the slaves that without knowing turn the Wheel.

Enslaved, all the children of the Aurbis As It Is."

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ52)
              ~~Response to Bero's Speech~~
       
                  Malviser, Battlemage
                
   
     Item ID: 000243F8
     


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

On the 14th of Last Seed, an illusionist by the name of Berevar Bero gave a 
very ignorant speech at the Chantry of Julianos in the Imperial City. As 
ignorant speeches are hardly uncommon, there was no reason to respond to it. 
Unfortunately, he has since had the speech privately printed as "Bero's Speech
to the Battlemages," and it's received some small, undeserved attention in 
academic circles. Let us put his misconceptions to rest.

Bero began his lecture with an occasionally factual account of famous 
Battlemages from Zurin Arctus, Tiber Septim's Imperial Battlemage, to Jagar 
Tharn, Uriel Septim VII's Imperial Battlemage. His intent was to show that 
where it matters, the Battlemage relies on other Schools of Magicka, not the 
School of Destruction which is supposedly a Battlemage's particular forte. 
Allow me first to dispute these so-called historical facts.

Zurin Arctus did not create the golem Numidium by spells of Mysticism and 
Conjuration as Bero alleges. The truth is that we don't know how Numidium was 
created or if it was a golem or atronach in any traditional sense of those 
words. Uriel V's Battlemage Hethoth was not an Imperial Battlemage — he was 
simply a sorcerer in the employ of the Empire, thus which spells he cast in 
the various battles on Akavir are irrelevant, not to mention heresay. Bero 
calls Empress Morihatha's Battlemage Welloc "an accomplished diplomat" but not
"a powerful student of the School of Destruction." I congratulate Bero on 
correctly identifying an Imperial Battlemage, but there are many written 
examples of Welloc's skill in the School of Destruction. The sage Celarus, for
example, wrote extensively about Welloc casting the Vampiric Cloud on the 
rebellious army of Blackrose, causing their strength and skill to pass on to 
their opponents. What is this, but an impressive example of the School of 
Destruction?

Bero rather pathetically includes Jagar Tharn in his list of underachieving 
Battlemages. To use an insane traitor as example of rational behavior is an 
untenable position. What would Bero prefer? That Tharn used the School of 
Destruction to destroy Tamriel by a more traditional means?

Bero uses his misrepresentation of history as the basis for his argument. Even
if he had found four excellent examples from history of Battlemages casting 
spells outside their School — and he didn't — he would only have anecdotal 
evidence, which isn't enough to support an argument. I could easily find four 
examples of illusionists casting healing spells, or nightblades teleporting. 
There is a time and a place for everything.

Bero's argument, built on this shaky ground, is that the School of Destruction
is not a true school. He calls it "narrow and shallow" as an avenue of study, 
and its students impatient, with megalomaniac tendencies. How can one respond 
to this? Someone who knows nothing about casting a spell of Destruction 
criticizing the School for being too simple? Summarizing the School of 
Destruction as learning how to do the "maximum amount of damage in the minimum
amount of time" is clearly absurd, and he expounds on his ignorance by listing
all the complicated factors studied in his own School of Illusion.

Allow me in response to list the factors studied in the School of Destruction.
The means of delivering the spell matters more in the School of Destruction 
than any other school, whether it is cast at a touch, at a range, in 
concentric circles, or cast once to be triggered later. What forces must be 
reigned in to cast the spell: fire, lightning, or frost? And what are the 
advantages and dangers of each? What are the responses from different targets 
from the assault of different spells of destruction? What are the possible 
defenses and how may they be assailed? What environmental factors must be 
taken into consideration? What are the advantages of a spell of delayed 
damage? Bero suggests that the School of Destruction cannot be subtle, yet he
forgets about all the Curses that fall under the mantle of the school, 
sometimes affecting generation after generation in subtle yet sublime ways.

The School of Alteration is a distinct and separate entity from the School of 
Destruction, and Bero's argument that they should be merged into one is 
patently ludicrous. He insists — again, a man who knows nothing about the 
Schools of Alteration and Destruction, is the one insisting this — that 
"damage" is part of the changing of reality dealt with by the spells of 
Alteration. The implication is that Levitation, to list a spell of Alteration,
is a close cousin of Shock Bolt, a spell of Destruction. It would make as much
sense to say that the School of Alteration, being all about the actuality of 
change, should absorb the School of Illusion, being all about the appearance 
of change.

It certainly isn't a coincidence that a master of the School of Illusion cast 
this attack on the School of Destruction. Illusion is, after all, all about 
masking the truth. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  ~~HAND TO HAND BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ53)
                 ~~Ahzirr Traajijazeri~~
       
                        Anonymous 
                
   
     Item ID: 000243FE
     


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

This is an absurd book. But like all things Khajiiti, as the expression goes,
"gzalzi vaberzarita maaszi", or "absurdity has become necessity." Much of what
I have to say has probably never been written before, and if it has, no one 
has read it. The Imperials feel that everything must be written down for 
posterity, but every Khajiiti kitten born in Elsweyr knows his history, he 
drinks it in with his mother's milk.

Fairly recently, however, our struggles to win back our homeland from the 
rapacious Count of Leyawiin have attracted sympathetic persons, even 
Imperials, who wish to join our cause, but, it seems, do not understand our 
ways. Our enemies, of course, do not understand us either, but that is as we 
wish it, a weapon in our arsenal. Our non-Khajiiti friends, however, should 
know who we are, why we are, and what we are doing.

The Khajiit mind is not engineered for self-reflection. We simply do what we 
do, and let the world be damned. To put into words and rationalize our 
philosophy is foreign, and I cannot guarantee that even after reading this, 
you will understand us. Grasp this simple truth -- "q'zi no vano thzina 
ualizz" -- "When I contradict myself, I am telling the truth."

We are the Renrijra Krin. "The Mercenary's Grin¸" "The Laugh of the 
Landless," and "The Smiling Scum" would all be fair translations. It is a 
derogatory expression, but it is amusing so we have adopted it.

We have anger in our hearts, but not on our faces. We fight for Elsweyr, but 
we do not ally ourselves with the Mane, who symbolizes our land. We believe in
justice, but do not follow laws.

"Q'zi no vano thzina ualizz."

These are not rules, for there is no word for "rules" in Ta'agra. Call them 
our "thjizzrini" -- "foolish concepts."

1. "Vaba Do'Shurh'do": "It Is Good To Be Brave"

We are struggling against impossible odds, against the very Empire of Tamriel.
Our cause is the noblest cause of all: defense of home. If we fail, we betray 
our past and our future. Our dead are "Ri'sallidad", which may be interpreted 
as "martyrs" in the truest, best sense of that word which is so often misused.
We honor their sacrifice and, beneath our smiles, mourn them deeply.

Our bravery most obviously shows in the smile that is the "Krin" part of our 
name. This does not mean that we walk about grinning like the idiotic 
baboonish Imga of Valenwood. We simply are entertained by adversary. We find 
an equal, fair fight tiresome in the extreme. We confidently smile because we 
know our victory in the end is assured. And we know our smiles drive our 
enemies insane.

2. "Vaba Maaszi Lhajiito": "It Is Necessary To Run Away"

We are struggling against impossible odds, against the very Empire of Tamriel.
Honor is madness. Yes, we loved the Renrijra Krin who died in brave battle 
against the forces of the Empire, but I guarantee you that each of those 
Ri'sallidad had an escape route he or she failed to use, and died saying, 
"Damn."

When the great Senche-Raht comes to the Saimisil Steppes, he will find himself
unable to hunt, unable to sleep, as the tiny Alfiq leap onto his back, biting
him, and running off before he has a chance to turn his great body to face 
them. Eventually, though he may stubbornly hope to catch the Alfiq, the 
Senche-Raht always leaves. They are our cousins, the Alfiq, and we have 
adopted their strategy against the great tiger of Leyawiin.

Do not ally yourself with the Renrij if you yearn to be part of a mighty army,
marching resolutely forth, for whom retreat is anathema. We will laugh at your
suicidal idiocy as we slip into the reeds of the river, and watch the 
inevitable slaughter.

3. "Fusozay Var Var": "Enjoy Life"

Life is short. If you have not made love recently, please, put down this book,
and take care of that with all haste. Find a wanton lass or a frisky lad, or 
several, in whatever combination your wise loins direct, and do not under any 
circumstances play hard to get. Our struggle against the colossal forces of 
oppression can wait.

Good. Welcome back.

We Renrijra Krin live and fight together, and know that Leyawiin and the 
Empire will not give way very soon, likely not in our lifetimes. In the time 
we have, we do not want our closest comrades to be dour, dull, colorless, 
sober, and virginal. If we did, we would have joined the Emperor's Blades.

Do not begrudge us our lewd jokes, our bawdy, drunken nights, our moonsugar. 
They are the pleasures that Leyawiin denies us, and so we take our good humor
very seriously.

4. "Fusozay Var Dar": "Kill Without Qualm"

Life is short. Very short, as many have learned when they have crossed the 
Renrijra Krin.

We fight dirty. If an enemy is facing us, we might consider our options, and 
even slip away if his sword looks too big. If his back is to us, however, I 
personally favor knocking him down, and then jumping on his neck where the 
bones snap with a gratifying crunch. Of course, it is up to you and your 
personal style.

5. "Ahzirr Durrarriss": "We Give Freely To The People"

Let us not forget our purpose. We are fighting for our families, the Khajiiti 
driven from the rich, fertile shores of Lake Makapi and the River Malapi, 
where they and their ancestors lived since time immemorial. It is our battle,
but their tragedy. We must show them, lest they are swayed by other rhetoric, 
that we are fighting for them.

The Mane, The Emperor, and The Count can give speeches, pass laws, and, living
life in the open, explain their positions and philosophies to their people to 
stave off the inevitable revolution. Extralegal entities, such as the Renrijra
Krin, must make our actions count for our words. This means more than fighting
the good fight, and having a laugh at our befuddled adversaries. It means 
engaging and seducing the people. Ours is not a military war, it is a 
political war. If the people rise up against our oppressors, they will 
retreat, and we will win.

Give to these people, whenever possible, gold, moonsugar, and our strong arms,
and though they hide, their hearts will be with us.

6. "Ahzirr Traajijazeri": "We Justly Take By Force"

Let us not forget our purpose. We are thieves and thugs, smugglers and 
saboteurs. If we cannot take a farm, we burn it to the ground. If the 
Imperials garrisoned in a glorious ancient stronghold, beloved by our 
ancestors, will not yield, we tear the structure apart. If the only way to 
rescue the land from the Leyawiin misappropriation is to make it uninhabitable
by all, so be it.

We want our life and our home back as it was twenty years ago, but if that is
not realistic, then we will accept a different simple, pragmatic goal. 
Revenge. With a smile.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ54)
                   ~~Immortal Blood~~
       
                        Anonymous 
                
   
     Item ID: 000243FC
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

The moons and stars were hidden from sight, making that particular quiet night
especially dark. The town guard had to carry torches to make their rounds; but
the man who came to call at my chapel carried no light with him. I came to 
learn that Movarth Piquine could see in the dark almost as well as the light —
an excellent talent, considering his interests were exclusively nocturnal.

One of my acolytes brought him to me, and from the look of him, I at first 
thought he was in need of healing. He was pale to the point of opalescence 
with a face that looked like it had once been very handsome before some 
unspeakable suffering. The dark circles under his eyes bespoke exhaustion, but
the eyes themselves were alert, intense, almost insane.

He quickly dismissed my notion that he himself was ill, though he did want to 
discuss a specific disease.

"Vampirism," he said, and then paused at my quizzical look. "I was told that 
you were someone I should seek out for help understanding it."

"Who told you that?" I asked with a smile.

"Tissina Gray."

I immediately remembered her. A brave, beautiful knight who had needed my 
assistance separating fact from fiction on the subject of the vampire. It had 
been two years, and I had never heard whether my advice had proved effective.

"You've spoken to her? How is her ladyship?" I asked.

"Dead," Movarth replied coldly, and then, responding to my shock, he added to 
perhaps soften the blow. "She said your advice was invaluable, at least for 
the one vampire. When last I talked to her, she was tracking another. It 
killed her."

"Then the advice I gave her was not enough," I sighed. "Why do you think it 
would be enough for you?"

"I was a teacher once myself, years ago," he said. "Not in a university. A 
trainer in the Fighters Guild. But I know that if a student doesn't ask the 
right questions, the teacher cannot be responsible for his failure. I intend 
to ask you the right questions."

And that he did. For hours, he asked questions and I answered what I could, 
but he never volunteered any information about himself. He never smiled. He 
only studied me with those intense eyes of his, commiting every word I said to
memory.

Finally, I turned the questioning around. "You said you were a trainer at the 
Fighters Guild. Are you on an assignment for them?"

"No," he said curtly, and finally I could detect some weariness in those 
feverish eyes of his. "I would like to continue this tomorrow night, if I 
could. I need to get some sleep and absorb this."

"You sleep during the day," I smiled.

To my surprise, he returned the smile, though it was more of a grimace. "When 
tracking your prey, you adapt their habits."

The next day, he did return with more questions, these ones very specific. He 
wanted to know about the vampires of eastern Skyrim. I told him about the most
powerful tribe, the Volkihar, paranoid and cruel, whose very breath could 
freeze their victims' blood in the veins. I explained to him how they lived 
beneath the ice of remote and haunted lakes, never venturing into the world of
men except to feed.

Movarth Piquine listened carefully, and asked more questions into the night, 
until at last he was ready to leave.

"I will not see you for a few days," he said. "But I will return, and tell you
how helpful your information has been."

True to his word, the man returned to my chapel shortly after midnight four 
days later. There was a fresh scar on his cheek, but he was smiling that grim 
but satisfied smile of his.

"Your advice helped me very much," he said. "But you should know that the 
Volkihar have an additional ability you didn't mention. They can reach through
the ice of their lakes without breaking it. It was quite a nasty surprise, 
being grabbed from below without any warning."

"How remarkable," I said with a laugh. "And terrifying. You're lucky you 
survived."

"I don't believe in luck. I believe in knowledge and training. Your 
information helped me, and my skill at melee combat sealed the bloodsucker's 
fate. I've never believed in weaponry of any kind. Too many unknowns. Even the
best swordsmith has created a flawed blade, but you know what your body is 
capable of. I know I can land a thousand blows without losing my balance, 
provided I get the first strike."

"The first strike?" I murmured. "So you must never be surprised."

"That is why I came to you," said Movarth. "You know more than anyone alive 
about these monsters, in all their cursed varieties across the land. Now you 
must tell me about the vampires of northern Valenwood."

I did as he asked, and once again, his questions taxed my knowledge. There 
were many tribes to cover. The Bonsamu who were indistinguishable from Bosmer 
except when seen by candlelight. The Keerilth who could disintegrate into 
mist. The Yekef who swallowed men whole. The dread Telboth who preyed on 
children, eventually taking their place in the family, waiting patiently for 
years before murdering them all in their unnatural hunger.

Once again, he bade me farewell, promising to return in a few weeks, and once 
again, he returned as he said, just after midnight. This time, Movarth had no 
fresh scars, but he again had new information.

"You were wrong about the Keerilth being unable to vaporize when pushed 
underwater," he said, patting my shoulder fondly. "Fortunately, they cannot 
travel far in their mist form, and I was able to track it down."

"It must have surprised it fearfully. Your field knowledge is becoming 
impressive," I said. "I should have had an acolyte like you decades ago."

"Now, tell me," he said. "Of the vampires of Cyrodiil."

I told him what I could. There was but one tribe in Cyrodiil, a powerful clan 
who had ousted all other competitors, much like the Imperials themselves had 
done. Their true name was unknown, lost in history, but they were experts at 
concealment. If they kept themselves well-fed, they were indistinguishable 
from living persons. They were cultured, more civilized than the vampires of 
the provinces, preferring to feed on victims while they were asleep, unaware.

"They will be difficult to surprise," Movarth frowned. "But I will seek one 
out, and tell you what I learn. And then you will tell me of the vampires of 
High Rock, and Hammerfell, and Elsweyr, and Black Marsh, and Morrowind, and 
the Sumurset Isles, yes?"

I nodded, knowing then that this was a man on an eternal quest. He wouldn't be
satisfied with but the barest hint of how things were. He needed to know it 
all.

He did not return for a month, and on the night that he did, I could see his 
frustration and despair, though there were no lights burning in my chapel.

"I failed," he said, as I lit a candle. "You were right. I could not find a 
single one."

I brought the light up to my face and smiled. He was surprised, even stunned 
by the pallor of my flesh, the dark hunger in my ageless eyes, and the teeth. 
Oh, yes, I think the teeth definitely surprised the man who could not afford 
to be surprised.

"I haven't fed in seventy-two hours," I explained, as I fell on him. He did 
not land the first blow or the last. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ55)
                ~~Master Zoaraym's Tale~~
       
                        Tavi Dromio
                
   
     Item ID: 00024400
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

“I think the greatest warrior who ever lived had to be Vilus Nommenus,” 
offered Xiomara. “Name one other warrior who conquered more territory.”

“Tiber Septim obviously,” said Hallgerd.

“He wasn't a warrior, he was an administrator, a politician,” said Garaz. “And
besides, acreage conquered can't be final means of determining the best 
warrior. How about skill with a blade?”

“There are other weapons than blades,” objected Xiomara. “Why not skill with 
an axe or a bow? Who was the greatest master of all weaponry?”

“I can't think of one greatest master of all weaponry,” said Hallgerd. 
“Balaxes of Agia Nero in Black Marsh was the greatest wielder of a lance. 
Ernse Llervu of the Ashlands is the greatest master of the club I've ever 
seen. The greatest master of the katana is probably an Akaviri warlord we've 
never heard of. As far as archery goes --”

“Pelinal Whitestrake supposedly conquered all of Tamriel by himself,” 
interrupted Xiomara.

“That was before the First Era,” said Garaz. “It's probably mostly myth. But 
there are all sorts of great warriors of the modern eras. The Camoran Usurper?
The unknown hero who brought together the Staff of Chaos and defeated Jagar 
Tharn?”

“We can't declare an unknown champion as the greatest warrior. What about 
Nandor Beraid, the Empress Katariah's champion?” suggested Xiomara. “They said
he could use any weapon ever invented.”

“But what happened to him?” smiled Garaz. “He was drowned in the Sea of Ghosts
because he couldn't get his armor off. Call me overly particular, but I think 
the greatest warrior in the world should know how to take armor off.”

“It's kinda hard to judge ability to wear armor as a skill,” said Xiomara. 
“Either you have basic functionality in a suit of armor or you don't.”

“That's not true,” said Hallgerd. “There are masters in that as well, people 
who can do things while wearing armor better than we can out of armor. Have 
you ever heard of Hlaalu Pasoroth, the King's great grandfather?”

Xiomara and Garaz admitted that they had not.

“This was hundreds and hundreds of years ago, and Pasoroth was the ruler of a
great estate which he had won by right of being the greatest warrior in the 
land. It's been said, and truly, that much of the House's current power is 
based on Pasoroth's earnings as a warrior. Every week he held games at his 
castle, pitting his skill against the champions of the neighboring estates, 
and every week, he won something. His great skill wasn't in the use of 
weaponry, though he was decent enough with an axe and a long sword, but in his
ability to move quickly and with great agility wearing a full suit of heavy 
mail. There were some who said that he moved faster while wearing armor than 
he did out of it.

“Some months before this story begins, he had won the daughter of one of his 
neighbors, a beautiful creature named Mena who he had made his wife. He loved
her very much, but he was intensely jealous, and with good reason. She wasn't
very pleased with his husbandly skills, and the only reason Mena never strayed
was because Pasoroth kept a close eye on her. She was, to put it kindly, 
naturally amorous and resentful of her position as a prize. Wherever he went, 
he always brought her with him. At the games, she was placed in a special box 
so that he could see her even while he competed.

“But his real competition, though he didn't know it, was from a handsome young
armorer he also had won at one of his competitions. Mena had noticed him, and 
the armorer, whose name was Taren, had certainly noticed her.”

“This has all the makings of a dirty joke, Hallgerd,” said Xiomara, with a 
smile.

“I swear that it's entirely true,” said Hallgerd. “The problem facing the 
lovers was, of course, that they could never be alone. Perhaps because of 
this, it became a burning obsession to both of them. Taren decided that the 
best time for them to consummate their love was during the games. Mena feigned
illness, so she didn't have to stay in the box, but Pasoroth visited the 
sickroom every few minutes between fights, so Taren and Mena could never get 
together. The sound of Pasoroth's armor clunking up the stairs to visit his 
sick wife gave Taren the idea.

“He crafted his lord a new suit of armor, strong, and bright, and beautifully 
decorated. For his purposes, Taren rubbed the leg joints with luca dust so the
more he sweated and the more he moved them, the more they'd stick together. 
After a little while, Taren figured, Pasoroth wouldn't be able to walk very 
quickly, and wouldn't have enough time in between fights to visit his wife. 
But just in case, Taren also added bells to the legs which rung loudly when 
they moved, so the couple would be able to hear him coming in plenty of time.

“When the games commenced the following week, Mena feigned illness again and 
Taren presented his lord with the new armor. Pasoroth was delighted with it, 
as Taren hoped he would be, and donned it for his first fight. Taren then 
stole upstairs to Mena's bedchamber.

“All was silent outside as the two began to make love. Suddenly, Mena noticed 
a peculiar expression on Taren's face and before she had a chance to ask him 
about it, his head fell off at the neck. Pasoroth was standing behind him with
his axe in hand.”

“How did he get upstairs so quickly, with his leg joints gummed up? And didn't
they hear the bells ringing?” asked Garaz.

“Well, you see, when Pasoroth realized he couldn't walk on his legs very 
quickly, he walked on his hands.”

“I don't believe it,” laughed Xiomara.

“What happened next?” asked Garaz. “Did Pasoroth kill Mena also?”

“No one knows exactly what happened next,” said Hallgerd. “Pasoroth didn't 
return for the next game, nor for the next. Finally, at the fourth game, he 
returned to fight, and Mena appeared in the box to watch. She didn't appear to
be sick anymore. In fact, she was smiling and had a light flush to her face.”

“They did it?” cried Xiomara.

“I don't have all the salacious details, except that after the battle, it took
ten squires thirteen hours to get Pasoroth's armor off because of all the luca
dust mixed with sweat.”

“I don't understand, you mean, he didn't take his armor off when they -- but
how?”

“Like I said,” replied Hallgerd. “This is a story about someone who was more 
agile and accomplished in his armor than out of it.”

“Now, that's skill,” said Garaz. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ56)
                ~~Way of the Exposed Palm~~
                
   
     Item ID: 00073A6A
     


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Untrained pugiliists are known to make a club of the hand and beat on their 
opponents like a drum. It is a truly uncouth way to victory. The way of the 
exposed palm is far more sophisticated and far more deadly.


Consider this question. A man is struck in the chest by the flat of a plate. 
There is a small bruise but he is otherwise unharmed. Now break the plate and
strike him in the chest with a shard using the same force. Now the man is dead
or grievously wounded. How can this be? How can a small object harm more than 
a larger?

This essential point is the first finger of the way of the exposed palm. The 
five part way is concentration, reaction, equiplibrium, speed, breath control.
To master unarmed combat all five digits must be mastered.

The parable of the man and the plate is concentration. All of the blow is 
concentrateded into a small point. Therefore it is more potent. To strike with
just the thumb can be more deadly that to strike with the whole fist. However,
only the highly trained fighter can do this.

The second aspect of concentration is the mental discipline to think hard 
about what is being done. Distractions are ignored as the will maintains the 
ultimate goal. The truly deadly fighter can even block out his own pain in 
this manner.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ57)
                  ~~The Wolf Queen, V2~~

                      Waughin Jarth
                
   
     Item ID: 000243FD
     
 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

From the pen of the first century third era sage Montocai:

3E 82:
A year after the wedding of his 14-year-old granddaughter the Princess Potema 
to King Mantiarco of the Nordic kingdom of Solitude, the Emperor Uriel Septim 
II passed on. His son Pelagius Septim II was made emperor, and he faced a 
greatly depleted treasury, thanks to his father's poor management.

As the new Queen of Solitude, Potema faced opposition from the old Nordic 
houses, who viewed her as an outsider. Mantiarco had been widowed, and his 
former queen was loved. She had left him a son, Prince Bathorgh, who was two 
years older than his stepmother, and loved her not. But the king loved his 
queen, and suffered with her through miscarriage after miscarriage, until her
29th year, when she bore him a son.


3E 97:
"You must do something to help the pain!" Potema cried, baring her teeth. The 
healer Kelmeth immediately thought of a she-wolf in labor, but he put the 
image from his mind. Her enemies called her the Wolf Queen for certes, but not
because of any physical resemblance.

"Your Majesty, there is no injury for me to heal. The pain you feel is natural
and helpful for the birth," he was going to add more words of consolation, but
he had to break off to duck the mirror she flung at him.

"I'm not a pignosed peasant girl!" She snarled, "I am the Queen of Solitude, 
daughter of the Emperor! Summon the daedra! I'll trade the soul of every last 
subject of mine for a little comfort!"

"My Lady," said the healer nervously, drawing the curtains and blotting out 
the cold morning sun. "It is not wise to make such offers even in jest. The 
eyes of Oblivion are forever watching for just such a rash interjection."

"What would you know of Oblivion, healer?" she growled, but her voice was 
calmer, quieter. The pain had relaxed. "Would you fetch me that mirror I 
hurled at you?"

"Are you going to throw it again, your Majesty?" said the healer with a taut 
smile, obeying her.

"Very likely," she said, looking at her reflection. "And next time I won't 
miss. But I do look a fright. Is Lord Vhokken still waiting for me in the 
hall?"

"Yes, your Majesty."

"Well, tell him I just need to fix my hair and I'll be with him. And leave us.
I'll howl for you when the pain returns."

"Yes, your Majesty."

A few minutes later, Lord Vhokken was shown into the chamber. He was an 
enormous bald man whose friends and enemies called Mount Vhokken, and when he
spoke it was with the low grumble of thunder. The Queen was one of the very 
few people Vhokken knew who was not the least bit intimidated by him, and he 
offered her a smile.

"My queen, how are you feeling?" he asked.

"Damned. But you're looking like Springtide has come to Mount Vhokken. I take
it from your merry disposition that you've been made warchief."

"Only temporarily, while your husband the King investigates whether there is 
evidence behind the rumors of treason on the part of my predecessor Lord 
Thone."

"If you've planted it as I've instructed, he'll find it," Potema smiled, 
propping herself up in the bed. "Tell me, is Prince Bathorgh still in the 
city?"

"What a question, your highness," laughed the mountain. "It's the Tournament 
of Stamina today, you know the prince would never miss that. The fellow 
invents new strategies of self-defense every year to show off during the 
games. Don't you recall last year, where he entered the ring unarmored and 
after twenty minutes of fending off six bladesmen, left the games without a 
scratch? He dedicated that bout to his late mother, Queen Amodetha."

"Yes, I recall."

"He's no friend to me or you, your highness, but you must give the man his due
respect. He moves like lightning. You wouldn't think it of him, but he always 
seems to use his awkwardness to his advantage, to throw his opponents off. 
Some say he learned the style from the orcs to the south. They say he learned 
from them how to anticipate a foe's attack by some sort of supernatural 
power."

"There's nothing supernatural about it," said the Queen, quietly. "He gets it
from his father."

"Mantiarco never moved like that," Vhokken chuckled.

"I never said he did," said Potema. Her eyes closed and her teeth gritted 
together. "The pain's returning. You must fetch the healer, but first, I must
ask you one other thing -- has the new summer palace construction begun?"

"I think so, your Highness."

"Do not think!" she cried, gripping the sheets, biting her lips so a stream of
blood dripped down her chin. "Do! Make certain that the construction begins at
once, today! Your future, my future, and the future of this child depend on 
it! Go!"

Four hours later, King Mantiarco entered the room to see his son. His queen 
smiled weakly as he gave her a kiss on the forehead. When she handed him the 
child, a tear ran down his face. Another one quickly followed, and then 
another.

"My Lord," she said fondly. "I know you're sentimental, but really!"

"It's not only the child, though he is beautiful, with all the fair features 
of his mother," Mantiarco turned to his wife, sadly, his aged features twisted
in agony. "My dear wife, there is trouble at the palace. In truth, this birth 
is the only thing that keeps this day from being the darkest in my reign."

"What is it? Something at the tournament?" Potema pulled herself up in bed. 
"Something with Bathorgh?"

"No, it's isn't the tournament, but it does relate to Bathorgh. I shouldn't 
worry you at a time like this. You need your rest."

"My husband, tell me!"

"I wanted to surprise you with a gift after the birth of our child, so I had 
the old summer palace completely renovated. It's a beautiful place, or at 
least it was. I thought you might like it. Truth to tell, it was Lord Vhokken
idea. It used to be Amodetha's favorite place." Bitterness crept into the 
king's voice. "Now I've learned why."

"What have you learned?" asked Potema quietly.

"Amodetha deceived me there, with my trusted warchief, Lord Thone. There were
letters between them, the most perverse things you've ever read. And that's 
not the worst of it."

"No?"

"The dates on the letters correspond with the time of Bathorgh's birth. The 
boy I raised and loved as a son," Mantiarco's voice choked up with emotion. 
"He was Thone's child, not mine."

"My darling," said Potema, almost feeling sorry for the old man. She wrapped 
her arms around his neck, as he heaved his sobs down on her and their child.

"Henceforth," he said quietly. "Bathorgh is no longer my heir. He will be 
banished from the kingdom. This child you have borne me today will grow to 
rule Solitude."

"And perhaps more," said Potema. "He is the Emperor's grandson as well."

"We will name him Mantiarco the Second."

"My darling, I would love that," said Potema, kissing the king's tear-streaked
face. "But may I suggest Uriel, after my grandfather the Emperor, who brought 
us together in marriage?"

King Mantiarco smiled at his wife and nodded his head. There was a knock at 
the door.

"My liege," said Mount Vhokken. "His highness Prince Bathorgh has finished the
tournament and awaits you to present his award. He has successfully withstood 
attacks by nine archers and the giant scorpion we brought in from Hammerfell. 
The crowd is roaring his name. They are calling him The Man Who Cannot Be 
Hit."

"I will see him," said King Mantiarco sadly, and left the chamber.

"Oh he can be hit, all right," said Potema wearily. "But it does take some 
doing."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                 ~~HEAVY ARMOR BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ58)
                  ~~2920, MidYear (v6)~~

                      Carlovac Townway
                
   
     Item ID: 00024402
     


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    2 Mid Year, 2920 
    Balmora, Morrowind 

“The Imperial army is gathered to the south,” said Cassyr. “They are a two 
weeks march from Ald Iuval and Lake Coronati, heavily armored.”

Vivec nodded. Ald Iuval and its sister city on the other side of the lake Ald 
Malak were strategically important fortresses. He had been expecting a move 
against them for some time. His captain pulled down a map of southwestern 
Morrowind from the wall and smoothed it out, fighting a gentle summer sea 
breeze wafting in from the open window.

“They were heavily armored, you say?” asked the captain.

“Yes, sir,” said Cassyr. “They were camped out near Bethal Gray in the 
Heartland, and I saw nothing but Ebony, Dwarven, and Daedric armor, fine 
weaponry, and siege equipment.”

“How about spellcasters and boats?” asked Vivec.

“A horde of battlemages,” replied Cassyr. “But no boats.”

“As heavily armored as they are, it will take them at least two weeks, like 
you said, to get from Bethal Gray to Lake Coronati,” Vivec studied the map 
carefully. “They'd be dragged down in the bogs if they then tried to circle 
around to Ald Marak from the north, so they must be planning to cross the 
straits here and take Ald Iuval. Then they'd proceed around the lake to the 
east and take Ald Marak from the south.”

“They'll be vulnerable along the straits,” said the captain. “Provided we 
strike when they are more than halfway across and can't retreat back to the
Heartland.”

“Your intelligence has once again served us well,” said Vivec, smiling to 
Cassyr. “We will beat back the Imperial aggressors yet again.”


    3 Mid Year, 2920 
    Bethal Gray, Cyrodiil 

“Will you be returning back this way after your victory?” asked Lord Bethal.

Prince Juilek barely paid the man any attention. He was focused on the army 
packing its camp. It was a cool morning in the forest, but there were no 
clouds. All the makings of a hot afternoon march, particularly in such heavy 
armor.

“If we return shortly, it will be because of defeat,” said the Prince. He 
could see down in the meadow, the Potentate Versidue-Shaie paying his 
lordship's steward for the use of the village's food, wine, and whores. An 
army was an expensive thing, for certes.

“My Prince,” said Lord Bethal with concern. “Is your army beginning a march 
due east? That will just lead you to the shores of Lake Coronati. You'll want 
to go south-east to get to the straits.”

“You just make certain your merchants get their share of our gold,” said the 
Prince with a grin. “Let me worry about my army's direction.”


    16 Mid Year, 2920 
    Lake Coronati, Morrowind 

Vivec stared across the blue expanse of the lake, seeing his reflection and 
the reflection of his army in the cool blue waters. What he did not see was 
the Imperial Army's reflection. They must have reached the straits by now, 
barring any mishaps in the forest. Tall feather-thin lake trees blocked much 
of his view of the straits, but an army, particularly one clan in slow-moving 
heavy armor could not move invisibly, silently.

“Let me see the map again,” he called to his captain. “Is there no other way 
they could approach?”

“We have sentries posted in the swamps to the north in case they're fool 
enough to go there and be bogged under,” said the captain. “We would at least
hear about it. But there is no other way across the lake except through the 
straits.”

Vivec looked down again at his reflection, which seemed to be distorting his 
image, mocking him. Then he looked back on the map.

“Spy,” said Vivec, calling Cassyr over. “When you said the army had a horde of
battlemages, what made you so certain they were battlemages?”

“They were wearing gray robes with mystical insignia on them,” explained 
Cassyr. “I figured they were mages, and why else would such a vast number 
travel with the army? They couldn't have all been healers.”

“You fool!” roared Vivec. “They're mystics schooled in the art of Alteration.
They've cast a spell of water breathing on the entire army.”

Vivec ran to a new vantage point where he could see the north. Across the 
lake, though it was but a small shadow on the horizon, they could see gouts of
flame from the assault on Ald Marak. Vivec bellowed with fury and his captain 
got to work at once redirecting the army to circle the lake and defend the 
castle.

“Return to Dwynnen,” said Vivec flatly to Cassyr before he rode off to join 
the battle. “Your services are no longer needed nor wanted.”

It was already too late when the Morrowind army neared Ald Marak. It had been 
taken by the Imperial Army.


    19 Mid Year, 2920 
    The Imperial City, Cyrodiil 

The Potentate arrived in the Imperial City amid great fanfare, the streets 
lined with men and women cheering him as the symbol of the taking of Ald 
Marak. Truth be told, a greater number would have turned out had the Prince 
returned, and the Versidue-Shaie knew it. Still, it pleased him to no end. 
Never before had citizens of Tamriel cheered the arrival of an Akaviri into 
their land.

The Emperor Reman III greeted him with a warm embrace, and then tore into the 
letter he had brought from the Prince.

“I don't understand,” he said at last, still joyous but equally confused. “You
went under the lake?”

“Ald Marak is a very well-fortified fortress,” explained the Potentate. “As, I
might add, the army of Morrowind has rediscovered, now that they are on the 
outside. To take it, we had to attack by surprise and with our soldiery in the
sturdiest of armor. By casting the spell that allowed us to breathe 
underwater, we were able to travel faster than Vivec would have guessed, the 
weight of the armor made less by the aquatic surroundings, and attack from the
waterbound west side of the fortress where their defenses were at their 
weakest.”

“Brilliant!” the Emperor crowed. “You are a wonderous tactician, Versidue-
Shaie! If your fathers had been as good at this as you are, Tamriel would be 
Akaviri domain!”

The Potentate had not planned to take credit for Prince Juilek's design, but
on the Emperor's reference to his people's fiasco of an invasion two hundred
and sixteen years ago, he made up his mind. He smiled modestly and soaked up 
the praise.


    21 Mid Year, 2920 
    Ald Marak, Morrowind 

Savirien-Chorak slithered to the wall and watched through the arrow slit the 
Morrowind army retreating back to the forestland between the swamps and the 
castle grounds. It seemed like the idea opportunity to strike. Perhaps the 
forests could be burned and the army within them. Perhaps with Vivec in their
enemies' hands, the army would allow them possession of Ald Iuval as well. He
suggested these ideas to the Prince.

“What you seem to be forgetting,” laughed Prince Juilek. “Is that I gave my 
word that no harm to the army or to their commanders during the truce 
negotiations. Do you not have honor during warfare on Akavir?”

“My Prince, I was born here in Tamriel, I have never been to my people's 
home,” replied the snake man. “But even so, your ways are strange to me. You 
expected no quarter and I gave you none when we fought in the Imperial Arena 
five months ago.”

“That was a game,” replied the Prince, before nodding to his steward to let 
the Dunmer battle chief in.

Juilek had never seen Vivec before, but he had heard he was a living god. What
came before him was but a man. A powerfully built man, handsome, with an 
intelligent face, but a man nonetheless. The Prince was pleased: a man he 
could speak with, but not a god.

“Greetings, my worthy adversary,” said Vivec. “We seem to be at an impasse.”

“Not necessarily,” said the Prince. “You don't want to give us Morrowind, and 
I can't fault you for that. But I must have your coastline to protect the 
Empire from overseas aggressions, and certain key strategic border castles, 
such as this one, as well as Ald Umbeil, Tel Aruhn, Ald Lambasi, and Tel 
Mothrivra.”

“And in return?” asked Vivec.

“In return?” laughed Savirien-Chorak. “You forget we are the victors here, not
you.”

“In return,” said Prince Juilek carefully. “There will be no Imperial attacks 
on Morrowind, unless in return to an attack by you. You will be protected from
invaders by the Imperial navy. And your land may expand by taking certain 
estates in Black Marsh, whichever you choose, provided they are not needed by 
the Empire.”

“A reasonable offer,” said Vivec after a pause. “You must forgive me, I am 
unused to Cyrodiils who offer something in return for what they take. May I 
have a few days to decide?”

“We will meet again in a week's time,” said the Prince, smiling. “In the 
meantime, if your army provokes no attacks on mine, we are at peace.”

Vivec left the Prince's chamber, feeling that Almalexia was right. The war was
at an end. This Prince would make an excellent Emperor.

The Year is Continued in Sun's Height. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ59)
                   ~~Chimarvamidium~~

                      Marobar Sul
                
   
     Item ID: 00024403
     

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After many battles, it was clear who would win the War. The Chimer had great 
skills in magick and bladery, but against the armored battalions of the 
Dwemer, clad in the finest shielding wrought by Jnaggo, there was little hope
of their ever winning. In the interests of keeping some measure of peace in 
the Land, Sthovin the Warlord agreed to a truce with Karenithil Barif the 
Beast. In exchange for the Disputed Lands, Sthovin gave Barif a mighty golem,
which would protect the Chimer's territory from the excursions of the Northern
Barbarians.

Barif was delighted with his gift and brought it back to his camp, where all 
his warriors gaped in awe at it. Sparkling gold in hue, it resembled a Dwemer 
cavalier with a proud aspect. To test its strength, they placed the golem in 
the center of an arena and flung magickal bolts of lightning at it. Its 
agility was such that few of the bolts struck it. It had the wherewithal to 
pivot on its hips to avoid the brunt of the attacks without losing its 
balance, feet firmly planted on the ground. A vault of fireballs followed, 
which the golem ably dodged, bending its knees and its legs to spin around the
blasts. The few times it was struck, it made certain to be hit in the chest 
and waist, the strongest parts of its body.

The troops cheered at the sight of such an agile and powerful creation. With 
it leading the defense, the Barbarians of Skyrim would never again 
successfully raid their villages. They named it Chimarvamidium, the Hope of 
the Chimer.

Barif has the golem brought to his chambers with all his housethanes. There 
they tested Chimarvamidium further, its strength, its speed, its resiliency. 
They could find no flaw with its design.

“Imagine when the naked barbarians first meet this on one of their raids,” 
laughed one of the housethanes.

“It is only unfortunate that it resembles a Dwemer instead of one of our own,”
mused Karenithil Barif. “It is revolting to think that they will have a 
greater respect for our other enemies than us.”

“I think we should never accepted the peace terms that we did,” said another, 
one of the most aggressive of the housethanes. “Is it too late to surprise the
warlord Sthovin with an attack?”

“It is never too late to attack,” said Barif. “But what of his great armored 
warriors?”

“I understand,” said Barif's spymaster. “That his soldiers always wake at 
dawn. If we strike an hour before, we can catch them defenseless, before 
they've had a chance to bathe, let alone don their armor.”

“If we capture their armorer Jnaggo, then we too would know the secrets of 
blacksmithery,” said Barif. “Let it be done. We attack tomorrow, an hour 
before dawn.”

So it was settled. The Chimer army marched at night, and swarmed into the 
Dwemer camp. They were relying on Chimarvamidium to lead the first wave, but 
it malfunctioned and began attacking the Chimer's own troops. Added to that, 
the Dwemer were fully armored, well-rested, and eager for battle. The surprise
was turned, and most of the high-ranking Chimer, including Karenithil Barif 
the Beast, were captured.

Though they were too proud to ask, Sthovin explained to them that he had been 
warned of their attack by a Calling by one of his men.

“What man of yours is in our camp?” sneered Barif.

Chimarvamidium, standing erect by the side of the captured, removed its head.
Within its metal body was Jnaggo, the armorer.

“A Dwemer child of eight can create a golem,” he explained. “But only a truly
great warrior and armorer can pretend to be one.”

Publisher's Note:

    This is one of the few tales in this collection, which can actually be 
traced to the Dwemer. The wording of the story is quite different from older 
versions in Aldmeris, but the essence is the same. "Chimarvamidium" may be the
Dwemer "Nchmarthurnidamz." This word occurs several times in plans of Dwemer 
armor and Animunculi, but it's meaning is not known. It is almost certainly 
not "Hope of the Chimer," however. 

    The Dwemer were probably the first to use heavy armors. It is important to
note how a man dressed in armor could fool many of the Chimer in this story. 
Also note how the Chimer warriors react. When this story was first told, armor
that covered the whole body must have still been uncommon and new, whereas 
even then, Dwemer creations like golems and centurions were well known. 

    In a rare scholarly moment, Marobar Sul leaves a few pieces of the 
original story intact, such as parts of the original line in Aldmeris, "A 
Dwemer of eight can create a golem, but an eight of Dwemer can become one." 

    Another aspect of this legend that scholars like myself find interesting 
is the mention of “the Calling.” In this legend and in others, there is a 
suggestion that the Dwemer race as a whole had some sort of silent and 
magickal communication. There are records of the Psijic Order which suggest 
they, too, share this secret. Whatever the case, there are no documented 
spells of "calling." The Cyrodiil historian Borgusilus Malier first proposed 
this as a solution to the disappearance of the Dwemer. He theorized that in 1E
668, the Dwemer enclaves were called together by one of their powerful 
philosopher-sorcerers ("Kagrnak" in some documents) to embark on a great 
journey, one of such sublime profundity that they abandoned all their cities 
and lands to join the quest to foreign climes as an entire culture. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ60)
          ~~Fighters Guild History, 1st Edition~~

                      Unknown Author
   
     Item ID: 000A915C (1st edition) Item ID: 00024405 (Normal)


     Note: Fighters Guild, 1st Edition and The History of the Fighters
     Guild are the same book, the only differences are the 1st Edition
     version is rarer and worth more.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the 283rd year of the 2nd Era, Potentate Versidue-Shaie was faced with a 
disintegrating empire. The vassal kingdoms throughout Tamriel had reached a 
new height of rebellion, openly challenging his rule. They refused his taxes 
and led sorties against the Imperial garrisons throughout the land. At the 
destruction of his fortress in Dawnstar, he gathered the Imperial Council in 
what would be called the Council of Bardmont, after the town south of Dawnstar
where they met. There the Potentate declared catholic and universal martial 
law. The princes of Tamriel would dissolve their armies or face his wrath.

The next thirty-seven years were perhaps the bloodiest in the violent history 
of Tamriel.

In order to crush the last of the royal armies, Versidae-Shaie had to 
sacrifice many of his best legions, as well as spend nearly every last piece 
of gold in the Imperial treasury. But he accomplished the unthinkable. For the
first time in history, there was but one army in the land, and it was his own.

The problems that immediately surfaced were almost as staggering as the 
triumph itself. The Potentate had impoverished the land by his war, for the 
vanquished kingdoms had also spent the last of their gold in defense. Farmers 
and merchants alike had their livelihood ruined. Before the princes of Tamriel
would not pay his taxes — now, they could not.

The only persons who benefited from the war were criminals, who preyed upon 
the ruins of the lawless land, without fear of arrest now that all the local 
guards and militia were gone. It was a crisis the Akavir had seen coming long
before he destroyed the last of his subjects' armies, but for which he had no 
solution. He could not allow his vassals their own armies again, but the land 
was deeper into the stew of anarchy that it had ever been before. His army 
sought to fight the rise of crime, but a central authority was no threat 
against the local underworld.

In the dawn of the year 320, a kinsman of Versidae-Shaie, Dinieras-Ves "the 
Iron", presented himself with a host of companions before the Potentate. It 
was he who suggested an order of mercantile warriors-for-hire, who could be 
hired by nobility in lieu of a standing army. The employment would be 
temporary, and a percentage of the fee would go to the Potentate's government,
thus putting salve on two of Versidae-Shaie's greatest pains.

Though it was then called The Syffim, after the Tsaesci word for 'soldiers,' 
the organization that was to be known as the Fighters Guild had been born.

Dinieras-Ves "the Iron" initially believed that the entirety of the order 
should be composed of Akaviri. This belief of his is not disputed by any 
historian, though his motivation is often debated. The traditional, simple 
explanation is that he knew his countrymen well, trusted them, and felt that 
their tradition of fighting for profit would be of use. Others believe, with 
reason, that he and the Potentate sought to use the order to effectively 
complete the conquest of Tamriel begun over five hundred years earlier. When 
Akavir attacked Tamriel in the 2703rd year of the 1st era, they had been 
beaten back by the Reman Dynasty. Now they had a Potentate on the throne, and 
with Dinieras-Ves's machinations, the local armies would also be Akaviri. What
they had failed to do by combat, they would have successfully accomplished by 
patience. A traditional strategem, many scholars suggest, of the immortal 
snake men, the Tsaesci of Akavir, who always had time on their side.

The point, however, is largely academic. Though the Syffim did establish 
themselves in some kingdoms neighboring Cyrodiil, it became quickly apparent 
that local warriors were needed. Part of the problem was simply that there 
were not enough Akaviri for the work that needed to be done. Another part was 
that the snake men did not understand the geography and politics of the 
regions they were assigned.

It was evident that some non-Akaviri were needed in the Syffim, and by the mid
point of the year, three Nords, a warrior-sorceress, a rogue, and a knight 
were admitted into the order.

The knight, whose name has been lost in the sands of time, was also a great 
armorer, and probably did more to strengthen the organization than anyone but
Dinieras-Ves himself. As has often been stated, the Akaviri, particularly the
Tsaesci, understood weaponry better than armor. Even if they could not wear it
themselves, the knight was able to explain to the other Syffim what the 
weaknesses were in their opponent's armor, explaining to them how many joints 
there were in a pauldon and a grieve, and the differences between Aketons and 
Armkachens, Gorgets and Gliedshrims, Palettes and Pasguards, Tabards and 
Tassettes.

With this knowledge, they made long strides in defeating the brigands, doing 
far better than their meager numbers would suggest. It is a joke among 
historians that if Akavir had a Nord armorer in their employ in the first era,
they would have won the invasion.

The success of these first three outsiders to the Syffim opened the door for 
more local members. Before the year was through, Dinieras-Ves had spread his 
business throughout the Empire. Young men and women, for a variety of reasons
— because of desperate poverty, for love of action and adventure, in order to
aid their crime-stricken neighbors — joined his new order en masse. They 
received training, and were immediately put to work helping the aristocracy's 
problems, assuming the roles of guards and soldiers within their locality.

The early success of the Syffim in combating crime and defeating local 
monsters so inspired Potentate Versidae-Shaie that he entertained 
representatives from other organizations interested in Imperial sanction. 
Though formed much earlier, the Mages Guild had always been viewed with 
suspicion by the government. In the 321st year of the 2nd Era, the Potentate 
gave his approval to the Guilds Act, officially sanctioning the Mages, 
together with the Guilds of Tinkers, Cobblers, Prostitutes, Scribes, 
Architects, Brewers, Vintners, Weavers, Ratcatchers, Furriers, Cooks, 
Astrologers, Healers, Tailors, Minstrals, Barristers, and the Syffim. In the 
charter, they were no longer called the Syffim, however: bowing to the name it
had become known as by the people, they were to be called the Fighters Guild. 
All the Guilds, and those that followed by later sanctions throughout the 
second and third eras, would be protected and encouraged by the Empire of 
Cyrodiil, recognizing their value to the people of Tamriel. All would be 
required to pay to expand their influence throughout the land. The Empire was
strengthened by their presence, and the Imperial coffers were filled once 
again.

Shortly after Versidae-Shaie's death, only three years after the Guild Act, 
his heir Savirien-Chovak, allowed the reforming of local armies. The Fighters
Guild was no longer the principal arm of the local aristocracy, but their 
worth had already been established. Though there were certainly strong 
individuals who sought their own fortunes in the past, many historians have 
suggested that Dinieras-Ves was the ancestor in spirit of the modern 
phenomenon of the Adventurer, those men and women who dedicate their lives to 
questing for fame and fortune.

Thus, all owe a debt of gratitude to the Fighters Guild — not only its 
members, and the people who have been helped by its neutral policy of offering
strong arms for a fee within the boundaries of the law. Without them, there 
would be no guilds of any kind, and it may be argued, no model for even the 
independent Adventurer. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ61)
                     ~~Hallgerd's Tale~~

                       Tavi Dromio                
   
     Item ID: 00024401
     


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“I think the greatest warrior who ever lived had to be Vilus Nommenus,” 
offered Xiomara. “Name one other warrior who conquered more territory.”

“Tiber Septim obviously,” said Hallgerd.

“He wasn't a warrior, he was an administrator, a politician,” said Garaz. “And
besides, acreage conquered can't be final means of determining the best 
warrior. How about skill with a blade?”

“There are other weapons than blades,” objected Xiomara. “Why not skill with 
an axe or a bow? Who was the greatest master of all weaponry?”

“I can't think of one greatest master of all weaponry,” said Hallgerd. 
“Balaxes of Agia Nero in Black Marsh was the greatest wielder of a lance. 
Ernse Llervu of the Ashlands is the greatest master of the club I've ever 
seen. The greatest master of the katana is probably an Akaviri warlord we've 
never heard of. As far as archery goes --”

“Pelinal Whitestrake supposedly conquered all of Tamriel by himself,” 
interrupted Xiomara.

“That was before the First Era,” said Garaz. “It's probably mostly myth. But 
there are all sorts of great warriors of the modern eras. The Camoran Usurper?
The unknown hero who brought together the Staff of Chaos and defeated Jagar 
Tharn?”

“We can't declare an unknown champion as the greatest warrior. What about 
Nandor Beraid, the Empress Katariah's champion?” suggested Xiomara. “They said
he could use any weapon ever invented.”

“But what happened to him?” smiled Garaz. “He was drowned in the Sea of Ghosts
because he couldn't get his armor off. Call me overly particular, but I think 
the greatest warrior in the world should know how to take armor off.”

“It's kinda hard to judge ability to wear armor as a skill,” said Xiomara. 
“Either you have basic functionality in a suit of armor or you don't.”

“That's not true,” said Hallgerd. “There are masters in that as well, people 
who can do things while wearing armor better than we can out of armor. Have 
you ever heard of Hlaalu Pasoroth, the King's great grandfather?”

Xiomara and Garaz admitted that they had not.

“This was hundreds and hundreds of years ago, and Pasoroth was the ruler of a 
great estate which he had won by right of being the greatest warrior in the 
land. It's been said, and truly, that much of the House's current power is 
based on Pasoroth's earnings as a warrior. Every week he held games at his 
castle, pitting his skill against the champions of the neighboring estates, 
and every week, he won something. His great skill wasn't in the use of 
weaponry, though he was decent enough with an axe and a long sword, but in his
ability to move quickly and with great agility wearing a full suit of heavy 
mail. There were some who said that he moved faster while wearing armor than 
he did out of it.

“Some months before this story begins, he had won the daughter of one of his 
neighbors, a beautiful creature named Mena who he had made his wife. He loved 
her very much, but he was intensely jealous, and with good reason. She wasn't 
very pleased with his husbandly skills, and the only reason Mena never strayed
was because Pasoroth kept a close eye on her. She was, to put it kindly, 
naturally amorous and resentful of her position as a prize. Wherever he went, 
he always brought her with him. At the games, she was placed in a special box 
so that he could see her even while he competed.

“But his real competition, though he didn't know it, was from a handsome young
armorer he also had won at one of his competitions. Mena had noticed him, and
the armorer, whose name was Taren, had certainly noticed her.”

“This has all the makings of a dirty joke, Hallgerd,” said Xiomara, with a 
smile.

“I swear that it's entirely true,” said Hallgerd. “The problem facing the 
lovers was, of course, that they could never be alone. Perhaps because of 
this, it became a burning obsession to both of them. Taren decided that the 
best time for them to consummate their love was during the games. Mena feigned
illness, so she didn't have to stay in the box, but Pasoroth visited the 
sickroom every few minutes between fights, so Taren and Mena could never get 
together. The sound of Pasoroth's armor clunking up the stairs to visit his 
sick wife gave Taren the idea.

“He crafted his lord a new suit of armor, strong, and bright, and beautifully 
decorated. For his purposes, Taren rubbed the leg joints with luca dust so the
more he sweated and the more he moved them, the more they'd stick together. 
After a little while, Taren figured, Pasoroth wouldn't be able to walk very 
quickly, and wouldn't have enough time in between fights to visit his wife. 
But just in case, Taren also added bells to the legs which rung loudly when 
they moved, so the couple would be able to hear him coming in plenty of time.

“When the games commenced the following week, Mena feigned illness again and 
Taren presented his lord with the new armor. Pasoroth was delighted with it, 
as Taren hoped he would be, and donned it for his first fight. Taren then 
stole upstairs to Mena's bedchamber.

“All was silent outside as the two began to make love. Suddenly, Mena noticed
a peculiar expression on Taren's face and before she had a chance to ask him 
about it, his head fell off at the neck. Pasoroth was standing behind him with
his axe in hand.”

“How did he get upstairs so quickly, with his leg joints gummed up? And didn't
they hear the bells ringing?” asked Garaz.

“Well, you see, when Pasoroth realized he couldn't walk on his legs very 
quickly, he walked on his hands.”

“I don't believe it,” laughed Xiomara.

“What happened next?” asked Garaz. “Did Pasoroth kill Mena also?”

“No one knows exactly what happened next,” said Hallgerd. “Pasoroth didn't 
return for the next game, nor for the next. Finally, at the fourth game, he 
returned to fight, and Mena appeared in the box to watch. She didn't appear to
be sick anymore. In fact, she was smiling and had a light flush to her face.”

“They did it?” cried Xiomara.

“I don't have all the salacious details, except that after the battle, it took
ten squires thirteen hours to get Pasoroth's armor off because of all the luca
dust mixed with sweat.”

“I don't understand, you mean, he didn't take his armor off when they -- but 
how?”

“Like I said,” replied Hallgerd. “This is a story about someone who was more 
agile and accomplished in his armor than out of it.”

“Now, that's skill,” said Garaz. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ62)
              ~~How Orsinium Passed to Orcs~~

                       Menyna Gsost                
   
     Item ID: 00024404
     
   

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

The year was 3E 399 and standing on a mountainside overlooking a vast tract of
land between the lands of Menevia and Wayrest was a great and learned judge, 
an arbitrator and magistrate, impartial in his submission to the law.

“You have a very strong claim to the land, my lad,” said the judge. “I won't 
lie to you about that. But your competition has an equal claim. This is what 
makes my particular profession difficult at times.”

“You would call it my competition?” sneered Lord Bowyn, gesturing to the Orc.
The creature, called Gortwog gro-Nagorm, looked up with baleful eyes.

“He has ample documentation to make a claim on the land,” the magistrate 
shrugged. “And the particular laws of our land do not discriminate between 
particular races. We had a Bosmer regency once, many generations ago.”

“But what if a pig or a slaughterfish turned up demanding the property? Would 
they have the same legal rights as I?”

“If they had the proper papers, I'm afraid so,” smiled the judge. “The law is 
very clear that if two claimants with equal titles to the property are set in 
deadlock, a duel must be held. Now, the rules are fairly archaic, but I've had
opportunity to look them over, and I think they're still valid. The Imperial 
council agrees.”

“What must we do?” asked the Orc, his voice low and harsh, unused to the 
tongue of the Cyrodiils.

“The first claimant, that's you, Lord Gortwog, may choose the armor and weapon
of the duelists. The second claimant, that's you, Lord Bowyn, may choose the 
location. If you would prefer, either or both you may choose a champion or you
may duel yourself.”

The Breton and the Orc looked at one another, evaluating. Finally, Gortwog 
spoke, “The armor will be Orcish and the weapons will be common steel long 
swords. No enchantments. No wizardry allowed.”

“The arena will be the central courtyard of my cousin Lord Berylth's palace in
Wayrest,” said Bowyn, looking Gortwog in the eye scornfully. “None of your 
kind will be allowed in to witness.”

So it was agreed. Gortwog declared that he would fight the duel himself, and 
Bowyn, who was a fairly young man and in better than average condition, felt 
that he could not keep his honor without competing himself as well. Still, 
upon arriving at his cousin's palace a week before the duel was scheduled, he 
felt the need to practice. A suit of Orcish armor was purchased and for the 
first time in his life, Bowyn wore something of tremendous weight and limited 
facility.

Bowyn and Berylth sparred in the courtyard. In ten minutes times, Bowyn had to
stop. He was red-faced and out of breath from trying to move in the armor: to 
add to his exasperation, he had not scored one blow on his cousin, and had 
dozens of feinted strikes scored on him.

“I don't know what to do,” said Bowyn over dinner. “Even if I knew someone who
could fight properly in that beastly steel, I couldn't possibly send in a 
champion to battle Gortwog.”

Berylth commiserated. As the servants cleared the plates, Bowyn stood up in 
his seat and pointed at one of them: “You didn't tell me you had an Orc in 
your household!”

“Sir?” whined the elderly specimen, turning to Lord Berylth, certain that he 
caused offense somehow.

“You mean Old Tunner?” laughed Berylith. “He's been with my house for ages. 
Would you like him to give you training on how to move in Orcish armor?”

“Would you like me to?” asked Tunner obsequiously.

Unknown to Berylith but known to him now, his servant had once ridden with the
legendary Cursed Legion of High Rock. He not only knew how to fight in Orcish 
armor himself, but he had acted as trainer to other Orcs before retiring into 
domestic service. Desperate, Bowyn immediately engaged him as his full-time 
trainer.

“Your try too hard, sir,” said the Orc on their first day in the arena. “It is
easy to strain yourself in heavy mail. The joints are just so to let you to 
bend with only a little effort. If you fight against the joints, you won't 
have any strength to fight your foe.”

Bowyn tried to follow Tunner's instructions, but he quickly grew frustrated. 
And the more frustrated he got, the more intensity he put into his work, which
tired him out even quicker. While he took a break to drink some water, 
Berylith spoke to his servant. If they were optimistic about Bowyn's chances,
their faces did not show it.

Tunner trained Bowyn hard the next two days, but her Ladyship Elysora's 
birthday followed hard upon them, and Bowyn enjoyed the feast thoroughly. A 
liquor of poppies and goose fat, and cock tinsh with buttered hyssop for a 
first course; roasted pike, combwort, and balls of rabbit meat for a second; 
sliced fox tongues, ballom pudding with oyster gravy, battaglir weed and beans
for the main course; collequiva ice and sugar fritters for dessert. As Bowyn 
was settling back afterwards, his eyes weary, he suddenly spied Gortwog and 
the judge entering the room.

“What are you doing here?” he cried. “The duel's not for another two days!”

“Lord Gortwog asked that we move it to tonight,” said the judge. “You were 
training when my emisary arrived two days ago, but his lordship your cousin 
spoke for you, agreeing to the change of date.”

“But there's no time to assemble my supporters,” complained Bowyn. “And I've 
just devoured a feast that would kill a lesser man. Cousin, how could you 
neglect to tell me?”

“I spoke to Tunner about it,” said Berylith, blushing, unused to deception. 
“We decided that you would be best served under these conditions.”

The battle in the arena was sparsely attended. Saturated with food, Bowyn 
found himself unable to move very quickly. To his surprise, the armor 
responded to his lethargy, rotating smoothly and elegantly to each stagger. 
The more he successfully maneuvered, the more he allowed his mind and not his 
body to control his defensive and offensive actions. For the first time in his
life, Bowyn saw what it was to look through the helmet of an Orc.

Of course, he lost, and rather badly if scores had been tabulated. Gortwog was
a master of such battle. But Bowyn fought on for more than three hours before 
the judge reluctantly called a winner.

“I will name the land Orsinium after the land of my fathers,” said the victor.

Bowyn's first thought was that if he must lose to an Orc, it was best that the
battle was largely unwatched by his friends and family. As he left the 
courtyard to go to the bed he had longed for earlier in the evening, he saw 
Gortwog speaking to Tunner. Though he did not understand the language, he 
could see that they knew each other. When the Breton was in bed, he had a 
servant bring the old Orc to him.

“Tunner,” he said kindly. “Speak frankly to me. You wanted Lord Gortwog to 
win.”

“That is true,” said Tunner. “But I did not fail you. You fought better than 
you would have fought two days hence, sir. I did not want Orsinium to be won 
by its king without a fight.” 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                   ~~ILLUSION BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ63)
             ~~The Argonian Account, Book 3~~

                       Waughin Jarth               
   
     Item ID: 00024407

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Decumus Scotti was supposed to be in Gideon, a thoroughly Imperialized city in
southern Black Marsh, arranging business dealings to improve commerce in the 
province on behalf of Lord Vanech's Building Commission and its clients. 
Instead, he was in a half-submerged, rotten little village called Hixinoag, 
where he knew no one. Except for a drug smuggler named Chaero Gemullus.


Gemullus was not at all perturbed that the merchant caravan had gone north 
instead of south. He even let Scotti share his bucket of trodh, tiny little 
crunchy fish, he had bought from the villagers. Scotti would have preferred 
them cooked, or at any rate, dead, but Gemullus blithely explained that dead,
cooked trodh are deadly poison.

"If I were where I was supposed to be," Scotti pouted, putting one of the 
wriggling little creatures in his mouth. "I could be having a roast, and some
cheese, and a glass of wine."

"I sell moon sugar in the north, and buy it in the south," he shrugged. "You 
have to be more flexible, my friend."

"My only business is in Gideon," Scotti frowned.

"Well, you have a couple choices," replied the smuggler. "You could just stay 
here. Most villages in Argonia don't stay put for very long, and there's a 
good chance Hixinoag will drift right down to the gates of Gideon. Might take 
you a month or two. Probably the easiest way."

"That'd put me far behind schedule."

"Next option, you could join up with the caravan again," said Gemullus. "They
might be going in the right direction this time, and they might not get stuck
in the mud, and they might not be all murdered by Naga highwaymen."

"Not tempting," Scotti frowned. "Any other ideas?"

"Ride the roots. The underground express," Gemullus grinned. "Follow me."

Scotti followed Gemullus out of the village and into a copse of trees shrouded
by veils of wispy moss. The smuggler kept his eye on the ground, poking at the
viscuous mud intermittently. Finally he found a spot which triggered a mass of
big oily bubbles to rise to the surface.

"Perfect," he said. "Now, the important thing is not to panic. The express 
will take you due south, that's the wintertide migration, and you'll know 
you're near Gideon when you see a lot of red clay. Just don't panic, and when
you see a mass of bubbles, that's a breathing hole you can use to get out."

Scotti looked at Gemullus blankly. The man was talking perfect gibberish. 
"What?"

Gemullus took Scotti by the shoulder and positioning him on top of the mass of
bubbles. "You stand right here …"

Scotti sank quickly into the mud, staring at the smuggler, horror-struck.

"And remember to wait 'til you see the red clay, and then the next time you 
see bubbles, push up …"

The more Scotti wriggled to get free, the faster he sunk. The mud enveloped 
Scotti to his neck, and he continued staring, unable to articulate anything 
but a noise like "Oog."

"And don't panic at the idea that you're being digested. You could live in a 
rootworm's belly for months."

Scotti took one last panicked gasp of air and closed his eyes before he 
disappeared into the mud.

The clerk felt a warmth he hadn't expected all around him. When he opened his
eyes, he found that he was entirely surrounded by a translucent goo, and was 
traveling rapidly forward, southward, gliding through the mud as if it were 
air, skipping along an intricate network of roots. Scotti felt confusion and 
euphoria in equal measures, madly rushing forward through an alien environment
of darkness, spinning around and over the thick fibrous tentacles of the 
trees. It was if he were high in the sky at midnight, not deep beneath the 
swamp in the Underground Express.

Looking up slightly at the massive root structure above, Scotti saw something 
wriggle past. A eight-foot-long, armless, legless, colorless, boneless, 
eyeless, nearly shapeless creature, riding the roots. Something dark was 
inside of it, and as it came closer, Scotti could see it was an Argonian man. 
He waved, and the disgusting creature the Argonian was in flattened slightly 
and rushed onward.

Gemullus's words began to reappear in Scotti's mind at this sight. "The 
wintertide migration," "air hole," "you're being digested," -- these were the 
phrases that danced around as if trying to find some place to live in a brain 
which was highly resistant to them coming in. But there was no other way to 
look at the situation. Scotti had gone from eating living fish to being eaten 
alive as a way of transport. He was in one of those worms.

Scotti made an executive decision to faint.

He awoke in stages, having a beautiful dream of being held in a woman's warm 
embrace. Smiling and opening his eyes, the reality of where he really was 
rushed over him.

The creature was still rushing madly, blindly forward, gliding over roots, but
it was no longer like a flight through the night sky. Now it was like the sky 
at sunrise, in pinks and reds. Scotti remembered Gemullus telling him to look 
for the red clay, and he would be near Gideon. The next thing he had to find 
was the bubbles.

There were no bubbles anywhere. Though the inside of the worm was still warm 
and comfortable, Scotti felt the weight of the earth all around him. "Just 
don't panic" Gemullus had said, but it was one thing to hear that advice, and 
quite another to take it. He began to squirm, and the creature began to move 
faster at the increased pressure from within.

Suddenly, Scotti saw it ahead of him, a slim spire of bubbles rising up 
through the mud from some underground stream, straight up, through the roots 
to the surface above him. The moment the rootworm went through it, Scotti 
pushed with all of his might upward, bursting through the creature's thin 
skin. The bubbles pushed Scotti up quickly, and before he could blink, he was 
popping out of the red slushy mud.

Two gray Argonians were standing under a tree nearby, holding a net. They 
looked in Scotti's direction with polite curiosity. In their net, Scotti 
noticed, were several squirming furry rat-like creatures. While he addressed 
them, another fell out of the tree. Though Scotti had not been educated in 
this practice, he recognized fishing when he saw it.

"Excuse me, lads," Scotti said jovially. "I was wondering if you'd point me in
the direction of Gideon?"

The Argonians introduced themselves as Drawing-Flame and Furl-Of-Fresh-Leaves,
and looked at one another, puzzling over the question.

"Who you seek?" asked Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves.

"I believe his name is," said Scotti, trying to remember the contents of his 
long gone file of Black Marsh contacts in Gideon. "Archein Right-Foot … Rock?"

Drawing-Flame nodded, "For five gold, show you way. Just east. Is plantation 
east of Gideon. Very nice."

Scotti thought that the best business he had heard of in two days, and handed
Drawing-Flames the five septims.

The Argonians led Scotti onto a muddy ribbon of road that passed through the 
reeds, and soon revealed the bright blue expanse of Topal Bay far to the west.
Scotti looked around at the magnificent walled estates, where bright crimson 
blossoms sprang forth from the very dirt of the walls, and surprised himself 
by thinking, "This is very pretty."

The road ran parallel to a fast-moving stream, running eastward from Topal 
Bay. It was called the Onkobra River, he was told. It ran deep into Black 
Marsh, to the very dark heart of the province.

Peeking past the gates to the plantations east of Gideon, Scotti saw that few
of the fields were tended. Most had rotten crops from harvests past still 
clinging to wilted vines, orchards of desolate, leafless trees. The Argonian 
serfs who worked the fields were thin, weak, near death, more like haunting 
spirits than creatures of life and reason.

Two hours later, as the three continued their trudge east, the estates were 
still impressive at least from a distance, the road was still solid if weedy, 
but Scotti was irritated, horrified by the field workers and the agricultural 
state, and no longer charitable towards the area. "How much further?"

Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves and Drawing-Flame looked at one another, as if that 
question was something that hadn't occurred to them.

"Archein is east?" Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves pondered. "Near or far?"

Drawing-Flame shrugged noncommittally, and said to Scotti, "For five gold, 
show you way. Just east. Is plantation. Very nice."

"You don't have any idea, do you?" Scotti cried. "Why couldn't you tell me 
that in the first place when I might have asked someone else?"

Around the bend up ahead, there was the sound of hoofbeats. A horse coming 
closer.

Scotti began to walk towards the sound to hail the rider, and didn't see 
Drawing-Flame's taloned claws flash out and cast the spell at him. He felt it 
though. A kiss of ice along his spine, the muscles along his arms and legs 
suddenly immobile as if wrapped in rigid steel. He was paralyzed.

The great curse of paralysis, as the reader may be unfortunate enough to know,
is that you continue to see and think even though your body does not respond.
The thought that went through Scotti's mind was, "Damn."

For Drawing-Flame and Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves were, of course, like most simple 
day laborers in Black Marsh, accomplished Illusionists. And no friend of the 
Imperial.

The Argonians shoved Decumus Scotti to the side of the road, just as the horse
and rider came around the corner. He was an impressive figure, a nobleman in a
flashing dark green cloak the exact same color as his scaled skin, and a 
frilled hood that was part of his flesh and sat upon his head like a horned 
crown.

"Greetings, brothers!" the rider said to the two.

"Greetings, Archein Right-Foot-Rock," they responded, and then Furl-of-Fresh-
Leaves added. "What is milord's business on this fine day?"

"No rest, no rest," the Archein sighed regally. "One of my she-workers gave 
birth to twins. Twins! Fortunately, there's a good trader in town for those, 
and she didn't put up too much of a fuss. And then there's a fool of an 
Imperial from Lord Vanech's Building Commission I am supposed to meet with in
Gideon. I'm sure he'll want the grand tour before he opens up the treasury for
me. Such a lot of fuss."

Drawing-Flame and Furl-of-Fresh-Leaves sympathesized, and then, as Archein 
Right-Foot-Rock rode off, they went to look for their hostage.

Unfortunately for them, gravity being the same in Black Marsh as elsewhere in
Tamriel, their hostage, Decumus Scotti, had continued to roll down from where 
they left him, and was, at that moment, in the Onkobra River, drowning. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ64)
                  ~~Incident in Necrom~~

                       Jonquilla Bothe              
   
     Item ID: 00024408
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

“The situation simply is this,” said Phlaxith, his face as chiseled and 
resolute as any statue. “Everyone knows that the cemetery west of the city is 
haunted by some malevolent beings, and has been for many years now. The people
have come to accept it. They bury their dead by daylight, and are away before 
Masser and Secunda have risen and the evil comes forth. The only victims to 
fall prey to the devils within are the very stupid and the outsiders.”

“It sounds like a natural solution to filtering out the undesirables then,” 
laughed Nitrah, a tall, middle-aged woman with cold eyes and thin lips. “Where
is the gold in saving them?”

“From the Temple. They're re-opening a new monastery near the cemetery, and 
they need the land cleansed of evil. They're offering a fortune, so I accepted
the assignment with the caveat that I could assemble my own team to split the 
reward. That's why I've sought you each out. From what I've heard, you, 
Nitrah, are the best bladesman in Morrowind.”

Nitrah smiled her unpleasant best.

“And you, Osmic, are a renowned burglar, though never once imprisoned.”

The bald-pated young man stammered as if to refute the charges, before 
grinning back, “I'll get you in where you need to go. But then it's up to you
to do what you need to do. I'm no combatter.”

“Anything Nitrah and I can't handle, I'm sure Massitha will prove her mettle,”
Phlaxith said, turning to the fourth member of the party. “She comes on very 
good references as a sorceress of great power and skill.”

Massitha was the picture of innocence, round-faced and wide-eyed. Nitrah and 
Osmic looked at her uncertainly, particularly watching her fearful expressions
as Phlaxith described the nature of the creatures haunting the cemetery. It 
was obvious she had never faced any adversary other than man and mer before. 
If she survived, they thought to themselves, it would be very surprising.

As the foursome trudged toward the graveyard at dusk, they took the 
opportunity to quiz their new teammate.

“Vampires are filthy creatures,” said Nitrah. “Disease-ridden, you know. They 
say off to the west, they'll indiscriminately pass on their curse together 
with a number of other afflictions. They don't do that here so much, but still
you don't want to leave their wounds untreated. I take it you know something 
of the spells of Restoration if one of us gets bit?”

“I know a little, but I'm no Healer,” said Massitha meekly.

“More of a Battlemage?” asked Osmic.

“I can do a little damage if I'm really close, but I'm not very good at that 
either. I'm more of an illusionist, technically.”

Nitrah and Osmic looked at one another with naked concern as they reached the 
gates of the graveyard. There were moving shadows, stray specters among the 
wrack and ruins, crumbled paths stacked on top of crumbled paths. It wasn't a 
maze of a place; it could have been any dilapidated graveyard but even without
looking at the tombstones, it did have one very noticeable feature. Filling 
the horizon was the mausoleum of a minor Cyrodilic official from the 2nd Era, 
slightly exotic but still harmonizing with the Dunmer graves in a 
complimentary style called decay.

“It's a surprisingly useful School,” whispered Massitha defensively. “You see,
it's all concerned with magicka's ability to alter the perception of objects 
without changing their physical compositions. Removing sensual data, for 
example, to cast darkness or remove sound or smell from the air. It can help 
by--”

A red-haired vampire woman leapt out of the shadows in front of them, knocking
Phlaxith on his back. Nitrah quickly unsheathed her sword, but Massitha was 
faster. With a wave of her hand, the creature stopped, frozen, her jaws scant 
inches from Phlaxith's throat. Phlaxith pulled out his own blade and finished 
her off.

“That's illusion?” asked Osmic.

“Certainly,” smiled Massitha. “Nothing changed in the vampire's form, except 
its ability to move. Like I said, it's a very useful School.”

The four climbed up over the paths to the front gateway to the crypt. Osmic 
snapped the lock and disassembled the poison trap. The sorceress cast a wave 
of light down the dust-choked corridors, banishing the shadows and drawing the
inhabitants out. Almost immediately they were set on by a pair of vampires, 
howling and screaming in a frenzy of bloodlust.

The battle was joined, so no sooner were the first two vampires felled than 
their reinforcements attacked. They were mighty warriors of uncanny strength 
and endurance, but Massitha's paralysis spell and the weaponry of Phlaxith and
Nitrah clove through their ranks. Even Osmic aided the battle.

“They're crazy,” gasped Massitha when the fight finally ended and she could 
catch her breath.

“Quarra, the most savage of the vampire bloodlines,” said Phlaxith. “We have 
to find and exterminate each and every one.”

Delving into the crypts, the group hounded out more of the creatures. Though 
they varied in appearance, each seemed to rely on their strength and claws for
attacking, and subtlety did not seem to be the style of any. When the entire 
mausoleum had been searched and every creature within destroyed, the four 
finally made their way to the surface. It was only an hour until sunrise.

There was no frenzied scream or howl. Nothing rushed forward towards them. The
final attack when it happened was so unlike the others that the questors were 
taken utterly by surprise.

The ancient creature waited until the four were almost out of the cemetery, 
talking amiably, making plans for spending their share of the reward. He 
judged carefully who would be the greatest threat, and then launched himself 
at the sorceress. Had Phlaxith not turned his attention back from the gate, 
she would have been ripped to shreds before she had a chance to scream.

The vampire knocked Massitha across a stone, its claws raking across her back,
but stopped its assault in order to block a blow from Phlaxith's sword. It 
accomplished this maneuver in its own brutal way, by tearing the warrior's arm
from its socket. Osmic and Nitrah set on it, but they found themselves in a 
losing battle. Only when Massitha had pulled herself back up from behind the 
pile of rocks, weak and bleeding, that the fight turned. She cast a magickal 
ball of flame at the creature, which so enraged it that it turned back to her.
Nitrah saw her opening and took it, beheading the vampire with a stroke of her
sword.

“So you do know some spells of destruction, like you said,” said Nitrah.

“And a few spells of healing too,” she said weakly. “But I can't save Phlaxith.”

The warrior died in the bloodied dust before them. The three were quiet as 
they traveled across the dawn-lit countryside back toward Necrom. Massitha 
felt the throb of pain on her back intensify as they walked and then a gradual
numbness like ice spread through her body.

“I need to go to a healer and see if I've been diseased,” she said as they 
reached the city.

“Meet us at the Moth and Fire tomorrow morning,” said Nitrah. “We'll go to the
Temple and get our reward and split it there.”

Three hours later, Osmic and Nitrah sat in their room at the tavern, happily 
counting and recounting the gold marks. Split three ways, it was a very 
comfortable sum.

“What if the healers can't do anything for Massitha?” smiled Osmic dreamily. 
“Some diseases can be insidious.”

“Did you hear something in the hall?” asked Nitrah quickly, but when she 
looked, there was no one there. She returned, shutting the door behind her. 
“I'm sure Massitha will survive if she went straight to the healer. But we 
could leave tonight with the gold.”

“Let's have one last drink to our poor sorceress,” said Osmic, leading Nitrah
out of the room toward the stairs down.

Nitrah laughed. “Those spells of illusion won't help her track us down, as 
useful as she keeps saying they are. Paralysis, light, silence -- not so good
when you don't know where to look.”

They closed the door behind them.

“Invisibility is another spell of illusion,” said Massitha's disembodied 
voice. The gold on the table rose in the air and vanished from sight as she 
slipped it into her purse. The door again opened and closed, and all was 
silent until Osmic and Nitrah returned a few minutes later. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ65)
               ~~Mystery of Talara, v4~~            
   
     Item ID: 0002440A
     

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Gyna never saw the Emperor's agent Lady Brisienna again, but she kept her 
promise. Proseccus, a nightblade in the service of the Empire, arrived at Lord
Strale's house in disguise. She was an apt pupil, and within days, he had 
taught what she needed to know.

"It is a simple charm, not the sort of spell that could turn a raging daedroth
into a love-struck puppy," said Proseccus. "If you do or say anything that 
would normally anger or offend your target, the power will weaken. It will 
alter temporarily his perception of you, as spells of the school of illusion 
do, but his feelings of respect and admiration for you must be supported by 
means of a charm of a less magickal nature."

"I understand," smiled Gyna, thanking her tutor for the two spells of illusion
he had taught her. The time had come to use her new-found skill.

The Prostitutes Guildhouse of Camlorn was a great palace in an affluent 
northern quarter of the city. Prince Sylon could have found his way there 
blindfolded, or blind drunk as he often was. Tonight, however, he was only 
lightly inebriated and he resolved to drink no more. Tonight he was in the 
mood for pleasure. His kind of pleasure.

"Where is my favorite, Grigia?" he demanded of the Guildmistress upon 
entering.

"She is still healing from your appointment with her last week," she smiled 
serenely. "Most of the other women are in with clients as well, but I saved a 
special treat for you. A new girl. One you will certainly enjoy."

The Prince was guided to a sumptuously decorated suite of velvet and silk. As 
he entered, Gyna stepped from behind a screen and cast her spell quickly, with
her mind open to belief as Proseccus had instructed. It was hard to tell if it
worked at first. The Prince looked at her with a cruel smile and then, like 
sun breaking through clouds, the cruelty left. She could tell he was hers. He 
asked her her name.

"I am between names right now," she teased. "I've never made love to a real 
prince before. I've never even been inside a palace. Is yours very ... big?"

"It's not mine yet," he shrugged. "But someday I'll be king."

"It would be wonderful to live in such a place," Gyna cooed. "A thousand years
of history. Everything must be so old and beautiful. The paintings and books 
and statues and tapestries. Does your family hold onto all their old 
treasures?"

"Yes, hoarded away with a lot of boring old junk in the archive rooms in the 
vaults. Please, may I see you naked now?"

"First a little conversation, though you may feel free to disrobe whenever you
like," said Gyna. "I had heard there was an archive room, but it's quite 
hidden away."

"There's a false wall behind the family crypt," said the Prince, gripping her
wrist and pulling her towards him for a kiss. Something in his eyes had 
changed.

"Your Highness, you're hurting my arm," Gyna cried.

"Enough talk, you bewitching whore," he snarled. Holding back a sharp jab of 
fear, Gyna let her mind cool and perceptions whirl. As his angry mouth touched
her lips, she cast the second spell she had learned her illusionist mentor.

The Prince felt his flesh turn to stone. He remained frozen, watching Gyna 
pull together her clothing and leave the room. The paralysis would only last 
for a few more minutes, but it was all the time she needed.

The Guildmistress had already left with all her girls, just as Gyna and Lord 
Strale had told her to. They would tell her when it was safe to return. She 
had not even accepted any gold for her part in the trap. She said it was 
enough that her girls would not be tortured anymore by that most perverse and
cruel Prince.

"What a terrible boy," thought Gyna as she raised the hood on her cloak and 
raced through the streets toward Lord Strale's house. "It is good that he will
never be king."

The following morning, the King and Queen of Camlorn held their daily audience
with various nobles and diplomats, a sparse gathering. The throne room was 
largely empty. It was a terribly dull way to begin the day. In between 
petitions, they yawned regally.

"What has happened to all the interesting people?" the Queen murmured.
"Where's our precious boy?"

"I've heard he was raging through the north quarter in search of some harlot 
who robbed him," the King chuckled fondly. "What a fine lad."

"And what of the Royal Battlemage?"

"I've sent him to take care of a delicate matter," the King knit his brow. 
"But that was nearly a week ago, and I haven't heard one word from him. It's 
somewhat troubling."

"Indeed it is, Lord Eryl should not be gone so long," the Queen frowned. "What
if a rogue sorcerer came and threatened us? Husband, don't laugh at me, that 
is why all the royal houses of High Rock keep their mage retainers close to 
their side. To protect their court from evil enchantments, like the one that 
our poor Emperor suffered so recently."

"At the hand of his own battlemage," chuckled the King

"Lord Eryl would never betray you like that, and you well know it. He has been
in your employ since you were Duke of Oloine. To even make that comparison 
between he and Jagar Tharn, really," the Queen waved her hands dismissively. 
"It is that sort of lack of trust that is ruining kingdoms all over Tamriel. 
Now, Lord Strale tells me -"

"There's another man that's gone missing," mused the King.

"The ambassador?" the Queen shook her head. "No, he's here. He was desirous to
visit the crypts and pay homage to your noble ancestors, so I directed him 
there. I can't think what's keeping him so long. He must be more pious than I
thought."

She was surprised to see the King rise up, alarmed. "Why didn't you tell me?"

Before she had a chance to reply, the subject of their conversation was coming
through the open door to the throne room. At on his arm was a beautiful fair-
haired woman in a stately gown of scarlet and gold, worthy of the highest 
nobility. The queen followed her startled husband's gaze, and was likewise 
amazed.

"I had heard he was taken with one of the harlots from the Flower Festival, 
not a lady," she whispered. "Why, she looks remarkably like your daughter, the
Lady Jyllia."

"That she does," the King gasped. "Or her cousin, the Princess Talara."

The nobles in the room also whispered amongst themselves. Though few had been
at court twenty years ago when the Princess had disappeared, presumed murdered
like the rest of the royal family, there were still a few elder statesmen who 
remembered. It was not only on throne that the word "Talara" passed through 
the air like an enchantment.

"Lord Strale, will you introduce us to your lady?" the Queen asked with a 
polite smile.

"In a moment, your highness, but I'm afraid I must first discuss pressing 
matters," Lord Strale replied with a bow. "Might I request a private 
audience?"

The King looked at the Imperial ambassador, trying to read into the man's 
expression. With a wave of his hand, he dismissed the assembled and had the 
doors shut behind them. No one remained in the audience room but the King, the
Queen, the ambassador, a dozen royal guards, and the mysterious woman.

The ambassador pulled from his pocket a sheaf of old yellowed parchment. "Your
Highness, when you ascended the throne after your brother and his family were 
murdered, anything that seemed important, deeds and wills, were of course kept
with the clerks and ministers. His entire incidental, unimportant personal 
correspondence was sent to archive which is standard protocol. This letter was
among them."

"What is this all about, sir?" the King boomed. "What does it say?"

"Nothing about you, your majesty. In truth, at the time of your majesty's 
ascension, no one reading it could have understood its significance. It was a 
letter to the Emperor the late king your brother was penning at the time of 
his assassination, concerning a thief who had once been a mage-priest at the 
Temple of Sethiete here in Camlorn. His name was Jagar Tharn."

"Jagar Tharn?" the Queen laughed nervously. "Why, we were just talking about 
him."

"Tharn had stolen many books of powerful and forgotten spells, and lore about 
such artifacts as the Staff of Chaos, where it was hidden and how it could be 
used. News travels slowly to westernmost High Rock, and by the time the King 
your brother had heard that the Emperor's new battlemage was a man named Jagar
Tharn, many years had passed. The king had been writing a letter to warn the 
Emperor of the treachery of his Imperial Battlemage, but it was never 
completed." Lord Strale held up the letter. "It is dated on the day of his 
assassination in the year 385. Four years before Jagar Tharn betrayed his 
master, and began the ten years of tyranny of the Imperial Simulacrum."

"This is all very interesting," the King barked. "But what has it to do with 
me?"

"The late King's assassination is now a matter of Imperial concern. And I have
a confession from your Royal Battlemage Lord Eryl."

The King's face lost all color: "You miserable worm, no man may threaten me. 
Neither you, nor that whore, nor that letter will ever see the light of day 
again. Guards!"

The royal guards unsheathed their blades and pressed forward. As they did so,
there was a sudden shimmering of light and the room was filled with Imperial 
nightblades, led by Proseccus. They had been there for hours, lurking 
invisibly in the shadows.

"In the name of His Imperial Majesty, Uriel Septim VII, I arrest you," said 
Strale.

The doors were opened, and the King and Queen were led out, heads bowed. Gyna
told Proseccus where he would most likely find their son, Prince Sylon. The 
courtiers and nobles who had been in the audience chamber stared at the 
strange, solemn procession of their King and Queen to their own royal prison.
No one said a word.

When at last a voice was heard, it startled all. The Lady Jyllia had arrived 
at court. "What is happening? Who dares to usurp the authority of the King and
Queen?"

Lord Strale turned to Proseccus: "We would speak with the Lady Jyllia alone. 
You know what needs to be done."

Proseccus nodded and had the doors to the throne room closed once again. The 
courtiers pressed against the wood, straining to hear everything. Though they 
could not say it, they wanted an explanation almost as much as her Ladyship 
did. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ66)
               ~~Mythic Dawn Commentaries 3~~  
       Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes Book Three 

      The third book read by initiates to the Mythic Dawn cult.
           This is Book Three of Mythic Dawn Commentaries

                The daedric title reads CHIM

                       Mankar Camoran         
   
     Item ID: 00022B06
     

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The Tower touches all the mantles of Heaven, brother-noviates, and by its apex
one can be as he will. More: be as he was and yet changed for all else on that
path for those that walk after. This is the third key of Nu-mantia and the 
secret of how mortals become makers, and makers back to mortals. The Bones of 
the Wheel need their flesh, and that is mankind's heirloom.

Oath-breakers beware, for their traitors run through the nymic-paths, runner 
dogs of prolix gods. The Dragon's Blood have hidden ascension in six-thousands
years of aetherial labyrinth, which is Arena, which they yet deny is 
Oathbound. By the Book, take this key and pierce the divine shell that 
encloses the mantle-takers! The skin of gold! SCARAB AE AURBEX!

Woe to the Oath-breakers! Of the skin of gold, the Xarxes Mysteriuum says "Be
fooled not by the forlorn that ride astray the roadway, for they lost faith 
and this losing was caused by the Aedra who would know no other planets." 
Whereby the words of Lord Dagon instructs us to destroy these faithless. "Eat
or bleed dry the gone-forlorn and gain that small will that led them to walk 
the path of Godhead at the first. Spit out or burn to the side that which made
them delay. Know them as the Mnemoli."

Every new limb is paid for by the under-known. See, brother, and give not more
to the hydra.

Reader, you will sense a shadow-choir soon. The room you are in right now will
grow eyes and voices. The candle or spell-light you read this by will become 
gateways for the traitors I have mentioned. Scorn them and fear not. Call them
names, call out their base natures. I, the Mankar of stars, am with you, and I
come to take you to my Paradise where the Tower-traitors shall hang on glass 
wracks until they smile with the new revolution.

That is your ward against the Mnemoli. They run blue, through noise, and shine
only when the earth trembles with the eruption of the newly-mantled. Tell them
"Go! GHARTOK AL MNEM! God is come! NUMI MORA! NUM DALAE MNEM!"

Once you walk in the Mythic it surrenders its power to you. Myth is nothing 
more than first wants. Unutterable truth. Ponder this while searching for the 
fourth key.

Understood laws of the arcanature will fall away like heat. "First Tower 
Dictate: render the mutant bound where he may do no more harm. As God of the 
Mundus, alike shall be his progeny, split from their divine sparks. We are 
Eight time eight Exarchs. Let the home of Padomay see us as sole exit."

CHIM. Those who know it can reshape the land. Witness the home of the Red King
Once Jungled.

He that enters Paradise enters his own Mother. AE ALMA RUMA! The Aurbis endeth
in all ways.

Endeth we seek through our Dawn, all endeth. Falter now and become one with 
the wayside orphans that feed me. Follow and I shall adore you from inside. My
first daughter ran from the Dagonite road. Her name was Ruma and I ate her 
with no bread, and made another, which learned, and I loved that one and 
blackbirds formed her twin behind all time.

Starlight is your mantle, brother. Wear it to see by and add its light to 
Paradise.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ67)
                   ~~Palla, Volume 1~~  

                      Vojne Mierstyyd
          
     Item ID: 00024409
     

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Palla. Pal La. I remember when I first heard that name, not long ago at all. 
It was at a Tales and Tallows ball at a very fine estate west of Mir Corrup, 
to which I and my fellow Mages Guild initiates had found ourselves 
unexpectedly invited. Truth be told, we needn't have been too surprised. There
were very few other noble families in Mir Corrup -- the region had its halcyon
days as a resort for the wealthy far back in the 2nd era -- and on reflection,
it was only appropriate to have sorcerers and wizards present at a 
supernatural holiday. Not that we were anything more exotic than students at a
small, nonexclusive charterhouse of the Guild, but like I said, there was a 
paucity of other choices available.

For close to a year, the only home I had known was the rather ramshackle if 
sprawling grounds of the Mir Corrup Mages Guild. My only companions were my 
fellow initiates, most of which only tolerated me, and the masters, whose 
bitterness at being at a backwater Guild prompted never-ending abuse.

Immediately the School of Illusion had attracted me. The Magister who taught 
us recognized me as an apt pupil who loved not only the spells of the science 
but their philosophical underpinnings. There was something about the idea of 
warping the imperceptible energies of light, sound, and mind that appealed to 
my nature. Not for me the flashy schools of destruction and alteration, the 
holy schools of restoration and conjuration, the practical schools of alchemy 
and enchantment, or the chaotic school of mysticism. No, I was never so 
pleased as to take an ordinary object and by a little magic make it seem 
something other than what it was.

It would have taken more imagination than I had to apply that philosophy to my
monotonous life. After the morning's lessons, we were assigned tasks before 
our evening classes. Mine had been to clean out the study of a recently 
deceased resident of the Guild, and categorize his clutter of spellbooks, 
charms, and incunabula.

It was a lonely and tedious appointment. Magister Tendixus was an inveterate 
collector of worthless junk, but I was reprimanded any time I threw something
away of the least possible value. Gradually I learned enough to deliver each 
of his belongings to the appropriate department: potions of healing to the 
Magisters of Restoration, books on physical phenomena to the Magisters of 
Alteration, herbs and minerals to the Alchemists, and soulgems and bound items
to the Enchanters. After one delivery to the Enchanters, I was leaving with my
customary lack of appreciation, when Magister Ilther called me back.

"Boy," said the portly old man, handing me back one item. "Destroy this."

It was a small black disc covered with runes with a ring of red-orange gems 
like bones circling its periphery.

"I'm sorry, Magister," I stammered. "I thought it was something you'd be 
interested in."

"Take it to the great flame and destroy it," he barked, turning his back on 
me. "You never brought it here."

My interest was piqued, because I knew the only thing that would make him 
react in such a way. Necromancy. I went back to Magister Tendixus's chamber 
and poured through his notes, looking for any reference to the disc. 
Unfortunately, most of the notes had been written in a strange code that I was
powerless to decipher. I was so fascinated by the mystery that I nearly 
arrived late for my evening class in Enchantment, taught by Magister Ilther 
himself.

For the next several weeks, I divided my time categorizing the general debris 
and making my deliveries, and researching the disc. I came to understand that 
my instinct was correct: the disc was a genuine necromantic artifact. Though I
couldn't understand most of the Magister's notes, I determined that he thought
it to be a means of resurrecting a loved one from the grave.

Sadly, the time came when the chamber had been categorized and cleared, and I 
was given another assignment, assisting in the stables of the Guild's 
menagerie. At least finally I was working with some of my fellow initiates and
had the opportunity of meeting the common folk and nobles who came to the 
Guild on various errands. Thus was I employed when we were all invited to the 
Tales and Tallows ball.

If the expected glamour of the evening were not enough, our hostess was 
reputed to be young, rich, unmarried orphan from Hammerfell. Only a month or 
two before had she moved to our desolate, wooded corner of the Imperial 
Province to reclaim an old family manorhouse and grounds. The initiates at the
Guild gossiped like old women about the mysterious young lady's past, what had
happened to her parents, why she had left or been driven from her homeland. 
Her name was Betaniqi, and that was all we knew.

We wore our robes of initiation with pride as we arrived for the ball. At the 
enormous marble foyer, a servant announced each of our names as if we were 
royalty, and we strutted into the midst of the revelers with great puffery. Of
course, we were then promptly ignored by one and all. In essence, we were 
unimportant figures to lend some thickness to the ball. Background characters.

The important people pushed through us with perfect politeness. There was old 
Lady Schaudirra discussing diplomatic appointments to Balmora with the Duke of
Rimfarlin. An orc warlord entertained a giggling princess with tales of rape 
and pillage. Three of the Guild Magisters worried with three painfully thin 
noble spinsters about the haunting of Daggerfall. Intrigues at the Imperial 
and various royal courts were analyzed, gently mocked, fretted over, toasted, 
dismissed, evaluated, mitigated, admonished, subverted. No one looked our way 
even when we were right next to them. It was as if my skill at illusion had 
somehow rendered us all invisible.

I took my flagon out to the terrace. The moons were doubled, equally luminous 
in the sky and in the enormous reflecting pool that stretched out into the 
garden. The white marble statuary lining the sides of the pool caught the 
fiery glow and seemed to burn like torches in the night. The sight was so 
otherworldly that I was mesmerized by it, and the strange Redguard figures 
immortalized in stone. Our hostess had made her home there so recently that 
some of the sculptures were still wrapped in sheets that billowed and swayed 
in the gentle breeze. I don't know how long I stared before I realized I 
wasn't alone.

She was so small and so dark, not only in her skin but in her clothing, that I
nearly took her for a shadow. When she turned to me, I saw that she was very 
beautiful and young, not more than seventeen.

"Are you our hostess?" I finally asked.

"Yes," she smiled, blushing. "But I'm ashamed to admit that I'm very bad at 
it. I should be inside with my new neighbors, but I think we have very little 
in common."

"It's been made abundantly clear that they hope I have nothing in common with 
them either," I laughed. "When I'm a little higher than an initiate in the 
Mages Guild, they might see me as more of an equal."

"I don't understand the concept of equality in Cyrodiil yet," she frowned. "In
my culture, you proved your worth, not just expected it. My parents both were 
great warriors, as I hope to be."

Her eyes went out to the lawn, to the statues.

"Do the sculptures represent your parents?"

"That's my father Pariom there," she said gesturing to a life-sized 
representation of a massively built man, unashamedly naked, gripping another 
warrior by the throat and preparing to decapitate him with an outstretched 
blade. It was clearly a realistic depiction. Pariom's face was plain, even 
slightly ugly with a low forehead, a mass of tangled hair, stubble on his 
cheeks. Even a slight gap in his teeth, which no sculptor would surely have 
invented except to do justice to his model's true idiosyncrasies.

"And your mother?" I asked, pointing to a nearby statue of a proud, rather 
squat warrior woman in a mantilla and scarf, holding a child.

"Oh no," she laughed. "That was my uncle's old nurse. Mother's statue still 
has a sheet over it."

I don't know what prompted me to insist that we unveil the statue that she 
pointed to. In all likelihood, it was nothing but fate, and a selfish desire 
to continue the conversation. I was afraid that if I did not give her a 
project, she would feel the need to return to the party, and I would be alone
again. At first she was reluctant. She had not yet made up her mind whether 
the statues would suffer in the wet, sometimes cold Cyrodilic climate. Perhaps
all should be covered, she reasoned. It may be that she was merely making 
conversation, and was reluctant as I was to end the stand-off and be that much
closer to having to return to the party.

In a few minutes time, we tore the tarp from the statue of Betaniqi's mother.
That is when my life changed forevermore.

She was an untamed spirit of nature, screaming in a struggle with a misshapen
monstrous figure in black marble. Her gorgeous, long fingers were raking 
across the creature's face. The monster's talons gripped her right breast in a
sort of caress that prefaces a mortal wound. Its legs and hers wound around 
one another in a battle that was a dance. I felt annihilated. This lithe but 
formidable woman was beautiful beyond all superficial standards. Whoever had 
sculpted it had somehow captured not only a face and figure of a goddess, but 
her power and will. She was both tragic and triumphant. I fell instantly and 
fatally in love with her.

I had not even noticed when Gelyn, one of my fellow initiates who was leaving
the party, came up behind us. Apparently I had whispered the word 
"magnificent," because I heard Betaniqi reply as if miles away, "Yes, it is 
magnificent. That's why I was afraid of exposing it to the elements."

Then I heard, clearly, like a stone breaking water, Gelyn: "Mara preserve me.
That must be Palla."

"Then you heard of my mother?" asked Betaniqi, turning his way.

"I hail from Wayrest, practically on the border to Hammerfell. I don't think 
there's anyone who hasn't heard of your mother and her great heroism, ridding
the land of that abominable beast. She died in that struggle, didn't she?"

"Yes," said the girl sadly. "But so too did the creature."

For a moment, we were all silent. I don't remember anything more of that 
night. Somehow I knew I was invited to dine the next evening, but my mind and 
heart had been entirely and forever more arrested by the statue. I returned 
back to the Guild, but my dreams were fevered and brought me no rest. 
Everything seemed diffused by white light, except for one beautiful, fearsome 
woman. Palla.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ68)
                 ~~The Wolf Queen, v3~~  

                    Waughin Jarth
          
     Item ID: 00024406
     

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From the pen of the first century third era sage Montocai:

3E 98
The Emperor Pelagius Septim II died a few weeks before the end of the year, on
the 15th of Evening Star during the festival of North Wind's Prayer, which was
considered a bad omen for the Empire. He had ruled over a difficult seventeen 
years. In order to fill the bankrupt treasury, Pelagius had dismissed the 
Elder Council, forcing them to buy back their positions. Several good but poor
councilors had been lost. Many say the Emperor had died as a result of being 
poisoned by a vengeful former Council member.

His children came to attend his funeral and the coronation of the next 
Emperor. His youngest son Prince Magnus, 19 years of age, arrived from 
Almalexia, where he had been a councilor to the royal court. 21-year-old 
Prince Cephorus arrived from Gilane with his Redguard bride, Queen Bianki. 
Prince Antiochus at 43 years of age, the eldest child and heir presumptive, 
had been with his father in the Imperial City. The last to appear was his only
daughter, Potema, the so-called Wolf Queen of Solitude. Thirty years old and 
radiantly beautiful, she arrived with a magnificent entourage, accompanied by
her husband, the elderly King Mantiarco and her year-old son, Uriel.

All expected Antiochus to assume the throne of the Empire, but no one knew 
what to expect from the Wolf Queen.


3E 99
"Lord Vhokken has been bringing several men to your sister's chambers late at 
night every night this week," offered the Spymaster. "Perhaps if her husband 
were made aware --"

"My sister is a devotee of the conqueror gods Reman and Talos, not the love 
goddess Dibella. She is plotting with those men, not having orgies with them.
I'd wager I've slept with more men than she has," laughed Antiochus, and then 
grew serious. "She's behind the delay of the council offering me the crown, I 
know it. Six weeks now. They say they need to update records and prepare for 
the coronation. I'm the Emperor! Crown me, and to Oblivion with the 
formalities!"

"Your sister is surely no friend of yours, your majesty, but there are other 
factors at play. Do not forget how your father treated the Council. It is they
who need following, and if need be, strong convincing," The Spymaster added, 
with a suggestive stab of his dagger.

"Do so, but keep your eye on the damnable Wolf Queen as well. You know where 
to find me."

"At which brothel, your highness?" inquired the Spymaster.

"Today being Fredas, I'll be at the Cat and Goblin."

The Spymaster noted in his report that night that Queen Potema had no 
visitors, for she was dining across the Imperial Garden at the Blue Palace 
with her mother, the Dowager Empress Quintilla. It was a warm night for 
wintertide and surprisingly cloudless though the day had been stormy. The 
saturated ground could not take any more, so the formal, structured gardens 
looked as if they had been glazed with water. The two women took their wine to
the wide balcony to look over the grounds.

"I believe you are trying to sabotage your half-brother's coronation," said 
Quintilla, not looking at her daughter. Potema saw how the years had not so 
much wrinkled her mother as faded her, like the sun on a stone.

"It's not true," said Potema. "But would it bother you very much if it were 
true?"

"Antiochus is not my son. He was eleven years old when I married your father,
and we've never been close. I think that being heir presumptive has stunted 
his growth. He is old enough to have a family with grown children, and yet he 
spends all his time at debauchery and fornication. He will not make a very 
good Emperor," Quintilla sighed and then turned to Potema. "But it is bad for 
the family for seeds of discontent to be sown. It is easy to divide up into 
factions, but very difficult to unite again. I fear for the future of the 
Empire."

"Those sound like the words -- are you, by any chance, dying, mother?"

"I've read the omens," said Quintilla with a faint, ironic smile. "Don't 
forget -- I was a renowned sorceress in Camlorn. I will dead in a few months 
time, and then, not a year later, your husband will die. I only regret that I
will not live to see your child Uriel assume the throne of Solitude."

"Have you seen whether --" Potema stopped, not wanting to reveal too many of 
her plans, even to a dying woman.

"Whether he will be Emperor? Aye, I know the answer to that too, daughter. 
Don't fear: you'll live to see the answer, one way or the other. I have a gift
for him when he is of age," The Dowager Empress removed a necklace with a 
single great yellow gem from around her neck. "It's a soul gem, infused with 
the spirit of a great werewolf your father and I defeated in battle thirty-six
years ago. I've enchanted it with spells from the School of Illusion so its 
wearer may charm whoever he choses. An important skill for a king."

"And an emperor," said Potema, taking the necklace. "Thank you, mother."

An hour later, passing the black branches of the sculpted douad shrubs, Potema
noticed a dark figure, which vanished into the shadows under the eaves at her 
approach. She had noticed people following her before: it was one of the 
hazards of life in the Imperial court. But this man was too close to her 
chambers. She slipped the necklace around her neck.

"Come out where I can see you," she commanded.

The man emerged from the shadows. A dark little fellow of middle-age dressed 
in black-dyed goatskin. His eyes were fixed, frozen, under her spell.

"Who do you work for?"

"Prince Antiochus is my master," he said in a dead voice. "I am his spy."

A plan formed. "Is the Prince in his study?"

"No, milady."

"And you have access?"

"Yes, milady."

Potema smiled widely. She had him. "Lead the way."

The next morning, the storm reappeared in all its fury. The pelting on the 
walls and ceiling was agony to Antiochus, who was discovering that he no 
longer had his youthful immunity to a late night of hard drinking. He shoved 
hard against the Argonian wench sharing his bed.

"Make yourself useful and close the window," he moaned.

No sooner had the window been bolted then there was a knock at the door. It 
was the Spymaster. He smiled at the Prince and handed him a sheet of paper.

"What is this?" said Antiochus, squinting his eyes. "I must still be drunk. It
looks like orcish."

"I think you will find it useful, your majesty. Your sister is here to see 
you."

Antiochus considered getting dressed or sending his bedmate out, but thought 
better of it. "Show her in. Let her be scandalized."

If Potema was scandalized, she did not show it. Swathed in orange and silver 
silk, she entered the room with a triumphant smile, followed by the man-
mountain Lord Vhokken.

"Dear brother, I spoke to my mother last night, and she advised me very 
wisely. She said I should not battle with you in public, for the good of our 
family and the Empire. Therefore," she said, producing from the folds of her 
robe a piece of paper. "I am offering you a choice."

"A choice?" said Antiochus, returning her smile. "That does sound friendly."

"Abdicate your rights to the Imperial throne voluntarily, and there is no need
for me to show the Council this," Potema said, handing her brother the letter.
"It is a letter with your seal on it, saying that you knew that your father 
was not Pelagius Septim II, but the royal steward Fondoukth. Now, before you 
deny writing the letter, you cannot deny the rumors, nor that the Imperial 
Council will believe that your father, the old fool, was quite capable of
being cuckolded. Whether it's true or not, or whether the letter is a forgery
or not, the scandal of it would ruin your chances of being the Emperor."

Antiochus's face had gone white with fury.

"Don't fear, brother," said Potema, taking back the letter from his shaking 
hands. "I will see to it that you have a very comfortable life, and all the 
whores your heart, or any other organ, desires."

Suddenly Antiochus laughed. He looked over at his Spymaster and winked. "I 
remember when you broke into my stash of Khajiiti erotica and blackmailed me.
That was close to twenty years ago. We've got better locks now, you must have
noticed. It must have killed you that you couldn't use your own skills to get
what you wanted."

Potema merely smiled. It didn't matter. She had him.

"You must have charmed my servant here into getting you into my study to use 
my seal," Antiochus smirked. "A spell, perhaps, from your mother, the witch?"

Potema continued to smile. Her brother was cleverer than she thought.

"Did you know that Charm spells, even powerful ones, only last so long? Of 
course, you didn't. You never were one for magic. Let me tell you, a generous
salary is a stronger motivation for keeping a servant in the long run, 
sister," Antiochus took out his own sheet of paper. "Now I have a choice for 
you."

"What is that?" said Potema, her smile faltering.

"It looks like nonsense, but if you know what you're looking for, it's very 
clear. It's a practice sheet -- your handwriting attempting to look like my 
handwriting. It's a good gift you have. I wonder if you haven't done this 
before, imitating another person's handwriting. I understand a letter was 
found from your husband's dead wife saying that his first son was a bastard. I
wonder if you wrote that letter. I wonder if I showed this evidence of your 
gift to your husband whether he would believe you wrote that letter. In the 
future, dear Wolf Queen, don't lay the same trap twice."

Potema shook her head, furious, unable to speak.

"Give me your forgery and go take a walk in the rain. And then, later today, 
unhatch whatever other plots you have to keep me from the throne." Antiochus 
fixed his eyes on Potema's. "I will be Emperor, Wolf Queen. Now go."

Potema handed her brother the letter and left the room. For a few moments, out
in the hallway, she said nothing. She merely glared at the slivers of 
rainwater dripping down the marble wall from a tiny, unseen crack.

"Yes, you will, brother," she said. "But not for very long."


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  ~~LIGHT ARMOR BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ69)
                    ~~Ice and Chitin~~  

                    Pletius Spatec
          
     Item ID: 0002440C
     

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The tale dates to the year 855 of the Second Era, after General Talos had 
taken the name Tiber Septim and begun his conquest of Tamriel. One of his 
commanding officers, Beatia of Ylliolos, had been surprised in an ambush while
returning from a meeting with the Emperor. She and her personal guard of five 
soldiers barely escaped, and were separated from their army. They fled across 
the desolate, sleet-painted rocky cliffs by foot. The attack had been so 
sudden, they had not even the time to don armor or get to their horses.

“If we can get to the Gorvigh Ridge,” hollered Lieutenant Ascutus, gesturing 
toward a peak off in the mist, his voice barely discernible over the wind. “We
can meet the legion you stationed in Porhnak.”

Beatia looked across the craggy landscape, through the windswept hoary trees, 
and shook her head: “Not that way. We'll be struck down before we make it 
halfway to the mountain. You can see their horses' breath through the trees.”

She directed her guard toward a ruined old keep on the frozen isthmus of 
Nerone, across the bay from Gorvigh Ridge. Jutting out on a promontory of 
rock, it was like many other abandoned castles in northern Skyrim, remnants of
Reman Cyrodiil's protective shield against the continent of Akavir. As they 
reached their destination and made a fire, they could hear the army of the 
warchiefs of Danstrar behind them, making camp on the land southwest, blocking
the only escape but the sea. The soldiers assessed the stock of the keep while
Beatia looked out to the fog-veiled water through the casements of the ruin.

She threw a stone, watching it skip across the ice trailing puffs of mist 
before it disappeared with a splash into a crack in the surface.

“No food or weaponry to be found, commander,” Lieutenant Ascutus reported. 
“There's a pile of armor in storage, but it's definitely taken on the elements
over the years. I don't know if it's salvageable at all.”

“We won't last long here,” Beatia replied. “The Nords know that we'll be 
vulnerable when night falls, and this old rock won't hold them off. If there's
anything in the keep we can use, find it. We have to make it across the ice 
floe to the Ridge.”

After a few minutes of searching and matching pieces, the guards presented two
very grimy, scuffed and cracked suits of chitin armor. Even the least proud of
the adventurers and pirates who had looted the castle over the years had 
thought the shells of chitin beneath their notice. The soldiers did not dare 
to clean them: the dust looked to be the only adhesive holding them together.

“They won't offer us much protection, just slow us down,” grimaced Ascutus. 
“If we run across the ice as soon as it gets dark--“

“Anyone who can plan and execute an ambush like the warchiefs of Danstrar will
be expecting that. We need to move quickly, now, before they're any closer.” 
Beatia drew a map of the bay in the dust, and then a semicircular path across
the water, an arc stretching from the castle to the Gorvigh Ridge. “The men 
should go the long way across the bay like so. The ice is thick there a ways 
from the shoreline, and there are a lot of rocks for cover.”

“You're not staying behind to hold the castle!”

“Of course not,” Beatia shook her head and drew a straight line from the 
castle to the closest shore across the Bay. “I'll take one of the chitin 
suits, and try to cross the water here. If you don't see or hear me when 
you've made it to land, don't wait -- just get to Porhnak.”

Lieutenant Ascutus tried to dissuade his commander, but he knew that she was 
would never order one of her men to perform the suicidal act of diversion, 
that all would die before they reached Gorvigh Ridge if the warlords' army was
not distracted. He could find only one way to honor his duty to protect his 
commanding officer. It was not easy convincing Commander Beatia that he should
accompany her, but at last, she relented.

The sun hung low but still cast a diffused glow, illuminating the snow with a
ghostly light, when the five men and one woman slipped through the boulders 
beneath the castle to the water's frozen edge. Beatia and Ascutus moved 
carefully and precisely, painfully aware of each dull crunch of chitin against
stone. At their commander's signal, the four unarmored men dashed towards the
north across the ice.

When her men had reached the first fragment of cover, a spiral of stone 
jutting a few yards from the base of the promontory, Beatia turned to listen 
for the sound of the army above. Nothing but silence. They were still unseen. 
Ascutus nodded, his eyes through the helm showing no fear. The commander and 
her lieutenant stepped onto the ice and began to run.

When Beatia had surveyed the bay from the castle ramparts, the crossing 
closest to shore had seemed like a vast, featureless plane of white. Now that 
she was down on the ice, it was even more flat and stark: the sheet of mist 
rose only up their ankles, but it billowed up at their approach like the hand 
of nature itself was pointing out their presence to their enemies. They were 
utterly exposed. It came almost as a relief when Beatia heard one of the 
warchiefs' scouts whistle a signal to his masters.

They didn't have to turn around to see if the army was coming. The sound of 
galloping hoofs and the crash of trees giving way was very clear over the 
whistling wind.

Beatia wished she could risk a glance to the north to see if her men were 
hidden from view, but she didn't dare. She could hear Ascutus running to her 
right, keeping pace, breathing hard. He was used to wearing heavier armor, but
the chitin joints were so brittle and tight from years of disuse, it was all 
he could do to bend them.

The rocky shore to the Ridge still looked at eternity away when Beatia felt 
and heard the first volley of arrows. Most struck the ice at their feet with 
sharp cracking sounds, but a few nearly found home, ricocheting off their 
backs. She silently offered a prayer of thanks to whatever anonymous 
shellsmith, now long dead, had crafted the armor. They continued to run, as 
the first rain of arrows was quickly followed by a second and a third.

“Thank Stendarr,” Ascutus gasped. “If there was only leather in the keep, we'd
be pierced through and through. Now if only it weren't... so rigid...”

Beatia felt her own armor joints begin to set, her knees and hips finding more
and more resistance with every step. There could be no denying it: they were 
drawing closer toward the shore, but they were running much more slowly. She 
heard the first dreadful galloping crunch of the army charging across the floe
toward them. The riders were cautious on the slippery ice, not driving their 
horses at full speed, but Beatia knew that they would be upon the two of them 
soon.

The old chitin armor could withstand the bite of a few arrows, but not a lance
driven with the force of a galloping horse. The only great unknown was time.

The thunder of beating hooves was deafening behind them when Ascutus and 
Beatia reached the edge of the shore. The giant, jagged stones that strung 
around the beach blockaded the approach. Beneath their feet, the ice sighed 
and crackled. They could not stand still, run forward, nor run back. Straining
against the tired metal in the armor joints, they took two bounds forward and 
flew at the boulders.

The first landing on the ice sounded an explosive crack. When they rose for 
the final jump, it was on a wave of water so cold it felt like fire through 
the thin armor. Ascutus's right hand found purchase in a deep fissure. Beatia
gripped with both hands, but her boulder was slick with frost. Faces pressed 
to the stone, they could not turn to face the army behind them.

But they heard the ice splintering, and the soldiers cry out in terror for 
just an instant. Then there was no sound but the whining of the wind and the 
purring lap of the water. A moment later, there were footsteps on the cliff 
above.

The four guardsmen had crossed the bay. There were two to pull Beatia up from 
the face of the boulder, and another two for Ascutus. They strained and swore 
at the weight, but finally they had their commander and her lieutenant safely 
on the edge of Gorvigh Ridge.

“By Mara, that's heavy for light armor.”

“Yes,” smiled Beatia wearily, looking back over the empty broken ice floe, the
cracks radiating from the parallel paths she and Ascutus had run. “But 
sometimes that's good.” 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ70)
           ~~Lord Jornibret's Last Dance~~  

                       Anonymous
          
     Item ID: 0002440D
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

(Traditional)

Women's Verse I

    Every winter season, 
    Except for the reason 
    Of one war or another 
    (Really quite a bother), 
    The Queen of Rimmen and her consort 
    Request their vassals come and cavort. 
    On each and every ball, 
    The first man at the Hall 
    Is Lord Ogin Jornibret of Gaer, 
    The Curse of all the Maidens Fair. 

Women's Refrain

    Oh, dear ladies, beware. 
    Dearest, dearest ladies, take care. 
    Though he's a very handsome man, 
    If you dare to take his handsome hand, 
    The nasty little spell will be cast 
    And your first dance with him will be the last. 

Men's Verse I

    At this social event 
    Everyone who went 
    Knew the bows and stances 
    And steps to all the dances. 
    The Queen of Rimmen and her consort 
    Would order a trumpet's wild report, 
    And there could be no indecision 
    As the revelers took position. 
    The first dance only ladies, separate 
    Away from such men as Lord Jornibret. 

Men's Refrain

    Oh, dear fellows, explain. 
    Brothers, can you help make it plain: 
    The man's been doing this for years, 
    Leaving maidens fair in tears 
    Before the final tune's been blast. 
    And her first dance with him will be the last. 

Women's Verse II

    Lord Ogin Jornibret of Gaer 
    Watched the ladies dance on air 
    The loveliest in the realm. 
    A fellow in a ursine-hide helm 
    Said, "The Queen of Rimmen and her consort 
    Have put together quite a sport. 
    Which lady fair do you prefer?" 
    Lord Jornibret pointed, "Her. 
    See that bosom bob and weave. 
    Well-suited for me to love and leave." 

Women's Refrain

Men's Verse II

    The man in the mask of a bear 
    Had left the Lord of Gaer 
    Before the ladies' dance was ending. 
    Then a trumpet sounded, portending 
    That the Queen of Rimmen and her consort 
    Called for the men to come to court. 
    Disdainful, passing over all the rest, 
    Ogin approached she of bobbing breast. 
    She was rejected, saved a life of woe, 
    For a new maiden as fair as snow. 

Men's Refrain

Women's Verse III

    At the first note of the band, 
    The beauty took Ogin's hand. 
    She complimented his stately carriage 
    Dancing to the tune about the marriage 
    Of the Queen of Rimmen and her consort. 
    It is very difficult indeed to comport 
    With grace, neither falling nor flailing, 
    Wearing ornate hide and leather mailing, 
    Dancing light as the sweetest of dreams 
    Without a single squeak of the seams. 

Women's Refrain.

Men's Verse III

    The rhythms rose and fell 
    No one dancing could excel 
    With masculine grace and syncopation, 
    Lord Jornibret even drew admiration 
    From the Queen of Rimmen and her consort. 
    Like a beauteous vessel pulling into port, 
    He silently slid, belying the leather's weight. 
    She whispered girlishly, "The hour is late, 
    But I've never seen such grace in hide armor." 
    It 'twas a pity he knew he had to harm her. 

Men's Refrain

Women's Verse IV

    The tune beat was furious 
    He began to be curious 
    Where had the maiden been sequest'ed. 
    "Before this dance was requested 
    By the consort and his Queen of Rimmen 
    I didn't see you dance with the women." 
    "My dress was torn as I came to the dance," 
    She said smiling in a voice deep as a man's, 
    "My maids worked quickly to repair, 
    While I wore a suit of hide, a helm of a bear." 

Women's Refrain 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ71)
                      ~~The Rear Guard~~  

                         Tenace Mourl
          
     Item ID: 0002440B
     

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The castle would hold. No matter the forces, the walls of Cascabel Hall would 
never fail, but that was small consolation for Menegur. He was hungry. In 
fact, he had never been so hungry. The well in the atrium of the fortress 
supplied him with enough water to hold there until the Fourth Era, but his 
stomach reminded Menegur minute to minute that he needed food.


The wagonload of supplies mocked him. When his army, the forces of the King of
Solitude, had left Cascabel Hall, and he had manned the battlements as the 
rear-guard to protect their retreat, they had left a wagon behind to supply 
him with enough food for months. It was not until the night after they left 
that he inspected the larder and found that nothing edible was in the wagon. 
Trunk after trunk was filled with netch armor from the army's incursion into 
Morrowind. Apparently his Nord confederates had assumed that the lightly 
opaque material was hard tack in aspic. If the Dunmer whose caravan had been 
raided knew about this, they would never be able to stop laughing.

Menegur thought that his fellow mercenary and kinswoman Aerin would have found
this amusing as well. She had spoken with great authority about netch leather,
being an expert of sorts on light armor, but she had made a point to mention 
that it could not be eaten like other leather in occasions of hardship. It was
a pity she couldn't be there to enjoy the irony, Menegur thought savagely. She
had returned to Morrowind even before the king's army had left, preferring a 
life as a wanted fugitive to a free existence in the cold of Skyrim.

All the weeds in the courtyard had been devoured by the rear-guard's sixteenth
day manning Cascabel Hall. The entire castle had been scoured: rotten tubers 
in the mulch pile found and consumed, a dusty bouquet in the countess's 
bedchamber eaten, almost every rat and insect but the most cunning infesting 
the castle walls had been tracked down and gobbled up. The castellan's 
chambers, filled with acrid, inedible law books, had yielded up a couple 
crumbs of bread. Menegur had even scraped moss from the stones. There was no 
denying it: he would be dead from starvation before his army returned to break
the ranks of the enemies who surrounded the fortress.

"The worst part," said Menegur, who had taken to talking to himself on only 
the second day alone in the castle. "Is how close sustenance is."

A vast arbor of golden apples stretched acre after acre near the castle walls.
The sunlight cast a seductive gleam on the fruit, and the cruel wind carried 
sweet smells into Cascabel to torture him.

Like most Bosmer, Menegur was an archer. He was a master of long and medium 
distance fighting, but in close quarters, as he would be if he dared to leave 
the castle and enter the enemy camp in the arbor, he knew he would not last 
long. At some point, he knew he would have to try, but he had been dreading 
the day. It was upon him now.

Menegur put on the netch armor for the first time, feeling the powdery, almost
velvet texture of the rendered leather against his skin. There was also a 
barely perceptible throb, which he recognized as the remnant nematocysts of 
the netch's venomous flesh, still tingling months after its death with 
domesticated poison. The combination made him feel energized. Aerin had 
described the sensation perfectly, just as she had explained how to defend 
himself while wearing netch leather armor.

Under cover of night, Menegur crept out of the back gate of the castle, 
locking it behind him with a rather cumbersome key. He made for the arbor as 
quietly as he could, but a passing sentry, coming behind a tree, saw him. 
Remaining calm, Menegur did as he remembered Aerin had instructed, only moving
after the attack had been launched. The sentry's blade glided against the 
armor and knocked to the left, throwing the young man off balance. That was 
the trick, as he understood it: you had to be prepared to be hit, and merely 
move with the blow, allowing the membranous armor to divert the injury away.

Use your enemy's momentum against him, as Aerin used to say.

There were several more close encounters in the arbor, but each swing of an ax
and each thrust of a sword found purchase elsewhere. With handfuls of apples, 
Menegur ran the gauntlet back to the castle. He locked the back gate door 
behind him and fell into an orgy of eating.

For week after week, the Bosmer stole out to gather his food. The guards began
anticipating his raids, but he kept his schedule irregular and always 
remembered when attacked to wait for the blow, accept it, and then turn. In 
such a way, he lived and survived his lonely vigil in Cascabel Hall.

Four months later, as he was preparing for another seizure of apples, Menegur
heard a loud clamor at the front gate. Surveying the group from a safe 
distance on the battlements, he saw the shields of the King of Solitude, his 
ally the Count of Cascabel, and their enemy the King of Farrun. Evidently, a 
truce had been called.

Menegur opened the gates and the combined armies flooded the courtyard. Many 
of the knights of Farrun sought to shake the hand of the man they had named 
the Shadow of the Arbor, expressing their admiration at his defensive skills 
and apologizing good-naturedly for their attempts to slay him. Only doing 
their job, you know.

"There's hardly a apple left on the vines," said the King of Solitude.

"Well, I started on the edges and worked my way in," explained Menegur. "I 
brought back extra fruit to tempt the rats of out of walls so I could have a 
little meat as well."

"We've spent the last several months working out the details of the truce," 
said the King. "Really quite exhausting. In any rate, the Count will be taking
back possession of his castle now, but there is a small detail we need to work
out. You're a mercenary, and as such responsible for your own expenses. If you
had been a subject of mine, things might be different, but there are certain 
old rules of law that must be respected."

Menegur anticipated the strike.

"The problem is," the King continued. "You've taken a good deal of the Count's
crops while here. By any reasonable computation, you've eaten an amount equal 
to and likely exceeding your mercenary's wages. Obviously, I would not want to
penalize you for the excellent job you've done defending the castle in 
uncomfortable circumstances, but you agree that it's important that we observe
the old rules of law, don't you?"

"Of course," replied Menegur, accepting the blow.

"I'm delighted to hear that," said the King. "Our estimation is that you owe 
the Count of Cascabel thirty-seven Imperial gold."

"Which I will gladly pay to myself, with interest, after the autumntide 
harvest," said Menegur. "There is more left on the vine than you suggest."

The Kings of Solitude and Farrun, and the Count of Cascabel stared at the 
Bosmer.

"We agreed to abide to the strictest old rules of law, and I've had time to 
read a great many books over the time you were making your truce. In 3E 246, 
during the reign of Uriel IV, the Imperial Council, in an attempt to clear up 
some questions of property rights in Skyrim during those chaotic days, decreed
that any man without a liege who occupied a castle for more than three months 
would be granted the rights and titles of that estate. It's a good law, of 
course, meant to discourage absent and foreign landlords." Menegur smiled, 
feeling the now familiar sensation of a glancing strike diverting. "By the 
rule of law, I am the Count of Cascabel."

The rear-guard's son still hold the title of Count of Cascabel. And he grows 
the finest, most delectable apples in the Empire.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ72)
                    ~~The Refugees~~  

                       Geros Albreigh
          
     Item ID: 0002440E
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

The smell of the bay oozed through the stones of the cellar, salt and brined 
decay. The cellar itself had its own scents of old wine turned to vinegar, 
mildew, and the more exotic spices of herbs the healers had brought with them 
to tend to the wounded. There were more than fifty people squeezed into the 
big earthen room which had once been forgotten storage for the brothel above.
The groaning and whimpering had ceased for now, and all was still, as if the 
hospital had turned into a mass grave.


"Mother," a Redguard boy whispered. "What was that?"

The boy's mother was about to answer him when there was another rolling roar 
from outside, which grew louder and louder, as if some great but incorporeal 
beast had come into the cellar. The walls trembled and dust burst from the 
ceiling in a rain of powder.

Unlike the last time, no one screamed. They waited until the weird, haunting 
sound had past, and then was replaced by the soft rumble of the distant 
battle.

A wounded soldier began whispering Mara's Prayer from the Doomed.

"Mankar," a Bosmer woman curled up in a cot hissed, her eyes feverish, flesh 
white and wet with sweat. "He is coming!"

"Who is coming?" asked the boy, grasping his mother's skirt tight.

"Who do you think, lad? The sweets monger?" a grizzled one-armed Redguard 
growled. "The Camoran Usurper."

The boy's mother shot an angry look at the old warrior. "She doesn't know what
she's saying. She's sick."

The boy nodded. His mother was usually right. He had not yet even been born 
when people began whispering that the Camoran Usurper was coming towards her 
little village, and she had packed up their belongings to flee. Their 
neighbors had laughed at her, she said, saying that Rihad and Taneth would 
handily defeat him. Her husband, Lukar's father who he was never to meet, had
also laughed at her. It was the harvest time, and she would miss out on the 
celebrations. But his mother, Miak-I, was right. Two weeks after she fled the
village, she heard the tale that it had been obliterated during the night with
no survivors. Rihad and Taneth had both fallen. The Usurper was unstoppable.

Lukar had been born and grown up in refugee camps throughout Hammerfell. He 
had never known a friend for more than a few days. He knew that when the sky 
burned red to the west, they would pack up and move east. When it burned to 
the south, they moved north. At last, after twelve years of moving from camp 
to camp, they had taken passage across the Iliac Bay to the province of High 
Rock and the barony of Dwynnen. There Miak-I had promised, and hoped, that 
they would have a peaceful, permanent home.

It was so green there, it blinded him. Unlike Hammerfell, which was only green
in certain seasons and in certain places, Dwynnen was verdant year round. 
Until wintertide, when it began to snow, and Lukar had been frightened of it 
at first. He was ashamed to think of it now, when there was real danger, but 
the red clouds of war, the stink and pain of the refugee camp, that was 
familiar.

Now, the red sky was on the horizon of the bay and coming closer, and he 
longed for the days when a scattering of white made him cry.

"Mankar!" the Bosmer woman cried out again. "He is coming, and he will bring 
death!"

"No one is coming," said a pretty young Breton healer, coming to the woman's 
side. "Hush now."

"Hello?" came a voice from above.

The whole room, almost together as one gasped. A Bosmer limped down the shoddy
wooden stairs, his friendly face very obviously not that of the Camoran 
Usurper.

"Sorry if I frightened you," he said. "I was told there were healers here, and
I could use a little help."

Rosayna hurried to take a look at the Bosmer's wounds on his leg and chest. 
Dishelved but still beautiful, she was one of the favorites at the brothel, 
who had learned her healing skill along with her more vocational skills at the
House of Dibella. She carefully but quickly pulled the rent leather cuirass, 
chausses, tassets, grieves, and boots off him, and placed them to the side 
while she examined the injuries.

The old Redguard warrior picked them up and studied them. "You were in the 
war?"

"Next to it is probably a better way to put it," the Bosmer smiled, wincing 
slightly at Rosayna's touch. "Behind it, beside it, in front of it. My name's 
Orben Elmlock. I'm a scout. I try to avoid the real battle, so I can get back 
and report what I see. A good job for people who don't like the color of their
own blood very much."

"Hzim," said the warrior, shaking Orben's hand. "I can't fight anymore, but I
can fix up this armor if you're going to return."

"You're a leathersmith?"

"Naw, just a jack of all trades," replied Hzim, opening up a small canister of
wax to prep the hard but flexible leather. "I could tell you were a scout from
the armor, though. Can you tell us what you've been spying on? We've been down
in here for half a day now, with no word from the outside."

"The entire Iliac Bay is one great battlefield on the waves," said Orben and 
sighed as Rosayna's spell began to close his jagged but shallow wounds. "We've
shut off the invasion from the mouth of the bay, but I was coming from the 
coast, and the enemy's army is marching over the Wrothgarian Mountains. That's
where I had my little scuffle. It's not too surprising, moving the flank in 
from the side while the front battle is occupied. It's a play right out of 
Camoran Kaltos's book of tricks the Hart-King borrowed."

"The Hart-King?" Lukar asked. He had been listening quietly, understanding 
everything except that.

"Haymon Camoran, the Camoran Usurper, Haymon Hart-King, they're all the same, 
lad. He's a complicated fellow, and needs more than one name."

"You know him?" Miak-I asked, stepping forward.

"Near on twenty years, before this whole black, bloody business. I was Camoran
Kaltos's chief scout, and Haymon was his sorcerer and advisor. I helped them 
both, when they were vying for the Camoran throne, and began the conquest of -
Ouch!"

Rosayna has ceased her healing. With eyes of fury, she had reversed her spell,
and the closed, mended wounds were opening again, dark infections returning. 
She held him with surprising strength when Orben tried to pull back.

"You bastard," the healer courtesan hissed. "I have a cousin in Falinesti, a 
priestess."

"She's fine!" Orben yelped. "Lord Kaltos was very adamant about not harming 
anyone who did not pose a threat …"

"I think the people of Kvatch would disagree with that assessment," said Hzim,
coldly.

"That was horrible, the worst thing I have ever seen," Orben nodded. "Kaltos 
wept when he saw what Haymon had done. My master did everything he could to 
stop it, begging the Hart-King to return to Valenwood. But he turned on 
Kaltos, and we fled. We are not your enemy, and we have never been. Kaltos 
could do nothing to prevent the horror that the Usurper has brought to the 
Colovian West and Hammerfell, and he has fought for fifteen years to prevent 
more."

The frightening bestial roar passed through the cellar again, even louder than
before. The wounded could not help groaning in helpless terror.

"And what is that?" Miak-I sneered. "Another of Camoran Kaltos's tricks that 
the Usurper picked up?"

"It is indeed a trick, as a matter of fact," Orben yelled, above the screech. 
"It's a phastasm he employs to scare people. He had to use fear tactics in the
beginning when his power was ascending, and he has to fall back on them now 
for his power is waning. That is why it took him two years to conquer 
Valenwood, and another thirteen to half-conquer Hammerfell. No offense to you 
Redguards, but it isn't only your battle prowess that has been holding him 
back. He does not have the support he used to have from his Master -"

The echoing roar increased in intensity before once again falling silent.

"Mankar!" the Bosmer woman groaned. "He comes, and he will destroy all!"

"His Master?" asked Lukar, but Orben's eyes had gone to the Bosmer woman, 
curled up in her blood-soaked cot.

"Who is she?" Orben asked Rosayna.

"One of the refugees, of course, from your friendly little war in Valenwood 
before you and your Kaltos changed sides," the healer replied. "I think her 
name is Kaalys."

"By Jephre," Orben whispered under his breath, limping over to the woman's cot
and wiping the sweat and blood streaked hair from her pallid face. "Kaalys, 
it's Orben. Do you remember me? How did you get here? Did he hurt you?"

"Mankar!" Kaalys moaned.

"That's all she says," said Rosayna.

"I don't know what that it is," Orben frowned. "Not the Usurper, though she 
knew him too. Very well. She was a favorite of his."

"His favorites, you, Kaltos, her, all seem to turn against him," said Miak-I.

"That is why he will fall," replied Hzim.

Armored footfall rang along the ceiling, and the cellar door burst open. It 
was the captain of Baron Othrok's castle guards. "The docks are on fire! If 
you want to live, you'll need to take refuge at Castle Wightmoor!"

"We need help!" Rosayna called back, but she knew that the guards were needed 
for defense, not to help carry the sick to safety.

With ten guards who could be spared and the most able-bodied of the wounded 
assisting, the cellar was emptied as the streets of Dwynnen filled with smoke,
and fire began to spread through the chaos. It had been a single fireball 
miscast out at sea striking the docks, but the damage would be tremendous. 
Some hours later, in the courtyard of the mighty castle, the healers were able
to set up the cots and begin to tend once again to the suffering of the 
innocent. The first person Rosayna found was Orben Elmlock. Even with his 
wounds reopened, he had helped carry two of the patients into the castle.

"I'm sorry," she said as she pressed her healing hands onto his wounds. "I 
lost my temper. I forgot that I am a healer."

"Where is Kaalys?" Orben asked.

"She's not here?" Rosayna said, looking around. "She must have run away."

"Run away? But wasn't she injured?"

"It was not a healthy situation, but new mothers can surprise you with what 
they can do when it's all over."

"She was pregnant?" Orben gasped

"Yes. It wasn't such a difficult birth in the end. She was holding the boy in 
her arms when I saw her last. She said she had done it herself."

"She was pregnant," Orben murmured again. "The mistress of the Camoran Usurper
was pregnant."

Word quickly spread throughout the castle that the battle was over, and more 
than that, the war was over. Haymon Camoran's forces had been defeated at sea,
and in the mountains. The Hart-King was dead.

Lukar watched down from the battlements into the dark woods that surrounded 
Dwynnen. He had heard about Kaalys, and he imagined a desperate woman fleeing 
with her newborn baby in her arms into the wilderness. Kaalys would have 
nowhere to go, no one to protect them. She and her baby would be a refugee, 
like Miak-I and him had been. Reflecting back, he remembered her words.

He is coming. He is coming, and he will bring death. He will destroy all.

Lukar remembered her eyes. She was sick, but not afraid. Who was this "He" who
was coming if the Camoran Usurper was dead?

"Did she say nothing else?" asked Orben.

"She told me the baby's name," Rosayna replied. "Mankar."

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ73)
               ~~Rislav The Righteous~~  

                       Sinjin 
          
     Item ID: 0002440F
     

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Like all true heroes, Rislav Larich had inauspicious beginnings. We are told 
by chroniclers that the springtide night in the 448th year of the first era on
which he was born was unseasonably cold, and that his mother Queen Lynada died
very shortly after setting eyes upon her son. If he were much beloved of his 
father, King Mhorus of Skingrad, who already had plenty of heirs, three sons 
and four daughters before him, the chroniclers make no mention of it.


His existence was so very undistinguished that we hear virtually nothing of 
him for the first twenty years of his life. His schooling, we can suppose, was
similar to that of any "spare prince" in the Colovian West, with Ayleid tutors
to teach him the ways of hunting and battle. Etiquette, religious instruction,
and even basic statecraft were seldom a part of the training of a prince of 
the Highlands, as it was in the more civilized valley of Nibenay.

There is a brief reference to him, together with his family, as part of the 
rolls of honor during the coronation of the Emperor Gorieus on the 23rd of 
Sun's Dawn 1E 461. The ceremony, of course, held during the time of the 
Alessian Doctrines of Marukh, and so was without entertainment, but the 
thirteen-year-old Rislav was still witness to some of the greatest figures of 
legend. The Beast of Anequina, Darloc Brae, represented his kingdom, giving 
honor to the Empire. The Chieftain of Skyrim Kjoric the White and his son Hoag
were in attendance. And despite the Empire's intolerance of all elves, chimer 
Indoril Nerevar and dwemer Dumac Dwarfking were evidently there as well, 
diplomatically representing Resdayn, all in relative peace.

Also mentioned on the rolls was a young mer in service to the Imperial court 
of High Rock, who was to have a great history with Rislav. Ryain Direnni.

Whether the two young men of about the same age met and conversed is entirely
the stuff of historian's fancy. Ryain is spoken of in praising words as a 
powerful land-owner, eventually buying the island of Balfiera in the Iliac Bay
and gradually conquering all of High Rock and large parts of Hammerfell and 
Skyrim, but Rislav is not heard of again in history's books for another 
seventeen years. We can only offer supposition based on the facts that follow.

Children of kings are, of course, married to the children of other kings to 
bind alliances. The kingdoms of Skingrad and Kvatch skirmished over common 
territory throughout the fifth century, until they reached a peace in the year
472. The details of this accord are not recorded, but since we know that 
Prince Rislav was in the court of Kvatch six years later, as husband to 
Belene, the daughter of King Justinius, it is fair to make an educated guess 
that they were married then to make peace.

This brings us to the year 478, when a great plague swept through all of 
Cyrodiil and seemed particularly concentrated in the independent Colovian 
West. Among the victims were King Mhorus and the rest of the entire royal 
family in Skingrad. Rislav's only surviving elder brother, Dorald, survived, 
being in the Imperial City as a priest of Marukh. He returned to his homeland 
to assume the throne.

Of Dorald, we have some history. The King's second son, he was slightly 
simple-minded and evidently very pious. All the chroniclers spoke of his 
sweetness and decency, how he saw a vision in his early years that brought him
- with his father's blessing - from Skingrad to the Imperial City and the 
priesthood. The priesthood of Marukh, of course, saw no difference between 
spiritual and political matters. It was the religion of the Alessian Empire, 
and it taught that to resist the Emperor was to resist the Gods. Given that, 
it is scarcely a surprise what Dorald did when he became King of the 
independent kingdom of Skingrad.

His first edict, on his very first day, was to cede the kingdom to the Empire.

The reaction throughout the Colovian Estates was shock and outrage, nowhere 
more so than in the court of Kvatch. Rislav Larich, we are told, rode forth to
his brother's kingdom, together with his wife and two dozen of his father-in-
law's cavalry. It was surely not an impressive army, no matter how the 
chroniclers embellish it, but they had little trouble defeating all the guards
Dorald sent to stop them. In truth, there was no actual battling, for the 
soldiers of Skingrad resented their new king's decision to give up their 
autonomy.

The brothers faced one another in the castle courtyard where they had grown 
up.

In typical Colovian fashion, there was no trial, no accusations of treason, no
jury, no judge. Only an executioner.

"Thou art no brother of mine," Rislav Larich said, and struck Dorald's head 
from his shoulders in one blow. He was crowned King of Skingrad still holding
the same bloody axe in his arms.

If King Rislav had no battle experience beforehand, that was shortly to 
change. Word spread quickly to the Imperial City that Skingrad, once offered,
was now being taken back. Gorieus was an accomplished warrior even before 
taking the throne, and the seventeen years he had as Emperor were scarcely 
peaceful. Only eight months before Dorald's assassination and Rislav's 
ascendancy, Gorieus and the Alessian army had faced another of his coronation 
guests, Kjoric the White, on the fields of the frozen north. The High 
Chieftain of Skyrim lost his life in the Battle of Sungard. While the pact of 
chieftains was selecting a new leader, Cyrodiil was busily grabbing back the 
land of southern Skyrim that it had lost.

In short, Emperor Gorieus knew how to deal with rebellious vassals.

The Alessian army poured westward "like a flood of death," to borrow the 
chronicler's phrase, in numbers far exceeding what would be required to 
conquer Skingrad. Gorieus could not have thought actual battle was likely. 
Rislav, as we said, had little to no experience at warfare, and only a few 
days' practice at kingcraft. His kingdom and all of the Colovian West had just
been ravaged by plague. The Alessians anticipated that a mere show of arms, 
and a surrender.

Rislav instead prepared for battle. He quickly inspected his troops and drew 
up plans.

The chroniclers who had heretofore ignored the life of Rislav now devote verse
after verse describing the king's aspect with fetishistic delight. While it 
may lack literary merit and taste, we are at least given some details at last.
Not surprisingly, the king wore the finest armor of his era, as the Colovian 
Estates then had the finest leathersmiths - the only type of armor available -
in all of Tamriel. The king's klibanion mail, boiled and waxed for hardness, 
and studded with inch-long spikes, was a rich chestnut red, and he wore it 
over his black tunic but under his black cloak. The statue of Rislav the 
Righteous which now stands in Skingrad is a romanticized version of king, but
not inaccurate except in the armor represented. No bard of the Colovian West 
would have gone to the market so lightly protected. But it does, as we will 
see, include the most important accouterments of Rislav: his trained hawk and 
his fast horse.

The winter rains had washed through the roads to the south, sending much of 
the West Weald spilling into Valenwood. The Emperor took the northern route, 
and King Rislav with a small patrol of guards met him at a low pass on what is
now the Gold Road. The Emperor's army, it is said, was so large that the Beast
of Anequina could hear its march from hundreds of miles away, and despite 
himself, the chroniclers say, he quaked in fear.

Rislav, it was said, did not quake. With perfect politeness, he told the 
Emperor that his party was too large to be accommodated in the tiny kingdom of
Skingrad.

"Next time," Rislav said. "Write before you come."

The Emperor was, like most Alessian Emperors, not a man of great humor, and he
thought Rislav touched by Sheogorath. He ordered his personal guards to arrest
the poor madman, but at that moment, the King of Skingrad raised his arm and 
sent his hawk flying into the sky. It was a signal his army had been waiting 
for. The Alessian were all within the pass and the range of their arrows.

King Rislav and his guard began riding westward as fast as if they had been 
"kissed by wild Kynareth," as the chroniclers said. He did not dare to look 
behind him, but his plan went faultlessly. The far eastern end of the pass was
sealed by rolling boulders, giving the Alessian no direction to go but 
westward. The Skingrad archers rained arrows down upon the Imperial army from
far above on the plateaus, remaining safe from reprisal. The furious Emperor 
Gorieus chased Rislav from the Weald to the Highlands, leaving Skingrad far 
behind, all the while his army growing steadily smaller and smaller.

In the ancient Highland forest, the Imperial army met the army of Rislav's 
father-in-law, the King of Kvatch. The Alessian army likely still outnumbered 
their opponents, but they were exhausted and their morale had been obliterated
by the chase amid a sea of arrows. After an hour's battle, they retreated 
north into what is now the Imperial Reserve, and from there, further north and
east, to slip back to nurse their wounds and pride in Nibenay.

It was the beginning of the end of the Alessian hegemony. The Kings of the 
Colovian West joined with Kvatch and Skingrad to resist Imperial incursions. 
The Clan Direnni under Ryain was inspired to outlaw the religion of the 
Alessian Reform throughout his lands in High Rock, and began pushing into 
Imperial territories. The new High Chief of Skyrim, Hoag, now called Hoag 
Merkiller, though sharing the Emperor's official xenophobia, also joined the
 resistance. His heir, King Ysmir Wulfharth of Atmora, helped continue the 
struggle upon Hoag's death in battle, and also insured his place in history.

The heroic King of Skingrad, who faced the Emperor's army virtually alone, and
triggered its end, justly deserves his sobriquet of Rislav the Righteous.

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                   ~~MARKSMAN BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ74)
                 ~~A Dance in Fire, v5~~  

                     Waughin Jarth 
          
     Item ID: 00024411
     

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 Chapter 5

"Soap! The forest will eat love! Straight ahead! Stupid and a stupid cow!"

The voice boomed out so suddenly that Decumus Scotti jumped. He stared off 
into the dim jungle glade from which he only heard animal and insect calls, 
and the low whistling of wind moments before. It was a queer, oddly accented 
voice of indiscriminate gender, tremulous in its modulations, but unmistakably
human. Or, at very least, elven. An isolated Bosmer perhaps with a poor grasp 
of the Cyrodilic language. After countless hours of plodding through the dense
knot of Valenwood jungle, any voice of slight familiarity sounded wondrous.

"Hello?" he cried.

"Beetles on any names? Certainly yesterday yes!" the voice called back. "Who, 
what, and when, and mice!"

"I'm afraid I don't understand," replied Scotti, turning toward the brambled 
tree, thick as a wagon, where the voice had issued. "But you needn't be afraid
of me. My name is Decumus Scotti. I'm a Cyrodiil from the Imperial City. I 
came here to help rebuild Valenwood after the war, you see, and now I'm rather
lost."

"Gemstones and grilled slaves ... The war," moaned the voice and broke down 
into sobs.

"You know about the war? I wasn't sure, I wasn't even sure how far away from 
the border I am now," Scotti began slowly walking toward the tree. He dropped 
Reglius's satchel to the ground, and held out his empty hands. "I'm unarmed. I
only want to know the way to the closest town. I'm trying to meet my friend, 
Liodes Jurus, in Silvenar."

"Silvenar!" the voice laughed. It laughed even louder as Scotti circled the 
tree. "Worms and wine! Worms and wine! Silvenar sings for worms and wine!"

There was nothing to be found anywhere around the tree. "I don't see you. Why
are you hiding?"

In frustration born of hunger and exhaustion, he struck the tree trunk. A 
sudden shiver of gold and red erupted from a hollow nook above, and Scotti was
surrounded by six winged creatures scarcely more than a few inches long. 
Bright crimson eyes were set on either side of tunnel-like protuberances, the 
animals' always open mouths. They were legless, and their thin, rapidly 
beating, aureate wings seemed poorly constructed to transport their fat, 
swollen bellies. And yet, they darted through the air like sparks from a fire.
Whirling about the poor clerk, they began chattering what he now understood to
be perfect nonsense.

"Wines and worms, how far from the border am I! Academic garnishments, and 
alas, Liodes Jurus!"

"Hello, I'm afraid I'm unarmed? Smoken flames and the closest town is dear 
Oblivion."

"Swollen on bad meat, an indigo nimbus, but you needn't be afraid of me!"

"Why are you hiding? Why are you hiding? Before I begin to friend, love me, 
Lady Zuleika!"

Furious with the mimics, Scotti swung his arms, driving them up into the 
treetops. He stomped back to the clearing and opened up the satchel again, as 
he had done some hours before. There was still, unsurprisingly, nothing useful
in the bag, and nothing to eat in any corner or pocket. A goodly amount of 
gold (he smiled grimly, as he had done before, at the irony of being 
financially solvent in the jungle), a stack of neat blank contracts from Lord
Vanech's building commission, some thin cord, and an oiled leather cloak for 
bad weather. At least, Scotti considered, he had not suffered rain.

A rolling moan of thunder reminded Scotti of what he had suspected for some 
weeks now. He was cursed.

Within an hour's time, he was wearing the cloak and clawing his way through 
mud. The trees, which had earlier allowed no sunlight in, provided no shelter 
against the pounding storm and wind. The only sounds that pierced the pelting 
of the rain were the mocking calls of the flying creatures, flitting just 
above, babbling their nonsense. Scotti bellowed at them, threw rocks, but they
seemed enamored of his company.

While he was reaching to grab a promising looking stone to hurl at his 
tormentors, Scotti felt something shift beneath his feet. Wet but solid ground
suddenly liquefied and became a rolling tide, rushing him forward. Light as a 
leaf, he flew head over feet over head, until the mudflow dropped and he 
continued forward, plunging down into a river twenty-five feet below.

The storm passed quite as instantly as it had arrived. The sun melted the dark
clouds and warmed Scotti as he swam for the shore. There, another sign of the 
Khajiiti incursion into Valenwood greeted him. A small fishing village had 
stood there once, so recently extinct that it smoldered like a still-warm 
corpse. Dirt cairns that had once housed fish by the smell of them had been 
ravaged, their bounty turned to ash. Rafts and skiffs lay broken, scuttled, 
half-submerged. All the villagers were no more, either dead or refugees far 
away. Or so he presumed. Something banged against the wall of one of the 
ruins. Scotti ran to investigate.

"My name is Decumus Scotti?" sang the first winged beast. "I'm a Cyrodiil 
from? The Imperial City? I came here to help rebuild Valenwood after the war, 
you see, and now I'm rather lost?"

"I swell to maculate, apeneck!" agreed one of its companions. "I don't see 
you. Why are you hiding?"

As they fell into chattering, Scotti began to search the rest of the village. 
Surely the cats had left something behind, a scrap of dried meat, a morsel of 
fish sausage, anything. But they had been immaculate in their complete 
annihilation. There was nothing to eat anywhere. Scotti did find one item of 
possible use under the tumbled remains of a stone hut. A bow and two arrows 
made of bone. The string had been lost, likely burned away in the heat of the
fire, but he pulled the cord from Reglius's satchel and restrung it.

The creatures flew over and hovered nearby as he worked: "The convent of the 
sacred Liodes Jurus?"

"You know about the war! Worms and wine, circumscribe a golden host, apeneck!"

The moment the cord was taut, Scotti nocked an arrow and swung around, pulling
the string tight against his chest. The winged beasts, having had experience 
with archers before, shot off in all directions in a blur. They needn't have 
bothered. Scotti's first arrow dove into the ground three feet in front of 
him. He swore and retrieved it. The mimics, having likewise had experience 
with poor archers before, returned at once to hovering nearby and mocking 
Scotti.

On his second shot, Scotti did much better, in purely technical terms. He 
remembered how the archers in Falinesti looked when he pulled himself out from
under the hoarvor tick, and they were all taking aim at him. He extended his 
left hand, right hand, and right elbow in a symmetrical line, drawing the bow 
so his hand touched his jawline, and he could see the creature in his sight 
like the arrow was a finger he was pointing with. The bolt missed the target 
by only two feet, but it continued on its trajectory, snapping when it struck
a rock wall.

Scotti walked to the river's edge. He had only one arrow left, and perhaps, he
considered, it would be most practical to find a slow-moving fish and fire it 
on that. If he missed, at least there was less of a chance of breaking the 
shaft, and he could always retrieve it from the water. A rather torpid, 
whiskered fish rolled by, and he took aim at it.

"My name is Decumus Scotti!" one of the creatures howled, frightening the fish
away. "Stupid and a stupid cow! Will you dance a dance in fire!"

Scotti turned and aimed the arrow as he had done before. This time, however, 
he remembered to plant his feet as the archers had done, seven inches apart, 
knees straight, left leg slightly forward to meet the angle of his right 
shoulder. He released the last arrow.

The arrow also proved a serviceable prong for roasting the creature against 
the smoking hot stones of one of the ruins. Its other companions had 
disappeared instantly after the beast was slain, and Scotti was able to dine 
in peace. The meat proved to be delicious, if scarcely more than a first 
course. He was picking the last of it from the bones, when a boat sailed into 
view from around the bend of the river. At the helm were Bosmer sailors. 
Scotti ran to the bank and waved his arms. They averted their eyes and 
continued past.

"You bloody, callous bastards!" Scotti howled. "Knaves! Hooligans! Apenecks! 
Scoundrels!"

A gray-whiskered form came out from a hatch, and Scotti immediately recognized
him as Gryf Mallon, the poet translator he had met in the caravan from 
Cyrodiil.

He peered Scotti's direction, and his eyes lit up with delight, "Decumus 
Scotti! Precisely the man I hoped to see! I want to get your thoughts on a 
rather puzzling passage in the Mnoriad Pley Bar! It begins 'I went weeping 
into the world, searching for wonders,' perhaps you're familiar with it?"

"I'd like nothing better than to discuss the Mnoriad Pley Bar with you, 
Gryf!" Scotti called back. "Would you let me come aboard though first?"

Overjoyed at being on a ship bound for any port at all, Scotti was true to his
word. For over an hour as the boat rolled down the river past the blackened 
remnants of Bosmeri villages, he asked no questions and spoke nothing of his 
life over the past weeks: he merely listened to Mallon's theories of merethic 
Aldmeri esoterica. The translator was undemanding of his guest's scholarship, 
accepting nods and shrugs as civilized conversation. He even produced some 
wine and fish jelly, which he shared with Scotti absent-mindedly, as he 
expounded on his various theses.

Finally, while Mallon was searching for a reference to some minor point in his
notes, Scotti asked, "Rather off subject, but I was wondering where we're 
bound."

"The very heart of the province, Silvenar," Mallon said, not looking up from 
the passage he was reading. "It's somewhat bothersome, actually, as I wanted 
to go to Woodhearth first to talk to a Bosmer there who claims to have an 
original copy of Dirith Yalmillhiad, if you can believe it. But for the time 
being, that has to wait. Summurset Isle has surrounded the city, and is in the
process of starving the citizenry until they surrender. It's a tiresome 
prospect, since the Bosmeri are happy to eat one another, so there's a risk 
that at the end, only one fat wood elf will remain to wave the flag."

"That is vexing," agreed Scotti, sympathetically. "To the east, the Khajiiti 
are burning everything, and to the west, the High Elves are waging war. I 
don't suppose the borders to the north are clear?"

"They're even worse," replied Mallon, finger on the page, still distracted. 
"The Cyrodiils and Redguards don't want Bosmer refugees streaming into their 
provinces. It only stands to reason. Imagine how much more criminally inclined
they'd be now that they're homeless and hungry."

"So," murmured Scotti, feeling a shiver. "We're trapped in Valenwood."

"Not at all. I need to leave fairly shortly myself, as my publisher has set a
very definite deadline for my new book of translations. From what I 
understand, one merely petitions to the Silvenar for special border protection
and one can cross into Cyrodiil with impunity."

"Petition the Silvenar, or petition at Silvenar?"

"Petition the Silvenar at Silvenar. It's an odd nomenclature that is typical 
of this place, the sort of thing that makes my job as a translator that much 
more challenging. The Silvenar, he, or rather they are the closest the Bosmeri
have to a great leader. The essential thing to remember about the Silvenar 
--" Mallon smiled, finding the passage he was looking for, "Here! 'A 
fortnight, inexplicable, the world burns into a dance.' There's that metaphor
again."

"What were you saying about the Silvenar?" asked Scotti. "The essential thing
to remember?"

"I don't remember what I was saying," replied Mallon, turning back to his 
oration.

In a week's time, the little boat bumped along the shallow, calmer waters of 
the foaming current the Xylo had become, and Decumus Scotti first saw the city
of Silvenar. If Falinesti was a tree, then Silvenar was a flower. A 
magnificent pile of faded shades of green, red, blue, and white, shining with 
crystalline residue. Mallon had mentioned off-hand, when not otherwise 
explaining Aldmeri prosody, that Silvenar had once been a blossoming glade in 
the forest, but owing to some spell or natural cause, the trees' sap began 
flowing with translucent liqueur. The process of the sap flowing and hardening
over the colorful trees had formed the web of the city. Mallon's description 
was intriguing, but it hardly prepared him for the city's beauty.

"What is the finest, most luxurious tavern here?" Scotti asked one of the 
Bosmer boatmen.

"Prithala Hall," Mallon answered. "But why don't you stay with me? I'm 
visiting an acquaintance of mine, a scholar I think you'll find fascinating. 
His hovel isn't much, but he has the most extraordinary ideas about the 
principles of a Merethic Aldmeri tribe the Sarmathi --"

"Under any other circumstances, I would happily accept," said Scotti 
graciously. "But after weeks of sleeping on the ground or on a raft, and 
eating whatever I could scrounge, I feel the need for some indulgent creature 
comforts. And then, after a day or two, I'll petition the Silvenar for safe 
passage to Cyrodiil."

The men bade each other goodbye. Gryf Mallon gave him the address of his 
publisher in the Imperial City, which Scotti accepted and quickly forgot. The 
clerk wandered the streets of Silvenar, crossing bridges of amber, admiring 
the petrified forest architecture. In front of a particularly estimable palace
of silvery reflective crystal, he found Prithala Hall.

He took the finest room, and ordered a gluttonous meal of the finest quality.
At a nearby table, he saw two very fat fellows, a man and a Bosmer, remarking 
how much finer the food was there than at the Silvenar's palace. They began to
discuss the war and some issues of finances and rebuilding provincial bridges.
The man noticed Scotti looking at them, and his eyes flashed recognition.

"Scotti, is that you? Kynareth, where have you been? I've had to make all the 
contacts here on my own!"

At the sound of his voice, Scotti recognized him. The fat man was Liodes 
Jurus, vastly engorged. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ75)
                 ~~The Black Arrow, v2~~  

                     Gorgic Guine 
          
     Item ID:  00024531
     

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On the last dinner in my employ at the palace, the Duchess, quite 
surprisingly, had invited the mayor of Moliva and Master Hiomaste himself 
among her other guests. The servants' gossip was manic. The mayor had been 
there before, albeit very irregularly, but Hiomaste's presence was 
unthinkable. What could she mean by such a conciliatory gesture?

The dinner itself progressed along with perfect if slightly cool civility 
among all parties. Hiomaste and the Duchess were both very quiet. The Mayor 
tried to engage the group in a discussion of the Emperor Pelagius IV's new son
and heir Uriel, but it failed to spark much interest. Lady Villea, elderly but
much more vivacious than her sister the Duchess, led most of the talk about 
crime and scandal in Eldenroot.

"I have been encouraging her to move out to the country, away from all that 
unpleasantness for years now," the Duchess said, meeting the eyes of the 
Mayor. "We've been discussing more recently the possibility of her building a
palace on Moliva Hill, but there's so little space there as you know. 
Fortunately, we've come to a discovery. There is a wide field just a few days
west, on the edge of the river, ideally suited."

"It sounds perfect," the Mayor smiled and turned to Lady Villea: "When will 
your ladyship begin building?"

"The very day you move your village to the site," replied the Duchess of Woda.

The Mayor turned to her to see if she was joking. She obviously was not.

"Think of how much more commerce you could bring to your village if you were 
close to the river," said Lady Villea jovially. "And Master Hiomaste's 
students could have easier access to his fine school. Everyone would benefit.
I know it would put my sister's heart to ease if there was less trespassing 
and poaching on her lands."

"There is no poaching or trespassing on your lands now, Your Grace," frowned 
Hiomaste. "You do not own the jungle, nor will you. The villagers may be 
persuaded to leave, that I don't know. But my school will stay where it is."

The dinner party never really recovered happily. Hiomaste and the Mayor 
excused themselves, and my services, such as they were, were not needed in the
drawing room where the group went to have their drinks. There was no laughter 
to be heard through the walls that evening.

The next day, even though there was a dinner planned for the evening, I left
on my usual walk to Moliva. Before I had even reached the drawbridge, the 
guard held me back: "Where are you going, Gorgic? Not to the village, are 
you?"

"Why not?"

He pointed to the plume of smoke in the distance: "A fire broke out very early
this morning, and it's still going. Apparently, it started at Master 
Hiomaste's school. It looks like the work of some traveling brigands."

"Blessed Stendarr!" I cried. "Are the students alive?"

"No one knows, but it'd be a miracle if any survived. It was late and most 
everyone was sleeping. I know they've already found the Master's body, or what
was left of it. And they also found that girl, your friend, Prolyssa."

I spent the day in a state of shock. It seemed inconceivable what my instinct
told me: that the two noble old ladies, Lady Villea and the Duchess of Woda, 
had arranged for a village and school that irritated them to be reduced to 
ashes. At dinner, they mentioned the fire in Moliva only very briefly, as if 
it were not news at all. But I did see the Duchess smile for the first time 
ever. It was a smile I will never forget until the day I die.

The next morning, I had resolved to go to the village and see if I could be of
any assistance to the survivors. I was passing through the servants' hall to 
the grand foyer when I heard the sound of a group of people ahead. The guards
and most of the servants were there, pointing at the portrait of the Duchess 
that hung in the center of the hall.

There was a single black bolt of ebony piercing the painting, right at the 
Duchess's heart.

I recognized it at once. It was one of Missun Akin's arrows I had seen in his
quiver, forged, he said, in the bowels of Dagoth-Ur itself. My first reaction
was relief: the Dunmer who had been kind enough to give me a ride to the 
palace had survived the fire. My second reaction was echoed by all present in
the hall. How had the vandal gotten past the guards, the gate, the moat, and 
the massive iron door?

The Duchess, arriving shortly after I, was clearly furious, though she was too
well bred to show it but by raising her web-thin eyebrows. She wasted no time 
in assigning all her servants to new duties to keep the palace grounds guarded
at all times. We were given regular shifts and precise, narrow patrols.

The next morning, despite all precautions, there was another black arrow 
piercing the Duchess's portrait.

So it continued for a week's time. The Duchess saw to it that at least one 
person was always present in the foyer, but somehow the arrow always found its
way to her painting whenever the guard's eyes were momentarily averted.

A complex series of signals were devised, so each patrol could report back any
sounds or disturbances they encountered during their vigil. At first, the 
Duchess arranged them so her castellan would receive record of any 
disturbances during the day, and the chief of the guard during the night. But
when she found that she could not sleep, she made certain that the information
came to her directly.

The atmosphere in the palace had shifted from gloomy to nightmarish. A snake 
would slither across the moat, and suddenly Her Grace would be tearing through
the east wing to investigate. A strong gust of wind ruffling the leaves on one
of the few trees in the lawn was a similar emergency. An unfortunate lone 
traveler on the road in front of the palace, a completely innocent man at it 
turned out, brought such a violent reaction that he must have thought that he 
had stumbled on a war. In a way, he had.

And every morning, there was a new arrow in the front hall, mocking her.

I was given the terrible assignment of guarding the portrait for a few hours 
in the early morning. Not wanting to be the one to discover the arrow, I 
seated myself in a chair opposite, never letting my eyes move away for even a 
second. I don't know if you've had the experience of watching one object 
relentlessly, but it has a strange effect. All other senses vanish. That was 
why I was particularly startled when the Duchess rushed into the room, 
blurring the gulf for me between her portrait and herself.

"There's something moving behind the tree across the road from the gate!" she 
roared, pushing me aside, and fumbling with her key in the gold lock.

She was shaking with madness and excitement, and the key did not seem to want 
to go in. I reached out to help her, but the Duchess was already kneeling, her
eye to the keyhole, to be certain that the key went through.

It was precisely in that second that the arrow arrived, but this one never 
made it as far as the portrait.

I actually met Missun Akin years later, while I was in Morrowind to entertain
some nobles. He was impressed that I had risen from being a humble domestic 
servant to being a bard of some renown. He himself had returned to the 
ashlands, and, like his old master Hiomaste, was retired to the simple life of
teaching and hunting.

I told him that I had heard that Lady Villea had decided not to leave the 
city, and that the village of Modiva had been rebuilt. He was happy to hear 
that, but I could not find a way to ask him what I really wanted to know. I 
felt like a fool just wondering if what I thought were true, that he had been 
behind Prolyssa's tree across the road from the gate every morning that 
summer, firing an arrow through the gate, across the lawn, across the moat, 
through a keyhole, and into a portrait of the Duchess of Woda until he struck
the Duchess herself. It was clearly an impossibility. I chose not to ask.

As we left one another that day, and he was waving good-bye, he said, "I am 
pleased to see you doing so well, my friend. I am happy you moved that 
chair." 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ76)
                 ~~Father of the Niben~~  
          
     Item ID:  00024530
     

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Introduction:
Writing the biography of anyone is a challenge. Usually the problem lies in 
assessing one's sources, comparing the prejudices of one chronicle versus 
another versus another. Waughin Jarth, I have been told, in writing his well-
regarded series on the Wolf Queen of Solitude used over a hundred contemporary
narratives. I cannot complain about my task having a similar issue.

There is but one record of the man called Topal the Pilot, the earliest known 
Aldmer explorer of Tamriel. Only four short verse fragments of the epic 
"Father of the Niben" have survived to present day, but they offer an 
interesting if controversial look at the Middle Merethic Era when Topal the 
Pilot may have sailed the seas around Tamriel.

Though "Father of the Niben" is the only written record of Topal the Pilot's 
voyages, it is not the only proof of his existence. Among the treasures of the
great Crystal Tower of Summerset Isle are his crude but fascinating maps, his 
legacy to all Tamriel.

The translation of the Aldmeri Udhendra Nibenu, "Father of the Niben," is my 
own, and I accept that other scholars may disagree with some of my choice of 
words. I cannot promise my translation lives up to the beauty of the original:
I have only strived for simple coherence.


Fragment One:

    Second ship, the Pasquiniel, manned by pilot
    Illio, was to follow the southern pointing
    Waystone; and the third, the Niben, manned
    By pilot Topal, was to follow the north-east
    Pointing waystone; the orders from the
    Crystal Tower, they were to sail forth for
    Eighty moons and then return to tell.
    Only Niben returned to Firsthold, laden high with
    Gold and spice and fur and strange creatures,
    Dead and live.
    Though, alas, Old Ehlnofey Topal never found, he
    Told the tales of the lands he had visited to the
    Wonderment of all.
    For sixty-six days and nights, he sailed, over crashing
    Waves of dire intent, past whirlpools, through
    Mist that burned like fire, until he reached the
    Mouth of a great bay and he landed on a
    Sun-kissed meadow of gentle dells.
    As he and his men rested, there came a fearsome howl,
    And hideous orcs streamed forth from the murky
    Glen, cannibal teeth clotted with gore



For centuries, strange crystalline balls were unearthed at the sites of 
ancient Aldmer shipwrecks and docks, peculiar artifacts of the Merethic and 
Dawn Eras that puzzled archeologists until it was demonstrated that each had a
tendency to rotate on its axis in a specific direction. There were three 
varieties, one that pointed southward, one that pointed northeast, and one 
that point northwest.

It is not understood how they work, but they seemed attuned to particular 
lines of power. These are the "waystones" of the fragment, which each of the 
pilots used to point their craft in the direction they were assigned to go. A 
ship with a name not mentioned in the fragment took his vessel north-west, 
towards Thras and Yokuda. The Pasquiniel took the southern waystone, and must 
have sailed down toward Pyandonea. Topal and his north-east waystone found the
mainland of Tamriel.

It is clear from this fragment what the three ships were assigned to do - find
a passage back to Old Ehlnofey so that the Aldmer now living in Summerset 
could learn what became of their old homeland. As this book is intended to be
a study of Topal the Pilot, there is scarcely room to dedicate to different 
theories of the Aldmeri exodus from Old Ehlnofey.

If I were using this poem as my only source, I would have to agree with the 
scholars who believe in the tradition that several ships left Old Ehlnofey and
were caught in a storm. Those who survived found their way to Summerset Isle, 
but without their waystones, they did not know what direction their homeland 
was. After all, what other explanation is there for three ships heading in 
three opposite directions to find a place?

Naturally, only one of the ships returned, and we do not know if either or 
both of the other two found Old Ehlnofey, or perished at sea or at the hands 
of the ancient Pyandoneans, Sload, or Yokudans. We must assume, unless we 
think the Aldmer particularly idiotic, that at least one of them must have 
been pointing in the right direction. It may well have even been Topal, and he
simply did not go north-east far enough.

So, Topal setting sail from Firsthold heads north-east, which coincidentally 
is the longest one can travel along the Abecean Sea without striking land of 
any kind. Had he traveled straight east, he would have struck the mainland 
somewhere in what is now the Colovian West of Cyrodiil in a few weeks. Had he
traveled south-east, he might have reached the hump of Valenwood in a few 
days. But our pilot, judging by his own and our modern maps, sailed in a 
straight line north-east, through the Abecean sea, and into the Iliac Bay, 
before touching ground somewhere near present day Anticlere in two months 
time.

The rolling verdant hills of southern High Rock are unmistakable in this 
verse, recognizable to anyone who has been there. The question, of course, is 
what is to be made of this apparent reference to orcs occupying the region? 
Tradition has it that the orcs were not born until after the Aldmer had 
settled the mainland, that they sprung up as a distinct race following the 
famous battle between Trinimac and Boethiah at the time of Resdayn.


It is possible that the tradition is wrong. Perhaps the orcs were an 
aboriginal tribe predating the Aldmeri colonization. Perhaps these were a 
cursed folk -- "Orsimer" in the Aldmeris, the same word for "Orc" - of a 
different kind, whose name was to be given the orcs in a different era. It is 
regrettable that the fragment ends here, for more clues to the truth are 
undoubtedly lost.

What's missing between the first fragment and the second is appreciable. It 
must be more than eighty months that have passed, because Topal is on the 
opposite side of mainland Tamriel now, attempting to sail south-west to return
to Firsthold, after his failure at finding Old Ehlnofey.

Fragment Two:

    No passage westward could be found in the steely cliffs
    That jutted up like giant's jaw, so the Niben
    Sailed south.
    As it passed an sandy, forested island that promised
    Sanctuary and peace, the crew cheered in joy.
    Then exultation turned to terror as a great shadow rose
    From the trees on leathered wings like a unfurling Cape.
    The great bat lizard was large as the ship, but good pilot
    Topal merely raised his bow, and struck it in its Head.
    As it fell, he asked his Bo 'sun, "Do you think it's dead?"
    And before it struck the white-bearded waves, he
    Shot once more its heart to be certain.
    And so for another forty days and six, the Niben sailed south


We can see that in addition to Topal's prowess as a navigator, cartographer, 
survivalist, and raconteur, he is a master of archery. It may be poetic 
license, of course, but we do have archeological proof that the Merethic 
Aldmer were sophisticated archers. Their bows of layers of wood and horn drawn
by silver silk thread are beautiful, and still, I have heard experts say, 
millennia later, very deadly.

It is tempting to imagine it a dragon, but the creature that Topal faces at 
the beginning of this fragment sounds like an ancestor of the cliffracer of 
present day Morrowind. The treacherous cliff coastline sounds like the region
around Necrom, and the island of Gorne may be where the nest of the "bat 
lizard" is. No creatures like that exist in eastern Morrowind to my knowledge
at the present day.

Fragment Three:

    The fetid, evil swamp lands and their human lizards
    Retreated to the east, and Topal and his men's
    Hearts were greatly gladdened by the sight of
    Diamond blue, pure, sweet ocean.
    For three days, they sailed in great cheer north-west
    Where Firsthold beckoned them, but hope died
    In horror, as land, like a blocking shield rose
    Before them.
    Topal the Pilot was sore wroth, and consulted he
    The maps he had faithfully drawn, to see
    Whether best to go south where the
    Continent must end, or take the river that
    Snaked through a passage north.
    "North!" cried he to his sad men. "North we go
    Now! Fear not, north!"


Tracing Topal's movements, we see that he has skirted the edge of Morrowind 
and delved into southern Blackmarsh, seemingly determined to follow his 
waystone as best as he can. The swamp he is leaving is probably near present 
day Gideon. Knowing what we now know about Topal's personality, we can 
understand his frustration in the bay between Black Marsh and Elsweyr.

Here is a man who follows his orders explicitly, and knows that he should have
been going south-east through river ways to reach Firsthold. Looking at his 
maps, we can see that he attempted to find passages through, as he has mapped
out the Inner Sea of Morrowind, and several of the swampy tributaries of Black
Marsh, no doubt being turned away by the disease and fierce Argonian tribes 
that dissuaded many other explorers after him.

With a modern map of Tamriel in hand, we can see that he makes the wrong 
choice in electing to go north-east instead of pushing southward. He could not
have known then that what he perceived to be the endless mainland was only a 
jutting peninsula. He only knew that he had traveled too far southward 
already, and so he made a smart but incorrect decision to go up the river.

It is ironic that this great miscalculation would today bear his mark of 
history. The bay he thought was an endless ocean is now known as Topal Bay, 
and the river that took him astray shares the name of his boat, the Niben River.

Fragment Four:

    The cat demons of four legs and two ran the river's
    Length, always keeping the boat in their
    Green-eyed sight, hissing, and spitting, and
    Roaring with rage.
    But the sailors never had to brave the shores, for
    Fruit trees welcomed them, dropping their
    Arms down to the river's edge as if to
    Embrace the mer, and the men took the
    Fruit quickly before the cats could pounce.
    For eleven days, they traveled north, until they came
    To a crystalline lake, and eight islands of
    Surpassing beauty and peace.
    Brilliant flightful creatures of glorious colors
    Greeted them in Aldmeri language,
    Making the mer wonder, until they
    Understood they were only calling back
    The word they were speaking without
    Understanding it, and then the sailors
    Laughed.
    Topal the Pilot was enchanted with the islands
    And the feathered men who lived there.
    There the Niben stayed for a moon, and the bird
    Men learned how to speak their own words,
    And with taloned feet, to write.
    In joy for their new knowledge, they made Topal
    Their lord, giving him their islands for the
    Gift.
    Topal said he would return someday, but first he
    Must find the passage east to Firsthold, so
    Far away.


This last fragment is bittersweet for a number of reasons.

We know that this strange, friendly feathered people the Pilot encounters will
be lost - in fact, this poem is the only one where mention is made of the bird
creatures of Cyrodiil. The literacy that Topal gives them is evidently not 
enough to save them from their eventual fate, likely at the hands of the "cat 
demons," who we may assume are ancient Khajiiti.

We know that Topal and his crew never find a route from the eight islands 
which are the modern day Imperial City through to the Iliac Bay. His maps tell
the tale where this lost poem cannot.

We see his hand as he traces his route up the Niben to Lake Rumare; and, after
attempting a few tributaries which do not lead him where he wants to go, we 
can imagine Topal's frustration -- and that of his long-suffering crew -- as 
they return back down the Niben to Topal Bay.

There, they evidently discovered their earlier mistake, for we see that they 
pass the peninsula of Elsweyr. Eventually they traveled along its coastline, 
past the shores of Valenwood, and eventually home. Usually epic tales end with
a happy ending, but this one begins with one, and the means to which it was 
accomplished is lost.

Besides the extraordinary bird creatures of present day Cyrodiil, we have 
caught glimpses of ancient orcs (perhaps), ancient cliff-racers, ancient 
Argonians, and in this fragment, ancient Khajiit. Quite a history in a few 
lines of simple verse, all because a man failed to find his home, and took all
the wrong turns to retrace his steps back. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ77)
              ~~The Gold Ribbon of Merit~~  

                   Ampyrian Brum

     Item ID:  00024410
     

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In that early springtime morning, pale sunlight flickered behind the morning 
mist floating through the trees as Templer and Stryngpool made their way to 
the clearing. Neither had been back in High Rock, let alone in their favorite
woods for four years. The trees had changed little even if they had. 
Stryngpool had a handsome blond moustache now, stiffened and spiked with wax,
and Templer seemed to be a completely alien creature to the young lad who 
searched for adventure in the ancient grove. He was much quieter, as if 
scarred within as well as without.

They each carried their bows and quivers with extra care as they maneuvered 
their way through the clusters of vine and branch.

“This is the path that used to lead to your house, isn't it, old boy?” asked 
Stryngpool.

Templer glanced at the overgrowth and nodded, before continuing on.

“I thought so,” said Stryngpool and laughed: “I remember it because you used 
to run down it every time you got a bloody nose. I know I can't offend you, 
but I have to say, it's hard to believe that you ended up a soldier.”

“How's your family?” asked Templer.

“The same. A bit more pompous, if that's possible. It's obvious they wish I'd 
come back from the academy, but there's nothing much for me here. At least not
until I collect my inheritance. Did you see I got a gold ribbon of merit in 
archery?”

“How could I miss it?” said Templer.

“Oh yes, I nearly forgot that the family's put it in the Great Hall. Very 
ostentatiously. I suppose you can actually see it through the picture window.
Silly, but I hope the peasants are impressed.”

The clearing opened up before them, where the mist settled on the grass, 
enveloping it in an opaque, chilly vapor. Burlap targets were arranged around 
in a semi-circle, several meters apart, like sentinels.

“You've been practicing,” observed Templer.

“Well, a bit. I've only been back in town for a few days.” said Stryngpool 
with a smile. “My parents said you got here a week ago?”

“That's right. My unit's camped a few miles east, and I thought I'd visit the 
old haunts. A lot's changed, I could hardly recognize anything at all.” 
Templer looked down at the valley below, to the vast empty tilled ground, 
stretching out for miles around. “It looks like a good planting.”

“My family's rather spread out since yours left. There was some discussion I 
think about keeping your old house up, but it seemed a little sentimental. 
Especially as there was fertile ground beneath.”

Stryngpool strung his bow carefully. It was a beautiful piece of art, darkest
ebony and spun silver filigrees, hand-crafted for him in Wayrest. He looked 
over at Templer stringing his bow, and felt a twinge of pity. It was a sad, 
weathered utensil, bound together with strips of fabric.

“If that's how they taught you to string your bow, you need some advisors from
the academy in that army of yours,” said Stryngpool as gently as he could. 
“The untightened loop is supposed to look like an X in an O. Yours looks like 
a Z in a Y.”

“It works for me,” said Templer. “I should tell you, I won't be able to make 
an afternoon of this. I'm supposed to join my unit this evening.”

Stryngpool began to feel annoyed by his old friend. If he was angry about his
family losing their land, why couldn't he just say it? Why did he come back to
the valley at all? He watched Templer nock his first arrow, taking aim at a 
target, and coughed.

“I'm sorry, but I can't in good faith send you back to the army without a 
little new wisdom. There are three types of draw, three-fingers, thumb and 
index, thumb and two fingers. Then there's the thumb draw which I like, but 
you see,” Stryngpool showed Templer the small leather loop fastened on the 
cord of his bow, “You need to have one of these thingies or you'll tear your 
thumb right off.”

“I think I like my stupid method best.”

“Don't be pigheaded, Templer. They didn't give me the gold ribbon of merit for
nothing. I had demonstrated shooting from under a shield, standing, sitting, 
squatting, kneeling, and sitting on horseback. This is practical information 
I'm imparting for the sake of our friendship which I, at least, haven't 
completely forgotten. Sweet Kynareth, I remember when you were just an oily 
little squirt, begging for this kind of honest guidance.”

Templer looked at Stryngpool for a moment, and lowered his bow. “Show me.”

Stryngpool relaxed, shook away the tensions that had been building. He did his
exercise, drawing the bow back to his eyebrow, his moustache, his chest, his 
earlobe.

“There are three ways of shooting: snatching and releasing in one continuous 
motion, like the Bosmer do; holding with a short draw and a pause before 
releasing like the Khajiit; and partial draw, pause, final draw,” Stryngpool 
fired the arrow into the center of the target with cool precision, “And 
release. Which I prefer.”

“Very nice,” said Templer.

“Now you,” said Stryngpool. He helped Templer select a grip, nock his arrow 
correctly, and take aim. A smile grew on Templer's face -- the first time 
Stryngpool had seen such a childlike expression on the war-etched visage all 
afternoon. When Templer released the arrow, it rocketed high over the top of 
the target and into the valley below where it disappeared from sight.

“Not bad,” said Templer.

“No, not bad,” said Stryngpool, feeling friendly once again. “If you practice,
you should be able to focus your aim a little bit.”

The two shot a few more practice bolts before parting ways. Templer began the 
long trek east to his unit's camp, and Stryngpool wound his way down through 
the woods to the valley and his family's mansion. He hummed a little tune he 
learned at the academy as he passed the great lawn and walked up to the front
door, pleased with himself for helping his old friend. It entirely escaped his
attention that the large picture window was broken.

But he noticed right away when he came into the Great Hall, and saw Templer's
wild-shot bolt sticking in his gold ribbon of merit. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ78)
                ~~Vernaccus and Bourlor~~  

                       Tavi Dromio
          
     Item ID: 0002452F
     

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Hallgerd walked into the King's Ham that Loredas evening, his face clouded 
with sadness. While he ordered a mug of greef, his mates Garaz and Xiomara 
joined him with moderately sincere concern.

"What's wrong with you, Hallgerd?" asked Xiomara. "You're later than usual, 
and there's a certain air of tragedy you've dragged in with you. Have you lost
money, or a nearest and dearest?"

"I haven't lost any money," Hallgerd grimaced. "But I've just received word 
from my nephew than my cousin Allioch has died. Perfectly natural, he says, 
just old age. Allioch was ten years younger than me."

"Aw, that's terrible. But it goes to show that it's important to savor all of 
life's possibilities, 'cause you never know when your time is coming," said 
Garaz, who had been sitting at the same stool at the smoky cornerclub for the 
last several hours. He was not one cursed with self-awareness.

"Life's short all right," agreed Xiomara. "But if you'll pardon a sentimental 
thought, few of us are aware of the influence we'll have after our deaths. 
Perhaps there's comfort there. For example, have I told you the story about 
Vernaccus and Bourlor?"

"I don't believe so," said Hallgerd.

Vernaccus was a daedra (said Xiomara, throwing a few dribbles on flin on the 
hearth to cast the proper mood), and though our tale took place many, many 
years ago, it would be fair to say that Vernaccus still is one. For what after
all is time to the immortal daedra?

"Actually," Garaz interrupted. "I understand that the notion of immortality--"

"I am trying to offer our friend an inspirational tale in his hour of need," 
Xiomara growled. "I don't have all bloody night to tell it, if you don't 
mind."

You wouldn't have heard of Vernaccus (said Xiomara, abandoning the theme of 
immortality for the time being) for even at the height of his power and fame,
he was considered feeble by the admittedly high standards of the day. Of 
course, this lack of respect infuriated him, and his reaction was typical of
lesser daedra. He went on a murderous rampage.

Soon word spread through all the villages in the Colovian West of the unholy 
terror. Whole families had been butchered, castles destroyed, orchards and 
fields torched and cursed so nothing would ever grow there again.

To make things even worse for the villagers, Vernaccus began getting 
visitations from an old rival of his from Oblivion. She was a daedra seducer 
named Horavatha, and she delighted in taunting him to see how angry she could 
make him become.

"You've flooded a village and that's supposed to be impressive?" she would 
sneer. "Try collapsing a continent, and maybe you'll get a little attention."

Vernaccus could become pretty angry. He didn't come very close to collapsing
the continent of Tamriel, but it wasn't for lack of trying.

A hero was needed to face the mad daedra, and fortunately, one was available.

His name was Bourlor, and it was said that he had been blessed by the goddess
Kynareth. That was the only explanation for his inhuman accuracy with his bow 
and arrow, for he never missed a target. As a child he had driven his 
marksmanship tutors wild with frustration. They would tell him how to plant 
his feet, how to nock a bolt, the proper grip for the cord, the best method of
release. He ignored all the rules, and somehow, every time, the arrow would 
catch a breath of wind and sail directly to his target. It did not matter if 
the quarry was moving or still, at very close range or miles away. Whatever he
wanted to strike with his arrow would be struck.

Bourlor answered the call when one of the village mayors begged him for help. 
Unfortunately, he was not as great a horseman as he was an archer. As he rode 
through the forest toward the mayor's town, a place called Evensacon, 
Vernaccus was already murdering everyone there. Horavatha watched, and stifled
back a yawn.

"Murdering a small town mayor isn't going to put you in famous company, you 
know. What you need is a great champion to defeat. Someone like Ysgramor or 
Pelinal Whitestrake or--" she stared at the figure emerging from the forest.
"That fellow!"

"Who's he?" growled Vernaccus between bites of the mayor's quivering body.

"The greatest archer in Tamriel. He's never missed."

Bourlor had his bow strung and was pointing it at the daedra. For a moment, 
Vernaccus felt like laughing -- the fellow was not even aiming straight -- but
he had a well-honed sense of self-preservation. There was something about the 
man's look of confidence that convinced the daedra that Horavatha wasn't 
lying. As the bolt left the bow, Vernaccus vanished in a sheet of flame.

The arrow impaled a tree. Bourlor stood and stared. He had missed a target.

In Oblivion, Vernaccus raged. Fleeing before a mortal man like that -- not 
even the basest scamp would have been so craven. He had exposed himself for 
the weak, cowardly creature he was. As he considered what steps to take to 
salvage the situation, he found himself face-to-knee with the most fearsome of
the Daedra Princes, Molag Bal. "I never thought anything much of you, 
Vernaccus," the giant boomed. "But you have more than proven your worth. You 
have shown the creatures of Mundus that the daedra are more powerful than the
blessings of the Gods."

The other denizens of Oblivion quickly agreed (as they always did) with the 
view of Molag Bal. The daedra are, after all, always very sensitive about 
their various defeats at the hands of mortal champions. Vernaccus was 
proclaimed The Elusive Beast, The Unpursuable One, He Who Cannot Be Touched, 
The Bane of Kynareth. Shrines devoted to him began to be built in remote 
corners of Morrowind and Skyrim.

Bourlor meanwhile, now found flawed, was never again called to rescue a 
village. He was so heartbroken over his failure to strike his target that he 
became a hermit, and never restrung his bow again. Some months later, he died,
unmourned and unremembered.

"Is this really the tale you thought would cheer me?" asked Hallgerd 
incredulously. "I've heard the King of Worms told more inspirational stories."

"Wait," smiled Xiomara. "I'm not finished yet."

For a year's time, Vernaccus was content to watch his legend grow and his 
fledging worship spread from his home in Oblivion. He was, in addition to 
being cowardly and inclined toward murderous rages, also a very lazy creature.
His worshippers told tales of their Master avoiding the bolts of a thousand 
archers, of moving through oceans without getting wet, and other feats of 
avoidance that he would rather not have to demonstrate in person. The real 
story of his ignominious retreat from Bourlor was thankfully forgotten.

The bad news, when it came, was delivered to him with some relish by 
Horavatha. He had delighted in her jealousy at his growing reputation, so it 
was with a cruel smile she told him, "Your shrines are being assaulted."

"Who dares?" he roared.

"Everyone who passes them in the wilderness feels the need to throw a stone,"
Horavatha purred. "You can hardly blame them. After all, they represent He Who
Cannot Be Touched. How could anyone be expected to resist such a target?"

Vernaccus peered through the veil into the world of Mundus and saw that it was
true. One of his shrines in Colovian West country was surrounded by a large 
platoon of mercenary soldiers, who delighted in pelting it with rocks. His 
worshippers huddled inside, praying for a miracle.

In an instant, he appeared before the mercenaries and his rage was terrifying
to behold. They fled into the woods before he even had a chance to murder one
of them. His worshippers threw open the wooden door to the shrine and dropped
to their knees in joy and fear. His anger melted. Then a stone struck him. 
Then another. He turned to face his assailants, but the air was suddenly 
filled with rocks.

Vernaccus could not see them, but he heard mercenaries in the woods laugh, 
"It's not even trying to move out of the way!"

"It's impossible not to hit him!" guffawed another.

With a roar of humiliation, the daedra bounded into the shrine, chased by the 
onslaught. One of the stones knocked the door closed behind him, striking him 
in the back. His face broke, anger and embarrassment disappearing, replaced by
pain. He turned, shaking, to his worshippers who huddled in the shadows of the
shrine, their faith shattered.

"Where did you get the wood to build this shrine?" Vernaccus groaned.

"Mostly from an copse of trees near the village of Evensacon," his high-priest
shrugged.

Vernaccus nodded. He dropped forward, revealing the deep wound in his back. A 
rusted arrowhead buried in a whorl in the wood of the door had jolted loose in
the assault and impaled him. The daedra vanished in a whirlwind of dust.

The shrines were abandoned shortly thereafter, though Vernaccus did have a 
brief resurgence as the Patron Spirit of Limitations and Impotence before 
fading from memory altogether. The legend of Bourlor himself never became very
well known either, but there are still some who tell the tale, like myself. 
And we have the advantage of knowing what the Great Archer himself didn't know
on his deathbed -- his final arrow found its target after all. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                   ~~MERCANTILE BOOKS~~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ79)
                ~~2920, Sun's Height (v7)~~  

                     Carlovac Townway
          
     Item ID: 00024534
     

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    4 Sun's Height, 2920 
    The Imperial City, Cyrodiil 

The Emperor Reman III and his Potentate Versidue-Shaie took a stroll around 
the Imperial Gardens. Studded with statuary and fountains, the north gardens 
fit the Emperor's mood, as well as being the coolest acreage in the City 
during the heat of summertide. Austere, tiered flowerbeds of blue-gray and 
green towered all around them as they walked.

“Vivec has agreed to the Prince's terms for peace,” said Reman. “My son will 
be returning in two weeks' time.”

“This is excellent news,” said the Potentate carefully. “I hope the Dunmer 
will honor the terms. We might have asked for more. The fortress at Black 
Gate, for example. But I suppose the Prince knows what is reasonable. He would
not cripple the Empire just for peace.”

“I have been thinking lately of Rijja and what caused her to plot against my 
life,” said the Emperor, pausing to admire a statue of the Slave Queen Alessia
before continuing. “The only thing I can think of to account for it is that 
she admired my son too much. She may have loved me for my power and my 
personality, but he, after all, is young and handsome and will one day inherit
my throne. She must have thought that if I were dead, she could have an 
Emperor who had both youth and power.”

“The Prince ... was in on this plot?” asked Versidue-Shaie. It was a difficult
game to play, anticipating where the Emperor's paranoia would strike next.

“Oh, I don't think so,” said Reman, smiling. “No, my son loves me well.”

“Are you aware that Corda, Raja's sister in an initiate of the Morwha 
conservatorium in Hegathe?” asked the Potentate.

“Morwha?” asked the Emperor. “I've forgotten: which god is that?”

“Lusty fertility goddess of the Yokudans,” replied the Potentate. “But not too
lusty, like Dibella. Demure, but certainly sexual.”

“I am through with lusty women. The Empress, Rijja, all too lusty, a lust for
love leads to a lust for power,” the Emperor shrugged his shoulders. “But a 
priestess-in-training with a certain healthy appetite sounds ideal. Now what 
were you saying about the Black Gate?”


    6 Sun's Height, 2920 
    Thurzo Fortress, Cyrodiil 

Rijja stood quietly looking at the cold stone floor while the Emperor spoke. 
He had never before seen her so pale and joyless. She might at least be 
pleased that she was being freed, being returned to her homeland. Why, if she
left now, she could be in Hammerfell by the Merchant's Festival. Nothing he 
said seemed to register any reaction from her. A month and a half's stay in 
Thurzo Fortress seemed to have killed her spirit.

“I was thinking,” said the Emperor at last. “Of having your younger sister 
Corda up to the palace for a time. I think she would prefer it over the 
conservatorium in Hegathe, don't you?”

Reaction, at last. Rijja looked at the Emperor with animal hatred, flinging 
herself at him in a rage. Her fingernails had grown long since her 
imprisonment and she raked them across his face, into his eyes. He howled with
pain, and his guards pulled her off, pummeling her with blows from the back of
their swords, until she was knocked unconscious.

A healer was called at once, but the Emperor Reman III had lost his right eye.


    23 Sun's Height, 2920 
    Balmora, Morrowind 

Vivec pulled himself from the water, feeling the heat of the day washed from 
his skin, taking a towel from one of his servants. Sotha Sil watched his old 
friend from the balcony.

“It looks like you've picked up a few more scars since I last saw you,” said 
the sorcerer.

“Azura grant it that I have no more for a while,” laughed Vivec. “When did you
arrive?”

“A little over an hour ago,” said Sotha Sil, walking down the stairs to the 
water's edge. “I thought I was coming to end a war, but it seems you've done 
it without me.”

“Yes, eighty years is long enough for ceaseless battle,” replied Vivec, 
embracing Sotha Sil. “We made concessions, but so did they. When the old 
Emperor is dead, we may be entering a golden age. Prince Juilek is very wise 
for his age. Where is Almalexia?”

“Collecting the Duke of Mournhold. They should be here tomorrow afternoon.”

The men were distracted at a sight from around the corner of the palace - a 
rider was approaching through the town, heading for the front steps. It was 
evident that the woman had been riding hard for some time. They met her in the
study, where she burst in, breathing hard.

“We have been betrayed,” she gasped. “The Imperial Army has seized the Black 
Gate.”


    24 Sun's Height, 2920 
    Balmora, Morrowind 

It was the first time in seventeen years that the three members of the 
Morrowind Tribunal had met in the same place, since Sotha Sil had left for 
Artaeum. All three wished that the circumstances of their reunion were 
different.

“From what we've learned, while the Prince was returning to Cyrodiil to the 
south, a second Imperial Army came down from the north,” said Vivec to his 
stony-faced compatriots. “It is reasonable to assume Juilek didn't know about
the attack.”

“But neither would it be unreasonable to suppose that he planned on being a 
distraction while the Emperor launched the attack on Black Gate,” said Sotha 
Sil. “This must be considered a break of the truce.”

“Where is the Duke of Mournhold?” asked Vivec. “I would hear his thoughts on 
the matter.”

“He is meeting with the Night Mother in Tel Aruhn,” said Almalexia, quietly. 
“I told him to wait until he had spoken with you, but he said that the matter 
had waited long enough.”

“He would involve the Morag Tong? In outside affairs?” Vivec shook his head, 
and looked to Sotha Sil: “Please, do what you can. Assassination will only 
move us backwards. This matter must be settled with diplomacy or battle.”


    25 Sun's Height, 2920 
    Tel Aruhn, Morrowind 

The Night Mother met Sotha Sil in her salon, lit only by the moon. She was 
cruelly beautiful dressed in a simple silk black robe, lounging across her 
divan. With a gesture, she dismissed her red-cloaked guards and offered the 
sorcerer some wine.

“You've only just missed your friend, the Duke,” she whispered. “He was very 
unhappy, but I think we will solve his problem for him.”

“Did he hire the Morag Tong to assassinate the Emperor?” asked Sotha Sil.

“You are straight-forward, aren't you? That's good. I love plain-speaking men:
it saves so much time. Of course, I cannot discuss with you what the Duke and 
I talked about,” she smiled. “It would be bad for business.”

“What if I were to offer you an equal amount of gold for you not to 
assassinate the Emperor?”

“The Morag Tong murders for the glory of Mephala and for profit,” she said, 
speaking into her glass of wine. “We do not merely kill. That would be 
sacrilege. Once the Duke's gold has arrived in three days time, we will do our
end of the business. And I'm afraid we would not dream of entertaining a 
counter offer. Though we are a business as well as a religious order, we do 
not bow to supply and demand, Sotha Sil.”


    27 Sun's Height, 2920 
    The Inner Sea, Morrowind 

Sotha Sil had been watching the waters for two days now, waiting for a 
particular vessel, and now he saw it. A heavy ship with the flag of Mournhold.
The sorcerer took the air and intercepted it before it reached harbor. A caul 
of flame erupted over his figure, disguising his voice and form into that of a
Daedra.

“Abandon your ship!” he bellowed. “If you would not sink with it!”

In truth, Sotha Sil could have exploded the vessel with but a single ball of 
fire, but he chose to take his time, to give the crew a chance to dive off 
into the warm water. When he was certain there was no one living aboard, he 
focused his energy into a destructive wave that shook the air and water as it 
discharged. The ship and the Duke's payment to the Morag Tong sunk to the 
bottom of the Inner Sea.

“Night Mother,” thought Sotha Sil, as he floated towards shore to alert the 
harbormaster that some sailors were in need of rescue. “Everyone bows to 
supply and demand.”

The Year is Continued in Last Seed. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ80)
                   ~~The Buying Game~~  

                     Ababael Timsar-Dadisun
          
     Item ID: 00024532
     

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So many people simply buy the items they need at the price they are given. 
It's a very sad state of affairs, when the game is really open to all, you 
don't need an invitation. And it is a game, the game of bargaining, to be 
played seriously and, I hasten to add, politely. In Elsweyr, it is common for
the shop-owner to offer the prospective buyer tea or sweetmeats and engage in
polite conversation before commencing the business. This eminently civilized 
tradition has a practical purpose, allowing the buyer to observe the wares for
sale. It is considered impolite not to accept, though it does not imply 
obligation on the part of the buyer.


Whether this particular custom is part of the culture or not, it's wise for 
the buyer and seller to greet one another with smiles and warm salutations, 
like gladiators honoring one another before the battle.

Bargaining is expected all over Tamriel, but the game can be broken if one's 
offer is so preposterously low that it insults the shop-keeper. If you are 
offered something for ten gold pieces, try offering six and see where that 
takes you.

Do not look like you're very interested, but do not mock the quality of the 
goods, even if they deserve it. Much better to admire the quality of 
workmanship, but comment that, regretfully, you simply cannot afford such a 
price. When the shop-keeper compliments your taste, smile, but try to resist 
the flattery.

A lot of the game depends on recognizing the types of shop-keepers and not 
automatically assuming that the rural merchant is ignorant and easily fooled,
or the rapacious city merchant is selling shoddy merchandise. Caravans, it 
should be mentioned, are always good places to go to buy or trade.

Knowing what you're buying and from whom is a talent bought only after years 
of practice. Know the specialties of certain regions and merchants before you 
even step foot in a shop. Recognize too the prejudices of the region. In 
Morrowind where I hail from, for example, Argonians are viewed with a certain 
amount of suspicion. Don't be surprised or insulted if the shopkeepers follow 
you around the shop, assuming you're going to steal something. Similarly, 
Nords, Bretons, and Cyrodiils are sometimes treated coolly by merchants in the
Summurset Isles. Of course, I don't know any shopkeepers anywhere, no matter 
their open- mindedness, who aren't alerted when a Khajiit or a Bosmer enters 
their shop. Even Khajiiti and Bosmeri shopkeepers.

If you see something you really like or need, buy it then and there at the 
best price you can get. I cannot tell you how many times I passed up a rare 
and interesting relic, assuming that I could find it elsewhere in the region,
perhaps at a larger town at a better price. Too late, I discovered I was 
wrong, and when I returned to the shop weeks later, the item I wanted was 
gone. Better to get a great purchase at a decent price and discover it again 
at a worse price than to miss out on your opportunities for ownership. 
Occasionally impulsiveness is the best buying strategy.

Sense the moves of the game, and everyone can win. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ81)
                 ~~A Dance in Fire, v6~~  

                    Waughin Jarth
          
     Item ID: 00024535
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Decumus Scotti sat down, listening to Liodes Jurus. The clerk could hardly 
believe how fat his former colleague at Lord Atrius's Building Commission had 
become. The piquant aroma of the roasted meat dish before Scotti melted away. 
All the other sounds and textures of Prithala Hall vanished all around him, as
if nothing else existed but the vast form of Jurus. Scotti did not consider 
himself an emotional man, but he felt a tide flow over him at the sight and 
sound of the man whose badly written letters had been the guideposts that 
carried him from the Imperial City back in early Frost Fall.

"Where have you been?" Jurus demanded again. "I told you to meet me in 
Falinesti weeks ago."

"I was there weeks ago," Scotti stammered, too surprised to be indignant. "I 
got your note to meet you in Athay, and so I went there, but the Khajiiti had
burned it to the ground. Somehow, I found my way with the refugees in another 
village, and someone there told me that you had been killed."

"And you believed that right away?" Jurus sneered.

"The fellow seemed very well-informed about you. He was a clerk from Lord 
Vanech's Building Commission named Reglius, and he said that you had also 
suggested that he come down to Valenwood to profit from the war."

"Oh, yes," said Jurus, after thinking a moment. "I recall the name now. Well, 
it's good for business to have two representatives from Imperial building 
commissions here. We just need to all coordinate our bids, and all should be 
well."

"Reglius is dead," said Scotti. "But I have his contracts from Lord Vanech's 
Commission."

"Even better," gasped Jurus, impressed. "I never knew you were such a ruthless
competitor, Decumus Scotti. Yes, this could certainly improve our position 
with the Silvenar. Have I introduced you to Basth here?"

Scotti had only been dimly aware of the Bosmer's presence at the table with 
Jurus, which was surprising given that the mer's girth nearly equaled his 
dining companion. The clerk nodded to Basth coldly, still numb and confused. 
It had not left his mind that only any hour earlier, Scotti had intended to 
petition the Silvenar for safe passage through the border back to Cyrodiil. 
The thought of doing business with Jurus after all, of profiting from 
Valenwood war with Elsweyr, and now the second one with the Summurset Isle, 
seemed like something happening to another person.

"Your colleague and I were talking about the Silvenar," said Basth, putting 
down the leg of mutton he had been gnawing on. "I don't suppose you've heard 
about his nature?"

"A little, but nothing very specific. I got the impression that he's very 
important and very peculiar."

"He's the representative of the People, legally, physically, and 
emotionally," explained Jurus, a little annoyed at his new partner's lack of 
common knowledge. "When they're healthy, so is he. When they're mostly female,
so is he. When they cry for food or trade or an absence of foreign 
interference, he feels it too, and makes laws accordingly. In a way, he's a 
despot, but he's the people's despot."

"That sounds," said Scotti, searching for the appropriate word. "Like ... 
bunk."

"Perhaps it is," shrugged Basth. "But he has many rights as the Voice of the 
People, including the granting of foreign building and trade contracts. It's 
not important whether you believe us. Just think of the Silvenar as being like
one of your mad Emperors, like Pelagius. The problem facing us now is that 
since Valenwood is being attacked on all sides, the Silvenar's aspect is now 
one of distrust and fear of foreigners. The one hope of his people, and thus 
of the Silvenar himself, is that the Emperor will intervene and stop the war."

"Will he?" asked Scotti.

"You know as well as we do that the Emperor has not been himself lately," 
Jurus helped himself to Reglius's satchel and pulled out the blank contracts. 
"Who knows what he'll choose to do or not do? That reality is not our concern,
but these blessings from the late good sir Reglius make our job much simpler."

They discussed how they would represent themselves to the Silvenar into the 
evening. Scotti ate continuously, but not nearly so much as Jurus and Basth. 
When the sun had begun to rise in the hills, its light reddening through the 
crystal walls of the tavern, Jurus and Basth left to their rooms at the 
palace, granted to them diplomatically in lieu of an actual immediate audience
with the Silvenar. Scotti went to his room. He thought about staying up a 
little longer to ruminate over Jurus's plans and see what might be the flaw in
them, but upon touching the cool, soft bed, he immediately fell asleep.

The next afternoon, Scotti awoke, feeling himself again. In other words, 
timid. For several weeks now, he had been a creature bent on mere survival. He
had been driven to exhaustion, attacked by several jungle beasts, starved, 
nearly drowned, and forced into discussions of ancient Aldmeri poetical works.
The discussion he had with Jurus and Basth about how to dupe the Silvenar into
signing their contracts seemed perfectly reasonable then. Scotti dressed 
himself in his old battered clothes and went downstairs in search of food and
a peaceful place to think.

"You're up," cried Basth upon seeing him. "We should go to the palace now."

"Now?" whined Scotti. "Look at me. I need new clothes. This isn't the way one
should dress to pay a call on a prostitute, let alone the Voice of the People
of Valenwood. I haven't even bathed."

"You must cease from this moment forward being a clerk, and become a student 
of mercantile trade," said Liodes Jurus grandly, taking Scotti by the arm and
leading him into the sunlit boulevard outside. "The first rule is to recognize
what you represent to the prospective client, and what angle best suits you. 
You cannot dazzle him with opulent fashion and professional bearing, my dear 
boy, and it would be fatal if you attempted to. Trust me on this. Several 
others besides Basth and I are guests at the palace, and they have made the 
error of appearing too eager, too formal, too ready for business. They will 
never be granted audience with the Silvenar, but we have remained aloof ever 
since the initial rejection. I've dallied about the court, spread my knowledge
of life in the Imperial City, had my ears pierced, attended promenades, eaten
and drunk of all that was given to me. I dare say I've put on a pound or two. 
The message we've sent is clear: it is in his, not our, best interest to 
meet."

"Our plan worked," added Basth. "When I told his minister that our Imperial 
representative had arrived, and that we were at last willing to meet with the 
Silvenar this morning, we were told to bring you there straightaway."

"Aren't we late then?" asked Scotti.

"Very," laughed Jurus. "But that's again part of the angle we're representing.
Benevolent disinterest. Remember not to confuse the Silvenar with conventional
nobility. His is the mind of the common people. When you grasp that, you'll 
understand how to manipulate him."

Jurus spent the last several minutes of the walk through the city expounding 
on his theories about what Valenwood needed, how much, and at what price. They
were staggering figures, far more construction and far higher costs than 
anything Scotti had been used to dealing with. He listened carefully. All 
around them, the city of Silvenar revealed itself, glass and flower, roaring 
winds and beautiful inertia. When they reached the palace of the Silvenar, 
Decumus Scotti stopped, stunned. Jurus looked at him for a moment and then 
laughed.

"It's quite bizarre, isn't it?"

That it was. A frozen scarlet burst of twisted, uneven spires as if a rival 
sun rising. A blossom the size of a village, where courtiers and servants 
resembled nothing so much as insects walked about it sucking its ichor. 
Entering over a bent petal-like bridge, the three walked through the palace of
unbalanced walls. Where the partitions bent close together and touched, there 
was a shaded hall or a small chamber. Where they warped away from one another,
there was a courtyard. There were no doors anywhere, no any way to get to the 
Silvenar but by crossing through the entire spiral of the palace, through 
meetings and bedrooms and dining halls, past dignitaries, consorts, musicians,
and many guards.

"It's an interesting place," said Basth. "But not very much privacy. Of 
course, that suits the Silvenar well."

When they reached the inner corridors, two hours after they first entered the 
palace, guards, brandishing blades and bows, stopped them.

"We have an audience with the Silvenar," said Jurus, patiently. "This is Lord 
Decumus Scotti, the Imperial representative."

One of the guards disappeared down the winding corridor, and returned moments
later with a tall, proud Bosmer clad in a loose robe of patchwork leather. He 
was the Minister of Trade: "The Silvenar wishes to speak with Lord Decumus 
Scotti alone."

It was not the place to argue or show fear, so Scotti stepped forward, not 
even looking toward Jurus and Basth. He was certain they were showing their 
masks of benevolent indifference. Following the Minister into the audience 
chamber, Scotti recited to himself all the facts and figures Jurus had 
presented to him. He willed himself to remember the Angle and the Image he 
must project.

The audience chamber of the Silvenar was an enormous dome where the walls bent
from bowl-shaped at the base inward to almost meet at the top. A thin ray of 
sunlight streamed through the fissure hundreds of feet above, and directly 
upon the Silvenar, who stood upon a puff of shimmering gray powder. For all 
the wonder of the city and the palace, the Silvenar himself looked perfectly 
ordinary. An average, blandly handsome, slightly tired-looking, extra-ordinary
Wood Elf of the type one might see in any capitol in the Empire. It was only 
when he stepped from the dais that Scotti noticed an eccentricity in his 
appearance. He was very short.

"I had to speak with you alone," said the Silvenar in a voice common and 
unrefined. "May I see your papers?"

Scotti handed him the blank contracts from Lord Vanech's Building Commission. 
The Silvenar studied them, running his finger over the embossed seal of the 
Emperor, before handing them back. He suddenly seemed shy, looking to the 
floor. "There are many charlatans at my court who wish to benefit from the 
wars. I thought you and your colleagues were among them, but those contracts 
are genuine."

"Yes, they are," said Scotti calmly. The Silvenar's conventional aspect made 
it easy for Scotti to speak, with no formal greetings, no deference, exactly 
as Jurus had instructed: "It seems most sensible to begin straightaway talking
about the roads which need to be rebuilt, and then the harbors that the 
Altmeri have destroyed, and then I can give you my estimates on the cost of 
resupplying and renovating the trade routes."

"Why hasn't the Emperor seen fit to send a representative when the war with 
Elsweyr began, two years ago?" asked the Silvenar glumly.

Scotti thought a moment before replying of all the common Bosmeri he had met 
in Valenwood. The greedy, frightened mercenaries who had escorted him from the
border. The hard-drinking revelers and expert pest exterminating archers in 
the Western Cross of Falinesti. Nosy old Mother Pascost in Havel Slump. 
Captain Balfix, the poor sadly reformed pirate. The terrified but hopeful 
refugees of Athay and Grenos. The mad, murderous, self-devouring Wild Hunt of 
Vindisi. The silent, dour boatmen hired by Gryf Mallon. The degenerate, 
grasping Basth. If one creature represented their total disposition, and that 
of many more throughout the province, what would be his personality? Scotti 
was a clerk by occupation and nature, instinctively comfortable cataloging and
filing, making things fit in a system. If the soul of Valenwood were to be 
filed, where would it be put?

The answer came upon him almost before he posed himself the question. Denial.

"I'm afraid that question doesn't interest me," said Scotti. "Now, can we get
back to the business at hand?"

All afternoon, Scotti and the Silvenar discussed the pressing needs of 
Valenwood. Every contract was filled and signed. So much was required and 
there were so many costs associated that addendums and codicils had to be 
scribbled into the margins of the papers, and those had to be resigned. Scotti
maintained his benevolent indifference, but he found that dealing with the 
Silvenar was not quite the same as dealing with a simple, sullen child. The 
Voice of the People knew certain practical, everyday things very well: the 
yields of fish, the benefits of trade, the condition of every township and 
forest in his province.

"We will have a banquet tomorrow night to celebrate this commission," said the
Silvenar at last.

"Best make it tonight," replied Scotti. "We should leave for Cyrodiil with the
contracts tomorrow, so I'll need a safe passage to the border. We best not 
waste any more time."

"Agreed," said the Silvenar, and called for his Minister of Trade to put his 
seal on the contracts and arrange for the feast.

Scotti left the chamber, and was greeted by Basth and Jurus. Their faces 
showed the strain of maintaining the illusion of unconcern for too many hours.
As soon as they were out of sight of the guards, they begged Scotti to tell 
them all. When he showed them the contract, Basth began weeping with delight.

"Anything about the Silvenar that surprised you?" asked Jurus.

"I hadn't expected him to be half my height."

"Was he?" Jurus looked mildly surprised. "He must have shrunk since I tried to
have an audience with him earlier. Maybe there is something to all that 
nonsense about him being affected by the plight of his people." 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ82)
                 ~~A Dance in Fire, v7~~  

                   Waughin Jarth
          
     Item ID: 00024536
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Scene: Silvenar, Valenwood 
    Date: 13 Sun's Dusk, 3E 397 

The banquet at the palace of the Silvenar was well attended by every jealous 
bureaucrat and trader who had attempted to contract the rebuilding of 
Valenwood. They looked on Decumus Scotti, Liodes Jurus, and Basth with 
undisguised hatred. It made Scotti very uncomfortable, but Jurus delighted in
it. As the servants brought in platter after platter of roasted meats, Jurus 
poured himself a cup of Jagga and toasted the clerk.

"I can confess it now," said Jurus. "I had grave doubts about inviting you to
join me on this adventure. All the other clerks and agents of building 
commissions I contacted were more outwardly aggressive, but none of them made
it through, let alone to the audience chamber of the Silvenar, let alone 
brokered the deals on their own like you did. Come, have a cup of Jagga with 
me."

"No thank you," said Scotti. "I had too much of that drug in Falinesti, and 
nearly got sucked dry by a giant tick because of it. I'll find something else 
to drink."

Scotti wandered about the hall until he saw some diplomats drinking mugs of a 
steaming brown liquid, poured from a large silver urn. He asked them if it was
tea.

"Tea made from leaves?" scoffed the first diplomat. "Not in Valenwood. This is
Rotmeth."

Scotti poured himself a mug and took a tentative sip. It was gamy, bitter and 
sugared, and very salty. At first it seemed very disagreeable to his palate, 
but a moment later he found he had drained the mug and was pouring another. 
His body tingled. All the sounds in the chamber seemed oddly disjointed, but 
not frighteningly so.

"So you're the fellow who got the Silvenar to sign all those contracts," said 
the second diplomat. "That must have required some deep negotiation."

"Not at all, not at all, just a little basic understand of mercantile 
trading," grinned Scotti, pouring himself a third mug of Rotmeth. "The 
Silvenar was very eager to involve the Imperial state with the affairs of 
Valenwood. I was very eager to take a percentage of the commission. With all 
that blessed eagerness, it was merely a matter of putting quill to contract, 
bless you."

"You have been in the employ of his Imperial Majesty very long?" asked the 
first diplomat.

"It's a bite, or rather, a bit more complicated than that in the Imperial 
City. Between you and me, I don't really have a job. I used to work for Lord 
Atrius and his Building Commission, but I got sacked. And then, the contracts
are from Lord Vanech and his Building Commission, 'cause I got em from this 
fellow Reglius who is a competitor but still a very fine fellow until he was 
made dead by those Khajiiti," Scotti drained his fifth mug. "When I go back to
the Imperial City, then the real negotiations can begin, bless you. I can go 
to my old employer and to Lord Vanech, and say, look here you, which one of 
you wants these commissions? And they'll fall over each other to take them 
from me. It will be bidding war for my percentage the likes of which no one 
nowhere has never seen."

"So you're not a representative of his Imperial Majesty, the Emperor?" asked 
the first diplomat.

"Didn't you hear what I'm said? You stupid?" Scotti felt a surge of rage, 
which quickly subsided. He chuckled, and poured himself a seventh mug. "The 
Building Commissions are privately owned, but they're still representatives of
the Emperor. So I'm a representative of the Emperor. Or I will be. When I get 
these contracts in. It's very complicated. I can understand why you're not 
following me. Bless you, it's all like the poet said, a dance in fire, if you 
follow the illusion, that is to say, allusion."

"And your colleagues? Are they representatives of the Emperor?" asked the 
second diplomat.

Scotti burst into laughter, shaking his head. The diplomats bade him their 
respects and went to talk to the Minister. Scotti stumbled out of the palace, 
and reeled through the strange, organic avenues and boulevards of the city. It
took him several hours to find his way to Prithala Hall and his room. Once 
there, he slept, very nearly on his bed.

The next morning, he woke to Jurus and Basth in his room, shaking him. He felt
half-asleep and unable to open his eyes fully, but otherwise fine. The 
conversation with the diplomats floated in his mind in a haze, like an obscure
childhood memory.

"What in Mara's name is Rotmeth?" he asked quickly.

"Rancid, strongly fermented meat juices with lots of spices to kill the 
poisons," smiled Basth. "I should have warned you to stay with Jagga."

"You must understand the Meat Mandate by now," laughed Jurus. "These Bosmeri 
would rather eat each other than touch the fruit of the vine or the field."

"What did I say to those diplomats?" cried Scotti, panicking.

"Nothing bad apparently," said Jurus, pulling out some papers. "Your escorts 
are downstairs to bring you to the Imperial Province. Here are your papers of 
safe passage. The Silvenar seems very impatient about business proceeding 
forward rapidly. He promises to send you some sort of rare treasure when the 
contracts are fulfilled. See, he's already given me something."

Jurus showed off his new, bejeweled earring, a beautiful large faceted ruby. 
Basth showed that he had a similar one. The two fat fellows left the room so 
Scotti could dress and pack.

A full regiment of the Silvenar's guards was on the street in front of the 
tavern. They surrounded a carriage crested with the official arms of 
Valenwood. Still dazed, Scotti climbed in, and the captain of the guard gave 
the signal. They began a quick gallop. Scotti shook himself, and then peered 
behind. Basth and Jurus were waving him goodbye.

"Wait!" Scotti cried. "Aren't you coming back to the Imperial Province too?"

"The Silvenar asked that we stay behind as Imperial representatives!" yelled 
Liodes Jurus. "In case there's a need for more contracts and negotiations! 
He's appointed us Undrape, some sort of special honor for foreigners at court!
Don't worry! Lots of banquets to attend! You can handle the negotiations with 
Vanech and Atrius yourself and we'll keep things settled here!"

Jurus continued to yell advice about business, but his voice became indistinct
with distance. Soon it disappeared altogether as the convoy rounded the 
streets of Silvenar. The jungle loomed suddenly and then they were in it. 
Scotti had only gone through it by foot or along the rivers by slow-moving 
boats. Now it flashed all around him in profusions of greens. The horses 
seemed even faster moving through underbrush than on the smooth paths of the 
city. None of the weird sounds or dank smells of the jungle penetrated the 
escort. It felt to Scotti as if he were watching a play about the jungle with 
a background of a quickly moving scrim, which offered only the merest 
suggestion of the place.

So it went for two weeks. There was lots of food and water in the carriage 
with the clerk, so he merely ate and slept as the caravan pressed endlessly 
on. From time to time, he'd hear the sound of blades clashing, but when he 
looked around whatever had attacked the caravan had long since been left 
behind. At last, they reached the border, where an Imperial garrison was 
stationed.

Scotti presented the soldiers who met the carriage with the papers. They asked
him a barrage of questions that he answered monosyllabically, and then let him
pass. It took several more days to arrive at the gates of the Imperial City. 
The horses that had flown so fast through the jungle now slowed down in the 
unfamiliar territory of the wooded Colovian Estates. By contrast, the cries of
his province's birds and smells of his province's plant life brought Decumus 
Scotti alive. It was if he had been dreaming all the past months.

At the gates of the City, Scotti's carriage door was opened for him and he 
stepped out on uncertain legs. Before he had a moment to say something to the 
escort, they had vanished, galloping back south through the forest. The first 
thing he did now that he was home was go to the closest tavern and have tea 
and fruit and bread. If he never ate meat again, he told himself, that would 
suit him very nicely.

Negotiations with Lord Atrius and Lord Vanech proceeded immediately 
thereafter. It was most agreeable. Both commissions recognized how lucrative 
the rebuilding of Valenwood would be for their agency. Lord Vanech claimed, 
quite justifiably, that as the contracts had been written on forms notarized 
by his commission, he had the legal right to them. Lord Atrius claimed that 
Decumus Scotti was his agent and representative, and that he had never been 
released from employment. The Emperor was called to arbitrate, but he claimed 
to be unavailable. His advisor, the Imperial Battlemage Jagar Tharn, had 
disappeared long ago and could not be called on for his wisdom and impartial 
mediation.

Scotti lived very comfortably off the bribes from Lord Atrius and Lord Vanech.
Every week, a letter would arrive from Jurus or Basth asking about the status 
of negotiations. Gradually, these letters ceased coming, and more urgent ones 
came from the Minister of Trade and the Silvenar himself. The War of the Blue 
Divide with Summurset Isle ended with the Altmeri winning several new coastal 
islands from the Wood Elves. The war with Elsweyr continued, ravaging the 
eastern borders of Valenwood. Still, Vanech and Atrius fought over who would 
help.

One fine morning in the early spring of the year 3E 398, a courier arrived at
Decumus Scotti's door.

"Lord Vanech has won the Valenwood commission, and requests that you and the 
contracts come to his hall at your earliest convenience."

"Has Lord Atrius decided not to challenge further?" asked Scotti.

"He's been unable to, having died very suddenly, just now, from a terribly 
unfortunate accident," said the courier.

Scotti had wondered how long it would be before the Dark Brotherhood was 
brought in for final negotiations. As he walked toward Lord Vanech's Building
Commission, a long, severe piece of architecture on a minor but respectable 
plaza, he wondered if he had played the game, as he ought to have. Could 
Vanech be so rapacious as to offer him a lower percentage of the commission 
now that his chief competitor was dead? Thankfully, he discovered, Lord Vanech
had already decided to pay Scotti what he had proposed during the heat of the
winter negotiations. His advisors had explained to him that other, lesser 
building commissions might come forward unless the matter were handled quickly
and fairly.

"Glad we have all the legal issues done with," said Lord Vanech, fondly. "Now 
we can get to the business of helping the poor Bosmeri, and collecting the 
profits. It's a pity you weren't our representative for all the troubles with 
Bend'r-mahk and the Arnesian business. But there will be plenty more wars, I'm
sure of that."

Scotti and Lord Vanech sent word to the Silvenar that at last they were 
prepared to honor the contracts. A few weeks later, they held a banquet in 
honor of the profitable enterprise. Decumus Scotti was the darling of the 
Imperial City, and no expense was spared to make it an unforgettable evening.

As Scotti met the nobles and wealthy merchants who would be benefiting from 
his business dealings, an exotic but somehow faintly familiar smell rose in 
the ballroom. He traced it to its source: a thick roasted slab of meat, so 
long and thick it covered several platters. The Cyrodilic revelers were eating
it ravenously, unable to find the words to express their delight at its taste 
and texture.

"It's like nothing I've ever had before!"

"It's like pig-fed venison!"

"Do you see the marbling of fat and meat? It's a masterpiece!"

Scotti went to take a slice, but then he saw something imbedded deep in the 
dried and rendered roast. He nearly collided with his new employer Lord Vanech
as he stumbled back.

"Where did this come from?" Scotti stammered.

"From our client, the Silvenar," beamed his lordship. "It's some kind of local
delicacy they call Unthrappa."

Scotti vomited, and didn't stop for some time. It cast rather a temporary pall
on the evening, but when Decumus Scotti was carried off to his manor house, 
the guests continued to dine. The Unthrappa was the delight of all. Even more 
so when Lord Vanech himself took a slice and found the first of two rubies 
buried within. How very clever of the Bosmer to invent such a dish, the 
Cyrodiils agreed.


Decumus Scotti's adventures continue in The Argonian Account. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ83)
                   ~~Wolf Queen, v4~~  
           
                    Waughin Jarth
          
     Item ID: 00024533
     

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From the pen of the first century third era sage Montocai:

3E 109:
Ten years after being crowned Emperor of Tamriel, Antiochus Septim had 
impressed his subjects with little but the enormity of his lust for carnal 
pleasures. By his second wife, Gysilla, he had a daughter in the year 104, who
he named Kintyra, after his great-great-great grandaunt, the Empress. 
Enormously fat and marked by every venereal disease known to the Healers, 
Antiochus spent little time on politics. His siblings, by marked contrast, 
excelled in this field. Magnus had married Hellena, the Cyrodiil Queen of 
Lilmoth -- the Argonian priest-king having been executed -- and was 
representing the Imperial interests in Black Marsh admirably. Cephorus and his
wife Bianki were ruling the Hammerfell kingdom of Gilane with a healthy brood 
of children. But no one was more politically active than Potema, the Wolf-
Queen of the Skyrim kingdom of Solitude.

Nine years after the death of her husband, King Mantiarco, Potema still ruled 
as regent for her young son, Uriel. Their court had become very fashionable, 
particularly for rulers who had a grudge to bear against the Emperor. All the 
kings of Skyrim visited Castle Solitude regularly, and over the years, 
emissaries from the lands of Morrowind and High Rock did as well. Some guests 
came from even farther away.


3E 110:
Potema stood at the harbor and watched the boat from Pyandonea arrive. Against
the gray, breaking waves where she had seen so many vessels of Tamrielic 
manufacture, it looked less than exotic. Insectoid, certainly, with its 
membranous sails and rugged chitin hull, but she had seen similar if not 
identical seacraft in Morrowind. No, if not for the flag which was markedly 
alien, she would not have picked out the ship from others in the harbor. As 
the salty mist ballooned around her, she held out her hand in welcome to the 
visitors from another island empire.

The men aboard were not merely pale, they were entirely colorless, as if their
flesh were made of some white limpid jelly, but she had been forewarned. At 
the arrival of the King and his translator, she looked directly into their 
blank eyes and offered her hand. The King made noises.

"His Great Majesty, King Orgnum," said the translator, haltingly. "Expresses 
his delight at your beauty. He thanks you for giving him refuge from these 
dangerous seas."

"You speak Cyrodilic very well," said Potema.

"I am fluent in the languages of four continents," said the translator. "I can
speak to the denizens of my own country Pyandonea, as well as those of Atmora,
Akavir, and here, in Tamriel. Yours is the easiest, actually. I was looking 
forward to this voyage."

"Please tell his highness that he is welcome here, and that I am entirely at 
his disposal," said Potema, smiling. Then she added, "You understand the 
context? That I am just being polite?"

"Of course," said the translator, and then made several noises at the King, 
which the King reacted to with a smile. While they conversed, Potema looked up
the dock and saw the now familiar gray cloaks watching her while they spoke 
with Levlet, Antiochus's man. The Psijic Order from the Summerset Isle. Very 
bothersome.

"My diplomatic emissary Lord Vhokken will show you to your rooms," said 
Potema. "Unfortunately, I have some other guests as well who require my 
attention. I hope your great majesty understands."

His Great Majesty King Orgnum did understand, and Potema made arrangements to
dine with the Pyandoneans that evening. Meeting with the Psijic Order required
all of her concentration. She dressed in her simplest black and gold robe and 
went to her stateroom to prepare. Her son, Uriel, was on the throne, playing 
with his pet joughat.

"Good morning, mom."

"Good morning, darling," said Potema, lifting her son in the air with feigned 
stain. "Talos, but you're heavy. I don't think I've ever carried such a heavy 
ten-year-old."

"That's probably because I'm eleven," said Uriel, perfectly aware of his 
mother's tricks. "And you're going to say that as an eleven-year-old, I should
probably be with my tutor."

"I was fanatical about studying at your age," said Potema.

"I am king," said Uriel petulantly.

"But don't be satisfied with that," said Potema. "By all rights, you should be
emperor already, you understand that, don't you?"

Uriel nodded his head. Potema took a moment to marvel at his likeness to the 
portraits of Tiber Septim. The same ruthless brow and powerful chin. When he 
was older and lost his baby fat, he'd be a splitting image of his great great
great great great granduncle. Behind her, she heard the door opening and an 
usher bringing in several gray cloaks. She stiffened slightly, and Uriel, on 
cue, jumped down from the throne and left the stateroom, pausing to greet the
most important of the Psijics.

"Good Morning, Master Iachesis," he said, enunciating each syllable with a 
regal accent that made Potema's heart soar. "I hope your accommodations at 
Castle Solitude meet with your approval."

"They do, King Uriel, thank you," said Iachesis, delighted and charmed.

Iachesis and his Psijics entered the chamber and the door was shut behind 
them. Potema sat only for a moment on the throne before stepping off the dais 
and greeting her guests.

"I am so sorry to have kept you waiting," said Potema. "To think that you 
sailed all the way from the Summerset Isles and I should keep you waiting any 
longer. You must forgive me."

"It's not all that long a voyage," said one of the gray cloaks, angrily. "It 
isn't as if we sailed all the way from Pyandonea."

"Ah. You've seen my most recent guests, King Orgnum and his retinue," said 
Potema breezily. "I suppose you think it unusual, me entertaining them, as we 
all know the Pyandoneans mean to invade Tamriel. You are, I take it, as 
neutral in this as you are in all political matters?"

"Of course," said Iachesis proudly. "We have nothing to gain or lose by the 
invasion. The Psijic Order preceded the organization of Tamriel under the 
Septim Dynasty and we shall survive under any political regime."

"Rather like a flea on whatever mongrel happens along, are you?" said Potema, 
narrowing her eyes. "Don't overestimate your importance, Iachesis. Your 
order's child, the Mages Guild, has twice the power you have, and they are 
entirely on my side. We are in the process of making an agreement with King 
Orgnum. When the Pyandoneans take over and I am in my proper place as Empress
of this continent, then you shall know your proper place in the order of 
things."

With a majestic stride, Potema left the stateroom, leaving the grey cloaks to
look from one to the other.

"We must speak to Lord Levlet," said one of the grey cloaks.

"Yes," said Iachesis. "Perhaps we should."

Levlet was quickly found at his usual place at the Moon and Nausea tavern. As
the three grey cloaks entered, led by Iachesis, the smoke and the noise seemed
to die in their path. Even the smell of tobacco and flin dissipated in their 
wake. He rose and then escorted them to a small room upstairs.

"You've reconsidered," said Levlet with a broad smile.

"Your Emperor," said Iachesis, and then corrected himself, "Our Emperor 
originally asked for our support in defending the west coast of Tamriel from 
the Pyandonean fleet in return for twelve million gold pieces. We offered our
services at fifty. Upon reflection on the dangers that a Pyandonean invasion 
would have, we accept his earlier offer."

"The Mages Guild has generously -- "

"Perhaps for as low ten million gold pieces," said Iachesis quickly.

Over the course of dinner, Potema promised King Orgnum through the 
interpreter, to lead an insurrection against her brother. She was delighted to
discover that her capacity for lying worked in many different cultures. Potema
shared her bed that night with King Orgnum, as it seemed the polite and 
diplomatic thing to do. As it turned out, he was one of the better lovers she
had ever had. He gave her some herbs before beginning that made her feel as if
she was floating on the surface of time, conscious only of the gestures of 
love after she had found herself making them. She felt herself like the 
cooling mist, quenching the fire of his lust over and over and over again. In 
the morning, when he kissed her on the cheek, and said with his bald white 
eyes that he was leaving her, she felt a stab of regret.

The ship left harbor that morning, en route to the Summerset Isles and the 
imminent invasions. She waved them off to sea as she footsteps behind her. It
was Levlet.

"They will do it for eight million, your highness" he said.

"Thank Mara," said Potema. "I need more time for an insurrection. Pay them 
from my treasury, and then go to the Imperial City and get the twelve million 
from Antiochus. We should make a good profit from this game, and you, of 
course, will have your share."

Three months later, Potema heard that the fleet of the Pyandoneans had been 
utterly destroyed by a storm that had appeared suddenly off the Isle of 
Artaeum. The home port of the Psijic Order. King Orgnum and all of his ships 
had been utterly annihilated.

"Sometimes making people hate you," she said, holding her son Uriel close, "Is
how you make a profit ."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------
                   
                     ~MYSTICISM~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ84)
                 ~~2920, Sun's Dawn (v2)~~  
          
     Item ID: 00024538
     

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    3 Sun's Dawn, 2920 
    The Isle of Artaeum, Summurset 

Sotha Sil watched the initiates float one by one up to the oassom tree, taking
a fruit or a flower from its high branches before dropping back to the ground 
with varying degrees of grace. He took a moment while nodding his head in 
approval to admire the day. The whitewashed statue of Syrabane, which the 
great mage was said to have posed for in ancient days, stood at the precipice 
of the cliff overlooking the bay. Pale purple proscato flowers waves to and 
fro in the gentle breeze. Beyond, ocean, and the misty border between Artaeum 
and the main island of Summurset.

“By and large, acceptable,” he proclaimed as the last student dropped her 
fruit in his hand. With a wave of his hand, the fruit and flowers were back in
the tree. With another wave, the students had formed into position in a 
semicircle around the sorcerer. He pulled a small fibrous ball, about a foot 
in diameter from his white robes.

“What is this?”

The students understood this test. It asked them to cast a spell of 
identification on the mysterious object. Each initiate closed his or her eyes 
and imagined the ball in the realm of the universal Truth. Its energy had a 
unique resonance as all physical and spiritual matter does, a negative aspect,
a duplicate version, relative paths, true meaning, a song in the cosmos, a 
texture in the fabric of space, a facet of being that has always existed and 
always will exist.

“A ball,” said a young Nord named Welleg, which brought giggles from some of 
the younger initiates, but a frown from most, including Sotha Sil.

“If you must be stupid, at least be amusing,” growled the sorcerer, and then 
looked at a young, dark-haired Altmer lass who looked confused. “Lilatha, do 
you know?”

“It's grom,” said Lilatha, uncertainly. “What the dreugh meff after they've k-
k-kr-krevinasim.”

“Karvinasim, but very good, nonetheless,” said Sotha Sil. “Now, tell me, what 
does that mean?”

“I don't know,” admitted Lilatha. The rest of the students also shook their 
heads.

“There are layers to understanding all things,” said Sotha Sil. “The common 
man looks at an object and fits it into a place in his way of thinking. Those 
skilled in the Old Ways, in the way of the Psijic, in Mysticism, can see an 
object and identify it by its proper role. But one more layer is needed to be 
peeled back to achieve understanding. You must identify the object by its role
and its truth and interpret that meaning. In this case, this ball is indeed 
grom, which is a substance created by the dreugh, an underwater race in the 
north and western parts of the continent. For one year of their life, they 
undergo karvinasim when they walk upon the land. Following that, they return 
to the water and meff, or devour the skin and organs they needed for land-
dwelling. Then they vomit it up into little balls like this. Grom. Dreugh 
vomit.”

The students looked at the ball a little queasily. Sotha Sil always loved this
lesson.


    4 Sun's Dawn, 2920 
    The Imperial City, Cyrodiil 

“Spies,” muttered the Emperor, sitting in his bath, staring at a lump on his 
foot. “All around me, traitors and spies.”

His mistress Rijja washed his back, her legs wrapped around his waist. She 
knew after all these many years when to be sensual and when to be sexual. When
he was in a mood like this, it was best to be calmly, soothingly, seductively 
sensual. And not to say a word unless he asked her a direct question.

Which he did: “What do you think when a fellow steps on his Imperial Majesty's
foot and says 'I'm sorry, Your Imperial Majesty'? Don't you think 'Pardon me,
Your Imperial Majesty' is more appropriate? 'I'm sorry,' well that almost 
sounds like the bastard Argonian was sorry I am his Imperial Majesty. That he 
hopes we lose the war with Morrowind, that's what it sounds like.”

“What would make you feel better?” asked Rijja. “Would you like him flogged? 
He is only, as you say, the Battlechief of Soulrest. It would teach him to 
mind where he's stepping.”

“My father would have flogged him. My grandfather would have had him killed,” 
the Emperor grumbled. “But I don't mind if they all step on my feet, provided 
they respect me. And don't plot against me.”

“You must trust someone.”

“Only you,” smiled the Emperor, turning slightly to give Rijja a kiss. “And my
son Juilek, I suppose, though I wish he were a little more cautious.”

“And your council, and the Potentate?” asked Rijja.

“A pack of spies and a snake,” laughed the Emperor, kissing his mistress 
again. As they began to make love, he whispered, “As long as you're true, I 
can handle the world.”


    13 Sun's Dawn, 2920 
    Mournhold, Morrowind 

Turala stood at the black, bejeweled city gates. A wind howled around her, but
she felt nothing.

The Duke had been furious upon hearing his favorite mistress was pregnant and 
cast her from his sight. She tried again and again to see him, but his guards 
turned her away. Finally, she returned to her family and told them the truth. 
If only she had lied and told them she did not know who the father was. A 
soldier, a wandering adventurer, anyone. But she told them that the father was
the Duke, a member of the House Indoril. And they did what she knew they would
have to do, as proud members of the House Redoran.

Upon her hand was burned the sign of Expulsion her weeping father had branded
on her. But the Duke's cruelty hurt her far more. She looked out the gate and 
into the wide winter plains. Twisted, sleeping trees and skies without birds. 
No one in Morrowind would take her in now. She must go far away.

With slow, sad steps, she began her journey.


    16 Sun's Dawn, 2920 
    Senchal, Anequina (modern day Elsweyr) 

“What troubles you?” asked Queen Hasaama, noticing her husband's sour mood. At
the end of most Lovers' Days he was in an excellent mood, dancing in the 
ballroom with all the guests, but tonight he retired early. When she found 
him, he was curled in the bed, frowning.

“That blasted bard's tale about Polydor and Eloisa put me in a rotten state,” 
he growled. “Why did he have to be so depressing?”

“But isn't that the truth of the tale, my dear? Weren't they doomed because of
the cruel nature of the world?”

“It doesn't matter what the truth is, he did a rotten job of telling a rotten 
tale, and I'm not going to let him do it anymore,” King Dro'Zel sprang from 
the bed. His eyes were rheumy with tears. “Where did they say he was from 
again?”

“I believe Gilverdale in easternmost Valenwood,” said the Queen, shaken. “My 
husband, what are you going to do?”

Dro'Zel was out of the room in a single spring, bounding up the stairs to his 
tower. If Queen Hasaama knew what her husband was going to do, she did not try
to stop him. He had been erratic of late, prone to fits and even occasional 
seizures. But she never suspected the depths of his madness, and his loathing 
for the bard and his tale of the wickedness and perversity found in mortal 
man.


    19 Sun's Dawn, 2920 
    Gilverdale, Valenwood 

“Listen to me again,” said the old carpenter. “If cell three holds worthless 
brass, then cell two holds the gold key. If cell one holds the gold key, then 
cell three hold worthless brass. If cell two holds worthless brass, then cell 
one holds the gold key.”

“I understand,” said the lady. “You told me. And so cell one holds the gold 
key, right?”

“No,” said the carpenter. “Let me start from the top.”

“Mama?” said the little boy, pulling on his mother's sleeve.

“Just one moment, dear, mother's talking,” she said, concentrating on the 
riddle. “You said 'cell three holds the golden key if cell two holds worthless
brass,' right?”

“No,” said the carpenter patiently. “Cell three holds worthless brass, if cell
two --”

“Mama!” cried the boy. His mother finally looked.

A bright red mist was pouring over the town in a wave, engulfing building 
after building in its wake. Striding before was a red-skinned giant. The 
Daedra Molag Bal. He was smiling.


    29 Sun's Dawn, 2920 
    Gilverdale, Valenwood 

Almalexia stopped her steed in the vast moor of mud to let him drink from the 
river. He refused to, even seemed repelled by the water. It struck her as odd:
they had been making excellent time from Mournhold, and surely he must be 
thirsty. She dismounted and joined her retinue.

“Where are we now?” she asked.

One of her ladies pulled out a map. “I thought we were approaching a town 
called Gilverdale.”

Almalexia closed her eyes and opened them again quickly. The vision was too 
much to bear. As her followers watched, she picked up a piece of brick and a 
fragment of bone, and clutched them to her heart.

“We must continue on to Artaeum,” she said quietly.

The Year continues in First Seed. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ85)
                ~~Before the Ages of Man~~  
           
                    Aicantar of Shimerene
          
     Item ID: 00073A63
     

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Timeline Series - Vol 1


Before man came to rule Tamriel, and before the chronicles of the historians 
recorded the affairs of the rulers of Tamriel, the events of our world are 
known only through myths and legends, and through the divinely inspired 
teachings of the Nine Divines.


For convenience, historians divide the distant ages of prehistory into two 
broad periods of time -- the Dawn Era, and the Merethic Era.


* The Dawn Era *


The Dawn Era is that period before the beginning of mortal time, when the 
feats of the gods take place. The Dawn Era ends with the exodus of the gods 
and magic from the World at the founding of the Adamantine Tower.


The term 'Merethic' comes from the Nordic, literally, "Era of the Elves." The 
Merethic Era is the prehistoric time after the exodus of the gods and magic 
from the World at the founding of the Adamantine Tower and before the arrival 
of Ysgramor the Nord in Tamriel.

The following are the most notable events of the Dawn Era, presented roughly 
in sequence as it must be understaoo by creatures of time such as ourselves.

The Cosmos formed from the Aurbis [chaos, or totality] by Anu and Padomay. 
Akatosh (Auriel) formed and Time began. The Gods (et'Ada) formed. Lorkhan 
convinced -- or tricked -- the Gods into creating the mortal plane, Nirn. The
mortal plane was at this point highly magical and dangerous. As the Gods 
walked, the physical make-up of the mortal plane and even the timeless 
continuity of existence itself became unstable.

When Magic (Magnus), architect of the plans for the mortal world, decided to 
terminate the project, the Gods convened at the Adamantine Tower [Direnni 
Tower, the oldest known structure in Tamriel] and decided what to do. Most 
left when Magic did. Others sacrificed themselves into other forms so that 
they might Stay (the Ehlnofey). Lorkhan was condemned by the Gods to exile in 
the mortal realms, and his heart was torn out and cast from the Tower. Where 
it landed, a Volcano formed. With Magic (in the Mythic Sense) gone, the Cosmos
stabilized. Elven history, finally linear, began (ME2500).


* The Merethic Era *


The Merethic Era was figured by early Nord scholars as a series of years 
numbered in reverse order backward from the their 'beginning of time' -- the 
founding of the Camoran Dynasty, recorded as Year Zero of the First Era. The 
prehistoric events of the Merethic Era are listed here with their traditional 
Nordic Merethic dates. The earliest Merethic date cited by King Harald's 
scholars was ME2500 -- the Nordic reckoning of the first year of time. As 
such, the Merethic Era extends from ME2500 in the distant past to ME1 -- the 
year before the founding of the Camoran Dysnasty and the establishment of the 
White gold Tower as an indepenent city-state.


According to King Harald's bards, ME2500 was the date of construction of the 
Adamantine Tower on Balfiera Island in High Rock, the oldest known structure 
of Tamriel. (This corresponds roughly to the earliest historical dates given 
in various unpublished Elvish chronicles.)

During the early Merethic Era, the aboriginal beastpeoples of Tamriel -- the 
ancestors of the Khajiit, Argonian, Orcish, and other beastfolk -- lived in 
preliterate communities throughout Tamriel.

In the Middle Merethic Era, the Aldmeri (mortals of Elven origin) refugees 
left their doomed and now-lost continent of Aldmeris (also known as 'Old 
Ehlnofey') and settled in southwestern Tamriel. The first colonies were 
distributed at wide intervals on islands along the entire coast of Tamriel. 
Later inland settlements were founded primarily in fertile lowlands in 
southwest and central Tamriel. Wherever the beastfolk encountered the Elves, 
the sophisticated, literate, technologically advanced Aldmeri cultures 
displaced the primitive beastfolk into the jungles, marshes, mountains, and 
wastelands. The Adamantine Tower was rediscovered and captured by the Direnni,
a prominent and powerful Aldmeri clan. The Crystal Tower was built on 
Summerset Isle and, later, White Gold Tower in Cyrodiil.

During the Middle Merethic Era, Aldmeri explorers mapped the coasts of 
Vvardenfel, building the First Era High Elven wizard towers at Ald Redaynia, 
Bal Fell, Tel Aruhn, and Tel Mora in Morrowind. It was also during this period
that Ayleid [Wild Elven] settlements flourished in the jungles surrounding 
White Gold Tower (present day Cyrodiil). Wild Elves, also known as the 
Heartland High Elves, preserved the Dawn Era magics and language of the 
Ehlnofey. Ostensibly a tribute-land to the High King of Alinor, the 
Heartland's long lines of communication from the Summerset Isles' sovereignty 
effectively isolated Cyrodill from the High Kings at Crystal Tower.

The Late Middle Merethic Era is the period of the High Velothi Culture. The 
Chimer, ancestors of the modern Dunmer, or Dark Elves, were dynamic, 
ambitious, long-lived Elven clans devoted to fundamentalist ancestor worship. 
The Chimer clans followed the Prophet Veloth out of the ancestral Elven 
homelands in the southwest to settle in the lands now known as Morrowind. 
Despising the secular culture and profane practices of the Dwemer, the Chimer 
also coveted the lands and resources of the Dwemer, and for centuries provoked
them with minor raids and territorial disputes. The Dwemer (Dwarves), free-
thinking, reclusive Elven clans devoted to the secrets of science, 
engineering, and alchemy, established underground cities and communities in 
the mountain range (later the Velothi Mountains) separating modern Skyrim and 
Morrowind.

The Late Merethic Era marks the precipitous decline of Velothi culture. Some 
Velothi settled in villages near declining and abandoned ancient Velothi 
towers. During this period, Velothi high culture disappeared on Vvardenfell 
Island. The earliest Dwemer Freehold colonies date from this period. 
Degenerate Velothi devolved into tribal cultures which, in time, evolved into 
the modern Great Houses of Morrowind, or persisted as the barbarian Ashlander 
tribes. The only surviving traces of this tribal culture are scattered Velothi
towers and Ashlander nomads on Vvardenfell Island. The original First Era High
Elven wizard towers along the coasts of Tamriel were also abandoned about this
time.

It was in the Late Merethic Era that the pre-literate humans, the so-called 
"Nedic Peoples", from the continent of Atmora (also 'Altmora' or 'the Elder 
Wood' in Aldmeris) migrated and settleed in northern Tamriel. The Nord culture
hero Ysgramor, leader of a great colonizing fleet to Tamriel, is credited with
developing a runic transcription of Nord speech based on Elvish principles, 
and so Ysgramor is considered the first human historian. Ysgramor's fleet 
landed at Hsaarik Head at the extreme northern tip of Skyrim's Broken Cape. 
The Nords built there the legendary city of Saarthal. The Elves drove the Men 
away during the Night of Tears, but Ysgramor soon returned with his Five 
Hundred Companions.

Also during the Late Merethic Era the legendary immortal hero, warrior, 
sorceror, and king variously known as Pelinal Whitestrake, Harrald Hairy 
Breeks, Ysmir, Hans the Fox, etc., wandered Tamriel, gathering armies, 
conquering lands, ruling, then abandoning his kingdoms to wander again.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ86)
                ~~The Black Arts On Trial~~  
           
            Hannibal Traven, Archmagister of the Mages Guild
          
     Item ID: 00024539
     

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 HISTORY


Necromancy, commonly called the Black Arts, has a history that dates back 
before recorded time. Virtually all the earliest laws of the land make mention
of it as expressly forbidden on pain of death. Independent practitioners of 
the arts of sorcery, however, continued its study.

The Psijic Order of the Isle of Artaeum, precursor to our own Mages Guild, 
also forbade its use, not only because it was dangerous, but their belief in 
the holy and unholy ancestor spirits made it heretical. Again, despite this, 
we hear many stories of students and masters who ignored this stricture. When
Vanus Galerion left Artaeum, he may have disagreed with the Psijics on much, 
but he also refused to allow Necromancy to be taught in the Guild.

Almost 1100 years have passed since the time of Vanus Galerion, and there have
been many archmagisters to lead his guild. The question of Necromancy has 
continued to be asked. The strictures against it in the Guild have never been
lifted, but attitudes about it have shifted back and forth over the years. 
Some archmagisters have been inclined to ignore it entirely, some have fought 
very actively against it, and still other archmagisters have been rumored to 
be Necromancers themselves.

In my new role as Archmagister of the Mages Guild, it is my duty to set policy
on this matter. Though I have my own opinions on the Black Arts, I took 
counsel with two of the most learned mages in the Empire, Magister Voth 
Karlyss of Corinth and Magister Ulliceta gra-Kogg of Orsinium, and we debated
for two days.

What follows are summaries of the salient points of the debate, arguments and 
counter-arguments, which led to the resolution of the Mages Guild on the 
subject of Necromancy.

ARGUMENT


Argument by Master gra-Kogg: Necromancy is poorly understood. We will not make
it disappear by ignoring it. As an intellectual institution dedicated to the 
study of the magickal arts and sciences, we have obligations to the truth. 
Censoring ourselves in our scholarship is antithetical to our mission of 
neutrality and objectivity.

Counter-Argument by Master Karlyss: The Mages Guild must balance its quest for
knowledge with responsible caution and ethical standards. It is not 
'censoring' a student's course of study to have him proceed cautiously and 
with purity of purpose. It is not limiting a student's freedom to set rules 
and boundaries - indeed, it is essential.

Argument by Master Karlyss: Necromancy is an anathema throughout the civilized
world. To embrace it publicly, the Mages Guild would inspire fear and 
hostility in the populace at large. Vanus Galerion wanted this institution to
be unlike the Psijic Order, which was elitist and separatist. We ignore public
opinion at our own risk. We will certainly lose our charters in many places 
including, very likely, the whole of Morrowind, where sentiment against 
Necromancy is very strong.

Counter-Argument by Master gra-Kogg: Yes, we should be sensitive to the 
concerns of the community, but they should not and must not dictate our 
scholarship. 'Necromancer' to many uneducated persons simply means an evil 
mage. It is madness to limit our work because of prejudices and half-formed 
understanding. It is an affront to the purpose of objective study to turn our
back on a subject merely because of public opinion.

Argument by Master gra-Kogg: Necromancers are the scourge of Tamriel. Whether 
operating independently or in concert with the sloads or King of Worms, 
Mannimarco, they are responsible for many horrors, animated zombies and 
skeletons and other forms of the undead. To best combat this menace, we must 
understand the powers of the Necromancer, and we cannot do that by restricting
our study of the Black Arts.

Counter-Argument by Master Karlyss: No one is disputing the threat of the 
Black Arts - in fact, that is the very essence of my argument against the 
Mages Guild making it a School to be taught to our initiates. We can and 
should know what our enemy is capable of, but we must be careful not to step 
into a trap of looking too deep into his ways, and making those ways our own. 
We do no one any good if by studying the evil ways, we become evil ourselves.

Argument by Master Karlyss: Necromancy is inherently dangerous. One cannot 
'dabble' in it. The simplest spell requires the spilling of blood, and 
immediately begins to corrupt the caster's soul. This is not conjecture, but 
simple fact. It is irresponsible of the Guild to teach and thereby encourage a
sort of magickal study which has proven itself, time and time again, to bring 
nothing but terror and misery on the practitioner and world.

Counter-Argument by Master gra-Kogg: All Schools of magicka are dangerous to 
the uninitiated. A simple fireball spell from the School of Destruction can 
cause great harm when cast by a novice, not only to others but to the mage 
himself. The School of Mysticism by its very nature forces the practitioner to
divorce his mind from logic, to embrace a temporary sort of insanity, which 
one might argue is very like corrupting one's soul.

Argument by Master gra-Kogg: The Guild already permits some forms of 
Necromancy. The 'Schools' of magicka are, as we know, artificial constructs, 
originally formulated by Vanus Galerion to divide and thereby simplify study. 
They have changed many times throughout the years, but at their heart, every 
Master knows, they are all linked together. When a student of Conjuration 
summons a guardian ghost, he is touching on the School of Necromancy. When a 
student of Enchantment uses a trapped soul, he too may be considered guilty of
a Black Art. The School of Mysticism, as I have stated before, has some 
kinship with Necromancy as well. To state that students may not learn the ways
of Necromancy is to stifle common skills in the other, more historically 
legitimate Schools of the Guild.

Counter-Argument by Master Karlyss: Yes, the Schools are intertwined, but the 
standard spells of each School have passed the proof of time. We know that a 
student of Mysticism, properly instructed, will not be permanently harmed by 
his experience. In many ways, it is a question of extremes - how far we would
permit our studies to take us. Necromancy by its nature relies on the 
practitioner going further into the darkness than is wise, virtually 
guaranteeing his destruction. It has no place in the Mages Guild.

CONCLUSION


The risks of studying Necromancy outweigh its usefulness. The Guild does not 
wish to censor the study of any of its members, but it will not tolerate 
studies in the Black Arts, except in limited form for the purpose of combating
its evil adherents. This may only been done by rare individuals who have 
proven themselves both highly skilled and highly cautious, and then only with 
my express permission and supervision.

AFTERWORD


I regret to acknowledge the truth behind the rumor that Master Ulliceta gra-
Kogg was more than an apologist for Necromancy, she was a Necromancer herself.
Upon this revelation, the Knights of the Lamp attempted to arrest her at the 
Guildhouse in Orsinium, but she made good her escape. We have every confidence
in the replacement Magister in Orsinium.

Though I disagreed, I respected her logical reasoning enough to include her 
arguments in this book, and I see no reason to remove them. It is 
disappointing, however, to see that her interest in 'the truth' was nothing 
more than a euphemism for her slavery to the Black Arts.

This unfortunate situation merely illustrates how essential it is for 
Guildmembers to be wary of the lure of Necromancy, and be vigilant to its 
practitioners' infiltration in our Mages Guild.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ87)
                ~~The Firsthold Revolt~~  
           
                       Maveus Cie
          
     Item ID: 00024537
     

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“You told me that if her brother won, she would be sister to the King of 
Wayrest, and Reman would want to keep her for the alliance. But her brother 
Helseth lost and has fled with his mother back to Morrowind, and still Reman 
has not left her to marry me.” Lady Gialene took a long, slow drag of the 
hookah and blew out dragon's breath, so the scent of blossoms perfumed her 
gilded chamber. “You make a very poor advisor, Kael. I might have spent my 
time romancing the king of Cloudrest or Alinor instead of the wretched royal 
husband of Queen Morgiah.”

Kael knew better than to hurt his lady's vanity by the mere suggestion that 
the King of Firsthold might have come to love his Dunmer Queen. Instead he 
gave her a few minutes to pause and look from her balcony out over the high 
cliff palaces of the ancient capitol. The moons shone like crystal on the deep
sapphire waters of the Abecean Sea. It was ever springtide here, and he could 
well understand why she would prefer a throne in this land than in Cloudrest 
or Alinor.

Finally, he spoke: “The people are with you, my lady. They do not relish the 
idea of Reman's Dark Elf heirs ruling the kingdom when he is gone.”

“I wonder,” she said calmly. “I wonder if as the King would not give up his 
Queen for want of alliances, whether she would give herself up out of fear. Of
all the people of Firsthold, who most dislikes the Dunmer influence on the 
court?”

“Is this a trick question, my lady?” asked Kael. “The Trebbite Monks, of 
course. Their credo has ever been for pure Altmer bloodlines on Summurset, and
among the royal families most of all. But, my lady, they make very weak allies.”

“I know,” said Gialene, taking up her hookah again thoughtfully, a smile 
creeping across her face. “Morgiah has seen to it that they have no power. She
would have exterminated them altogether had Reman not stopped her for all the 
good they do for the country folk. What if they found themselves with a very 
powerful benefactress? One with intimate knowledge of the court of Firsthold, 
the chief concubine of the King, and all the gold to buy weapons with that her
father, the King of Skywatch, could supply?”

“Well-armed and with the support of the country people, they would be 
formidable,” nodded Kael. “But as your advisor, I must warn you: if you make 
yourself an active foe of Queen Morgiah, you must play to win. She has 
inherited much of her mother Queen Barenziah's intelligence and spirit of 
vengeance.”

“She will not know I am her foe until it is too late,” shrugged Gialene. “Go 
to the Trebbite monastery and bring me Friar Lylim. We must strategize our 
plan of attack.”

For two weeks, Reman was advised about growing resentment in the countryside 
from peasants who called Morgiah the “Black Queen,” but it was nothing that he
had not heard before. His attention was on the pirates on a small island off 
the coast called Calluis Lar. They had been more brazen as late, attacking 
royal barges in organized raids. To deliver a crushing blow, he ordered the 
greatest part of his militia to invade the island -- an incursion he himself 
would lead.

A few days after Reman left the capitol, the revolt of the Trebbite Monks 
exploded. The attacks were well-coordinated and without warning. The Chief of
the Guards did not wait to be announced, bursting into Morgiah's bedchamber 
ahead of a flurry of maidservants.

“My Queen,” he said. “It is a revolution.”

By contrast, Gialene was not asleep when Kael came to deliver the news. She 
was seated by the window, smoking her hookah and looking at the fires far off
in the hills.

“Morgiah is with council,” he explained. “I am certain they are telling her 
that the Trebbite Monks are behind the uprising, and that the revolution will 
be at the city gates by morning.”

“How large is the revolutionary army in contrast to the remaining royal 
militia?” asked Gialene.

“The odds are well in our favor,” said Kael. “Though not perhaps as much as we
hoped. The country folk, it seems, like to complain about their queen, but 
stop short of insurrection. Primarily, the army is composed of the Monks 
themselves and a horde of mercenaries your father's gold bought. In a way of 
thinking, it is preferable this way -- they are more professional and 
organized that a common mob. Really, they are a true army, complete with a 
horn section.”

“If that doesn't frighten the Black Queen into abdication, nothing will,” 
smiled Gialene, rising from her chair. “The poor dear must be beside herself 
with worry. I must fly to her side and enjoy it.”

Gialene was disappointed when she saw Morgiah come out of the Council 
Chambers. Considering that she had been woken from a deep sleep with cries of 
revolution and had spent the last several hours in consultation with her 
meager general force, she looked beautiful. There was a sparkle of proud 
defiance in her bright red eyes.

“My Queen,” Gialene cried, forcing real tears. “I came as soon as I heard! 
Will we all be slaughtered?”

“A distinct possibility,” replied Morgiah simply. Gialene tried to read her, 
but the expressions of women, especially alien women, were a far greater 
challenge than those of Altmer men.

“I hate myself for even thinking to propose this,” said Gialene. “But since 
the cause of their fury is you, perhaps if you were to give up the throne, 
they might disperse. Please understand, my queen, I am thinking only of the 
good of the kingdom and our own lives.”

“I understand the spirit of your suggestion,” smiled Morgiah. “And I will take
it under advisement. Believe me, I've thought of it myself. But I don't think
it will come to that.”

“Have you a plan for defending us?” asked Gialene, contorting her features to
an expression she knew bespoke girlish hope.

“The king left us several dozen of his royal battlemages,” said Morgiah. “I 
think the mob believes we have nothing but palace guards and a few soldiers to
protect us. When they get to the gates are greeted with a wave of fireballs, I
find it highly likely that they will lose heart and retreat.”

“But isn't there some protection they could be using against such an assault?”
asked Gialene in her best worried voice.

“If they knew about it, naturally there is. But an unruly mob is unlikely to 
have mages skilled in the arts of Restoration, by which they could shield 
themselves from the spells, or Mysticism, by which they could reflect the 
spells back on my battlemages. That would be the worst scenario, but even if 
they were well-organized enough to have Mystics in their ranks -- and enough 
of them to reflect so many spells -- it just isn't done. No battlefield 
commander would advise such a defense during a siege unless he knew precisely
was he was going to be meeting. And then, of course, once the trap is sprung” 
Morgiah winked. “It's too late for a countering spell.”

“A most cunning solution, your highness,” said Gialene, honestly impressed.

Morgiah excused herself to meet with her battlemages, and Gialene gave her an 
embrace. Kael was waiting in the palace garden for his lady.

“Are there Mystics among the mercenaries?” she asked quickly.

“Several, in fact,” replied Kael, bewildered by her query. “Largely rejects 
from the Psijic Order, but they know enough to cast the regular spells of the
school.”

“You must sneak out the city gates and tell Friar Lylim to have them cast 
reflection spells on all the front line before they attack,” said Gialene.

“That's most irregular battlefield strategy,” frowned Kael.

“I know it is, fool, that's what Morgiah is counting on. There's a gang of 
battlemages who are going to be waiting on the battlements to greet our army 
with a barrage of fire balls.”

“Battlemages? I would have thought that King Reman would have brought them 
with him to fight the pirates.”

“You would have thought that,” laughed Gialene. “But then we would be 
defeated. Now go!”

Friar Lylim agreed with Kael that it was a bizarre, unheard-of way to begin a 
battle, casting reflection spells on all one's troops. It went against every 
tradition, and as a Trebbite Monk, he valued tradition above every other 
virtue. There was little other choice, though, given the intelligence. He had 
few enough healers in the army as it were, and their energies could not be 
wasted casting resistance spells.

At dawn's light, the rebel army was in sight of the gleaming spires of 
Firsthold. Friar Lylim gathered together every soldier who knew even the 
rudimentary secrets of Mysticism, who knew how to tap in to the elementary 
conundrums and knots of the energies of magicka. Though few were masters of 
the art, their combined force was powerful to behold. A great surge of 
entangling power washed over the army, crackling, hissing, and infusing all 
with their ghostly force. When they arrived at the gates, every soldier, even 
the least imaginative, knew that no spell would touch him for a long time.

Friar Lylim watched his army batter into the gate with the great satisfaction
of a commander who has counteracted an unthinkable attack with an outrageous 
defense. The smile quickly faded from his face.

They were met at the battlements not by mages but by common archers of the 
palace guard. As the flaming arrows fell upon the siegers like a red rain, the
healers ran in to help the wounded. Their healing spells reflected off the 
dying men, one after the other. Chaos ruled as the attackers suddenly found 
themselves defenseless and began a panicked, unorganized retreat. Friar Lylim
himself considered briefly holding his ground before fleeing himself.

Later, he would send furious notes to Lady Gialene and Kael, but they were 
returned. Even his best secret agents within the palace were unable to find 
their whereabouts.

Neither had, as it turns out, much previous experience with torture, and they
soon confessed their treachery to the King's satisfaction. Kael was executed,
and Gialene was sent back with escort to her father's court of Skywatch. He 
has still to find a husband for her. Reman, by contrast, has elected not to 
take a new royal concubine. The common folk of Firsthold consider this break
in palace protocol to be more of the sinister alien influence of the Black 
Queen, and grumble to all who will listen. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ88)
              ~~Mythic Dawn Commentaries 4~~  
           
                      Mankar Camoran

      Commentaries on the Mysterium Xarxes Book Four
          
     Item ID: 00022B07
     

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May the holder of the fourth key know the heart thereby: the Mundex Terrene 
was once ruled over solely by the tyrant dreugh-kings, each to their own 
dominion, and borderwars fought between their slave oceans. They were akin to
the time-totems of old, yet evil, and full of mockery and profane powers. No 
one that lived did so outside of the sufferance of the dreughs.



I give my soul to the Magna Ge, sayeth the joyous in Paradise, for they 
created Mehrunes the Razor in secret, in the very bowels of Lyg, the domain 
of the Upstart who vanishes. Though they came from diverse waters, each Get 
shared sole purpose: to artifice a prince of good, spinning his likeness in 
random swath, and imbuing him with Oblivion's most precious and scarce asset:
hope.



Deathlessly I intone from Paradise: Mehrunes the Thieftaker, Mehrunes 
Godsbody, Mehrunes the Red Arms That Went Up! Nu-Mantia! Liberty!



Deny not that these days shall come again, my novitiates! For as Mehrunes 
threw down Lyg and cracked his face, declaring each of the nineteen and nine 
and nine oceans Free, so shall he crack the serpent crown of the Cyrodiils 
and make federation!



All will change in these days as it was changed in those, for with by the 
magic word Nu-Mantia a great rebellion rose up and pulled down the towers of 
CHIM-EL GHARJYG, and the templars of the Upstart were slaughtered, and blood 
fell like dew from the upper wards down to the lowest pits, where the slaves 
with maniacal faces took chains and teeth to their jailers and all hope was 
brush-fire.



Your Dawn listens, my Lord! Let all the Aurbis know itself to be Free! 
Mehrunes is come! There is no dominion save free will!



Suns were riven as your red legions moved from Lyg to the hinterlands of 
chill, a legion for each Get, and Kuri was thrown down and Djaf was thrown 
down and Horma-Gile was crushed with coldsalt and forevermore called Hor and 
so shall it be again under the time of Gates.



Under the mires, Malbioge was thrown down, that old City of Chains, slaked in
newbone-warmth and set Free. Galg and Mor-Galg were thrown down together in a
single night of day and shall it be again under the time of Gates.




Nothing but woe for NRN which has become The Pit and seven curses on its 
Dreugh, the Vermae NI-MOHK! But for it the Crusades would be as my lord's 
Creation, Get by the Ge and do as thou wilt, of no fetters but your own 
conscience! Know that your Hell is Broken, people of the Aurbis, and praise 
the Nu-Mantia which is Liberty!

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ89)
                ~~Souls, Black and White~~  
           
                        Anonymous

     Item ID: 00073A6B
     
 
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The nature of the soul is not knowable. Every wizard that has attempted it 
vanishes without a trace. What can be known is that souls are a source of 
mystic energy that can be harvested.


Every creature, living or dead, is powered by a soul. Without it, they are 
just lumps of flesh or piles of bones. This animating force can be contained 
within a soul gem, if the soul gem has the capacity. From the gem, the power 
can be used to power magical items.

Centuries of experimentation has demonstrated that there are black souls and 
white souls. Only the rare black soul gem can hold the soul of a higher 
creature, such as a man or an elf. While the souls of lesser creatures can be
captured by gems of many colors, they are all categorized as white soul gems.
Hence the division of souls into black and white.

White souls are far safer than black souls, although not as powerful. 
Beginning students of Mysticism should not dabble in black souls or black 
soul gems. Even if one were to ignore the guild strictures against the 
necromatic arts used to power black soul gems, it is dangerous to the caster 
to handle them for long. If the gem is not precisely the size of the encased 
soul, small bits of the caster's soul may leak into the gem when it is 
touched.

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                      ~RESTORATION~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ90)
                 ~~2920, Rain's Hand (v4)~~  
           
                     Carlovac Townway
          
     Item ID: 0002453F
     

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    3 Rain's Hand, 2920 
    Coldharbour, Oblivion 

Sotha Sil proceeded as quickly as he could through the blackened halls of the
palace, half-submerged in brackish water. All around him, nasty gelatinous 
creatures scurried into the reeds, bursts of white fire lit up the upper 
arches of the hall before disappearing, and smells assaulted him, rancid 
death one moment, sweet flowered perfume the next. Several times he had 
visited the Daedra princes in their Oblivion, but every time, something 
different awaited him.

He knew his purpose, and refused to be distracted.

Eight of the more prominent Daedra princes were awaiting him in the half-
melted, domed room. Azura, Prince of Dusk and Dawn; Boethiah, Prince of 
Plots; Herma-Mora, Daedra of Knowledge; Hircine, the Hunter; Malacath, God of
Curses; Mehrunes Dagon, Prince of Disaster; Molag Bal, Prince of Rage; 
Sheogorath, the Mad One.

Above them, the sky cast tormented shadows upon the meeting.


    5 Rain's Hand, 2920 
    The Isle of Artaeum, Summurset 

Sotha Sil's voice cried out, echoing from the cave, “Move the rock!”

Immediately, the initiates obeyed, rolling aside the great boulder that 
blocked the entrance to the Dreaming Cavern. Sotha Sil emerged, his face 
smeared with ash, weary. He felt he had been away for months, years, but only
a few days had transpired. Lilatha took his arm to help him walk, but he 
refused her help with a kind smile and a shake of his head.

“Were you ... successful?” she asked.

“The Daedra princes I spoke with have agreed to our terms,” he said flatly. 
“Disasters such as befell Gilverdale should be averted. Only through certain 
intermediaries such as witches or sorcerers will they answer the call of man 
and mer.”

“And what did you promise them in return?” asked the Nord boy Welleg.

“The deals we make with Daedra,” said Sotha Sil, continuing on to Iachesis's 
palace to meet with the Master of the Psijic Order. “Should not be discussed
with the innocent.”


    8 Rain's Hand, 2920 
    The Imperial City, Cyrodiil 

A storm billeted the windows of the Prince's bedchamber, bringing a smell of
moist air to mix with the censors filled with burning incense and herbs.

“A letter has arrived from the Empress, your mother,” said the courier. 
“Anxiously inquiring after your health.”

“What frightened parents I have!” laughed Prince Juilek from his bed.

“It is only natural for a mother to worry,” said Savirien-Chorak, the 
Potentate's son.

“There is everything unnatural about my family, Akavir. My exiled mother 
fears that my father will imagine me of being a traitor, covetous of the 
crown, and is having me poisoned,” the Prince sank back into his pillow, 
annoyed. “The Emperor has insisted on me having a taster for all my meals as 
he does.”

“There are many plots,” agreed the Akavir. “You have been abed for nearly 
three weeks with every healer in the empire shuffling through like a slow 
ballroom dance. At least, all can see that you're getting stronger.”

“Strong enough to lead the vanguard against Morrowind soon, I hope,” said 
Juilek.


    11 Rain's Hand, 2920 
    The Isle of Artaeum, Summurset 

The initiates stood quietly in a row along the arbor loggia, watching the 
long, deep, marble-lined trench ahead of them flash with fire. The air above 
it vibrated with the waves of heat. Though each student kept his or her face 
sturdy and emotionless, as a true Psijic should, their terror was nearly as 
palpable as the heat. Sotha Sil closed his eyes and uttered the charm of fire
resistance. Slowly, he walked across the basin of leaping flames, climbing to
the other side, unscathed. Not even his white robe had been burned.

“The charm is intensified by the energy you bring to it, by your own skills, 
just as all spells are,” he said. “Your imagination and your willpower are 
the keys. There is no need for a spell to give you a resistance to air, or a 
resistance to flowers, and after you cast the charm, you must forget there is
even a need for a spell to give you resistance to fire. Do not confuse what I
am saying: resistance is not about ignoring the fire's reality. You will feel
the substance of flame, the texture of it, its hunger, and even the heat of 
it, but you will know that it will not hurt or injure you.”

The students nodded and one by one, they cast the spell and made the walk 
through the fire. Some even went so far as to bend over and scoop up a 
handful of fire and feed it air, so it expanded like a bubble and melted 
through their fingers. Sotha Sil smiled. They were fighting their fear 
admirably.

The Chief Proctor Thargallith came running from the arbor arches, “Sotha Sil!
Almalexia has arrived on Artaeum. Iachesis told me to fetch you.”

Sotha Sil turned to Thargallith for only a moment, but he knew instantly from
the screams what had transpired. The Nord lad Wellig had not cast the spell 
properly and was burning. The smell of scorched hair and flesh panicked the 
other students who were struggling to get out of the basin, pulling him with 
them, but the incline was too steep away from the entry points. With a wave 
of his hand, Sotha Sil extinguished the flame.

Wellig and several other students were burned, but not badly. The sorcerer 
cast a healing spell on them, before turning back to Thargallith.

“I'll be with you in a moment, and give Almalexia the time to shake the road 
dust from her train,” Sotha Sil turned back to the students, his voice flat.
“Fear does not break spells, but doubt and incompetence are the great enemies
of any spellcaster. Master Welleg, you will pack your bags. I'll arrange for 
a boat to bring you to the mainland tomorrow morning.”

The sorcerer found Almalexia and Iachesis in the study, drinking hot tea, and
laughing. She was more beautiful than he had remembered, though he had never 
before seen her so disheveled, wrapped in a blanket, dangling her damp long 
black tresses before the fire to dry. At Sotha Sil's approach, she leapt to 
her feet and embraced him.

“Did you swim all the way from Morrowind?” he smiled.

“It's pouring rain from Skywatch down to the coast,” she explained, returning 
his smile.

“Only a half a league away, and it never rains here,” said Iachesis proudly. 
“Of course, I sometimes miss the excitement of Summurset, and sometimes even 
the mainland itself. Still, I'm always very impressed by anyone out there who
gets anything accomplished. It is a world of distractions. Speaking of 
distractions, what's all this I hear about a war?”

“You mean the one that's been bloodying the continent for the last eighty 
years, Master?” asked Sotha Sil, amused.

“I suppose that's the one I mean,” said Iachesis with a shrug of his 
shoulders. “How is that war going?”

“We will lose it, unless I can convince Sotha Sil to leave Artaeum,” said 
Almalexia, losing her smile. She had meant to wait and talk to her friend in 
private, but the old Altmer gave her courage to press on. “I have had 
visions; I know it to be true.”

Sotha Sil was silent for a moment, and then looked at Iachesis, “I must 
return to Morrowind.”

“Knowing you, if you must do something, you will,” sighed the old Master. 
“The Psijics' way is not to be distracted. Wars are fought, Empires rise and
fall. You must go, and so must we.”

“What do you mean, Iachesis? You're leaving the island?”

“No, the island will be leaving the sea,” said Iachesis, his voice taking on
a dreamy quality. “In a few years, the mists will move over Artaeum and we 
will be gone. We are counselors by nature, and there are too many counselors 
in Tamriel as it is. No, we will go, and return when the land needs us again,
perhaps in another age.”

The old Altmer struggles to his feet, and drained the last sip of his drink 
before leaving Sotha Sil and Almalexia alone: “Don't miss the last boat.”

The Year Continues in Second Seed.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ91)
                     ~~The Exodus~~  
           
                     Waughin Jarth
          
     Item ID: 0002453E
     

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Vralla was a little girl, beautiful and sweet-natured, beautiful and smart, 
beautiful and energetic. Everything that her parents had dreamed she would 
be. As perfect as she was, they could not help but have dreams for her. Her 
father, a bit of a social climber named Munthen, thought she would marry 
well, perhaps become a Princess of the Empire. Her mother, an insecure woman 
named Cinneta, thought she would reach greatness on her own, as a knight or a
sorceress. As much as they wanted the very best for their daughter, they 
argued about what her fate would be, but both were wrong. Instead of growing 
up, she grew very ill.


The Temples told them to give up hope, and The Mages Guild told them that 
what afflicted Vralla was so rare, so deadly, that there was no cure. She was
doomed to die, and soon.

When the great institutions of the Empire failed them, Munthen and Cinneta 
sought out the witches, the sorcerer hermits, and the other hidden, secret 
powers that lurk in the shadows of civilization.

'I can think of only one place you can go,' said an old herbalist they found
in the most remote peaks of the Wrothgarian Mountains. 'The Mages Guild at 
Olenveld.'

'But we have already been to the Mages Guild,' protested Munthen. 'They 
couldn't help us.'

'Go to Olenveld," the herbalist insisted. "And tell no one that you're going 
there.'

It was not easy to find Olenveld, as it did not appear on any modern map. In 
a bookseller's in Skyrim, however, they found it in a historic book of 
cartography from the 2nd Era. In the yellowed pages, there was Olenveld, a 
city on an island in the northern coast, a day's sail in summertide from 
Winterhold.

Bundling their pale daughter against the chill of the ocean wind, the couple 
set sail, using the old map as their only guide. For nearly two days, they 
were at sea, circling the same position, wondering if they were the victim of
a cruel trick. And then they saw it.

In the mist of crashing waves were twin crumbled statues framing the harbor, 
long forgotten Gods or heroes. The ships within were half-sunk, rotten shells
along the docks. Munthen brought his ship in, and the three walked into the 
deserted island city.

Taverns with broken windows, a plaza with a dried-up well, shattered palaces 
and fire-blackened tenements, barren shops and abandoned stables, all 
desolate, all still, but for the high keening ocean wind that whistled 
through the empty places. And gravestones. Every road and alley was lined, 
and crossed, and crossed again with memorials to the dead.

Munthen and Cinneta looked at one another. The chill they felt had little to 
do with the wind. Then they looked at Vralla, and continued on to their goal 
- the Mages Guild of Olenveld.

Candlelight glistened through the windows of the great dark building, but it 
brought them little relief to know that someone was alive in the island of 
death. They knocked on the door, and steeled themselves against whatever 
horror they might face within.

The door was opened by a rather plump middle-aged Nord woman with frizzy 
blond hair. Standing behind her, a meek-looking bald Nord about her age, a 
shy teenage Breton couple, still very pimply and awkward, and a very old, 
apple-cheeked Breton man who grinned with delight at the visitors.

'Oh, my goodness,' said the Nord woman, all afluster. 'I thought my ears must
be fooling me when I heard that door a-knockin'. Come in, come in, it's so 
cold!'

The three were ushered in the door, and they were relieved to find that the 
Guild did not look abandoned in the least. It was well swept, well lit, and 
cheerfully decorated. The group fell into introductions. The inhabitants of 
the Guildhouse in Olenveld were two families, the Nords Jalmar and Nette, and
the Bretons Lywel, Rosalyn, and old Wynster. They were friendly and 
accommodating, immediately bringing some mulled wine and bread while Munthen 
and Cinneta explained to them what they were doing there, and what the 
healers and herbalists had said about Vralla.

'So, you see,' said Cinneta, tearfully. 'We didn't think we'd find the Mages 
Guild in Olenveld, but now that we have, please, you're our last hope.'

The five strangers also had tears in their eyes. Nette wept particularly 
noisily.

'Oh, you've been through too, too much,' the Nord woman bawled. 'Of course, 
we'll help. Your little girl will be right as rain.'

'It is fair to tell you,' said Jalmar, more stoically, though he clearly was 
also touched by the tale. 'This is a Guildhouse, but we are not Mages. We 
took this building because it was abandoned and it serves our purposes since 
the Exodus. We are Necromancers.'

'Necromancers?' Cinneta quivered. How could these nice people be anything so 
horrible?

'Yes, dear,' Nette smiled, patting her hand. 'I know. We have a bad 
reputation, I'm afraid. Never was very good, and now that well-meaning but 
foolish Archmagister Hannibal Traven -'

'May the Worm King eat his soul!' cried the old man quite suddenly and very 
viciously.

'Now, now, Wynster,' said the teenage girl Rosalyn, blushing and smiling at 
Cinneta apologetically. 'I'm sorry about him. He's usually very sweet-
natured.'

'Well, of course, he's right, Mannimarco will have the last say in the 
matter,' Jalmar said. 'But right now, it's all very, well, awkward. When 
Traven officially banned the art, we had to go into hiding. The only other 
option was to abandon it altogether, and that's just foolish, though there 
are many who have done it.'

'Not many people know about Olenveld anymore since Tiber Septim used it as 
his own personal graveyard,' said Lywel. 'Took us a week to find it again. 
But it's perfect for us. Lots of dead bodies, you know …'

'Lywel!' Rosalyn admonished him. 'You're going to scare them!'

'Sorry,' Lywel grinned sheepishly.

'I don't care what you do here,' said Munthen sternly. 'I just want to know 
what you can do for my daughter.'

'Well,' said Jalmar with a shrug. 'I guess we can make it so she doesn't die 
and is never sick again.'

Cinneta gasped, 'Please! We'll give you everything we have!'

'Nonsense,' said Nette, picking up Vralla in her big, beefy arms. 'Oh, what a
beautiful girl. Would you like to feel better, little sweetheart?'

Vralla nodded, wearily.

'You stay here,' Jalmar said. 'Rosalyn, I'm sure we have something better 
than bread to offer these nice folks.'

Nette started to carry Vralla away, but Cinneta ran after her. 'Wait, I'm 
coming too.'

'Oh, I'm sure you would, but it'd ruin the spell, dear,' Nette said. 'Don't 
worry about a thing. We've done this dozens of times.'

Munthen puts his arms around his wife, and she relented. Rosalyn hurried off 
to the kitchen and brought some roast fowl and more mulled wine for them. 
They sat in silence and ate.

Wynster shuddered suddenly. 'The little girl has died.'

'Oh!' Cinneta gasped.

'What in Oblivion do you mean?!' Munthen cried.

'Wynster, was that really necessary?' Lywel scowled at the old man, before 
turning to Munthen and Cinneta. 'She had to die. Necromancy is not about 
curing a disease, it's about resurrection, total regeneration, transforming 
the whole body, not just the parts that aren't working now.'

Munthen stood up, angrily. 'If those maniacs killed her -'

'They didn't,' Rosalyn snapped, her shy eyes now showing fire. 'Your daughter
was on her last breath when she came in here, anyone could see that. I know 
that this is hard, horrible even, but I won't have you call that sweet couple
who are only trying to help you, 'maniacs.

Cinneta burst into tears, 'But she's going to live now? Isn't she?'

'Oh yes,' Lywel said, smiling broadly.

'Oh, thank you, thank you,' Cinneta burst into tears. 'I don't know what we 
would have done -'

'I know how you feel,' said Rosalyn, patting Wynster's hand fondly. 'When I 
thought we were going to lose him, I was willing to do anything, just like 
you.'

Cinneta smiled. 'How old is your father?'

'My son,' Rosalyn corrected her. 'He's six.'

From the other room came the sound of tiny footsteps.

'Vralla, go give your parents a big hug,' said Jalmar.

Munthen and Cinneta turned, and the screaming began.


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                  (Search Code: LOLZ92)
                 ~~Mystery of Talara, v2~~  
           
                     Mera Llykith
          
     Item ID: 00024540
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

She felt nothing, darkness enveloping her body and mind. Pain surged through 
her leg and with that sensation, a great feeling of cold washed over her. She
opened her eyes and saw that she was drowning.

Her left leg would not move at all, but using her right one and her arms, she
pulled herself up toward the moons above. It was long way through the 
swirling currents that wrenched back at her. At last she broke the surface 
and sucked in the cold night air. She was still close to the rocky shoreline 
of the capitol city of the kingdom of Camlorn, but the water had carried her 
quite a ways from the point where she fell at Cavilstyr Rock.

Not fell, she thought, correcting herself. She had been pushed.

Further down current, she allowed herself to drift. There the steep cliff 
walls sloped lower until they were close to the water's edge. The silhouette 
of a large house on the shore loomed ahead, and as she neared it, she could 
see smoke rising from the chimney and the flicker of firelight within. The 
pain in her leg was great, but greater still was the chill of the water. The 
thought of a warm hearth fire was all the motivation she needed to begin 
swimming again.

At the shore's edge, she tried to stand but found she couldn't. Her tears 
mixed with the sea water as she began to crawl across the sand and rock. The 
simple white sheet which had been her costume at the Flower Festival was 
tattered and felt like a weight of lead across her back. Beyond the point of 
exhaustion, she fell forward and began to sob.

"Please!" she cried. "If you can hear me, please help!"

A moment later, the door to the house opened and a woman stepped out. It was 
Ramke, the old lady she had met at the Flower Festival. The one who had 
started and cried "It's her!" even before she herself knew who she was. By 
contrast, when the old woman came to her, this time there was no glimmer of 
recognition in her eyes.

"By Sethiete, are you hurt?" Ramke whispered, and helped her up, acting as 
her crutch. "I've seen that gown before. Were you one of the dancers at the 
Flower Festival tonight? I was there with Lady Jyllia Raze, the daughter of 
the King."

"I know, she introduced us," she groaned. "I called myself Gyna of 
Daggerfall?"

"Of course, I knew you looked familiar somehow," the old woman chuckled, and 
led her hop by hop across the beach and into the front door. "My memory isn't 
as good as it used to be. Lets get you warm and have a look at that leg."

Ramke took Gyna's soaking rags and covered her with a blanket as she sat at 
the fire. As the numbness of the chill water began to leave her, it cruelly 
abandoned her to the intense agony of her leg. Until then, she had not dared 
to look at it. When she did, she felt vomit rise at the sight of the deep 
gash, fish-white dead flesh, plump and swollen. Thick arterial blood bubbled 
up, splashing on the floor in streams.

"Oh dear," said the old woman, returning to the fire. "That must rather 
sting. You're lucky that I still remember a little of the old healing 
spells."

Ramke seated herself on the floor and pressed her hands on either side of the
wound. Gyna felt a flare of pain, and then a cool soft pinching and prickle.
When she looked down, Ramke was slowly sliding her wrinkled hands towards one
another. At their approach, the lesion began to mend before her eyes, flesh 
binding and bruises fading.

"Sweet Kynareth," Gyna gasped. "You've saved my life."

"Not only that, you won't have an ugly scar on your pretty leg," Ramke 
chuckled. "I had to use that spell so many times when Lady Jyllia was little.
You know, I was her nursemaid."

"I know," Gyna smiled. "But that was a long time ago, and you still remember 
the spell."

"Oh, when you're learning anything, even the School of Restoration, there's 
always a lot of study and mistakes, but once you're as old as I am, there's 
no longer any need to remember things. You just know. After all, I've 
probably cast it a thousand times before. Little Lady Jyllia and the little 
Princess Talara was always getting cut and bruised. Small wonder, the way 
they was always climbing all over the palace."

Gyna sighed. "You must have loved Lady Jyllia very much."

"I still do," Ramke beamed. "But now she's all grown and things are 
different. You know, I didn't notice it before because you were all wet from 
the sea, but you look very much like my lady. Did I mention that before when 
we met at the Festival?"

"You did," said Gyna. "Or rather I think you thought I looked like Princess 
Talara."

"Oh, it would be so wonderful if you were the Princess returned," the old 
woman gasped. "You know, when the former royal family was killed, and 
everyone said the Princess was killed though we never found the body, I think
the real victim was Lady Jyllia. Her little heart just broke, and for a 
while, it looked like her mind did too."

"What do you mean?" asked Gyna. "What happened?"

"I don't know if I should tell a stranger this, but it's fairly well-known in
Camlorn, and I really feel like I know you," Ramke struggled with her 
conscience and then released. "Jyllia saw the assassination, you see. I found 
her afterwards, hiding in that terrible blood-stained throne room, and she 
was like a little broken doll. She wouldn't speak, she wouldn't eat. I tried 
all my healing spells, but it was quite beyond my power. So much more than a 
scraped knee. Her father who was then Duke of Oloine sent her to a sanitarium
in the country to get well."

"That poor little girl," cried Gyna.

"It took her years to be herself again," said Ramke, nodding. "And, in truth,
she never really returned altogether. You wonder why her father when he was 
made king didn't make her his heir? He thought that she was still not exactly
right, and in a way, as much as I would deny it, he's correct to think so. 
She remembered nothing, nothing at all."

"Do you think," Gyna considered her words carefully. "That she would be 
better if she knew that her cousin the Princess Talara was alive and well?"

Ramke considered it. "I think so. But maybe not. Sometimes it's best not to 
hope."

Gyna stood up, finding her leg to be as strong as it looked to be. Her gown 
had dried, and Ramke gave her a cloak, insisting she protect herself against 
the cold night air. At the door, Gyna kissed the old woman's cheek and 
thanked her. Not only for the healing spell and for the cloak, but for 
everything else of kindness she had ever done.

The road close to the house went north and south. To the left was the way 
back to Camlorn, where secrets lay to which she alone held the key. To the 
south was Daggerfall, her home for more than twenty years. She could return 
there, back to her profession on the streets, very easily. For a few seconds,
she considered her options, and then made her choice.

She had not been walking for very long, when a black carriage drawn by three 
horses bearing the Imperial Seal, together with eight mounted horses, passed 
her. Before it rounded the wooded pass ahead, it stopped suddenly. She 
recognized one of the soldiers as Gnorbooth, Lord Strale's manservant. The 
door opened and Lord Strale himself, the Emperor's ambassador, the man who 
had hired her and all the other women to entertain at court, stepped out.

"You!' he frowned. "You're one of the prostitutes, aren't you? You're the one
who disappeared during the Flower Festival? Gyna, am I right?"

"All that is true," she smiled sourly. "Except my name I've discovered is not
Gyna."

"I don't care what it is," said Lord Strale. "What are you doing on the south
road? I paid for you to stay and make the kingdom merry."

"If I went back to Camlorn, there are a great many who wouldn't be merry at 
all."

"Explain yourself," said Lord Strale.

So she did. And he listened. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ93)
               ~~Notes on Racial Phylogeny~~  
           
              Council of Healers, Imperial University
          
     Item ID: 0002453D
     

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After much analysis of living specimens, the Council long ago determined that
all "races" of elves and humans may mate with each other and bear fertile 
offspring. Generally the offspring bear the racial traits of the mother, 
though some traces of the father's race may also be present. It is less clear
whether the Argonians and Khajiit are interfertile with both humans and 
elves. Though there have been many reports throughout the Eras of children 
from these unions, as well as stories of unions with daedra, there have been 
no well documented offspring. Khajiit differ from humans and elves not only 
their skeletal and dermal physiology -- the “fur” that covers their bodies --
but their metabolism and digestion as well. Argonians, like the dreugh, 
appear to be a semi-aquatic troglophile form of humans, though it is by no 
means clear whether the Argonians should be classified with dreugh, men, mer,
or (in this author's opinion), certain tree-dwelling lizards in Black Marsh.

The reproductive biology of orcs is at present not well understood, and the 
same is true of goblins, trolls, harpies, dreugh, tsaesci, imga, various 
daedra and many others. Certainly, there have been cases of intercourse 
between these "races," generally in the nature of rape or magickal seduction,
but there have been no documented cases of pregnancy. Still the 
interfertility of these creatures and the civilized hominids has yet to be 
empirically established or refuted, likely due to the deep cultural 
differences. Surely any normal Bosmer or Breton impregnated by an orc would 
keep that shame to herself, and there's no reason to suppose that an orc 
maiden impregnated by a human would not be likewise ostracized by her 
society. Regrettably, our oaths as healers keep us from forcing a coupling to
satisfy our scientific knowledge. We do know, however, that the sload of 
Thras are hermaphrodites in their youth and later reabsorb their reproductive
organs once they are old enough to move about on land. It can be safely 
assumed that they are not interfertile with men or mer.

One might further wonder whether the proper classification of these same 
“races,” to use the imprecise but useful term, should be made from the 
assumption of a common heritage and the differences between them have arisen 
from magickal experimentation, the manipulations of the so-called "Earth 
Bones," or from gradual changes from one generation to the next. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ94)
                     ~~Withershins~~  
           
                     Yaqut Tawashi
          
     Item ID: 0002453C
     

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All right," said Kazagha. "Why don't you want to talk?"

Zaki put down his mug of mead and just stared at his wife for a few seconds. 
Finally, grudgingly: "Because everything I have a conversation, darling, it 
flows in alphabetical order. Just like I told you. I think the only way to 
stop it is not to talk at all."

"Couldn't you just be imagining this?" said Kazagha patiently. "It wouldn't 
be the first time you had an insane paranoid delusion. Remember when you 
thought the royal battlemage of Black Marsh was hiding behind every tree with
lewd intent, intent on making you -- a middle-aged, fat, balding tailor -- 
into his personal sex slave? You don't need to be ashamed, but it's 
Sheogorath's way to make us all a little crazy sometimes. If you go to the 
healer--"

"Damn it, Kazagha!" snarled Zaki and stomped out, slamming the door behind 
him. He nearly collided with Siyasat, his neighbor.

"Excuse me," she said to Zaki's back. He clamped his hands over his ears as 
he stormed down the street, turning the corner to his tailor shop. His first 
customer was waiting out front, smiling widely. Zaki tried to keep his temper
under control and took out his keys, returning the customer's smile.

"Fine day," said the young man.

"Gods!" hollered Zaki, sending the young man flying with a well-placed punch,
and dashing away.

As much as he hated to admit that Kazagha was right, it was evidently time, 
once again, for one of the healer's herbal cocktails. Tarsu's temple to 
health, mental and physical, was several streets north, an impressive 
obelisk. Halqa, the chief herbalist, met him before he came in the hall.

"How are you today, Sa'Zaki Saf?"

"I need to make an appointment with Tarsu," said Zaki in his calmest voice.

"Just one moment, let me see how his schedule looks." Halqa said, looking 
over a scroll. "Is this an emergency?"

"Kind of," said Zaki, and slapped his head. Why couldn't he say yes, or 
absolutely, or sure?

"Let's see," said Halqa, frowning. "The best I can do is next Middas. Would 
that work for you?"

"Middas!" cried Zaki. "I'll be a complete psychotic by Middas. Isn't there 
anything earlier?"

He knew what the answer would be before she said it. There was no 
alternative. In a way, he had forced the response. If only he had kept the 
conversation going until "Y."

"No," said Halqa. "I'm sorry. Do you want me to make the appointment--?"

Zaki walked away, gritting his teeth. He wandered the streets, his head down 
to avoid all conversations, until he looked up and discovered that he had 
walked all the way to the wharf. A sweet breeze was blowing along the water 
and he took several deep breaths until he felt almost normal. When his temper
cooled, he could think again. What if this alphabetical conversation wasn't a
delusion at all? What if what he felt wasn't paranoia, but acute awareness? 
He knew it was the classic dilemma: am I crazy or is there really something 
weird going on?

Across the road was a shop called ParaDocks, featuring a display of herbs, 
crystals, and vapors trapped in orbs . The sign in the window read "Mystical 
Consultation sunrise to noon." It was worth a shot, though Zaki was dubious. 
The only people who generally came down the wharf for healing were stupid 
adventurers who didn't know any better.

Incense burned in copious billows of pink and gold, obscuring and then 
revealing the clutter within. Jijjic death masks glowered down from the 
walls, smoking censors hung by chains from the ceiling, and the floor was a 
maze of bookshelves. At a wellworn table in the back a small man wearing a 
headress was tabulating a young lady's purchases.

"Okay," said the man. "Your total comes to fifty-seven gold pieces. I threw 
in the restorative scale conditioner for free. Just remember, the candle 
should be lit only after you invoke Goroflox The Unholy, and mandrake root 
does best in partial shade."

The customer gave a quick, shy smile to Zaki and left the store.

"Please help me," said Zaki. "Every conversation I hear or get involved in 
seems to be arranged alphabetically. I don't know if I'm going insane or if 
there are some kind of bizarre forces at work. To be honest with you, I'm 
normally a skeptic when it comes to your type of business, but I'm at the end
of my rope. Can you do anything to make this madness end?"

"Quite a common problem, actually," said the man, patting Zaki on the arm. 
"When you get to the end of the alphabet, do conversations then go to reverse
alphabetical order or start at the beginning of the alphabet?"

"Reverse alphabetical order," said Zaki, and then corrected himself. "Damn 
it! I mean, it starts from the beginning, all over again. I'm in agony. Can 
you call on the spirits and tell me, am I insane?"

"Sauriki," said the man with a reassuring smile. "I don't have to. You're 
quite sane."

"Thank you," said Zaki, frowning. "By the way, my name's Zaki, not Sauriki."

"Unusually close, eh?" said the man, patting Zaki on the back. "My name's 
Octoplasm. Follow me, please. I think I have just what you need."

Octoplasm lead Zaki down the narrow corridor behind the desk. The two men 
pushed past dusty cabinets filled with strange creatures in liquids, past 
heaps of neolithic stones, past stack after stack of moldering leather-bound 
books, into the dank heart of the store. There he picked up a small, squat 
cylindrical drum and a book, and handed them to Zaki.

"'Vampirism, Daedric Possession, and Withershin Therapy,'" said Zaki, 
squinting his eyes to read the book in the gloom. "What in Oblivion does this
have to do with me? I'm not a vampire, look at this tan. And what's 
Withershin Therapy, and how much will it cost me?"

"Withershins, from the Old Cyrodilic withersynes, which means backwards," 
said Octoplasm in a serious tone. "It's the art of reversing the direction of
things in order to gain access to the spirit world, and break curses, cure 
vampirism, and trigger all manners of apotropaic healing. You know the story 
about the guy who was told that slaughterfish live in hot water, so he said, 
'Well, let's boil them in cold water'?"

"Xenophus," said Zaki instinctively, his brother having taken a rather 
esoteric upper level course in Cyrodilic philosophy as an elective in at the 
Imperial College thirty-one years before, and immediately wishing he hadn't.
"And what do you do with the cylindrical thingy?"

Octoplasm lit a candle and held the object over it so Zaki could see more 
clearly. All along the cylinder were narrow slits and when Zaki peered within
them, he saw a succession of old black and white drawings of a naked man 
leaping over boxes, one frame after the next.

"You spin it like so," said Octoplasm, slowly whirling the device clockwise 
so the man within leapt over the boxes over and over again. "It's called a 
zoetrope. Pretty neat, eh? Now, you take it and start spinning it 
counterclockwise, and while you're doing it, read this incantation I've 
marked in the book."

Zaki took the zoetrope and began spinning it counterclockwise over the 
candle, so the little naked man within seemed to bound backwards over the 
boxes. It took a little coordination and concentration to keep whirling at a 
steady pace, but gradually the man's awkward and jerky backjumps became more 
and more fluid until Zaki could no longer see the individual frames flipping.
It looked just like a little humanoid hamster on an endless reverse 
treadmill. While he continued to spin the zoetrope with one hand, Zaki took 
the book in the other and read the underlined passage.

"Zoetrope counter-spin, counter-spin, counter-spin / Pull my life from the 
rut that it's in / I invoke the Goddesses Boethiah, Kynareth, and Drisis / To
invert my potentially metaphysical crisis / My old life may have been rather 
pointless and plain / But I dislike the prospect of going insane / Make the 
pattern reverse by this withershin / Zoetrope, counter-spin, counter-spin, 
counter-spin."

As he chanted the spell, Zaki noticed that the little naked man in the 
zoetrope began to look more like himself. The moustache vanished, and the 
hairline receded. The man's waistline expanded, and the buttocks sagged to 
the shape and texture of half-inflated balloons. Scales approximating his own
Argonian pattern appeared. The man began to trip as he bounded backwards over
the boxes, taking bigger breaths and sweating. By the time Zaki reached the 
end of the incantation, his twin was clutching his chest and tumbling end-
over-end over the boxes in a free-fall.

Octoplasm took the zoetrope and the book from Zaki's hands. Nothing seemed to
have changed. No thunder had rumbled. No winged serpents had sprung out of 
Zaki's head. No fiery explosions. But Zaki felt that something was different.
Good different. Normal.

At the counter, when Zaki pulled out his sachel of gold pieces, Octoplasm 
merely shook his head: "Are treatment radical such of effects term long the 
what sure be can't we, naturally. Charge no."

Feeling the first real relief he had felt in days, Zaki walked backwards out 
of the shop and down the road to his shop. 

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                       ~SECURITY~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ95)
              ~~Advances in Lock Picking~~  
           
                       Anonymous
          
     Item ID: 00073A65
     

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I am not a writer. I am a thief. I am a good thief. I am not such a good 
writer. Anyway, I want to write about picking locks. I read a book about 
designing locks once. It was good. It gave me lots of ideas.

Some guys make locks with angled keyholes. Always carry a bent lockpick. They 
will work good in these locks. I do, and I open lots of locks. Sometimes I 
carry copper lockpicks. Copper bends easy. That way I can bend it right 
there. Copper lockpicks break easy too. Be careful.

Sometimes the locks have weird spings. They all spring differently, which 
makes picking it hard. I hold my torch close to the lock. This makes it hot. 
When it's hot, the springs are all the same. They don't bounce so differently
any more. Be careful not to burn yourself.

Some thieves can't read. If you can't read, get someone to read this book to 
you. It will make more sense then.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ96)
                    ~~The Locked Room~~  
           
                     Porbert Lyttumly
          
     Item ID: 00024541
     

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Yana was precisely the kind of student her mentor Arthcamu despised: the 
professional amateur. He enjoyed all the criminal types who were his usual 
pupils at the stronghold, from the common burglar to the more sophisticated 
blackmailers, children and young people with strong career ambitions which 
the art and science of lockpicking could facilitate. They were always 
interested in simple solutions, the easy way, but people like Yana were 
always looking for exceptions, possibilities, exotica. For pragmatists like 
Arthcamu, it was intensely vexing.

The Redguard maiden would spend hours in front of a lock, prodding at it with
her wires and picks, flirting with the key pins and driver pins, exploring 
the hull with a sort of casual fascination that no delinquent possesses. Long
after her fellow students had opened their test locks and moved on, Yana was 
still playing with hers. The fact that she always opened it eventually, no 
matter how advanced a lock it was, irked Arthcamu even further.

“You are making things much too difficult,” he would roar, boxing her ears. 
“Speed is of the essence, not merely technical know-how. I swear that if I 
put the key to the lock right in front of you, you'd still never get around 
to opening it.”

Yana would bear Arthcamu's abuse philosophically. She had, after all, paid 
him in advance. Speed was doubtless an important factor for the picker trying
to get somewhere he wasn't supposed to go with the city guard on patrol 
behind him, but Yana knew it wouldn't apply to her. She merely wanted the 
knowledge.

Arthcamu did everything he could think of to encourage Yana to move faster. 
She seemed to perversely thrive on his physical and verbal blows, spending 
more and more time on each lock, learning its idiosyncrasies and personality.
Finally, he could bear it no longer. Very late one afternoon after Yana had 
dawdled over a perfectly ordinary lock, he grabbed the girl by her ear and 
dragged her to a room in the stronghold far from the other students, an area 
they had always been forbidden to visit.

The room was completely barren, except for one large crate in the center. 
There were no windows and no other door except for the one leading in. 
Arthcamu slammed his student against the crate and closed the door behind 
her. There was a distinct click of the lock.

“This is the test for my advanced students,” he laughed behind the door. “See
if you can escape.”

Yana smiled and began her usual slow process of massaging the lock, gaining 
information. After a few minutes had gone by, she heard Arthcamu's voice 
again call out from behind the door.

“Perhaps I should mention that this is a test of speed. You see the crate 
behind you? It contains a vampire ancient who has been locked in here for 
many months. It is absolutely ravenous. In a few minutes' time, the sun will 
have completely set, and if you have not opened the door, you will be nothing
but a bloodless husk.”

Yana considered only for a moment whether Arthcamu was joking or not. She 
knew he was an evil, horrible man, but to resort to murder to teach his 
pupil? The moment she heard a rustling in the crate, any doubts she had were
erased. Ignoring all her usual explorations, she jammed her wire into the 
lock, thrust the pegs against the pressure plate, and shoved open the door.

Arthcamu stood in the hallway beyond, laughing cruelly, “So, now you've 
learned the value of fast work.”

Yana fled from Arthcamu's stronghold, fighting back her tears. He was certain
that she would never return to his tutelage, but he considered that he had 
taught her at last a very valuable lesson. When she did return the next 
morning, Arthcamu registered no surprise, but inside he was seething.

“I'll be leaving shortly,” she explained, quietly. “But I believe I've 
developed a new type of lock, and I'd be grateful if you'd give me your 
opinion of it.”

Arthcamu shrugged and asked her to present her design.

“I was wondering if I might use the vampire room and install the lock. I 
think it would be better if I demonstrated it.”

Arthcamu was dubious, but the prospect of the tiresome girl leaving at last 
put him in an excellent and even indulgent mood. He agreed to give her access
to the room. For all morning and most of the afternoon, she worked near the 
slumbering vampire, removing the old lock and adding her new prototype. 
Finally, she asked her old master to take a look.

He studied the lock with an expert eye, and found little to be impressed 
with.

“This is the first and only pick-proof lock,” Yana explained. “The only way 
to open it is to have the right key.”

Arthcamu scoffed and let Yana close the door, shutting him in the room. The 
door clicked and he began to go to work. To his dismay, the lock was much 
more difficult than he thought it would be. He tried all his methods to force
it, and found that he had to resort to his hated student's method of careful 
and thorough exploration.

“I need to leave now,” called Yana from the other side of the door. “I'm 
going to bring the city guard to the stronghold. I know that it's against the
rules, but I really think it's for the welfare of the villagers not to have a
hungry vampire on the loose. It's getting dark, and even though you aren't 
able to unlock the door, the vampire might be less proud about using the key 
to escape. Remember when you said 'If I put the key to the lock right in 
front of you, you'd still never get around to opening it'?”

“Wait!” Arthcamu yelled back. “I'll use the key! Where is it? You forgot to 
give it to me!”

But there was no reply, only the sound of footfall disappearing down the 
corridor beyond the door. Arthcamu began to work harder on the lock, but his
hands were shaking with fear. With no windows, it was impossible to tell how 
late it was getting to be. Were minutes that were flying by or hours? He only
knew that the vampire ancient would know.

The tools could not stand very much twisting and tapping from Arthcamu's 
hysterical hands. The wire snapped in the keyhole. Just like a student. 
Arthcamu screamed and pounded on the door, but he knew that no one could 
possibly hear him. It was while sucking in his breath to scream again, he 
heard the distinct creak of the crate opening behind him.

The vampire ancient regarded the master locksmith with insane, hungry eyes, 
and flew at him in a frenzy. Before Arthcamu died, he saw it: on a chain that
had been placed around the vampire's neck while it had been sleeping was a 
key. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ97)
                  ~~Proper Lock Design~~  
           
                      Anonymous
          
     Item ID: 00073A64
     

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Proper Lock Design and Construction

I have encountered many thieves whose sole interest in locks is how to open 
them and thereby pilfer the protected contents of the room or chest. I have 
taken it upon myself to devise a system of locks that can defeat such 
villianous intent.

The materials used to create a lock are of utmost importance. Shoddy brass or
copper will give way to a well placed kick, thereby rendering the lock itself
useless. I recommend steel over iron when choosing a material. More robust 
materials tend to be prohibitively expensive and necessitate the door being 
made of similar metals. I have been chagrined to stumble across the shattered
shell of a wooden chest, it's dwarven lock intact and still locked.

Once these basics are settled, pay particular attention to the offset of the 
tumblers. A seven degree offset to the keyhole will allow a torque style key 
to work smoothly, while at the same time causing numerous headaches for the 
thief attempting to insert non-torque lockpicks.

In similar fashion, the springs of the tumblers should be made by different 
smiths. Each smith will unknowingly create a spring with different tension 
than his fellow smiths. This variance will also create difficulties for 
anyone attempting to pick the lock.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ98)
                  ~~Surfeit of Thieves~~  
           
                      Aniis Noru

              How a busted robbery gets even worse
          
     Item ID: 00024545
     

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This looks interesting," said Indyk, his eyes narrowing to observe the black 
caravan making its way to the spires of the secluded castle. A gaudy, alien 
coat of arms marked each carriage, the lacquer glistening in the light of the
moons. "Who do you suppose they are?"

"They're obviously well-off," smiled his partner, Heriah. "Perhaps some new 
Imperial Cult dedicated to the acquisition of wealth?"

"Go into town and find out what you can about the castle," said Indyk. "I'll 
see if I can learn anything about who these strangers are. We meet on this 
hill tomorrow night."

Heriah had two great skills: picking locks and picking information. By dusk 
of the following day, she had returned to the hill. Indyk joined her an hour
later.

"The place is called Ald Olyra," she explained. "It dates back to the second 
era when a collection of nobles built it to protect themselves during one of 
the epidemics. They didn't want any of the diseased masses to get into their 
midst and spread the plague, so they built up quite a sophisticated security 
system for the time. Of course, it's mostly fallen into ruin, but I have a 
good idea about what kind of locks and traps might still be operational. What
did you find out?"

"I wasn't nearly so successful," frowned Indyk. "No one seemed to have any 
idea about the group, even that that there were here. I was about to give up,
but at the charterhouse, I met a monk who said that his masters were a 
hermetic group called the Order of St Eadnua. I talked to him for some time,
this fellow name of Parathion, and it seems they're having some sort of 
ritual feast tonight."

"Are they wealthy?" asked Heriah impatiently.

"Embarrassingly so according to the fellow. But they're only at the castle 
for tonight."

"I have my picks on me," winked Heriah. "Opportunity has smiled on us."

She drew a diagram of the castle in the dirt: the main hall and kitchen were 
near the front gate, and the stables and secured armory were in the back. The
thieves had a system that never failed. Heriah would find a way into the 
castle and collect as much loot as possible, while Indyk provided the 
distraction. He waited until his partner had scaled the wall before rapping 
on the gate. Perhaps this time he would be a bard, or a lost adventurer. The 
details were most fun to improvise.

Heriah heard Indyk talking to the woman who came to the gate, but she was too
far away to hear the words exchanged. He was evidently successful: a moment 
later, she heard the door shut. The man had charm, she would give him that.

Only a few of the traps and locks to the armory had been set. Undoubtedly, 
many of the keys had been lost in time. Whatever servants had been in charge 
of securing the Order's treasures had brought a few new locks to affix. It 
took extra time to maneuver the intricate hasps and bolts of the new traps
before proceeding to the old but still working systems, but Heriah found her 
heart beating with anticipation. Whatever lay beyond the door, she thought, 
must be of sufficient value to merit such protection.

When at last the door swung quietly open, the thief found her avaricious 
dreams paled to reality. A mountain of golden treasure, ancient relics 
glimmering with untapped magicka, weaponry of matchless quality, gemstones 
the size of her fist, row after row of strange potions, and stacks of 
valuable documents and scrolls. She was so enthralled by the sight, she did
not hear the man behind her approach.

"You must be Lady Tressed," said the voice and she jumped.

It was a monk in a black, hooded robe, intricately woven with silver and gold
 threads. For a moment, she could not speak. This was the sort of encounter 
that Indyk loved, but she could think to do nothing but nod her head with 
what she hoped looked like certainty.

"I'm afraid I'm a little lost," she stammered.

"I can see that," the man laughed. "That's the armory. I'll show you the way
to the dining hall. We were afraid you weren't going to arrive. The feast is
 nearly over."

Heriah followed the monk across the courtyard, to the double doors leading to
the dining hall. A robe identical to the one he was wearing hung on a hook 
outside, and he handed it to her with a knowing smile. She slipped it on. She
mimicked him as she lowered the hood over her head and entered the hall.

Torches illuminated the figures within around the large table. Each wore the 
uniform black robe that covered all features, and from the look of things, 
the feast was over. Empty plates, platters, and glasses filled every inch of 
the wood with only the faintest spots and dribbles of the food remaining. It 
was a breaking of a fast it seemed. For a moment, Heriah stopped to think 
about poor, lost Lady Tressed who had missed her opportunity for gluttony.

The only unusual item on the table was its centerpiece: a huge golden 
hourglass which was on its last minute's worth of sand.

Though each person looked alike, some were sleeping, some were chatting 
merrily to one another, and one was playing a lute. Indyk's lute, she 
noticed, and then noticed Indyk's ring on the man's finger. Heriah was 
suddenly grateful for the anonymity of the hood. Perhaps Indyk would not 
realize that it was she, and that she had blundered.

"Tressed," said the young man to the assembled, who turned as one to her and 
burst into applause.

The conscious members of the Order arose to kiss her hand, and introduce 
themselves.

"Nirdla."

"Suelec."

"Kyler."

The names got stranger.

"Toniop."

"Htillyts."

"Noihtarap."

She could not help laughing: "I understand. It's all backwards. Your real 
names are Aldrin, Celeus, Relyk, Poinot, Styllith, Parathion."

"Of course," said the young man. "Won't you have a seat?"

"Sey," giggled Heriah, getting into the spirit of the masque and taking an 
empty chair. "I suppose that when the hourglass runs out, the backwards names
go back to normal?"

"That's correct, Tressed," said the woman next to her. "It's just one of our 
Order's little amusements. This castle seemed like the appropriately ironic 
venue for our feast, devised as it was to shun the plague victims who were,
in their way, a walking dead."

Heriah felt herself light-headed from the odor of the torches, and bumped 
into the sleeping man next to her. He fell face forward onto the table.

"Poor Esruoc Tsrif," said a neighboring man, helping to prop the body up. 
"He's given us so much."

Heriah stumbled to her feet and began walking uncertainly for the front gate.

"Where are you going, Tressed?" asked one of the figures, his voice taking on
an unpleasant mocking quality.

"My name isn't Tressed," she mumbled, gripping Indyk's arm. "I'm sorry, 
partner. We need to go."


The last crumb of sand fell in the hour glass as the man pulled back his 
hood. It was not Indyk. It was not even human, but a stretched grotesquerie 
of a man with hungry eyes and a wide mouth filled with tusk-like fangs.

Heriah fell back into the chair of the figure they called Esruoc Tsrif. His 
hood fell open, revealing the pallid, bloodless face of Indyk. As she began to
scream, they fell on her.

In her last living moment, Heriah finally spelled "Tressed" backwards. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ99)
                 ~~The Wolf Queen, v1~~  
           
                    Waughin Jarth
          
     Item ID: 00024542
     

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From the pen of the first century third era sage Montocai:

3E 63: In the autumntide of the year, Prince Pelagius, son of Prince Uriel, 
who is son of the Empress Kintyra, who is niece of the great Emperor Tiber 
Septim, came to the High Rock city-state of Camlorn to pay court to the 
daughter of King Vulstaed. Her name was Quintilla, the most beauteous 
princess in Tamriel, skilled at all the maidenly skills and an accomplished 
sorceress.

Eleven years a widower with a young son named Antiochus, Pelagius arrived at 
court to find that the city-state was being terrorized by a great demon 
werewolf. Instead of wooing, Pelagius and Quintilla together went out to save
the kingdom. With his sword and her sorcery, the beast was slain and by the 
powers of mysticism, Quintilla chained the beast's soul to a gem. Pelagius 
had the gem made into a ring and married her.

But it was said that the soul of the wolf stayed with the couple until the 
birth of their first child.

3E 80 "The ambassador from Solitude has arrived, your majesty," whispered the
steward Balvus.

"Right in the middle of dinner?" muttered the Emperor weakly. "Tell him to 
wait."

"No, father, it's important that you see him," said Pelagius, rising. "You 
can't make him wait and then give him bad news. It's undiplomatic."

"Don't go then, you're much better at diplomacy than I am. We should have all
the family here," Emperor Uriel II added, suddenly aware how few people were 
present at his dinner table. "Where's your mother?"

"Sleeping with the archpriest of Kynareth," Pelagius would have said, but he 
was, as his father said, diplomatic. Instead he said, "At prayer."

"And your brother and sister?"

"Amiel is in Firsthold, meeting with the Archmagister of the Mages Guild. And
Galana, though we won't be telling this to the ambassador, of course, is 
preparing for her wedding to the Duke of Narsis. Since the ambassador expects
her to be marrying his patron the King of Solitude instead, we'll tell him 
that she's at the spa, having a cluster of pestilent boils removed. Tell him 
that, and he won't press too hard for the marriage, politically expedient 
though it may be," Pelagius smiled. "You know how queasy Nords are about 
warty women."

"But dash it, I feel like I should have some family around, so I don't look 
like some old fool despised by his nearest and dearest," growled the Emperor,
correctly suspecting this to be the case. "What about your wife? Where's she 
and the grandchildren?"

"Quintilla's in the nursery with Cephorus and Magnus. Antiochus is probably 
whoring around the City. I don't know where Potema is, probably at her 
studies. I thought you didn't like children around."

"I do during meetings with ambassadors in damp staterooms," sighed the 
Emperor. "They lend an air of, I don't know, innocence and civility. Ah, show
the blasted ambassador in," he said to Balvus.

Potema was bored. It was the rainy season in the Imperial Province, 
wintertide, and the streets and the gardens of the City were all flooded. She
could not remember a time when it was not raining. Had it been only days, or
had it been weeks or months since the sun shone? There was no judging of time 
any more in the constant flickering torch-light of the palace, and as Potema 
walked through marble and stone hallways, listening to the pelting of the 
rain, she could think nothing but that she was bored.

Asthephe, her tutor, would be looking for her now. Ordinarily, she did not 
mind studying. Rote memorization came easily to her. She quizzed herself as 
she walked down through the empty ballroom. When did Orsinium fall? 1E 980. 
Who wrote Tamrilean Tractates? Khosey. When was Tiber Septim born? 2E 288. 
Who is the current King of Daggerfall? Mortyn, son of Gothlyr. Who is the 
current Silvenar? Varbarenth, son of Varbaril. Who is the Warlord of Lilmoth?
Trick question: it's a lady, Ioa.

What will I get if I'm a good girl, and don't get into any trouble, and my 
tutor says I'm an excellent student? Mother and father will renege on their 
promise to buy me a daedric katana of my own, saying they never remembered 
that promise, and it's far too expensive and dangerous for a girl my age.

There were voices coming from the Emperor's stateroom. Her father, her 
grandfather, and a man with a strange accent, a Nord. Potema moved a stone 
she had loosened behind a tapestry and listened in.

"Let us be frank, your imperial majesty," came the Nord's voice. "My sire, 
the King of Solitude, doesn't care if Princess Galana looked like an orc. He
wants an alliance with the Imperial family, and you agreed to give him Galana
or give back the millions of gold he gave to you to quell the Khajiiti 
rebellion in Torval. This was the agreement you swore to honor."

"I remember no such agreement," came her father's voice, "Can you, my liege?"

There was a mumbling noise that Potema took to be her grandfather, the 
ancient Emperor.

"Perhaps we should take a walk to the Hall of Records, my mind may be 
going," the Nord's voice sounded sarcastic. "I distinctly remember your seal 
being placed on the agreement before it was locked away. Of course, I may 
verily be mistaken."

"We will send a page to the Hall to get the document you refer to," replied 
her father's voice, with the cruel, soothing quality he used whenever he was 
about to break a promise. Potema knew it well. She replaced the loose stone 
and hurried out of the ballroom. She knew well how slowly the pages walked, 
used to running errands for a doddering emperor. She could make it to the 
Hall of Records in no time at all.

The massive ebony door was locked, of course, but she knew what to do. A year
ago, she caught her mother's Bosmer maid pilfering some jewelry, and in 
exchange for her silence, forced the young woman to teach her how to pick 
locks. Potema pulled two pins off her red diamond broach and slid the first 
into the first lock, holding her hand steady, and memorizing the pattern of 
tumblers and grooves within the mechanism.

Each lock had a geography of its own.

The lock to the kitchen larder: six free tumblers, a frozen seventh, and a 
counter bolt. She had broken into that just for fun, but if she had been a 
poisoner, the whole Imperial household would be dead by now, she thought, 
smiling.

The lock to her brother Antiochus' secret stash of Khajiiti pornography: just
two free tumblers and a pathetic poisoned quill trap easily dismantled with 
pressure on the counterweight. That had been a profitable score. It was 
strange that Antiochus, who seemed to have no shame, proved so easy to 
blackmail. She was, after all, only twelve, and the differences between the 
perversions of the cat people and the perversions of the Cyrodiils seemed 
pretty academic. Still, Antiochus had to give her the diamond broach, which 
she treasured.

She had never been caught. Not when she broke into the archmage's study and 
stole his oldest spellbook. Not when she broke into the guest room of the 
King of Gilane, and stole his crown the morning before Magnus's official 
Welcoming ceremony. It had become too easy to torment her family with these 
little crimes. But here was a document the Emperor wanted, for a very 
important meeting. She would get it first.

But this, this was the hardest lock she ever opened. Over and over, she 
massaged the tumblers, gently pushing aside the forked clamp that snatched at
her pins, drumming the counterweights. It nearly took her a half a minute to 
break through the door to the Hall of Records, where the Elder Scrolls were 
housed.

The documents were well organized by year, province, and kingdom, and it took
Potema only a short while to find the Promise of Marriage between Uriel 
Septim II, by the Grace of the Gods, Emperor of the Holy Cyrodiilic Empire of
Tamriel and his daughter the Princess Galana, and His Majesty King Mantiarco 
of Solitude. She grabbed her prize and was out of the Hall with the door 
well-locked before the page was even in sight.

Back in the ball room, she loosened the stone and listened eagerly to the 
conversation within. For a few minutes, the three men, the Nord, the Emperor,
and her father just spoke of the weather and some boring diplomatic details. 
Then there was the sound of footsteps and a young voice, the page.

"Your Imperial Majesty, I have searched the Hall of Records and cannot find 
the document you asked for."

"There, you see," came Potema's father's voice. "I told you it didn't exist."

"But I saw it!" The Nord's voice was furious. "I was there when my liege and 
the emperor signed it! I was there!"

"I hope you aren't doubting the word of my father, the sovereign Emperor of 
all Tamriel, not when there's now proof that you must have been ... 
mistaken," Pelagius's voice was low, dangerous.

"Of course not," said the Nord, conceding quickly. "But what will I tell my 
king? He is to have no connection with the Imperial family, and no gold 
returned to him, as the agreement — as he and I believed the agreement to 
be?"

"We don't want any bad feelings between the kingdom of Solitude and us," came
the Emperor's voice, rather feeble, but clear enough. "What if we offered 
King Mantiarco our granddaughter instead?"

Potema felt the chill of the room descend on her.

"The Princess Potema? Is she not too young?" asked the Nord.

"She is thirteen years old," said her father. "That's old enough to wed."

"She would an ideal mate for your king," said the Emperor. "She is, 
admittedly, from what I see of her, very shy and innocent, but I'm certain 
she would quickly grasp the ways of court — she is, after all, a Septim. I 
think she would be an excellent Queen of Solitude. Not too exciting, but 
noble."

"The granddaughter of the Emperor is not as close as his daughter," said the 
Nord, rather miserably. "But I don't see how we can refuse the offer. I will 
send word to my king."

"You have our leave," said the Emperor, and Potema heard the sound of the 
Nord leaving the stateroom.

Tears streamed down Potema's eyes. She knew who the King of Solitude was from 
her studies. Mantiarco. Sixty-two years old, and quite fat. And she knew how 
far Solitude was, and how cold, in the northernmost clime. Her father and 
grandfather were abandoning her to the barbaric Nords. The voices in the room
continued talking.

"Well-acted, my boy. Now, make sure you burn that document," said her father.

"My Prince?" asked the page's querulous voice.

"The agreement between the Emperor and the King of Solitude, you fool. We 
don't want its existence known."

"My Prince, I told the truth. I couldn't find the document in the Hall of 
Records. It seems to be missing."

"By Lorkhan!" roared her father. "Why is everything in this palace always 
misplaced? Go back to the Hall and keep searching until you find it!"

Potema looked at the document. Millions of gold pieces promised to the 
kingdom of Solitude in the event of Princess Galana not marrying the king. 
She could bring it into her father, and perhaps as a reward he would not 
marry her to Mantiarco. Or perhaps not. She could blackmail her father and 
the Emperor with it, and make a tidy sum of money. Or she could produce it 
when she became Queen of Solitude to fill her coffers, and buy anything she 
wanted. More than a daedric katana, that was for certain.

So many possibilities, Potema thought. And she found herself not bored 
anymore. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                       ~SNEAK~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ100)
                 ~~2920, Last Seed (v8)~~  
           
                   Carlovac Townway
          
     Item ID: 00024547
     

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    1 Last Seed, 2920 
    Mournhold, Morrowind 

They were gathered in the Duke's courtyard at twilight, enjoying the smell 
and warmth of a fire of dry branches and bittergreen leaves. Tiny embers flew
into the sky, hanging for a few moments before vanishing.

“I was rash,” agreed the Duke, soberly. “But Lorkhan had his laugh, and all 
is well. The Morag Tong will not assassinate the Emperor now that my payment 
to them is at the bottom of the Inner Sea. I thought you had made some sort 
of a truce with the Daedra princes.”

“What your sailors called a daedra may not have been one,” said Sotha Sil. 
“Perhaps it was a rogue battlemage or even a lightning bolt that destroyed 
your ship.”

“The Prince and the Emperor are en route to take possession of Ald Lambasi as
our truce agreed. It is certainly typical of the Cyrodiil to assume that 
their concessions are negotiable, while ours are not,” Vivec pulled out a 
map. “We can meet them here, in this village to the north-west of Ald 
Lambasi, Fervinthil.”

“But will we meet them to talk,” ask Almalexia. “Or to make war?”

No one had an answer to that.


    15 Last Seed, 2920 
    Fervinthil, Morrowind 

A late summer squall blew through the small village, darkening the sky except
for flashing of lightning which leapt from cloud to cloud like acrobats. 
Water rushed down the narrow streets ankle-deep, and the Prince had to shout 
to be heard by his captains but a few feet away from him.

“There's an inn up ahead! We'll wait there for the storm to pass before 
pressing on to Ald Lambasi!”

The inn was warm and dry, and bustling with business. Barmaids were rushing 
back and forth, bringing greef and wine to a back room, evidently excited 
about a famous visitor. Someone who was attracting more attention than the 
mere heir to the Empire of Tamriel. Amused, Juilek watched them run until he
overheard the name of “Vivec.”

“My Lord Vivec,” he said, bursting into the back room. “You must believe me, 
I knew nothing about the attack on Black Gate until after it happened. We 
will, of course, be returning it to your care forthwith. I wrote you a letter
to that effect at your palace in Balmora, but obviously you're not there,” he
paused, taking in the many new faces in the room. “I'm sorry, let me 
introduce myself. I'm Juilek Cyrodiil.”

“My name is Almalexia,” said the most beautiful woman the Prince had ever 
seen. “Won't you join us?”

“Sotha Sil,” said a serious-looking Dunmer in a white cloak, shaking the 
Prince's hand and showing him to a seat.

“Indoril Brindisi Dorom, Duke-Prince of Mournhold,” said the massively-built 
man next to him as he sat down.

“I recognize that the events of the last month suggest, at best, that the 
Imperial Army is not under my control,” said the Prince after ordering some 
wine. “This is true. The army is my father's.”

“I understood that the Emperor was going to be coming to Ald Lambasi as 
well,” said Almalexia.

“Officially, he is,” said the Prince cautiously. “Unofficially, he's still
back in the Imperial City. He's met with an unfortunate accident.”

Vivec glanced the Duke quickly before looking at the Prince: “An accident?”

“He's fine,” said the Prince quickly. “He'll live, but it looks like he'll 
lose an eye. It was an altercation that has nothing to do with the war. The
only good news is that while he recovers, I have the use of his seal. Any 
agreement we make here and now will be binding to the Empire, both in my 
father's reign and in mine.”

“Then let's start agreeing,” smiled Almalexia.


    16 Last Seed, 2920 
    Wroth Naga, Cyrodiil 

The tiny hamlet of Wroth Naga greeted Cassyr with its colorful houses perched
on a promontory overlooking the stretch of the Wrothgarian mountain plain and
High Rock beyond. Had he been in a better mood, the sight would have been 
breathtaking. As it was, he could only think that in practical terms, a small
village like this would have meager provisions for himself and his horse.

He rode down into the main square, where an inn called the Eagle's Cry stood.
Directing the stable boy to house and feed his horse, Cassyr walked into the
inn and was surprised by its ambience. A minstrel he had heard play once in 
Gilderdale was performing a jaunty old tune to the clapping of the mountain 
men. Such forced merriment was not what Cassyr wanted at that moment. A glum 
Dunmer woman was seated at the only table far from the noise, so he took his 
drink there and sat down without invitation. It was only when he did so that 
he noticed that she was holding a newborn baby.

“I've just come from Morrowind,” he said rather awkwardly, lowering his 
voice. “I've been fighting for Vivec and the Duke of Mournhold against the 
Imperial army. A traitor to my people, I guess you'd call me.”

“I am also a traitor to my people,” said the woman, holding up her hand which
was scarred with a branded symbol. “It means that I can never go back to my 
homeland.”

“Well, you're not thinking of staying here, are you?” laughed Cassyr. “It's 
certainly quaint, but come wintertide, there's going to be snow up to your 
eyelashes. It's no place for a new baby. What is her name?”

“Bosriel. It means 'Beauty of the Forest.' Where are you going?”

“Dwynnen, on the bay in High Rock. You're welcome to join me, I could use the
company.” He held out his hand. “Cassyr Whitley.”

“Turala,” said the woman after a pause. She was going to use her family's 
name first, as is tradition, but she realized that it was no longer her name.
“I would love to accompany you, thank you.”


    19 Last Seed, 2920 
    Ald Lambasi, Morrowind 

Five men and two women stood in the silence of the Great Room of the castle, 
the only sound the scrawl of quill on parchment and the gentle tapping of 
rain on the large picture window. As the Prince set the seal of Cyrodiil on 
the document, the peace was made official. The Duke of Mournhold broke out in
a roar of delight, ordering wine brought in to commemorate the end of eighty 
years of war.

Only Sotha Sil stood apart from the group. His face betrayed no emotion. 
Those who knew him best knew he did not believe in endings or beginnings, but 
in the continuous cycle of which this was but a small part.

“My Prince,” said the castle steward, unhappy at breaking the celebration. 
“There is a messenger here from your mother, the Empress. He asked to see 
your father, but as he did not arrive --”

Juilek excused himself and went to speak with the messenger.

“The Empress does not live in the Imperial City?” asked Vivec.

“No,” said Almalexia, shaking her head sadly. “Her husband has imprisoned her
in Black Marsh, fearing that she was plotting a revolution against him. She 
is extremely wealthy and has powerful allies in the western Colovian estates 
so he could not marry another or have her executed. They've been at an 
impasse for the last seventeen years since Juilek was a child.”

The Prince returned a few minutes later. His face betrayed his anxiety, 
though he took troubles to hide it.

“My mother needs me,” he said simply. “I'm afraid I must leave at once. If I 
may have a copy of the treaty, I will bring it with me to show the Empress 
the good we have done today, and then I will carry it on to the Imperial City
so it may be made official.”

Prince Juilek left with the fond farewells of the Three of Morrowind. As they
watched him ride out into the rainswept night south towards Black Marsh, 
Vivec said, “Tamriel will be much healed when he has the throne.”


    31 Last Seed, 2920 
    Dorsza Pass, Black Marsh 

The moon was rising over the desolate quarry, steaming with swamp gas from a
particularly hot summer as the Prince and his two guard escort rode out of 
the forest. The massive piles of earth and dung had been piled high in 
antiquity by some primitive, long-dead tribe of Black Marsh, hoping to keep 
out some evil from the north. Evidently, the evil had broken through at 
Dorsza Pass, the large crack in the sad, lonely rampart that stretched for 
miles.

The black twisted trees that grew on the barrier cast strange shadows down, 
like a net tangling. The Prince's mind was on his mother's cryptic letter, 
hinting at the threat of an invasion. He could not, of course, tell the 
Dunmer about it, at the very least until he knew more and had notified his 
father. After all, the letter was meant for him. It was its urgent tone that 
made him decide to go directly to Gideon.

The Empress had also warned him about a band of former slaves who attacked 
caravans going into Dorsza Pass. She advised him to be certain to make his 
Imperial shield visible, so they would know he was not one of the hated 
Dunmer slavers. Upon riding into the tall weeds that flooded through the pass
like a noxious river, the Prince ordered that his shield be displayed.

“I can see why the slaves use this,” said the Prince's captain. “It's an 
excellent location for an ambush.”

Juilek nodded his head, but his thoughts were elsewhere. What threat of 
invasion could the Empress have discovered? Were the Akaviri on the seas 
again? If so, how could his mother from her cell in Castle Giovese know of 
it? A rustle in the weeds and a single sharp human cry behind him interrupted 
his ponderings.

Turning around, the Prince discovered that he was alone. His escort had 
vanished.

The Prince peered over the stretch of the moonlit sea of grass which waved in
almost hypnotic patterns to the ebb and flow of the night wind billowing 
through the pass. It was impossible to tell if a struggling soldier was 
beneath this system of vibrations, a dying horse behind another. A high, 
whistling wind drowned out any sound the victims of the ambush might be 
making.

Juilek drew his sword, and thought about what to do, his mind willing his 
heart not to panic. He was closer to the exit of the pass than the entrance. 
Whatever had slain his escort must have been behind him. If he rode fast 
enough, perhaps he could outrun it. Spurring his horse to gallop, he charged 
for the hills ahead, framed by the mighty black piles of dirt.

When he was thrown, it happened so suddenly, he was hurdling forward before 
he was truly conscious of the fact. He landed several yards beyond where his
horse had fallen, breaking his shoulder and his back on impact. A numbness 
washed over him as he stared at his poor, dying steed, its belly sliced open 
by one of several spears jutting up just below the surface of the grass.

Prince Juilek was not able to turn and face the figure that emerged from the 
grass, nor able to move to defend himself. His throat was cut without 
ceremony.

Miramor cursed when he saw the face of his victim more clearly in the 
moonlight. He had seen the Emperor at the Battle of Bodrum when he had fought
in His Imperial Majesty's command, and this was clearly not the Emperor. 
Searching the body, he found the letter and a treaty signed by Vivec, 
Almalexia, Sotha Sil, and the Duke of Mournhold representing Morrowind and 
the Prince Juilek Cyrodiil, representing the Cyrodiil Empire.

“Curse my luck,” muttered Miramor to himself and the whispering grass. “I've
only killed a Prince. Where's the reward in that?”

Miramor destroyed the letter, as Zuuk had instructed him to do, and pocketed 
the treaty. At the very least, such a curiosity would have some market value.
He disassembled the traps as he pondered his next step. Return to Gideon and 
ask his employer for a lesser reward for killing the heir? Move on to other 
lands? At the very least, he considered, he had picked up two useful skills 
from the Battle of Bodrum. From the Dunmer, he had learned the excellent 
spear trap. And abandoning the Imperial army, he had learned how to skulk in 
the grass.

The Year is Continued in Hearth Fire. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ101)
               ~~Legend of Krately House~~  
           
                     Baloth-Kul
          
     Item ID: 00024549
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

DRAMATIS PERSONAE

THEOPHON - Imperial man, 24, thief
NIRIM - Bosmer man, 20, thief
SILANUS KRATELY - Imperial man, 51, merchant
DOMINITIA KRATELY - His wife, 40
AELVA KRATELY - Their daughter, 16
MINISTES KRATELY - Their son, 11

Setting: The famous haunted Krately House in Cheydinhal, first and second 
floors, requiring a stage with a second story where most of the action takes 
place.

    The stage is dark. 
    There is a CREAKING noise, footsteps on the stairs, the sound of a man 
breathing, but still we see nothing. 
    Then, a voice calls from above. 

AELVA (off stage): Hello? Is someone down there?

MINESTES (off stage): Should I wake up Papa?

AELVA (off stage): No... Maybe I was imagining it...

    A light from a lantern can be seen coming from the upstairs, and the slim
form of a beautiful young girl, AELVA, descends the staircase at stage right,
nervously. 
    From the light of the lantern, we can see that we are looking at the 
second floor of a dusty old house, with a set of stairs going up and another 
one going down on stage right. An unlit stone fireplace sits at stage left. A
table, a locked chest, and a wardrobe complete the furnishings. 

MINESTES (off stage): Aelva, what are you doing?

AELVA: I'm just making certain... Go back to bed, Minestes.

    As the girl passes the table, we see a Bosmer NIRIM slide gracefully up 
from behind and around her field of sight, carefully avoiding the pool of 
light. She doesn't appear to see him as he creeps closer to her, his 
footsteps silent on the hard wooden floor. 
    When he is almost on her, there is a sudden CRASH from down below. This 
causes the Bosmer to leap away, hiding again behind the table. 
    The girl does not seem to notice the sound, and Nirim, peeking out from 
behind the table, watches her. 

MINESTES (off stage): Found anything?

AELVA: No. Probably just my imagination, but I'm just going to check 
downstairs.

MINESTES (off stage): Is there a fire? I'm cold...

    Aelva looks towards the long dead fireplace, and so does Nirim. 

AELVA: Of course there is. Can't you hear it crackling?

MINESTES (off stage): I guess so...

    Aelva suddenly jumps as if she heard something which we do not. She turns
her attention down the stairs to the first floor. 

AELVA: Hello?

    Aelva, lantern ahead of her, begins the descent. She does not seem to 
notice as an Imperial, THEOPHON, carrying a big bag of loot and a lantern of 
his own, calmly walks up right past her. 

THEOPHON: Excuse me, young lady. Just robbing you.

    Aelva continues her slow, nervous walk downstairs, which we can now see 
thanks to her light. She looks around the low-ceilinged, thoroughly looted 
room as the action continues upstairs 
    Theophon's lantern provides the dim light for the second floor. 

THEOPHON: Why are you hiding, Nirim? I told you. They can't see you, and they
can't hear you.

    Nirim sheepishly steps out from behind the table. 

NIRIM: I can't believe they're all ghosts. They seem so alive.

THEOPHON: That's what spooks them superstitians. But they ain't going to hurt
us. Just reliving the past, the way ghosts do.

NIRIM: The night they was murdered.

THEOPHON: Stop thinking about that or you'll get yourself all willy spooked.
I got all kinds of stuff on the first floor - silver candlesticks, silk, even
some gold... What'd you get?

    Nirim holds up his empty bag. 

NIRIM: Sorry, Theophon, I was just about to start...

THEOPHON: Get to work on that chest then. That's what you're here for.

NIRIM: Oh yeah. I got the talent, you got the ideas... and the equipment. You
refilled that lantern before we came here, right? I can't work in the dark...

THEOPHON: Don't worry, Nirim. I promise. No surprises.

    Nirim jumps when a young boy, MINESTES, appears on the stairs. The lad 
creeps down quietly and goes to the fire. He acts as if he's stoking a fire, 
feeding it wood, poking at the embers, though there is no wood, no poker, no 
fire.: 

THEOPHON: We got all the time in the world, friend. No one comes near this 
house. If they sees our lantern light, they'll just assume it's the ghosts.

    Nirim begins picking the lock on a chest of drawers, while Theophon opens
a wardrobe and begins going through the contents, which are mostly rotten 
cloth. 
    Nirim is distracted, looking at the young boy. 

NIRIM: Hey, Theophon, how long ago did they die?

THEOPHON: About five years ago. Why you asking?

NIRIM: Just making conversation.

    As they talk, Aelva, downstairs, finally having searched the small room,
acts as if she's locking the front door. 

THEOPHON: Didn't I already tell you the story?

NIRIM: No, you just said, hey, I know a place we can burgle where no one's at
home, except for the ghosts. I thought you was joking.

THEOPHON: No joking, partner. Five years ago, the Kratelys lived here. Nice 
people. You seen the daughter Aelva and the boy Minestes. The parents were 
Silenus and Dominitia, if I remembers rightly.

    Nirim successfully unlocks the chest and begins rummaging through it. 
While he does so, Ministes gets up from the ‘fire,' apparently warmed up, and
stands at the top of the stairs down. 

MINISTES: Hey!

    The boy's voice causes Nirim, Theophon, and Aelva to all jump. 

AELVA: Why aren't you in bed? I'm just going to check the cellar.

MINISTES: I'll wait for you.

NIRIM: So, what happened?

THEOPHON: Oh, they was rip to piece. Halfway eaten. No one ever knew who or 
what did it neither. Though there was rumors...

    Aelva opens the door to the cellar, and goes in. The light disappears 
from the first floor. Ministes patiently waits at the top of the stairs, 
humming a little song to himself. 

NIRIM: What kind of rumors?

    Theophon, having exhausted the possibilities in the wardrobe, helps Nirim
sort through the gold in the chest. 

THEOPHON: Pretty good haul, eh? Oh, the rumors. Well, they says old lady 
Dominitia was a witch before she married Silenus. Gave it all up for him, to 
be a good wife and mother. But the witches didn't take too kindly to it. They
found her and sent some kind of creature here, late at night. Something 
horrible, right out of a nightmare.

MINISTES: Aelva? Aelva, what's taking you so long?

NIRIM: Ye Gods, are we going to watch them get killed, right in front of us?

MINISTES: Aelva!

SILENUS (off stage): What's happening down there? Stop playing around, boy, 
and go to sleep.

MINISTES: Papa!

    Ministes, frightened, runs to the stairs up. Along the way, he bumps into
Nirim, who falls down. The boy does not seem to notice but continues on up to
the dark third floor sleeping porch, off-stage. 

THEOPHON: Are you all right?

    Nirim jumps to his feet, white-faced. 

NIRIM: Never mind that! He touched me?! How can a ghost touch me?!

THEOPHON: Well... Of course they can. Some anyhow. You heard of ancestor 
spirits guarding tombs, and that ghost of the king they had in Daggerfall. If
they don't touch you, what good are they ? Why you so surprised? You thought 
he'd move right through you, I figger.

NIRIM: Yes!

SILENUS, the man of the house, comes down the stairs, cautiously.

DOMINITIA (off stage): Don't leave us alone, Silenus! We're coming with you!

SILENUS: Wait, it's dark. Let me get some light.

    Silenus goes to the cold fireplace, sticks his hand forward, and suddenly
in his arm, there's a lit, burning torch. Nirim scrambles back, horrified. 

NIRIM: I felt that! I felt the heat of the fire!

SILENUS: Come on down. It's all right.

    Ministes leads his mother DOMINITIA down the stairs where they join 
Silenus. 

THEOPHON: I don't know why you so scared, Nirim. I must say I'm disappointed.
I didn't figger you for a supersitionalist.

    Theophon goes for the stairs up. 

NIRIM: Where are you going?

THEOPHON: One more floor to search.

NIRIM: Can't we just go?

    Nirim watches as the family of three, following Silenus and his torch, 
walk down towards the first floor. 

SILENUS: Aelva? Say something, Aelva.

THEOPHON: There, you see? If you don't like ghosts, third floor's the place 
to be. All four of em are downstairs now.

    Theophon goes upstairs, off-stage, but Nirim stands at the top of the 
stairs, looking down at the family. The three look around the first floor as 
Aelva did, finally turning towards the cellar door. 

NIRIM: All... four?

    Silenus opens the cellar door. 

SILENUS: Aelva? What are you doing down in the cellar, girl?

DOMINITIA: You see her?

NIRIM: All four, Theophon?

SILENUS: I think so... I see someone... Hello?

NIRIM: What if there's five ghosts, Theophon?!

    Silenus thrusts his torch in through the cellar door, and it is suddenly 
extinguished. The first floor falls into darkness. 
    Ministes, Dominitia, and Silenus SCREAM, but we cannot see what is 
happening to them. 
    Nirim is nearly hysterical, screaming along with them. Theophon runs 
downstairs from the third floor. 

THEOPHON: What is it?!

NIRIM: What if there is five ghosts?! The man, the wife, the girl, the boy...
and what killed them?!

THEOPHON: And what killed them?

NIRIM: And what if it's a ghost that can touch us too?! Just like the others!

    From the darkened first floor, there is a CREAK of a door opening, though
we cannot see it. And then, there is a heavy, clawed footfall. One step at a 
time, coming towards the stairs. 

THEOPHON: Don't get so upset. If it can touch us, what'd make you think it'd 
wants to? All the others didn't even notice we was here.

    Theophon's lantern dims slightly. He adjusts it carefully. 

NIRIM: Only... only what if it ain't a ghost, Theophon. What if it's the same
creature, and it's still alive... and it ain't ate nothing since five years 
ago...

    The footsteps begin the slow, heavy stomp up the stairs, though whatever 
it is, we cannot see it. Nirim notices the light beginning to dim from the 
lantern despite Theophon frantically trying to fix it. 

NIRIM: You said you refilled the lamp!

    The light goes out entirely, and the stage is filled with darkness. 

NIRIM: You promised me you refilled the lamp!

    More footsteps and a horrible, horrible HOWL. The men SCREAM. 
    The curtain falls. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ102)
                  ~~Purloined Shadows~~  
           
                      Waughin Jarth
          
     Item ID: 0002454A
     

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* Chapter One *

The candle was lit, and the thief was standing there, blinking, caught. She 
was young, rather dirty, wearing ragged black clothes that were surely quite 
smart and expensive weeks ago when she had stolen them from one of the city's
best tailors. The look of surprise slipped from her face, and she took on a 
blank expression as she put the gold back on the table.


"What are you doing here?" the man with the candle asked, stepping from the 
shadows.

"That's a stupid question," the girl replied, frowning. "I'm obviously 
robbing you."

"Since nothing I have is missing," the man smiled, glancing at the gold on 
the table. "I would have to say that you're not robbing me. Attempting to rob 
me perhaps. The question I have is, why? You know who I am, I assume. You 
didn't just come in through an unlocked door."

"I've stolen from everyone else. I've taken soul gems from the Mages Guild, 
I've robbed the treasury of the most secure fortress, I cheated the 
Archbishop of Julianos … I even pickpocketed the Emperor Pelagius at his 
coronation. I thought it was your turn."

"I'm flattered," the man nodded. "Now that your ambition has been thwarted, 
what will you do? Flee? Perhaps retire?"

"Teach me," the girl replied, a little grin finding its way unconsciously on 
her face. "I picked all your locks, I slipped past all your wards … You 
designed them, you know how difficult that was for someone without training. 
I didn't come here for six gold pieces. I came here to prove myself. Make me 
your student."

The Master of Stealth looked at the little girl burglar. "Your skill is not 
in need of training. Your planning is adequate, but I can help you with that.
What is without hope is your ambition. You are past stealing for your 
livelihood, now you steal for the pleasure of it, for the challenge. That's a
personality trait which is incurable, and will lead you to an early grave."

"Haven't you ever wanted to steal that which can't be stolen?" the girl 
asked. "Something that would make your name known forever?"

The Master did not answer: he only frowned.

"Clearly I was fooled by your reputation," she shrugged, and opened a window.
"I thought you might want a willing accomplice on some great act of thievery 
which would go down in history. Like you said, my skill at planning is only 
adequate. I didn't have in mind an escape route, but this will have to do."

The burglar slipped down the sheer wall, dashed across the shadowy courtyard, 
and within a few minutes was back at her room in the run-down tavern. The 
Master was waiting for her there, in the dark.

"I didn't see you go past me," she gasped.

"You turned on the street when you heard the owl call," he replied. "The most
important tool in the thieves' repertoire is distraction, either planned or 
improvised. I suppose your lessons have begun."

"And what is the final test?" the girl smiled.

When he told her, she could only stare. She had, it seemed, not misunderstood
his reputation for daring. Not at all.



* Chapter Two *


For the week leading up to the Eighth of Hearthfire, the skies above Rindale 
were dark and alive as clouds of crows blotted out the sun. Their guttural 
squawks and groans deafened all. The peasants wisely bolted their doors and 
windows, praying to survival that most unholy of days.


On the night of the summoning, the birds fell silent, their black unblinking 
eyes following the witches' march into the glen. There were no moons to light
the way, only the leader's single torch in the gloom. Their white robes 
appeared as indistinct shapes, like the faintest of ghosts.

A single tall tree stood in the middle of the clearing, every branch thick 
with crows, watching the procession without moving. The lead witch placed the
torch at the base of the tree, and her seventeen followers formed a circle 
and began their slow, strange, wailing chant.

As they sang, the glow of the torch began to change. It did not diminish at 
all, but its color became more and more grey, so it seemed a pulsating wave 
of ash had fallen on the witches. Then it grew darker still, so that for a 
moment, though the fire yet burned, it was darkest night in the forest. The 
penumbra continued until the torch was burning with a color without a name, 
emptiness beyond mere blackness. It cast a glow, but it was an unnatural 
scintillation falling on the witches. Their robes of white became black. The 
Dunmer among them had eyes of green, and ivory white flesh. The Nords 
appeared black as coal. The crows watching overhead were as pure white as the
witches' cloaks.

The Daedra Princess Nocturnal stepped out of the pit of uncolor.

She stood in the center of the circle, the tree of pallid crows her throne, 
aloof, as the witches continued their chanting, dropping their robes to 
prostrate themselves naked before their great mistress. Wrapping her night 
cloak around her, she smiled at their song. It spoke of her mystery, of 
veiled beauty, of eternal shadows and a divine future when the sun burns no 
more.

Nocturnal let her cloak slide from her shoulders and was naked. Her witches 
did not raise their head from the ground, but continued their hymn of 
darkness.

"Now," said the girl to herself.

She had been up in the tree all day, dressed in a ridiculous suit of mock 
crows. It was uncomfortable, but when the witches had arrived, she forgot all
her aches, and concentrated on being perfectly still, like the other crows in
the tree. It had taken considerable planning and study between her and the 
Master of Stealth to find the glen, and to learn what to expect in the 
summoning of Nocturnal.

Gently, silently, the burglar eased herself down the branches of the tree, 
coming closer and closer to the Daedra Princess. She let herself break her 
concentration for just a moment, and wondered where the Master was. He had 
been confident in the plan. He said that when Nocturnal dropped her cloak, 
there would be a distraction, and it could be quickly taken in that instant 
provided the girl was in position at the precise right moment.

The girl climbed along the lowest of the branches, carefully pushing aside 
the crows that were, as the Master said, transfixed by the Princess in her 
naked beauty. The girl was now close enough, if she only reached out her arm,
to touch Nocturnal's back.

The song was rising to a crescendo, and the girl knew that the ceremony would
soon be over. Nocturnal would clothe herself before the witches ended the 
chant, and the chance to take the cloak would be over. The girl gripped the 
tree branch tightly as her mind raced. Could it be that the Master was not 
here at all? Was this, was this conceivably the entire test? Was it only to 
show that it could be done, not to do it?

The girl was furious. She had done everything perfectly, but the so-called 
Master of Stealth had proven himself a coward. Perhaps he had taught her a 
little in the months that it took to plan this, but what was it worth? Only 
one thing made her smile. On that night when she had stolen into his 
stronghold, she had kept one single gold piece, and he had never suspected 
it. It was symbolic, as symbolic as stealing the cloak of Nocturnal in its 
way, proving that the Master Thief could be robbed.

The girl was so lost on her mind that she thought she imagined it for a 
moment when a man's voice yelled out from the darkness, "Mistress!"

The next words she knew she didn't imagine: "Mistress! A thief! Behind you!"

The witches raised their heads, and screamed, ruining the sanctity of the 
ceremony, as they charged forward. The crows awoke and burst from the tree in
an explosion of feathers and toad-like cries. Nocturnal herself whirled 
around, affixing the girl with her black eyes.

"Who art thee who dares profane?" The Princess hissed, as the pitch shadows 
flew from her body enveloping the girl in their lethal chill.

In the last instant before she was swallowed alive by darkness, the girl 
looked to the ground and saw that the cloak was gone, and she answered, as 
she understood, "Oh, who am I? I'm the distraction."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ103)
                    ~~Sacred Witness~~  
           
                       Enric Milres
          
     Item ID: 00024548
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have met countesses and courtesans, empresses and witches, ladies of war 
and slatterns of peace, but I have never met a woman like The Night Mother. 
And I never will again.


I am a writer, a poet of some small renown. If I told you my name, you may 
have heard of me, but very likely, not. For decades until very recently, I 
had adopted the city of Sentinel on the coast of Hammerfell as my home, and 
kept the company of other artists, painters, tapestrists, and writers. No one
I knew would have known an assassin by sight, least of all the queen of them,
the Blood Flower, the Lady Death, the Night Mother.

Not that I had not heard of her.

Some years ago, I had the good fortune of meeting Pelarne Assi, a respected 
scholar, who had come to Hammerfell to do research for a book about the Order 
of Diagna. His essay, 'The Brothers of Darkness' together with Ynir Gorming's
'Fire and Darkness: The Brotherhoods of Death' are considered to be the canon
tomes on the subject of Tamriel's orders of assassins. By luck, Gorming 
himself was also in Sentinel, and I was priveleged to sit with the two in a 
dark skooma den in the musty slums of the city, as we smoked and talked about
the Dark Brotherhood, the Morag Tong, and the Night Mother.

While not disputing the possibility that the Night Mother may be immortal or 
at least very long-lived, Assi thought it most likely that several women - 
and perhaps some men - throughout the ages had assumed the honorary title. It
was no more logical to say there was only one Night Mother, he asserted, than
to say there was only one King of Sentinel.

Gorming argued that there never was a Night Mother, at least no human one. 
The Night Mother was Mephala herself, whom the Brotherhood revered second 
only to Sithis.

'I don't suppose there's any way of knowing for certain,' I said, in a note 
of diplomacy.

'Certainly there is,' whispered Gorming with a grin. 'You could talk to that
cloaked fellow in the corner.'

I had not noticed the man before, who sat by himself, eyes hidden by his 
cloak, seemingly as much a part of the dingy place as the rough stone and 
unswept floor. Turning back to Ynir, I asked him why that man would know 
about the Night Mother.

'He's a Dark Brother,' hissed Pellarne Assi. 'That's as plain as the moons. 
Don't even joke about speaking with him about Her.'

We moved on to other arguments about the Morag Tong and the Brotherhood, but 
I never forgot the image of the lone man, looking at nothing and everything,
in the corner of the dirty room, with fumes of skooma smoke floating around
him like ghosts. When I saw him weeks later on the streets of Sentinel, I 
followed him.

Yes, I followed him. The reader may reasonably ask 'why' and 'how.' I don't 
blame you for that.

'How' was simply a question of knowing my city as well as I do. I'm not a 
thief, not particularly sure-footed and quiet, but I know the alleys and
streets of Sentinel intimately from decades worth of ambling. I know which 
bridges creak, which buildings cast long irregular shadows, the intervals at
which the native birds begin the ululations of their evening songs. With 
relative ease, I kept pace with the Dark Brother and out of his sight and 
hearing.

The answer to 'Why' is even simpler. I have the natural curiosity of the born
writer. When I see a strange new animal, I must observe. It is the writer's 
curse.

I trailed the cloaked man deeper into the city, down an alleyway so narrow it
was scarcely a crack between two tenements, past a crooked fence, and 
suddenly, miraculously, I was in a place I had never seen before. A little 
courtyard cemetery, with a dozen old half-rotted wooden tombstones. None of 
the surrounding buildings had windows that faced it, so no one knew this 
miniature necropolis existed.

No one, except the six men and one woman standing in it. And me.

The woman saw me immediately, and gestured for me to come closer. I could 
have run, but - no, I couldn't have. I had pierced a mystery right in my 
adopted Sentinel, and I could not leave it.

She knew my name, and she said it with a sweet smile. The Night Mother was a 
little old lady with fluffy white hair, cheeks like wrinkled apples that 
still carried the flush of youth, friendly eyes, blue as the Iliac Bay. She 
softly took my arm as we sat down amidst the graves and discussed murder.

She was not always in Hammerfell, not always available for direct assignment,
but it seemed she enjoyed actually talking to her clientele.

'I did not come here to hire the Brotherhood,' I said respectfully.

'Then why are you here?' the Night Mother asked, her eyes never leaving mine.

I told her I wanted to know about her. I did not expect an answer to that, 
but she told me.

'I do not mind the stories you writers dream up about me,' she chuckled. 
'Some of them are very amusing, and some of them are good for business. I 
like the sexy dark woman lounging on the divan in Carlovac Townway's fiction 
particularly. The truth is that my history would not make a very dramatic 
tale. I was a thief, long, long ago, back when the Thieves Guild was only 
beginning. It's such a bother to sneak around a house when performing a 
burglary, and many of us found it most efficacious to strangle the occupant 
of the house. Just for convenience. I suggested to the Guild that a segment 
of our order be dedicated to the arts and sciences of murder.

'It did not seem like such a controversial idea to me,' the Night Mother 
shrugged. 'We had specialists in catburglary, pick-pocketing, lock-picking,
fencing, all the other essential parts of the job. But the Guild thought that
encouraging murder would be bad for business. Too much, too much, they 
argued.

'They might have been right,' the old woman continued. 'But I discovered 
there is a profit to be made, just the same, from sudden death. Not only can 
one rob the deceased, but, if your victim has enemies, which rich people 
often do, you can be paid for it even more. I began to murder people 
differently when I discovered that. After I strangled them, I would put two 
stones in their eyes, one black and one white.'

'Why?' I asked.

'It was a sort of calling card of mine. You're a writer - don't you want your
name on your books? I couldn't use my name, but I wanted potential clients to
know me and my work. I don't do it anymore, no need to, but at the time, it 
was my signature. Word spread, and I soon had quite a successful business.'

'And that became the Morag Tong?' I asked.

'Oh, dear me, no,' the Night Mother smiled. 'The Morag Tong was around long 
before my time. I know I'm old, but I'm not that old. I merely hired on some 
of their assassins when they began to fall apart after the murder of the last
Potentate. They did not want to be members of the Tong anymore, and since I 
was the only other murder syndicate of any note, they just joined on.'

I phrased my next question carefully. 'Will you kill me now that you've told
me all this?'

She nodded sadly, letting out a little grandmotherly sigh. 'You are such a 
nice, polite young man, I hate to end our acquaintanceship. I don't suppose 
you would agree to a concession or two in exchange for your life, would you?'

To my everlasting shame, I did agree. I said I would say nothing about our 
meeting, which, as the reader can see, was a promise I eventually, years 
later, chose not to keep. Why have I endangered my life thus?

Because of the promises I did keep.

I helped the Night Mother and the Dark Brotherhood in acts too despicable, 
too bloody for me to set to paper. My hand quivers as I think about the 
people I betrayed, beginning with that night. I tried to write my poetry, but
ink seemed to turn to blood. Finally, I fled, changing my name, going to a 
land where no one would know me.

And I wrote this. The true history of the Night Mother, from the interview 
she gave me on the night we met. It will be the last thing I ever write, this
I know. And every word is true.

Pray for me.

Editor's Note: Though originally published anonymously, the identity of the 
author has never been in serious doubt. Any layman familiar with the work of 
the poet Enric Milnes will recognize Sacred Witness's familiar cadence and 
style in such books of his as 'The Alik'r.' Shortly after publication, Milnes
was murdered, and his killer was never found. He had been strangled, and two
stones, a black one and a white one, crushed into his eyesockets. Very 
brutally.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ104)
                    ~~The Wolf Queen, v6~~  
           
                       Waughin Jarth
          
     Item ID: 00024546
     

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From the pen of Inzolicus, Second Century Sage:

3E 120:
The fifteen-year-old Empress Kintyra Septim II, daughter of Antiochus, was 
coroneted on the 3rd day of First Seed. Her uncles Magnus, King of Lilmoth, 
and Cephorus, King of Gilane, were in attendance, but her aunt, Potema, the 
Wolf Queen of Solitude, had been banished from the court. Once back in her 
kingdom, Queen Potema began assembling the rebellion, which was to be known 
as the War of the Red Diamond. All the allies she had made over the years of 
disgruntled kings and nobles joined forces with her against the new Empress.

The first early strikes against the Empire were entirely successful. 
Throughout Skyrim and northern High Rock, the Imperial army found themselves 
under attack. Potema and her forces washed over Tamriel like a plague, 
inciting riots and insurrections everywhere they touched. In the autumn of 
the year, the loyal Duke of Glenpoint on the coast of High Rock sent an 
urgent request for reinforcements from the Imperial Army, and Kintyra, to 
inspire the resistance to the Wolf Queen, led the army herself.


3E 121:
"We don't know where they are," said the Duke, deeply embarrassed. "I've sent
scouts out all over the countryside. I can only assume that they've retreated
up north upon hearing of your army's arrival."

"I hate to say it, but I was hoping for a battle," said Kintyra. "I'd like to
put my aunt's head on a spike and parade it around the Empire. Her son Uriel 
and his army are right on the border to the Imperial Province, mocking me. 
How are they able to be so successful? Are they just that good in battle or 
do my subjects truly hate me?"

She was tired after many months of struggling through the mud of autumn and 
winter. Crossing the Dragontail Mountains, her army nearly marched into an 
ambush. A blizzard snap in the normally temperate Barony of Dwynnen was so 
unexpected and severe that it must certainly have been cast by one of 
Potema's wizard allies. Everywhere she turned, she felt her aunt's touch. And
now, her chance of facing the Wolf Queen at last had been thwarted. It was 
almost too much to bear.

"It is fear, pure and simple," said the Duke. "That is her greatest weapon."

"I need to ask," said Kintyra, hoping that by sheer will she could keep her 
voice from revealing any of the fear the Duke spoke of. "You've seen the 
army. Is it true that she has summoned a force of undead warriors to do her 
bidding?"

"No, as a matter of fact, it's not true, but she certainly fosters that 
rumor. Her army attacks at night, partly for strategic reasons, and partly to
advance fears like that. She has, so far as I know, no supernatural aid other
than the standard battlemages and nightblades of any modern army."

"Always at night," said Kintyra thoughtfully. "I suppose that's to disguise 
their numbers."

"And to move her troops into position before we're aware of them" added the 
Duke. "She's the master of the sneak attack. When you hear a march to the 
east, you can be certain she's already on top of you from the south. But 
listen, we'll discuss this all tomorrow morning. I've prepared the castle's 
best rooms for you and your men."

Kintyra sat in her tower suite and by the light of the moon and a single 
tallow candle, she penned a letter to her husband-to-be, Lord Modellus, back 
in the Imperial City. She hoped to be married to him in the summer at the 
Blue Palace her grandmother Quintilla had loved so much, but the war may not 
permit it. As she wrote, she gazed out the window at the courtyard below and 
the haunted, leafless trees of winter. Two of her guards stood on the 
battlements, several feet away from one another. Just like Modellus and 
Kintyra, she thought, and proceeded to expound on the metaphor in her letter.

A knock on the door interrupted her poetry.

"A letter, your majesty, from Lord Modellus," said the young courier, handing
the note to her.

It was short, and she read it quickly before the courier had a chance to 
retire. "I'm confused by something. When did he write this?"

"One week ago," said the courier. "He said it was urgent that I make it here 
as quickly as possible while he mobilized the army. I imagine they've left 
the City already."

Kintyra dismissed the courier. Modellus said that he had received a letter 
from her, urgently calling for reinforcements to the battle at Glenpoint. But
there was no battle at Glenpoint, and she had only just arrived today. Then 
who wrote the letter in her handwriting, and why would they want Modellus to 
bring a second army out of the Imperial City into High Rock?

Feeling a chill from the night air at the window, Kintyra went to shut the 
latch. The two guards on the battlements were gone. She leaned over at the 
sound of a muffled struggle behind one of the barren trees, and did not hear 
the door open.

When she turned, she saw Queen Potema and Mentin, Duke of Glenpoint, in the 
room with a host of guards.

"You move quietly, aunt," she said after a moment's pause. She turned to the 
Duke. "What turned you against your loyalty to the Empire? Fear?"

"And gold," said the Duke simply.

"What happened to my army?" asked Kintyra, trying to look Potema steadily in 
the face. "Is the battle over so soon?"

"All your men are dead," smiled Potema. "But there was no battle here. Merely
quiet and efficient assassination. There will be battles ahead, against 
Modellus in the Dragontail Mountains and against the remnants of the Imperial
Army in the City. I'll send you regular updates on the progress of the war."

"So I am to be kept here as your hostage?" asked Kintyra, flatly, suddenly 
aware of the solidity of the stones and the great height of her tower room. 
"Damn you, look at me! I am your Empress!"

"Think of it this way, I'm taking you from being a fifth rate ruler to a 
first rate martyr," said Potema with a wink. "But I understand if you don't 
want to thank me for that."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                       ~SPEECHCRAFT~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ105)
                ~~2920, Second Seed (v5)~~  
           
                    Carlovac Townway
          
     Item ID: 0002454D
     

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    10 Second Seed, 2920 
    The Imperial City, Cyrodiil 

“Your Imperial Majesty,” said the Potentate Versidue-Shaie, opening the door 
to his chamber with a smile. “I have not seen you lately. I thought perhaps 
you were ... indisposed with the lovely Rijja.”

“She's taking the baths at Mir Corrup,” the Emperor Reman III said miserably.

“Please, come in.”

“I've reached the stage where I can only trust three people: you, my son the
Prince, and Rijja,” said the Emperor petulantly. “My entire council is 
nothing but a pack of spies.”

“What seems to be the matter, your imperial majesty?” asked the Potentate 
Versidue-Shaie sympathetically, drawing closed the thick curtain in his 
chamber. Instantly all sound outside the room was extinguished, echoing 
footsteps in the marble halls and birds in the springtide gardens.

“I've discovered that a notorious poisoner, an Orma tribeswoman from Black 
Marsh called Catchica, was with the army at Caer Suvio while we were encamped
there when my son was poisoned, before the battle at Bodrum. I'm sure she 
would have preferred to kill me, but the opportunity didn't present itself,” 
The Emperor fumed. “The Council suggests that we need evidence of her 
involvement before we prosecute.”

“Of course they would,” said the Potentate thoughtfully. “Particularly if one
or more of them was in on the plot. I have a thought, your imperial majesty.”

“Yes?” said Reman impatiently. “Out with it!”

“Tell the Council you're dropping the matter, and I will send out the Guard 
to track this Catchica down and follow her. We will see who her friends are, 
and perhaps get an idea of the scope of this plot on your imperial majesty's 
life.”

“Yes,” said Reman with a satisfied frown. “That's a capital plan. We will 
track this scheme to whomever it leads to.”

“Decidedly, your imperial majesty,” smiled the Potentate, parting the curtain
so the Emperor could leave. In the hallway outside was Versidue-Shaie's son, 
Savirien-Chorak. The boy bowed to the Emperor before entering the Potentate's
chamber.

“Are you in trouble, father?” whispered the Akaviri lad. “I heard the Emperor
found out about whatshername, the poisoner.”

“The great art of speechcraft, my boy,” said Versidue-Shaie to his son. “Is 
to tell them what they want to hear in a way that gets them to do what you 
want them to do. I need you to get a letter to Catchica, and make certain 
that she understands that if she does not follow the instructions perfectly,
she is risking her own life more than ours.”


    13 Second Seed, 2920 
    Mir Corrup, Cyrodiil 

Rijja sank luxuriantly into the burbling hot spring, feeling her skin tingle 
like it was being rubbed by millions of little stones. The rock shelf over 
her head sheltered her from the misting rain, but let all the sunshine in, 
streaming in layers through the branches of the trees. It was an idyllic 
moment in an idyllic life, and when she was finished she knew that her beauty
would be entirely restored. The only thing she needed was a drink of water. 
The bath itself, while wonderfully fragrant, tasted always of chalk.

“Water!” she cried to her servants. “Water, please!”

A gaunt woman with rags tied over her eyes ran to her side and dropped a 
goatskin of water. Rijja was about to laugh at the woman's prudery -- she 
herself was not ashamed of her naked body -- but then she noticed through a 
crease in the rags that the old woman had no eyes at all. She was like one of
those Orma tribesmen Rijja had heard about, but never met. Born without eyes,
they were masters of their other senses. The Lord of Mir Corrup hired very 
exotic servants, she thought to herself.

In a moment, the woman was gone and forgotten. Rijja found it very hard to 
concentrate on anything but the sun and the water. She opened the cork, but 
the liquid within had a strange, metallic smell to it. Suddenly, she was 
aware that she was not alone.

“Lady Rijja,” said the captain of the Imperial Guard. “You are, I see, 
acquainted with Catchica?”

“I've never heard of her,” stammered Rijja before becoming indignant. “What 
are you doing here? This body is not for your leering eyes.”

“Never heard of her, when we saw her with you not a minute ago,” said the 
captain, picking up the goatskin and smelling it. “Brought you neivous ichor,
did she? To poison the Emperor with?”

“Captain,” said one of the guards, running up to him quickly. “We cannot find 
the Argonian. It is as if she disappeared into the woods.”

“Yes, they're good at that,” said the captain. “No matter though. We've got 
her contact at court. That should please his Imperial Majesty. Seize her.”

As the guards pulled the writhing naked woman from the pool, she screamed, 
“I'm innocent! I don't know what this is all about, but I've done nothing! 
The Emperor will have your heads for this!”

“Yes, I imagine he will,” smiled the captain. “If he trusts you.”


    21 Second Seed, 2920 
    Gideon, Black Marsh 

The Sow and Vulture tavern was the sort of out-of-the-way place that Zuuk 
favored for these sorts of interviews. Besides himself and his companion, 
there were only a couple of old seadogs in the shadowy room, and they were 
more unconscious from drink than aware. The grime of the unwashed floor was 
something you felt rather than saw. Copious dust hung in the air unmoving in
the sparse rays of dying sunlight.

“You have experience in heavy combat?” asked Zuuk. “The reward is good for 
this assignment, but the risks are great as well.”

“Certainly I have combat experience,” replied Miramor haughtily. “I was at 
the Battle of Bodrum just two months ago. If you do your part and get the 
Emperor to ride through Dozsa Pass with a minimal escort on the day and the 
time we've discussed, I'll do my part. Just be certain that he's not 
traveling in disguise. I'm not going to slaughter every caravan that passes 
through in the hopes that it contains Emperor Reman.”

Zuuk smiled, and Miramor looked at himself in the Kothringi's reflective 
face. He liked the way he looked: the consummate confident professional.

“Agreed,” said Zuuk. “And then you shall have the rest of your gold.”

Zuuk placed the large chest onto the table between them. He stood up.

“Wait a few minutes before leaving,” said Zuuk. “I don't want you following 
me. Your employers wish to maintain their anonymity, if by chance you are 
caught and tortured.”

“Fine by me,” said Miramor, ordering more grog.

Zuuk rode his mount through the cramped labyrinthine streets of Gideon, and 
both he and his horse were happy to pass through the gates into the country. 
The main road to Castle Giovese was flooded as it was every year in 
springtide, but Zuuk knew a shorter way over the hills. Riding fast under 
trees drooping with moss and treacherous slime-coated rocks, he arrived at 
the castle gates in two hours' time. He wasted no time in climbing to Tavia's
cell at the top of the highest tower.

“What did you think of him?” asked the Empress.

“He's a fool,” replied Zuuk. “But that's what we want for this sort of 
assignment.”


    30 Second Seed, 2920 
    Thurzo Fortress, Cyrodiil 

Rijja screamed and screamed and screamed. Within her cell, her only audience 
was the giant gray stones, crusted with moss but still sturdy. The guards 
outside were deaf to her as they were deaf to all prisoners. The Emperor, 
miles away in the Imperial City, had likewise been deaf to her cries of 
innocence.

She screamed knowing well that no one would likely hear her ever again.


    31 Second Seed, 2920 
    Kavas Rim Pass, Cyrodiil 

It had been days, weeks since Turala had seen another human face, Cyrodiil or
Dunmer. As she trod the road, she thought to herself how strange it was that 
such an uninhabited place as Cyrodiil had become the Imperial Province, seat 
of an Empire. Even the Bosmer in Valenwood must have more populated forests 
than this Heartland wood.

She thought back. Was it a month ago, two, when she crossed the border from 
Morrowind into Cyrodiil? It had been much colder then, but other than that, 
she had no sense of time. The guards had been brusque, but as she was 
carrying no weaponry, they elected to let her through. Since then, she had 
seen a few caravans, even shared a meal with some adventurers camping for the
night, but met no one who would give her a ride to a town.

Turala stripped off her shawl and dragged it behind her. For a moment, she 
thought she heard someone behind her and spun around. No one was there. Just 
a bird perched on a branch making a sound like laughter.

She walked on, and then stopped. Something was happening. The child had been 
kicking in her belly for some time now, but this was a different kind of 
spasm. With a groan, she lurched over to the side of the path, collapsing 
into the grass. Her child was coming.

She lay on her back and pushed, but she could barely see with her tears of 
pain and frustration. How had it come to this? Giving birth in the 
wilderness, all by herself, to a child whose father was the Duke of 
Mournhold? Her scream of rage and agony shook the birds from the trees.

The bird that had been laughing at her earlier flew down to the road. She 
blinked, and the bird was gone and in its place, a naked Elf man stood, not 
as dark as a Dunmer, but not as pale as the Altmer. She knew at once it was 
an Ayleid, a Wild Elf. Turala screamed, but the man held her down. After a 
few minutes of struggle, she felt a release, and then fainted away.

When she awoke, it was to the sound of a baby crying. The child had been 
cleaned and was lying by her side. Turala picked up her baby girl, and for 
the first time that year, felt tears of happiness stream down her face.

She whispered to the trees, “Thank you” and began walking with babe in her 
arms down the road to the west.

The Year Is Continued in Mid Year.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ106)
              ~~Biography of the Wolf Queen~~  
           
                    Katar Eriphanes
          
     Item ID: 0002454B
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Few historic figures are viewed as unambiguously evil, but Potema, the so-
called Wolf Queen of Solitude, surely qualifies for that dishonor. Born to 
the Imperial Family in the sixty-seventh year of the third era, Potema was 
immediately presented to her grandfather, the Emperor Uriel Septim II, a 
famously kindhearted man, who viewed the solemn, intense babe and whispered,
“She looks like a she-wolf about ready to pounce.”

Potema's childhood in the Imperial City was certainly difficult from the 
start. Her father, Prince Pelagius Septim, and her mother, Qizara, showed 
little affection for their brood. Her eldest brother Antiochus, sixteen at 
Potema's birth, was already a drunkard and womanizer, infamous in the empire.
Her younger brothers Cephorus and Magnus were born much later, so for years 
she was the only child in the Imperial Court.

By the age of 14, Potema was a famous beauty with many suitors, but she was 
married to cement relations with King Mantiarco of the Nordic kingdom of 
Solitude. She entered the court, it was said, as a pawn, but she quickly 
became a queen. The elderly King Mantiarco loved her and allowed her all the
power she wished, which was total.

When Uriel Septim II died the following year, her father was made emperor, 
and he faced a greatly depleted treasury, thanks to his father's poor 
management. Pelagius II dismissed the Elder Council, forcing them to buy back
 heir positions. In 3E 97, after many miscarriages, the Queen of Solitude 
gave birth to a son, who she named Uriel after her grandfather. Mantiarco 
quickly made Uriel his heir, but the Queen had much larger ambitions for her 
child.

Two years later, Pelagius II died — many say poisoned by a vengeful former 
Council member — and his son, Potema's brother Antiochus took the throne. At
age forty-eight, it could be said that Antiochus's wild seeds had yet to be 
sown, and the history books are nearly pornographic in their depictions of 
life at the Imperial court during the years of his reign. Potema, whose 
passion was for power not fornication, was scandalized every time she visited
the Imperial City.

Mantiarco, King of Solitude, died the springtide after Pelagius II. Uriel 
ascended to the throne, ruling jointly with his mother. Doubtless, Uriel had 
the right and would have preferred to rule alone, but Potema convinced him 
that his position was only temporary. He would have the Empire, not merely 
the kingdom. In Castle Solitude, she entertained dozens of diplomats from 
other kingdoms of Skyrim, sowing seeds of discontent. Her guest list over the
years expanded to include kings and queens of High Rock and Morrowind as 
well.

For thirteen years, Antiochus ruled Tamriel, and proved an able leader 
despite his moral laxity. Several historians point to proof that Potema cast 
the spell that ended her brother's life, but evidence one way or another is 
lost in the sands of time. In any event, both she and her son Uriel were 
visiting the Imperial court in 3E 112 when Antiochus died, and immediately 
challenged the rule of his daughter and heir, Kintyra.

Potema's speech to the Elder Council is perhaps helpful to students of public
speaking.

She began with flattery and self-abasement: “My most august and wise friends, 
members of the Elder Council, I am but a provincial queen, and I can only 
assume to bring to issue what you yourselves must have already pondered.”

She continued on to praise the late Emperor, who was a popular ruler in spite
of his flaws: “He was a true Septim and a great warrior, destroying — with 
your counsel — the near invincible armada of Pyandonea.”

But little time was wasted, before she came to her point: “The Empress Magna 
unfortunately did nothing to temper my brother's lustful spirits. In point of
fact, no whore in the slums of the city spread out on more beds than she. Had
she attended to her duties in the Imperial bedchamber more faithfully, we 
would have a true heir to the Empire, not the halfwit, milksop bastards who 
call themselves the Emperor's children. The girl called Kintyra is popularly 
believed to be the daughter of Magna and the Captain of the Guard. It may be 
that she is the daughter of Magna and the boy who cleans the cistern. We can 
never know for certain. Not as certainly as we can know the lineage of my 
son, Uriel. The last of the Septim Dynasty.”

Despite Potema's eloquence, the Elder Council allowed Kintyra to assume the 
throne as the Empress Kintyra II. Potema and Uriel angrily returned to Skyrim
and began assembling the rebellion.

Details of the War of the Red Diamond are included in other histories: we 
need not recount the Empress Kintyra II's capture and eventual execution in 
High Rock in the year 3E 114, nor the ascension of Potema's son, Uriel III, 
seven years later. Her surviving brothers, Cephorus and Magnus, fought the 
Emperor and his mother for years, tearing the Empire apart in a civil war.

When Uriel III fought his uncle Cephorus in Hammerfell at the Battle of 
Ichidag in 3E 127, Potema was fighting her other brother, Uriel's uncle 
Magnus in Skyrim at the Battle of Falconstar. She received word of her son's 
defeat and capture just as she was preparing to mount an attack on Magnus's 
weakest flank. The sixty-one-year-old Wolf Queen flew into a rage and led the
assault herself. It was a success, and Magnus and his army fled. In the midst
the victory celebration, Potema heard the news that her son the Emperor had 
been killed by an angry mob before he had even made it for trial in the 
Imperial City. He had been burned to death within his carriage.

When Cephorus was proclaimed Emperor, Potema's fury was terrible to behold. 
She summoned daedra to fight for her, had her necromancers resurrect her 
fallen enemies as undead warriors, and mounted attack after attack on the 
forces of the Emperor Cephorus I. Her allies began leaving her as her madness
grew, and her only companions were the zombies and skeletons she had amassed 
over the years. The kingdom of Solitude became a land of death. Stories of 
the ancient Wolf Queen being waited on by rotting skeletal chambermaids and 
holding war plans with vampiric generals terrified her subjects.

Potema died after a month long siege on her castle in the year 3E 137 at the 
age of 90. While she lived, she had been the Wolf Queen of Solitude, Daughter
of the Emperor Pelagius II, Wife of King Mantiarco, Aunt of the Empress 
Kintyra II, Mother of Emperor Uriel III, and Sister of the Emperors Antiochus
and Cephorus. Three years after her death, Antiochus died, and his — and 
Potema's — brother Magnus took the throne.

Her death has hardly diminished her notoriety. Though there is little direct 
evidence of this, some theologians maintain that her spirit was so strong, 
she became a daedra after her death, inspiring mortals to mad ambition and 
treason. It is also said that her madness so infused Castle Solitude that it 
infected the next king to rule there. Ironically, that was her 18-year-old 
nephew Pelagius, the son of Magnus. Whatever the truth of the legend, it is 
undeniable that when Pelagius left Solitude in 3E 145 to assume the title of
the Emperor Pelagius III, he quickly became known as Pelagius The Mad. It is 
even widely rumored that he murdered his father Magnus.

The Wolf Queen must surely have had the last laugh. 

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ107)
                 ~~The Wolf Queen, v5~~  
           
                     Waughin Jarth
          
     Item ID: 0002454C
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

From the pen of Inzolicus, Second Century Sage and Student of Montocai:

3E 119:
For twenty-one years, The Emperor Antiochus Septim ruled Tamriel, and proved 
an able leader despite his moral laxity. His greatest victory was in the War 
of the Isle in the year 110, when the Imperial fleet and the royal navies of 
Summerset Isle, together with the magical powers of the Psijic Order, 
succeeded in destroying the Pyandonean invading armada. His siblings, King 
Magnus of Lilmoth, King Cephorus of Gilane, and Potema, the Wolf Queen of 
Solitude, ruled well and relations between the Empire and the kingdoms of 
Tamriel were much improved. Still, centuries of neglect had not repaired all 
the scars that existed between the Empire and the kings of High Rock and 
Skyrim.

During a rare visitation from his sister and nephew Uriel, Antiochus, who had 
suffered from several illnesses over his reign, lapsed into a coma. For 
months, he lingered in between life and death while the Elder Council 
prepared for the ascension of his fifteen-year-old daughter Kintyra to the 
throne.

3E 120:
"Mother, I can't marry Kintyra," said Uriel, more amused by the suggestion 
than offended. "She's my first cousin. And besides, I believe she's engaged 
to one of the lords of council, Modellus."

"You're so squeamish. There's a time and a place for propriety," said Potema.
"But you're correct at any rate about Modellus, and we shouldn't offend the 
Elder Council at this critical juncture. How do you feel about Princess 
Rakma? You spent a good deal of time in her company in Farrun."

"She's all right," said Uriel. "Don't tell me you want to hear all the dirty 
details."

"Please spare me your study of her anatomy," Potema grimaced. "But would you 
marry her?"

"I suppose so."

"Very good. I'll make the arrangements then," Potema made a note for herself 
before continuing. "King Lleromo has been a difficult ally to keep, and a 
political marriage should keep Farrun on our side. Should we need them. When 
is the funeral?"

"What funeral?" asked Uriel. "You mean for Uncle Antiochus?"

"Of course," sighed Potema. "Anyone else of note die recently?"

"There were a bunch of little Redguard children running through the halls, so
I guess Cephorus has arrived. Magnus arrived at court yesterday, so it ought 
to be any day now."

"It's time to address the Council then," said Potema, smiling.

She dressed in black, not her usual colorful ensembles. It was important to 
look the part of the grieving sister. Regarding herself in the mirror, she 
felt that she looked all of her fifty-three years. A shock of silver wound 
its way through her auburn hair. The long, cold, dry winters in northern 
Skyrim had created a map of wrinkles, thin as a spiderweb, all across her 
face. Still, she knew that when she smiled, she could win hearts, and when 
she frowned, she could inspire fear. It was enough for her purposes.

Potema's speech to the Elder Council is perhaps helpful to students of public
speaking.

She began with flattery and self-abasement: "My most august and wise friends,
members of the Elder Council, I am but a provincial queen, and I can only 
assume to bring to issue what you yourselves must have already pondered."

She continued on to praise the late Emperor, who had been a popular ruler, 
despite his flaws: "He was a true Septim and a great warrior, destroying -- 
with your counsel -- the near invincible armada of Pyandonea."

But little time was wasted, before she came to her point: "The Empress 
Gysilla unfortunately did nothing to temper my brother's lustful spirits. In 
point of fact, no whore in the slums of the city spread out on more beds than
she. Had she attended to her duties in the Imperial bedchamber more 
faithfully, we would have a true heir to the Empire, not the halfwit, milksop 
bastards who call themselves the Emperor's children. The girl called Kintyra 
is popularly believed to be the daughter of Gysilla and the Captain of the 
Guard. It may be that she is the daughter of Gysilla and the boy who cleans 
the cistern. We can never know for certain. Not as certainly as we can know 
the lineage of my son, Uriel. The eldest true son of the Septim Dynasty. My 
lords, the princes of the Empire will not stand for a bastard on the throne, 
that I can assure you."

She ended mildly, but with a call to action: "Posterity will judge you. You 
know what must be done."

That evening, Potema entertained her brothers and their wives in the Map 
Room, her favorite of the Imperial dining chambers. The walls were splashed 
with bright, if fading representations of the Empire and all the known lands 
beyond, Atmora, Yokunda, Akavir, Pyandonea, Thras. Overhead the great glass 
domed ceiling, wet with rain, displayed distorted images of the stars 
overhead. Lightning flashed every other minute, casting strange phantom 
shadows on the walls.

"When will you speak to the Council?" asked Potema as dinner was served.

"I don't know if I will," said Magnus. "I don't believe I have anything to 
say."

"I'll speak to them when they announce the coronation of Kintyra," said 
Cephorus. "Merely as a formality to show my support and the support of 
Hammerfell."

"You can speak for all of Hammerfell?" asked Potema, with a teasing smile. 
"The Redguards must love you very much."

"We have a unique relationship with the Empire in Hammerfell," said 
Cephorus's wife, Bianki. "Since the treaty of Stros M'kai, it's been 
understood that we are part of the Empire, but not a subject."

"I understand you've already spoken to the Council," said Magnus's wife, 
Hellena, pointedly. She was a diplomat by nature, but as the Cyrodilic ruler 
of an Argonian kingdom, she knew how to recognize and confront adversity.

"Yes, I have," said Potema, pausing to savor a slice of braised jalfbird. "I 
gave them a short speech about the coronation this afternoon."

"Our sister is an excellent public speaker," said Cephorus.

"You're too kind," said Potema, laughing. "I do many things better than 
speaking."

"Such as?" asked Bianki, smiling.

"Might I ask what you said in your speech?" asked Magnus, suspiciously.

There was a knock on the chamber door. The head steward whispered something 
to Potema, who smiled in response and rose from the table.

"I told the Council that I would give my full support to the coronation, 
provided they proceed with wisdom. What could be sinister about that?" Potema
said, and took her glass of wine with her to the door. "If you'll pardon me, 
my niece Kintyra wishes to have a word with me."

Kintyra stood in the hall with the Imperial Guard. She was but a child, but 
on reflection, Potema realized that at her age, she was already married two 
years to Mantiarco. There was a similarity, to be certain. Potema could see 
Kintyra as the young queen, with dark eyes and pallid skin smooth and 
resolute like marble. Anger flashed momentarily in Kintyra's eyes on seeing 
her aunt, but emotion left her, replaced with calm Imperial presence.

"Queen Potema," she said serenely. "I have been informed that my coronation 
will take place in two days time. Your presence at the ceremony will not be 
welcome. I have already given orders to your servants to have your belongings
packed, and an escort will be accompanying you back to your kingdom tonight. 
That is all. Goodbye, aunt."

Potema began to reply, but Kintyra and her guard turned and moved back down 
the corridor to the stateroom. The Wolf Queen watched them go, and then 
reentered the Map Room.

"Sister-in-Law," said Potema, addressing Bianki with deep malevolence. "You 
asked what I do better than speaking? The answer is: war."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                  (Search Code: LOLZ108)
                 ~~The Wolf Queen, v7~~  
           
                     Waughin Jarth
          
     Item ID: 0002454E


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

From the pen of Inzolicus, Second Century Sage:

3E 125:
The exact date of the Empress Kintyra Septim II's execution in the tower at
Glenpoint Castle is open to some speculation. Some believe she was slain 
shortly after her imprisonment in the 121st year, while others maintain that 
she was likely kept alive as a hostage until shortly before her uncle 
Cephorus, King of Gilane, reconquered western High Rock in the summer of the
125th year. The certainty of Kintyra's demise rallied many against the Wolf 
Queen Potema and her son, who had been crowned Emperor Uriel Septim III four 
years previously when he invaded the under-guarded Imperial City.

Cephorus concentrated his army on the war in High Rock, while his brother 
Magnus, King of Lilmoth, brought his Argonian troops through loyal Morrowind 
and into Skyrim to fight in Potema's home province. The reptilian troops 
fought well in the summer months, but during the winter, they retired south 
to regroup and attack again when the weather was warm. At this stalemate, the
War lasted out two more years.

Also, in the 125th year, Magnus's wife Hellena gave birth to their first 
child, a boy who they named Pelagius, after the Emperor who fathered Magnus, 
Cephorus, the late Emperor Antiochus, and the dread Wolf Queen of Solitude.


3E 127:
Potema sat on soft silk cushions in the warm grass in front of her tent and 
watched the sun rise over the dark woods on the other side of the meadow. It 
was a peculiarly vibrant morning, typical of Skyrim summertide. The high 
chirrup of insects buzzed all around her and the sky surged with thousands of
fallowing birds, rolling over one another and forming a multitude of 
patterns. Nature was unaware of the war coming to Falconstar, she surmised.

"Your highness, a message from the army in Hammerfell," said one of her 
maids, bringing in a courier. He was breathing hard, stained with sweat and 
mud. Evidence of a long, fast ride over many, many miles.

"My queen," said the courier, looking to the ground. "I bring grave news of 
your son, the Emperor. He met your brother King Cephorus's army in Hammerfell
in the countryside of Ichidag and there did battle. You would be proud, for 
he fought well, but in the end, the Imperial army was defeated and your son,
our Emperor, was captured. King Cephorus is bringing him to Gilane."

Potema listened to the news, scowling. "That clumsy fool," she said at last.

Potema stood up and strolled into camp, where the men were arming themselves,
preparing for battle. Long ago, the soldiers understood that their lady did 
not stand on ceremony, and she would prefer that they work rather than salute
her. Lord Vhokken was ahead of her, already meeting with the commander of the
battlemages, discussing last minute strategy.

"My queen," said the courier, who had been following her. "What are you going
to do?"

"I'm going to win this battle with Magnus, despite his superior position 
holding the ruins of Kogmenthist Castle," said Potema. "And then when I know 
what Cephorus means to do with the Emperor, I'll respond accordingly. If 
there's a ransom to be paid, I'll pay it; if there's a prison exchange 
needed, so be it. Now, please, bath yourself and rest, and try not to get in 
the way of the war."

"It's not an ideal scenario," said Lord Vhokken when Potema had entered the 
commander's tent. "If we attack the castle from the west, we'll be running 
directly into the fire from their mages and archers. If we come from the 
east, we'll be going through swamps, and the Argonians do better in that type
of environment than we do. A lot better."

"What about the north and south? Just hills, correct?"

"Very steep hills, your highness," said the commander. "We should post bowmen
there, but we'll be too vulnerable putting out the majority of our force."

"So it's the swamp," said Potema, and added, pragmatically. "Unless we 
withdraw and wait for them to come out before fighting."

"If we wait, Cephorus will have his army here from High Rock, and we'll be 
trapped between the two of them," said Lord Vhokken. "Not a preferable 
situation."

"I'll talk to the troops," said the commander. "Try to prepare them for the 
swamp attack."

"No," said Potema. "I'll speak to them."

In full battlegear, the soldiers gathered in the center of camp. They were a 
motley collection of men and women, Cyrodiils, Nords, Bretons, and Dunmer, 
youngbloods and old veterans, the sons and daughters of nobles, shopkeepers,
serfs, priests, prostitutes, farmers, academics, adventurers. All of them 
under the banner of the Red Diamond, the symbol of the Imperial Family of 
Tamriel.

"My children," Potema said, her voice ringing out, hanging in the still 
morning mist. "We have fought in many battles together, over mountaintops and
beach heads, through forests and deserts. I have seen great acts of valor 
from each one of you, which does my heart proud. I have also seen dirty 
fighting, backstabbing, cruel and wanton feats of savagery, which pleases me
equally well. For you are all warriors."

Warming to her theme, Potema walked the line from soldier to soldier, looking 
each one in the eye: "War is in your blood, in your brain, in your muscles, 
in everything you think and everything you do. When this war is over, when 
the forces are vanquished that seek to deny the throne to the true emperor, 
Uriel Septim III, you may cease to be warriors. You may choose to return to 
your lives before the war, to your farms and your cities, and show off your 
scars and tell tales of the deeds you did this day to your wondering 
neighbors. But on this day, make no mistake, you are warriors. You are war."

She could see her words were working. All around her, bloodshot eyes were 
focusing on the slaughter to come, arms tensing around weapons. She continued 
in her loudest cry, "And you will move through the swamplands, like an 
unstoppable power from the blackest part of Oblivion, and you will rip the 
scales from the reptilian things in Kogmenthist Castle. You are warriors, and
you need not only fight, you must win. You must win!"

The soldiers roared in response, shocking the birds from the trees all around
the camp.

From a vantage point on the hills to the south, Potema and Lord Vhokken had 
excellent views of the battle as it raged. It looked like two swarms of two 
colors of insect moving back and forth over a clump of dirt which was the 
castle ruins. Occasionally, a burst of flame or a cloud of acid from one of 
the mages would flicker over the battle arresting their attention, but hour 
after hour, the fighting seemed like nothing but chaos.

"A rider approaches," said Lord Vhokken, breaking the silence.

The young Redguard woman was wearing the crest of Gilane, but carried a white
flag. Potema allowed her to approach. Like the courier from the morning, the 
rider was well travel-worn.

"Your Highness," she said, out of breath. "I have been sent from your 
brother, my lord King Cephorus, to bring you dire news. Your son Uriel was 
captured in Ichidag on the field in battle and from there transported to 
Gilane."

"I know all this," said Potema scornfully. "I have couriers of my own. You 
can tell your master that after I've won this battle, I'll pay whatever 
ransom or exchange --"

"Your Highness, an angry crowd met the caravan your son was in before it made
it to Gilane," the rider said quickly, "Your son is dead. He had been burned 
to death within his carriage. He is dead."

Potema turned from the young woman and looked down at the battle. Her 
soldiers were going to win. Magnus's army was in retreat.

"One other item of news, your highness," said the rider. "King Cephorus is 
being proclaimed Emperor."

Potema did not look at the woman. Her army was celebrating their victory.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

                      ~MARKER BOOKS~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ109)
                    ~~Agnar's Journal~~  
           
                   Agnar the Unwavering
          
     Item ID: 000C55DF
     

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

Entry 1:
When I took on the role of Chieftain of Thirsk, when I accepted the beautiful
Svenja Snow-Song as my advisor, and then my bride, I never imagined how 
quickly my life would change.

I went to the isle of Solstheim for some much needed rest, and found it in 
the mead-soaked halls of Thirsk. But when I met Svenja, my sweet Svenja, I 
became entangled in an epic story the likes of which I had only read about in
fables and childrens' tales.

Svenja told me of the fateful night when a hideous creature known as the 
Uderfrykte attacked the mead hall, killing rampantly, leaving her the only 
survivor. The creature was slain by a champion, and Thirsk had its new 
chieftain, but it wasn't long before they moved on to some new challenge, 
some new adventure.

And that's where I entered the tale. Svenja Snow-Song, with her ice-blue eyes
and flaxon hair, gained my love. Soon after, I became her husband...and the 
mead hall's new chieftain. In truth, I had never been happier. But Svenja, my
dear wife, existed in quiet misery, constantly haunted by the memory of the 
Uderfrykte, and the damage it had wrought on the mead hall, and the people 
she had loved. Night after night, my dear woke up screaming, her face etched
in horror and a single word issuing from her lips -- "Uderfrykte!"

I feared for my wife's sanity and happiness, but it was she who found a 
solution to her problem. As a warrior, she told me, she must confront her 
fear. She must defeat it. The Uderfrykte was dead, yes, but where did it come
from? Was it unique? Would more of the creatures come, and wreak havoc once 
again? Would I, her loving husband, be killed? And so she corresponded with 
explorers and researchers all across Tamriel, until she found the answer she 
had been looking for. The Uderfrykte was in fact NOT unique, but the 
offspring of an ancient Uderfrykte Matron. In order to end the nightmares, in
order to prevent any more destruction, we would need to hunt down and kill 
the Uderfrykte Matron, no matter where or how.

Entry 2:
By Ysmir, we've been searching. And searching. And searching some more. But 
finally it came -- the lucky break we had been hoping for. The creature has 
been spotted by a shepherd in the remote highlands of Skyrim!

Entry 3:
We found its trail and tracked it for days, crossing the border into the 
Imperial Province. Here in the frigid mountains, we met with a local hunter 
who tried to warn us away from the area, citing an old legend about a deadly 
creature known as the Horror of Dive Rock -- a monster credited with the 
slaying of over a dozen people, and just as much cattle. Could this creature 
be the very Uderfrykte Matron we seek? Perhaps, unlike its child on 
Solstheim, the Matron moves from location to location, and its this mobility 
that has thus far prevented its killing or capture?

Entry 4:
we have made camp at Dive Rock, reportedly the highest natural observation 
point in all of Cyrodiil. From here we can see for miles! So we'll keep 
watch, night and day. We're close, so very close. Svenja and I can feel it in
our very bones. Indeed, Svenja has always been particularly in tune with such
things, and is convinced the Uderfrykte Matron is close.

Entry 5:
Svenja has grown tired of my constant writing, but this journal will serve as
a record of our travels and defeat against the Uderfrykte. She's staring at 
me angrily, impatiently, right now as I write, but this entry is too 
important -- finally, on this third day of watching, we've spotted it -- the 
Uderfrykte Matron! It is unlike anything we have ever lain eyes on, a giant, 
troll-like beast that seems to waver and shimmer in the cold -- like the 
feral form of winter itself! We're off now to trudge down the mountain, 
weapons in hand, and give the Horror of Dive Rock its due!

Entry 6:
Failure and horror! We engaged the monster with all the force we could 
muster, but it was a travesty beyond comprehension. Svenja... My beautiful 
Svenja! My dear wife was killed instantly, consumed by the beast nearly 
whole! And though it shames me now to write these words, I could think of 
nothing more at the time than escape. I took flight, returning here to our 
camp on Dive Rock, to collect my thoughts and nerve.

I haven't much time. After this quick entry I will march out and meet the 
Uderfrykte Matron once more -- it is sure to track me back to this campsite 
anyway, so our confrontation is inevitable. Can I even hope to defeat this 
monstrosity? One thing is certain -- Svenja and I came hastily, unprepared. 
My steel axe? Useless. My dear wife's Frostwyrm Bow? Completely ineffective 
(and swallowed whole, still in Svenja's hand...).

The beast appears to be a creature of the cold, and is likely nearly 
completely resistant to it. I would attack with fire if I had any on hand. 
But there is no time. No time to travel to a mages guild and procure an 
enchanted blade, or hire the services of a sorceror. My steel axe will have 
to do. And so I return to battle now, and hope beyond hope that I may slay 
the wretched monster that has brought so much grief to so many people. And if
not, I take comfort in knowing I will soon rejoin my beautiful bride in the 
gilded halls of Sovngarde.

If someone is reading this hastily written journal, I am likely dead, and 
pray to Ysmir that you have had more luck against the creature than I.

Agnar the Unwavering,


Chieftain of Thirsk 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ110)
                 ~~Cleansing of the Fane~~   
           
                     Anonymous 
          
     Item ID: 0002C8DD
     

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The Chronicles of the Holy Brothers of Marukh, Volume IV
            Or, The Cleansing of the Fane

[Editor's Note: This is the only surviving fragment of the chronicle of this 
First Era sect of the Alessian Order. It seems to have been kept at their 
great monastic complex at Lake Canulus, which was razed during the War of 
Righteousness (1E 2321) and its archives destroyed or dispersed.

Note also that Alessian scribes of this time customarily dated events from 
the Apotheosis of Alessia (1E 266).]

Here is recorded the events of the Year 127 of the Blessed Alessia.

In this year was the day darkened over all lands, and the sun was all as it 
were Masser but three days old, and the stars about him at midday. This was 
on the fifth of First Seed. All who saw it were dismayed, and said that a 
great event should come hereafter. So it did, for that same year issued forth
a great concourse of devils from the ancient Elvish temple Malada, such had 
not been seen since the days of King Belharza. These devils greatly afflicted
the land such that no man could plow, or reap, or seed, and the people 
appealed to the brothers of Marukh for succour. And then Abbot Cosmas 
gathered all the brothers and led them to Malada, also known as the High Fane
in the Elvish tongue, and came against it with holy fire, and the foul demons
were destroyed, and many devilish relics and books found therein were burned.
And the land had peace for many years.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ111)
                       ~~Knightfall~~   

         Jaren Aethelweald, edited by Kirellian Odrenius

     Item ID: 00022E65
     

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And so it came to pass, that on the first month before the harvest, nary a 
decent crop could be found in the drought-ridden fields of Farmantle Glens. 
Twenty-seven families, their bellies sunken and empty, turned to their 
lordship who had been so fair to them in hard times before. The man ruled not
with an iron gauntlet, but with the soft touch of silken kindness: my lord, 
Garridan Stalrous, Knight-Errant of Farmantle Glens.

I watched sadly as my lord Garridan looked out at the withered fields before 
him from his meager stone keep and cursed the luck that tainted the skies and
stopped the rain from falling. The families in his charge would not last the 
winter, which was always bitter and cold in the northern reaches of the 
Jerals. His own supply of grain was already picked clean; there was barely 
enough to sustain him for the months ahead. I know if my lord had the food 
there, he would have shared it gladly, allowing his charges to pay him back 
in whatever time or manner they could afford... and in some cases, to those 
in dire need, give it to them without costs. Something had to be done; and it
had to be done soon.

Sparing not a drake, Garridan paid for the best sages he could find and used 
the rest to buy as much surplus grain as he could wrest from the neighboring 
domains. A month passed, and nothing surfaced. Winter's icy tendrils would 
soon creep across Farmantle Glens, causing the green to disappear from the 
landscape. Families would have to huddle close to their hearths, keeping warm
and rationing the bits of food Garridan had given them. I could see 
Garridan's patience, which was immense mind you, wearing thin. He told me 
he'd considered selling his keep... his belongings... anything to keep his 
people alive. If only the harvest would yield more, they'd be saved.

Then, as if Mara herself had answered his prayers, a sage entered Garridan's
keep with the answer. Legend told of a vessel of sorts from which water would
pour endlessly known as the Everflow Ewer. Some said the Divines themselves 
created it; others thought perhaps a powerful sorcerer enchanted it. Wherever
it was from, Garridan knew this could be his chance. Following the directions
from the sage, my lord and I set out to recover the Ewer and rid Farmantle 
Glens of the drought.

It took days to reach the entrance to the place. After we passed through a 
winding passage, we finally came to an odd door covered in mystical symbols. 
As the sage instructed, my lord touched some Refined Frost Salts to the door.
The ancient stone door opened, and we proceeded into the glade. A cave cut 
into a hillside led into a small glade of trees. In the center of the glade, 
flanked by two standing stones, was a stone altar. On the altar, seemingly 
glowing with inner light was the Ewer. Cut from crystal, the vessel was the 
most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. Water filled it to the very top, and as 
legends held, would never diminish as the liquid decanted from it. Eager to 
return to his domain, Garridan grasped the Ewer in hand.

Suddenly, the ground trembled as though the mountains themselves were 
angered. The sky changed from sunlit blue to dreary grey. Even the ring of 
trees forming the glade seemed to bend away slightly from the altar, as if 
fearing what was to come. Then, with no warning, one of the standing stones
cracked and exploded! My gaze froze and my heart fell as I looked upon the 
guardian of the glade. A huge creature seemingly cut from the very same 
crystal as the Ewer stepped forth and growled menacingly at my master. The 
air around it became very cold, as if it was born from the glaciers of the 
northern mountains. This was a being of ice... living breathing ice!

Garridan shouted at me to run as he drew his blade. Still clutching the Ewer 
in one hand, he gave a mighty swing at the ice creature. When the forged 
steel struck home, it gave a resounding ring and merely chipped the beast as 
a spike would when driven against the hardest of rocks. Never showing fear, 
my lord swung again and again, each blow being harmlessly deflected away. 
Then, a single and mighty blow from the ice creature knocked my lord down. 
His blade slid away, and he lay on the forest floor looking up into the 
crystalline eyes of his death. The ice creature raised its arm again for the 
fatal blow, and brought it down hard at Garridan's prone form.

I don't know why he did it. Perhaps it was instinct, perhaps a moment's lapse
in judgment. But my lord lifted the Everflow Ewer defensively as he got up to
a kneeling position. The blow from the creature connected with the vessel, 
creating an ear-splitting crash. There was the sound of water splashing and a
horrible cracking noise as the sundered pitcher sent waves of freezing water 
in all directions. Even as I watched, the liquid covered the ice creature and
my poor master. They seemed suspended in place as if frozen solid. At the 
time, I didn't know how true my thoughts had become. As I watched in horror, 
they were encased in a tomb of pure ice. I could see Garridan's face as the 
ice overtook him, and I could swear he was crying. A few of his tears froze 
and fell to the ground at his feet like beautiful blue crystals. He knew he'd
failed his mission. His people would starve, and he was responsible. Frost 
and ice covered everything in the glade now... the trees, the rocks, the 
soil... everything.

It was then I became aware that the very air around me began to freeze. It 
was like a cold winter's night at first, and then it rapidly became worse. 
The cold was so bad, it turned into a sort of frozen heat... it began to 
burn. My throat became tight and breathing became difficult. I began to lose 
feeling in my arms and legs, and my vision was beginning to blur. I had to 
escape this icy glade and tell Garridan's story. It was the least I could do 
for such a noble man. With every bit of strength I could muster, I ran from 
the frostfire and back through the cave. I barely escaped with my life.

My journey back to the domain of Garridan was a sad one. My heart was heavy, 
my mind clouded with misery. He was a good man, the greatest I'd ever known. 
To die like that was no way for such an honorable knight to end his life. 
When I finally reached the outskirts of Farmantle Glen, the farmers were 
waiting for me. I was ready to tell them the sad news, but they raised a 
cheer of great joy! They told me that only a week ago, a strange, bluish 
glowing rain fell on their fields and that the next day the crops began to 
grow as if there had never been a drought. A week ago was exactly when my 
master was frozen in that horrible glade... and his tears froze like bluish 
raindrops frozen in time! I looked up at the heavens and the twinkling lights
suddenly gave me great comfort. I thanked Mara, and headed home.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ112)
                  ~~Modern Heretics~~   

                    Haderus of Gottlesfont

     Item ID: 00026B1D

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Daedra worship is not prohibited by law in Cyrodiil. Primarily this is a 
result of the Imperial Charter granted the Mages Guild permitting the 
summoning of Daedra. Nonetheless, chapel and public opinion is so strongly 
against Daedra worship that those who practice Daedric rituals do so in 
secret.


However, opinions about Daedra worship differ widely in other provinces. Even 
in Cyrodiil, traditional opinions have changed greatly over the years, and 
some communities survive which worship Daedra. Some more traditional Daedra-
worshippers are motivated by piety and personal conviction; many modern 
Daedra-worshippers are motivated by a lust for arcane power. In particular, 
questing heroes of all stripes seek after the fabled Daedric artifacts for 
their potent combat and magical benefits.

I personally have discovered one community worshipping the Daedra Lord Azura,
Queen of Dawn and Dusk. A researcher curious about Daedra worship might 
research in several ways: through a study of the literature, through 
exploration and discovery of ancient daedric shrines, through questioning 
local informants, and through questioning worshippers themselves. I used all 
these means to discover the shrine of Azura.

First I read books. References like this one may provide a helpful general 
background concerning Daedric shrines. For example, my researches led me to 
understand that, in Cyrodiil, Daedric shrines are generally represented by 
statues of Daedra Lords, are generally situated in wilderness locations far 
from settlements, that each shrine generally has associated with it a 
community of worshippers, often referred to as a 'coven', that shrines have 
associated with them a particular time -- often a day of the week -- when a 
Daedra lord might be solicited, that Daedra Lord often will not deign to 
respond unless they regard a petitioner of sufficient prowess or strength of
character, that they will only respond if given the proper offering [the 
secret of which offering often known only to the community of worshippers], 
and that, in return for the completion of some task or service, the Daedra 
Lords will often undertake to offer an artifact of power to a successful 
quester.

Then I questioned locals with an intimate knowledge of the wilderness. Two 
classes of informants I found especially useful -- well-traveled hunters and 
adventurers [who might come across shrines in their travels], and scholars of
the Mages Guild. In the case of the Shrine of Azura, both sources were 
profitable. I discovered a Cheydinhal hunter who had chanced across a strange
epic statue in his travels. The statue was of a woman with outstretched arms;
in one hand she held a star; in the other hand, she held a crescent moon. He 
had shunned the statue out of superstitious fear, but had marked the location
in memory --far north of Cheydinhal, northwest of Lake Arrius, high in the 
Jerall Mountains. Then, proceeding to the local Mages Guild with a 
description of the statue, I was able to confirm from its description the 
identity of the Daedra Lord worshipped.

Having discovered the location of the shrine, I visited it, and discovered 
there the community of worshippers. Because of the strength of opinion 
against Daedra worship, the worshippers were, at first, reluctant to admit 
their identity. But once I had won their trust, they were willing to divulge 
to me the secrets of the times when Azura would hear petitions [from dusk to 
dawn], and that the offering required by Azura was glow dust, a substance 
obtained from the will-o-the-wisp.

I am, of course, nothing more than a chapelman and scholar, so it did not lie
within my power to find a will-o-the-wisp to obtain glow dust; nor am I 
certain that Azura would have found me worthy to make such an offering, even 
had I proffered it. But I was assured that if I had been able to make such an
offering, and if it had been accepted, Azura would have given me some sort of
quest, which, if completed, might have earned me the reward of Azura's Star, 
a Daedric artifact of legendary magical powers.

I have since heard rumors of the existence in Cyrodiil of several other 
Daedric shrines, of the Daedric Lords to which they are dedicated, and the 
Daedric artifacts that might be won by questing heroes. Hircine the Huntsman,
for example, is linked in legend to the Savior's Hide, a powerful enchanted 
armor. The sword Volendrung is associated with Malacath, Lord of Monsters, 
and the eponymously named Mace of Molag Bal is also thought to be the object 
of Daedra worship. Other Daedra Lords, their shrines and worshippers, remain 
to be discovered in Cyrodiil by earnest and persistent researchers.

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                     ~NONMAGIC BOOKS~

                  (Search Code: LOLZ113)
                ~~2920, First Seed (v3)~~   

                   Carlovac Townway

     Item ID: 000243D7
     
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    15 First Seed, 2920 
    Caer Suvio, Cyrodiil 

From their vantage point high in the hills, the Emperor Reman III could still
see the spires of the Imperial City, but he knew he was far away from hearth 
and home. Lord Glavius had a luxurious villa, but it was not close to being 
large enough to house the entire army within its walls. Tents lined the 
hillsides, and the soldiers were flocking to enjoy his lordship's famous hot 
springs. Little wonder: winter chill still hung in the air.

“Prince Juilek, your son, is not feeling well.”

When Potentate Versidue-Shaie spoke, the Emperor jumped. How that Akavir 
could slither across the grass without making a sound was a mystery to him.

“Poisoned, I'd wager,” grumbled Reman. “See to it he gets a healer. I told 
him to hire a taster like I have, but the boy's headstrong. There are spies 
all around us, I know it.”

“I believe you're right, your imperial majesty,” said Versidue-Shaie. “These 
are treacherous times, and we must take precautions to see that Morrowind 
does not win this war, either on the field or by more insidious means. That 
is why I would suggest that you not lead the vanguard into battle. I know you
would want to, as your illustrious ancestors Reman I, Brazollus Dor, and 
Reman II did, but I fear it would be foolhardy. I hope you do not mind me 
speaking frankly like this.”

“No,” nodded Reman. “I think you're right. Who would lead the vanguard then?”

“I would say Prince Juilek, if he were feeling better,” replied the Akavir. 
“Failing that, Storig of Farrun, with Queen Naghea of Riverhold at left 
flank, and Warchief Ulaqth of Lilmoth at right flank.”

“A Khajiit at left flank and an Argonian at right,” frowned the Emperor. “I 
never do trust beastfolk.”

The Potentate took no offense. He knew that “beastfolk” referred to the 
natives of Tamriel, not to the Tsaesci of Akavir like himself. “I quite agree
your imperial majesty, but you must agree that they hate the Dunmer. Ulaqth 
has a particular grudge after all the slave-raids on his lands by the Duke of
Mournhold.”

The Emperor conceded it was so, and the Potentate retired. It was surprising,
thought Reman, but for the first time, the Potentate seemed trustworthy. He 
was a good man to have on one's side.


    18 First Seed, 2920 
    Ald Erfoud, Morrowind 

“How far is the Imperial Army?” asked Vivec.

“Two days' march,” replied his lieutenant. “If we march all night tonight, we
can get higher ground at the Pryai tomorrow morning. Our intelligence tells 
us the Emperor will be commanding the rear, Storig of Farrun has the 
vanguard, Naghea of Riverhold at left flank, and Ulaqth of Lilmoth at right 
flank.”

“Ulaqth,” whispered Vivec, an idea forming. “Is this intelligence reliable? 
Who brought it to us?”

“A Breton spy in the Imperial Army,” said the lieutenant and gestured towards
a young, sandy-haired man who stepped forward and bowed to Vivec.

“What is your name and why is a Breton working for us against the Cyrodiils?” 
asked Vivec, smiling.

“My name is Cassyr Whitley of Dwynnen,” said the man. “And I am working for 
you because not everyone can say he spied for a god. And I understood it 
would be, well, profitable.”

Vivec laughed, “It will be, if your information is accurate.”


    19 First Seed, 2920 
    Bodrums, Morrowind 

The quiet hamlet of Bodrum looked down on the meandering river, the Pryai. It
was an idyllic site, lightly wooded where the water took the bend around a 
steep bluff to the east with a gorgeous wildflower meadow to the west. The 
strange flora of Morrowind met the strange flora of Cyrodiil on the border 
and commingled gloriously.

“There will be time to sleep when you've finished!”

The soldiers had been hearing that all morning. It was not enough that they 
had been marching all night, now they were chopping down trees on the bluff 
and damming the river so its waters spilled over. Most of them had reached 
the point where they were too tired to complain about being tired.

“Let me be certain I understand, my lord,” said Vivec's lieutenant. “We take 
the bluff so we can fire arrows and spells down on them from above. That's 
why we need all the trees cleared out. Damming the river floods the plain 
below so they'll be trudging through mud, which should hamper their 
movement.”

“That's exactly half of it,” said Vivec approvingly. He grabbed a nearby 
soldier who was hauling off the trees. “Wait, I need you to break off the 
straightest, strongest branches of the trees and whittle them into spears. If
you recruit a hundred or so others, it won't take you more than a few hours
to make all we need.”

The soldier wearily did as he was bade. The men and women got to work, 
fashioning spears from the trees.

“If you don't mind me asking,” said the lieutenant. “The soldiers don't need 
any more weapons. They're too tired to hold the ones they've got.”

“These spears aren't for holding,” said Vivec and whispered, “If we tired 
them out today, they'll get a good night's sleep tonight” before he got to 
work supervising their work.

It was essential that they be sharp, of course, but equally important that 
they be well balanced and tapered proportionally. The perfect point for 
stability was a pyramid, not the conical point of some lances and spears. He 
had the men hurl the spears they had completed to test their strength, 
sharpness, and balance, forcing them to begin on a new one if they broke. 
Gradually, out of sheer exhaustion from doing it wrong, the men learned how 
to create the perfect wooden spears. Once they were through, he showed them 
how they were to be arranged and where.

That night, there was no drunken pre-battle carousing, and no nervous 
neophytes stayed up worrying about the battle to come. As soon as the sun 
sank beneath the wooded hills, the camp was at rest, but for the sentries.


    20 First Seed, 2920 
    Bodrum, Morrowind 

Miramor was exhausted. For last six days, he had gambled and whored all night
and then marched all day. He was looking forward to the battle, but even more
than that, he was looking forward to some rest afterwards. He was in the 
Emperor's command at the rear flank, which was good because it seemed 
unlikely that he would be killed. On the other hand, it meant traveling over
the mud and waste the army ahead left in their wake.

As they began the trek through the wildflower field, Miramor and all the 
soldiers around him sank ankle-deep in cold mud. It was an effort to even 
keep moving. Far, far up ahead, he could see the vanguard of the army led by 
Lord Storig emerging from the meadow at the base of a bluff.

That was when it all happened.

An army of Dunmer appeared above the bluff like rising Daedra, pouring fire 
and floods of arrows down on the vanguard. Simultaneously, a company of men 
bearing the flag of the Duke of Mournhold galloped around the shore, 
disappearing along the shallow river's edge where it dipped to a timbered 
glen to the east. Warchief Ulaqth nearby on the right flank let out a bellow 
of revenge at the sight and gave chase. Queen Naghea sent her flank towards 
the embankment to the west to intercept the army on the bluff.

The Emperor could think of nothing to do. His troops were too bogged down to 
move forward quickly and join the battle. He ordered them to face east 
towards the timber, in case Mournhold's company was trying to circle around 
through the woods. They never came out, but many men, facing west, missed the
battle entirely. Miramor kept his eyes on the bluff.

A tall Dunmer he supposed must have been Vivec gave a signal, and the 
battlemages cast their spells at something to the west. From what transpired,
Miramor deduced it was a dam. A great torrent of water spilled out, washing 
Naghea's left flank into the remains of the vanguard and the two together 
down river to the east.

The Emperor paused, as if waiting for his vanquished army to return, and then
called a retreat. Miramor hid in the rushes until they had passed by and then
waded as quietly as he could to the bluff.

The Morrowind army was retiring as well back to their camp. He could hear 
them celebrating above him as he padded along the shore. To the east, he saw 
the Imperial Army. They had been washed into a net of spears strung across 
the river, Naghea's left flank on Storig's vanguard on Ulaqth's right flank, 
bodies of hundreds of soldiers strung together like beads.

Miramor took whatever valuables he could carry from the corpses and then ran 
down the river. He had to go many miles before the water was clear again, 
unpolluted by blood.


    29 First Seed, 2920 
    Hegathe, Hammerfell 

“You have a letter from the Imperial City,” said the chief priestess, handing
the parchment to Corda. All the young priestesses smiled and made faces of 
astonishment, but the truth was that Corda's sister Rijja wrote very often, 
at least once a month.

Corda took the letter to the garden to read it, her favorite place, an oasis
in the monochromatic sand-colored world of the conservatorium The letter 
itself was nothing unusual: filled with court gossip, the latest fashions 
which were tending to winedark velvets, and reports of the Emperor's ever-
growing paranoia.

“You are so lucky to be away from all of this,” wrote Rijja. “The Emperor is
convinced that his latest battlefield fiasco is all a result of spies in the 
palace. He has even taken to questioning me. Ruptga keep it so you never have
a life as interesting as mine.”

Corda listened to the sounds of the desert and prayed to Ruptga the exact 
opposite wish.

The Year is Continued in Rain's Hand.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ114)
                ~~2920, Sun's Dusk (v11)~~   

                   Carlovac Townway

     Item ID: 000243D3
     
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    2 Sun's Dusk, 2920 
    Tel Aruhn, Morrowind 

“A man to see you, Night Mother,” said the guard. “A Kothringi tribesman who 
presents his credentials as Lord Zuuk of Black Marsh, part of the Imperial 
Garrison of Gideon.”

“What makes you think I'd have even the slightest possible interest in seeing
him?” asked the Night Mother with venomous sweetness.

“He brings a letter from the late Empress of the Cyrodilic Empire.”

“We are having a busy day,” she smiled, clapping her hands together with 
delight. “Show him in.”

Zuuk entered the chamber. His metallic skin, though exposed only at his face
and hands, caught the light of the fireplace and the lightning of the stormy
night from the window. The Night Mother noted also that she could see herself
as he saw her: serene, beautiful, fear-inspiring. He handed her his letter 
from the Empress without a word. Sipping her wine, she read it.

“The Duke of Morrowind also offered me an appreciable sum to have the Emperor
murdered earlier this year,” she said, folding the letter. “His payment sunk,
and never was delivered. It was a considerable annoyance, particularly as I 
had already gone to the trouble of putting one of my agents in the palace. 
Why should I assume that your more-than-generous payment, from a dead woman,
will arrive?”

“I brought it with me,” said Zuuk simply. “It is in the carriage outside.”

“Then bring it in and our business is complete,” smiled the Night Mother. 
“The Emperor will be dead by year's end. You may leave the gold with 
Apaladith. Unless you'd care for some wine?”

Zuuk declined the offer and withdrew. The moment he left the room, Miramor 
slipped noiselessly back from behind the dark tapestry. The Night Mother 
offered him a glass of wine, and he accepted it.

“I know that fellow, Zuuk,” said Miramor carefully. “I didn't know he worked
for the old Empress though.”

“Let's talk about you some more, if you don't mind,” she said, knowing he 
would, in fact, not mind.

“Let me show you my worth,” said Miramor. “Let me be the one to do the 
Emperor in. I've already killed his son, and you saw there how well I can 
hide myself away. Tell me you saw one ripple in the tapestry.”

The Night Mother smiled. Things were falling into place rather nicely.

“If you know how to use a dagger, you will find him at Bodrum,” she said, and
described to him what he must do.


    3 Sun's Dusk, 2920 
    Mournhold, Morrowind 

The Duke stared out the window. It was early morning, and for the fourth 
straight day, a red mist hung over the city, flashing lightning. A freakish 
wind blew through the streets, ripping his flags from the castle battlements,
forcing all his people to close their shudders tightly. Something terrible 
was coming to his land. He was not a greatly learned man, but he knew the 
signs. So too did his subjects.

“When will my messengers reach the Three?” he growled, turning to his 
castellan.

“Vivec is far to the north, negotiating the treaty with the Emperor,” the man
said, his face and voice trembling with fear. “Almalexia and Sotha Sil are in
Necrom. Perhaps they can be reached in a few days time.”

The Duke nodded. He knew his messengers were fast, but so too was the hand of
Oblivion.


    6 Sun's Dusk, 2920 
    Bodrum, Morrowind 

Torchlight caught in the misting snow gave the place an otherworldly quality.
The soldiers from both camps found themselves huddled together around the 
largest of the bonfires: winter bringing enemies of four score of warring 
close together. While only a few of the Dunmer guard could speak Cyrodilic, 
they found common ground battling for warmth. When a pretty Redguard maiden 
passed into their midst to warm herself before moving back to the treaty 
tent, many a man from both army raised their eyes in approval.

The Emperor Reman III was eager to leave negotiations before they had ever 
begun. A month earlier, he thought it would be a sign of good will to meet at
the site of his defeat to Vivec's army, but the place brought back more bad 
memories than he thought it would. Despite the protestations of Potentate 
Versidue-Shaie that the rocks of the river were naturally red, he could swear
he saw splatters of his soldier's blood.

“We have all the particulars of the treaty,” he said, taking a glass of hot 
yuelle from his mistress Corda. “But here and now is not the place for 
signing. We should do it at the Imperial Palace, with all the pomp and 
splendor this historic occasion demands. You must bring Almalexia with you 
too. And that wizard fellow.”

“Sotha Sil,” whispered the Potentate.

“When?” asked Vivec with infinite patience.

“In exactly a month's time,” said the Emperor, smiling munificently and 
clambering awkwardly to his feet. “We will hold a grand ball to commemorate.
Now I must take a walk. My legs are all cramped up with the weather. Corda, 
my dear, will you walk with me?”

“Of course, your Imperial Majesty,” she said, helping him toward the tent's 
entrance.

“Would you like me to come with you as well, your Imperial Majesty?” asked 
Versidue-Shaie.

“Or I?” asked King Dro'Zel of Senchal, a newly appointed advisor to the 
court.

“That won't be necessary, I won't be gone a minute,” said Reman.

Miramor crouched in the same rushes he had hidden in nearly eight months 
before. Now the ground was hard and snow-covered, and the rushes slick with 
ice. Every slight movement he made issued forth a crunch. If it were not for 
the raucous songs of the combined Morrowind and Imperial army gathered about 
the bonfire, he would not have dared creep as close to the Emperor and his 
concubine. They were standing at the curve in the frozen creek below the 
bluff, surrounded by trees sparkling with ice.

Carefully, Miramor removed the dagger from its sheath. He had slightly 
exaggerated his abilities with a short blade to the Night Mother. True, he 
had used one to cut the throat of Prince Juilek, but the lad was not in any 
position to fight back at the time. Still, how difficult could it be to stab 
an old man with one eye? What sort of blade skill would such an easy 
assassination require?

His ideal moment presented itself before his eyes. The woman saw something 
deeper in the woods, an icicle of an unusual shape she said, and darted off 
to get it. The Emperor remained behind, laughing. He turned to the face of 
the bluff to see his soldiers singing their song's refrain, his back to his 
assassin. Miramor knew the moment had come. Mindful of the sound of his 
footfall on the icy ground, he stepped forward and struck. Very nearly.

Almost simultaneously, he was aware of a strong arm holding back his striking
arm and another one punching a dagger into his throat. He could not scream. 
The Emperor, still looking up at the soldiers, never saw Miramor pulled back 
into the brush and a hand much more skilled than his slicing into his back, 
paralyzing him.

His blood pooling out and already crystallizing on the frozen ground, Miramor 
watched, dying, as the Emperor and his courtesan returned to join the camp up
on the bluff.


    12 Sun's Dusk, 2920 
    Mournhold, Morrowind 

A gout of ever-erupting flame was all that remained of the central courtyard 
of Castle Mournhold, blasting skyward into the boiling clouds. A thick, tarry
smoke rolled through the streets, igniting everything that was wood or paper 
on fire. Winged bat-like creatures harried the citizens from their hiding 
places out into the open, where they were met by the real army. The only 
thing that kept all of Mournhold from burning to the ground was the wet, 
sputtering blood of its people.

Mehrunes Dagon smiled as he surveyed the castle crumbling.

“To think I nearly didn't come,” he said aloud, his voice booming over the 
chaos. “Imagine missing all this fun.”

His attention was arrested by a needle-thin shaft of light piercing through 
his black and red shadowed sky. He followed it to its source, two figures, a 
man and a woman standing on the hill above town. The man in the white robe he
recognized immediately as Sotha Sil, the sorcerer who had talked all the 
Princes of Oblivion into that meaningless truce.

“If you've come for the Duke of Mournhold, he isn't here,” laughed Mehrunes 
Dagon. “But you might find pieces of him the next time it rains.”

“Daedra, we cannot kill you,” said Almalexia, her face hard and resolute. 
“But that you will soon regret.”

With that, two living gods and a prince of Oblivion engaged in battle on the
ruins of Mournhold.


    17 Sun's Dusk, 2920 
    Tel Aruhn, Morrowind 

“Night Mother,” said the guard. “Correspondence from your agent in the 
Imperial Palace.”

The Night Mother read the note carefully. The test had been a success: 
Miramor had been successfully detected and slain. The Emperor was in very 
unsafe hands. The Night Mother responded immediately.


    18 Sun's Dusk, 2920 
    Balmora, Morrowind 

Sotha Sil, face solemn and unreadable, greeted Vivec at the grand plaza in 
front of his palace. Vivec had ridden day and night after hearing about the 
battle in his tent in Bodrum, crossing mile after mile, cutting through the 
dangerous ground at Dagoth-Ur at blinding speed. To the south, during all the
course of the voyage, he could see the whirling red clouds and knew that the 
battle was continuing, day after day. In Gnisis, he met a messenger from 
Sotha Sil, asking him to meet at Balmora.

“Where is Almalexia?”

“Inside,” said Sotha Sil wearily. There was a long, ugly gash running across 
his jaw. “She's gravely injured, but Mehrunes Dagon will not return from 
Oblivion for many a moon.”

Almalexia lay on a bed of silk, tended to by Vivec's own healers. Her face, 
even her lips, was gray as stone, and blood stained through the gauze of her
bandages. Vivec took her cold hand. Almalexia's mouth moved wordlessly. She 
was dreaming.

She was battling Mehrunes Dagon again amid a firestorm. All around her, the 
blackened husk of a castle crumbled, splashing sparks into the night sky. The
Daedra's claws dug into her belly, spreading poison through her veins while 
Almalexia throttled him. As she sank to the ground beside her defeated foe, 
she saw that the castle consumed by fire was not Castle Mournhold. It was the
Imperial Palace.


    24 Sun's Dusk, 2920 
    The Imperial City, Cyrodiil 

A winter gale blew over the city, splashing the windows and glass domes of 
the Imperial Palace. Quivering light rays illuminated the figures within in 
surreal patterns.

The Emperor barked orders to his staff in preparations for the banquet and 
ball. This was what he enjoyed best, more than battle. King Dro'Zel was 
supervising the entertainment, having strong opinions on the matter. The 
Emperor himself was arranging the details of the dinner. Roast nebfish, 
vegetable marrow, cream soups, buttered helerac, codscrumb, tongue in aspic.
Potentate Versidue-Shaie had made a few suggestions of his own, but the 
tastes of the Akaviri were very peculiar.

The Lady Corda accompanied the Emperor to his chambers as night fell.

The Year is Concluded in Evening Star. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ115)
                ~~2920, Evening Star (v12)~~   

                   Carlovac Townway

     Item ID: 000243DB

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    1 Evening Star, 2920 
    Balmora, Morrowind 

The winter morning sun glinted through the cobweb of frost on the window, and
Almalexia opened her eyes. An ancient healer mopped a wet cloth across her 
head, smiling with relief. Asleep in the chair next to her bed was Vivec. The
healer rushed to a side cabinet and returned with a flagon of water.

“How are you feeling, goddess?” asked the healer.

“Like I've been asleep for a very long time,” said Almalexia.

“So you have. Fifteen days,” said the healer, and touched Vivec's arm. 
“Master, wake up. She speaks.”

Vivec rose with a start, and seeing Almalexia alive and awake, his face broke
into a wide grin. He kissed her forehead, and took her hand. At last, there 
was warmth again in her flesh.

Almalexia's peaceful repose suddenly snapped: “Sotha Sil --”

“He's alive and well,” replied Vivec. “Working on one of his machines again 
somewhere. He would have stayed here too, but he realized he could do you 
more good working that peculiar sorcery of his.”

The castellan appeared in the doorway. “Sorry to interrupt you, master, but I 
wanted to tell you that your fastest messenger left late last night for the 
Imperial City.”

“Messenger?” asked Almalexia. “Vivec, what has happened?”

“I was to go and sign a truce with the Emperor on the sixth, so I sent him 
word that it had to be postponed.”

“You can't do me any good here,” said Almalexia, pulling herself up with 
effort. “But if you don't sign that truce, you'll put Morrowind back to war, 
maybe for another eighty years. If you leave today with an escort and hurry, 
perhaps you can get to the Imperial City only a day or two late.”

“Are you certain you don't need me here?” asked Vivec.

“I know that Morrowind needs you more.”


    6 Evening Star, 2920 
    The Imperial City, Cyrodiil 

The Emperor Reman III sat on his throne, surveying the audience chamber. It 
was a spectacular sight: silver ribbons dangled from the rafters, burning 
cauldrons of sweet herbs simmered in every corner, Pyandonean swallowtails 
sweeping through the air, singing their songs. When the torches were lit and 
servants began fanning, the room would be transfigured into a shimmering 
fantasy land. He could smell the kitchen already, spices and roasts.

The Potentate Versidue-Shaie and his son Savirien-Chorak slithered into the 
room, both bedecked in the headdress and jewelry of the Tsaesci. There was no
smile on their golden face, but there seldom was one. The Emperor still 
greeted his trusted advisor with enthusiasm.

“This ought to impress those savage Dark Elves,” he laughed. “When are they 
supposed to arrive?”

“A messenger's just arrived from Vivec,” said the Potentate solemnly. “I 
think it would be best if your Imperial Majesty met him alone.”

The Emperor lost his laughter, but nodded to his servants to withdraw. The 
door then opened and the Lady Corda walked into the room, with a parchment in
her hand. She shut the door behind her, but did not look up to meet the 
Emperor's face.

“The messenger gave his letter to my mistress?” said Reman, incredulous, 
rising to take the note. “That's a highly unorthodox way of delivering a 
message.”

“But the message itself is very orthodox,” said Corda, looking up into his 
one good eye. With a single blinding motion, she brought the letter up under 
the Emperor's chin. His eyes widened and blood poured down the blank 
parchment. Blank that is, except for a small black mark, the sign of the 
Morag Tong. It fell to the floor, revealing the small dagger hidden behind 
it, which she now twisted, severing his throat to the bone. The Emperor 
collapsed to the floor, gasping soundlessly.

“How long do you need?” asked Savirien-Chorak.

“Five minutes,” said Corda, wiping the blood from her hands. “If you can give
me ten, though, I'll be doubly grateful.”

“Very well,” said the Potentate to Corda's back as she raced from the 
audience chamber. “She ought to have been an Akaviri, the way the girl 
handles a blade is truly remarkable.”

“I must go and establish our alibi,” said Savirien-Chorak, disappearing 
behind one of the secret passages that only the Emperor's most trusted knew 
about.

“Do you remember, close to a year ago, your Imperial Majesty,” the Potentate 
smiled, looking down at the dying man. “When you told me to remember 'You 
Akaviri have a lot of showy moves, but if just one of our strikes comes 
through, it's all over for you.' I remembered that, you see.”

The Emperor spat up blood and somehow said the word: “Snake.”

“I am a snake, your Imperial Majesty, inside and out. But I didn't lie. There
was a messenger from Vivec. It seems he'll be a little late in arriving,” the
Potentate shrugged before disappearing behind the secret passage. “Don't 
worry yourself. I'm sure the food won't go bad.”

The Emperor of Tamriel died in a pool of his own blood in his empty audience 
chamber decorated for a grand ball. He was found by his bodyguard fifteen 
minutes later. Corda was nowhere to be found.


    8 Evening Star, 2920 
    Caer Suvio, Cyrodiil 

Lord Glavius, apologizing profusely for the quality of the road through the 
forest, was the first emissary to greet Vivec and his escort as they arrived.
A string of burning globes decorated the leafless trees surrounding the 
villa, bobbing in the gentle but frigid night breeze. From within, Vivec 
could smell the simple feast and a high sad melody. It was a traditional 
Akaviri wintertide carol.

Versidue-Shaie greeted Vivec at the front door.

“I'm glad you received the message before you got all the way to the City,” 
said the Potentate, guiding his guest into the large, warm drawing room. “We
are in a difficult transition time, and for the moment, it is best not to 
conduct our business at the capitol.”

“There is no heir?” asked Vivec.

“No official one, though there are distant cousins vying for the throne. 
While we sort the matter out, at least temporarily the nobles have decided 
that I may act in the office of my late master,” Versidue-Shaie signaled for 
the servants to draw two comfortable chairs in front of the fireplace. “Would
you feel most comfortable if we signed the treaty officially right now, or 
would you like to eat something first?”

“You intend to honor the Emperor's treaty?”

“I intend to do everything as the Emperor,” said the Potentate.


    14 Evening Star, 2920 
    Tel Aruhn, Morrowind 

Corda, dusty from the road, flew into the Night Mother's arms. For a moment, 
they stayed locked together, the Night Mother stroking her daughter's hair, 
kissing her forehead. Finally, she reached into her sleeve and handed Corda a
letter.

“What is it?” asked Corda.

“A letter from the Potentate, expressing his delight at your expertise,” 
replied the Night Mother. “He's promised to send us payment, but I've already
sent him back a reply. The late Empress paid us enough for her husband's 
death. Mephala would not have us be greedy beyond our needs. You should not 
be paid twice for the same murder, so it is written.”

“He killed Rijja, my sister,” said Corda quietly.

“And so it should be that you struck the blow.”

“Where will I go now?”

“Whenever any of our holy workers becomes too famous to continue the crusade,
we send them to an island called Vounoura. It's not more than a month's 
voyage by boat, and I've arranged for a delightful estate for your 
sanctuary,” the Night Mother kissed the girl's tears. “You meet many friends
there, and I know you will find peace and happiness at last, my child.”


    19 Evening Star, 2920 
    Mournhold, Morrowind 

Almalexia surveyed the rebuilding of the town. The spirit of the citizens was
truly inspirational, she thought, as she walked among the skeletons of new 
buildings standing in the blackened, shattered remains of the old. Even the 
plantlife showed a remarkable resilience. There was life yet in the blasted 
remains of the comberry and roobrush shrubs that once lined the main avenue. 
She could feel the pulse. Come springtide, green would bolt through the 
black.

The Duke's heir, a lad of considerable intelligence and sturdy Dunmer 
courage, was coming down from the north to take his father's place. The land 
would do more than survive: it would strengthen and expand. She felt the 
future much more strongly than she saw the present.

Of all the things she was most certain of, she knew that Mournhold was 
forever home to at least one goddess.


    22 Evening Star, 2920 
    The Imperial City, Cyrodiil 

“The Cyrodiil line is dead,” announced the Potentate to the crowd gathered 
beneath the Speaker's Balcony of the Imperial Palace. “But the Empire lives.
The distant relatives of our beloved Emperor have been judged unworthy of the
throne by the trusted nobility who advised his Imperial Majesty throughout 
his long and illustrious reign. It has been decided that as an impartial and 
faithful friend of Reman III, I will have the responsibility of continuing on
in his name.”

The Akaviri paused, allowing his words to echo and translate into the ears of
the populace. They merely stared up at him in silence. The rain had washed 
through the streets of the city, but the sun, for a brief time, appeared to 
be offering a respite from the winter storms.

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

Only one man clapped at these words. King Dro'Zel of Senchal truly believed 
that this would be the finest thing to happen to Tamriel in history. Of 
course, he was quite mad.


    31 Evening Star, 2920 
    Ebonheart, Morrowind 

In the smoky catacombs beneath the city where Sotha Sil forged the future 
with his arcane clockwork apparatus, something unforeseen happened. An oily 
bubble seeped from a long trusted gear and popped. Immediately, the wizard's
attention was drawn to it and to the chain that tiny action triggered. A pipe
shifted half an inch to the left. A tread skipped. A coil rewound itself and 
began spinning in a counter direction. A piston that had been thrusting left-
right, left-right, for millennia suddenly began shifting right-left. Nothing 
broke, but everything changed.

“It cannot be fixed now,” said the sorcerer quietly.

He looked up through a crick in the ceiling into the night sky. It was 
midnight. The second era, the age of chaos, had begun. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ116)
                  ~~Aevar Stone-Singer~~   

                       Anonymous

     Item ID: 00024543
     
 
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"Sit quietly, Child, and listen, for the story I tell you is a story of the 
ages."

"But what is it, Grandfather? Is it a story of heroes and beasts?"

The Grandfather looked patiently at the Child. He was growing into a fine boy.
Soon he would see the value in the stories, the lessons that were taught to 
each generation.
"Just listen, Child. Let the story take root in your heart."
---


In a time before now, long before now, when the Skaal were new, there was 
peace in the Land. The sun was hot and the crops grew long, and the people 
were happy in the peace that the All-Maker provided. But, the Skaal grew 
complacent and lazy, and they took for granted the Lands and all the gifts the
All-Maker had given them. They forgot, or chose not to remember, that the 
Adversary is always watching, and that he delights in tormenting the All-Maker
and his chosen people. And so it was that the Adversary came to be among the 
Skaal.

The Adversary has many aspects. He appears in the unholy beasts and the 
incurable plague. At the End of Seasons, we will know him as Thartaag the 
World-Devourer. But in these ages he came to be known as the Greedy Man.

The Greedy Man (that is what we call him, for to speak his name would 
certainly bring ruin on the people) lived among the Skaal for many months. 
Perhaps he was once just a man, but when the Adversary entered into him, he 
became the Greedy Man, and that is how he is remembered.

It came to be one day that the powers of the Skaal left them. The strength 
left the arms of the warriors, and the shaman could no longer summon the 
beasts to their side. The elders thought that surely the All-Maker was 
displeased, and some suggested that the All-Maker had left them forever. It 
was then that the Greedy Man appeared to them and spoke.

"You of the Skaal have grown fat and lazy. I have stolen the gifts of your 
All-Maker. I have stolen the Oceans, so you will forever know thirst. I have 
stolen the Lands and the Trees and the Sun, so your crops will wither and die.
I have stolen the Beasts, so you will go hungry. And I have stolen the Winds, 
so you will live without the Spirit of the All-Maker.

"And until one of you can reclaim these gifts, the Skaal will live in misery
and despair. For I am the Greedy Man, and that is my nature."

And the Greedy Man disappeared.

The members of the Skaal spoke for many days and nights. They knew that one of
them must retrieve the Gifts of the All-Maker, but they could not decide who 
it should be.

"I cannot go," said the Elder, "for I us must stay to lead the Skaal, and tell
our people what is the law."

"I cannot go," said the Warrior, "for I must protect the Skaal. My sword will 
be needed in case the Greedy Man reappears."

"I cannot go," said the Shaman, "for the people need my wisdom. I must read 
the portents and offer my knowledge."

It was then that a young man called Aevar lifted his voice. He was strong of 
arm, and fleet of foot, though he was not yet a warrior of the Skaal.

"I will go," said Aevar, and the Skaal laughed.

"Hear me out," the boy continued. "I am not yet a warrior, so my sword will 
not be needed. I cannot read the portents, so the people will not seek my 
counsel. And I am young, and not yet wise in the ways of the law. I will 
retrieve the Gifts of the All-Maker from the Greedy Man. If I cannot, I will 
not be missed."

The Skaal thought on this briefly, and decided to let Aevar go. He left the 
village the next morning to retrieve the Gifts.

Aevar first set out to retrieve the Gift of Water, so he traveled to the Water
Stone. It was there the All-Maker first spoke to him.

"Travel west to the sea and follow the Swimmer to the Waters of Life."

So Aevar walked to the edge of the ocean, and there was the Swimmer, a Black 
Horker, sent from the All-Maker. The Swimmer dove into the waters and swam 
very far, and far again. Aevar was strong, though, and he swam hard. He 
followed the Swimmer to a cave, swimming deeper and deeper, his lungs burning
and his limbs exhausted. At last, he found a pocket of air, and there, in the
dark, he found the Waters of Life. Gathering his strength, he took the Waters
and swam back to the shore.

Upon returning to the Water Stone, the All-Maker spoke. "You have returned the
Gift of Water to the Skaal. The Oceans again will bear fruit, and their thirst
will be quenched."

Aevar then traveled to the Earth Stone, and there the All-Maker spoke to him 
again.

"Enter the Cave of the Hidden Music, and hear the Song of the Earth."

So Aevar traveled north and east to the Cave of the Hidden Music. He found 
himself in a large cavern, where the rocks hung from the ceiling and grew from
the ground itself. He listened there, and heard the Song of the Earth, but it 
was faint. Grabbing up his mace, he struck the rocks of the floor in time with
the Song, and the Song grew louder, until it filled the cavern and his heart.
Then he returned to the Earth Stone.

"The Gift of the Earth is with the Skaal again," said the All-Maker. "The 
Lands are rich again, and will bear life."

Aevar was tired, as the Sun burned him, the trees offered no shade, and there 
was no wind to cool him. Still, he traveled on to the Beast Rock, and the All-
Maker spoke.

"Find the Good Beast and ease his suffering."

Aevar traveled through the woods of the Isinfier for many hours until he heard
the cries of a bear from over a hill. As he crested a hill, he saw the bear, a
Falmer's arrow piercing its neck. He checked the woods for the Falmer (for 
that is what they were, though some say they are not), and finding none, 
approached the beast. He spoke soothing words and came upon it slowly, saying,
"Good Beast, I mean you no harm. The All-Maker has sent me to ease your 
suffering."

Hearing these words, the bear ceased his struggles, and laid his head at 
Aevar's feet. Aevar grasped the arrow and pulled it from the bear's neck. 
Using the little nature magic he knew, Aevar tended the wound, though it took
the last bit of his strength. As the bear's wound closed, Aevar slept.

When he awoke, the bear stood over him, and the remains of a number of the 
Falmer were strewn about. He knew that the Good Beast had protected him during
the night. He traveled back to Beast Rock, the bear by his side, and the All-
Maker spoke to him again.

"You have returned the Gift of the Beasts. Once again, the Good Beasts will 
feed the Skaal when they are hungry, clothe them when they are cold, and 
protect them in times of need."

Aevar's strength had returned, so he traveled on to the Tree Stone, though the
Good Beast did not follow him. When he arrived, the All-Father spoke to him.

"The First Trees are gone, and must be replanted. Find the seed and plant the
First Tree."

Aevar traveled again through the Hirstaang Forest, searching for the seeds of
the First Tree, but he could find none. Then he spoke to the Tree Spirits, the
living trees. They told him that the seeds had been stolen by one of the 
Falmer (for they are the servants of the Adversary), and this Falmer was 
hiding them deep in the forest, so that none would ever find them.

Aevar traveled to the deepest part of the forest, and there he found the evil
Falmer, surrounded by the Lesser Tree Spirits. Aevar could see that the 
Spirits were in his thrall, that he had used the magic of the Seeds and spoken
their secret name. Aevar knew he could not stand against such a force, and 
that he must retrieve the seeds in secret.

Aevar reached into his pouch and drew out his flint. Gathering leaves, he 
started a small fire outside the clearing where the Falmer and the ensorcelled
Spirits milled. All the Skaal know the Spirits' hatred of fires, for the fires
ravage the trees they serve. At once, the Nature of the Spirits took hold, and
they rushed to quell the flames. During the commotion, Aevar snuck behind the
Falmer and snatched the pouch of Seeds, stealing away before the evil being 
knew they were gone.

When Aevar returned to the Tree Stone, he planted the tree in the ground, and
the All-Maker spoke to him.

"The Gift of Trees is restored. Once again, the Trees and Plants will bloom 
and grow, and provide nourishment and shade."

Aevar was tired, for the Sun would only burn, and the Winds would not yet cool
him, but he rested briefly in the shade of the Trees. His legs were weary and 
his eyes heavy, but he continued on, traveling to the Sun Stone. Again, the 
All-Maker spoke.

"The gentle warmth of the Sun is stolen, so now it only burns. Free the Sun 
from the Halls of Penumbra."

And so Aevar walked west, over the frozen lands until he reached the Halls of
Penumbra. The air inside was thick and heavy, and he could see no farther than
the end of his arm. Still, he felt his way along the walls, though he heard 
the shuffling of feet and knew that this place held the Unholy Beasts who 
would tear his flesh and eat his bones. For hours he crept along, until he saw
a faint glow far at the end of the hall.

There, from behind a sheet of perfect ice, came a glow so bright he had to 
shut his eyes, lest they be forever blinded. He plucked the flaming eye from 
one of the Unholy Beasts and threw it at the ice with all his might. A small 
crack appeared in the ice, then grew larger. Slowly, the light crept out 
between the cracks, widening them, splitting the ice wall into pieces. With a 
deafening crack, the wall crumbled, and the light rushed over Aevar and 
through the Halls. He heard the shrieks of the Unholy Beasts as they were 
blinded and burned. He ran out of the Halls, following the light, and 
collapsed on the ground outside.

When he was able to rise again, the Sun again warmed him, and he was glad for 
that. He traveled back to the Sun Stone, where the All-Maker spoke to him.

"The Gift of the Sun is the Skaal's once again. It will warm them and give 
them light."

Aevar had one final Gift he had to recover, the Gift of the Winds, so he 
traveled to the Wind Stone, far on the western coast of the island. When he 
arrived, the All-Maker spoke to him, giving him his final task.

"Find the Greedy Man and release the Wind from its captivity."

So, Aevar wandered the land in search of the Greedy Man. He looked in the 
trees, but the Greedy Man did not hide there. Nor did he hide near the oceans,
or the deep caves, and the beasts had not seen him in the dark forests. 
Finally, Aevar came to a crooked house, and he knew that here he would find 
the Greedy Man.

"Who are you," shouted the Greedy Man, "that you would come to my house?"

"I am Aevar of the Skaal," said Aevar. "I am not warrior, shaman, or elder. If
I do not return, I will not be missed. But I have returned the Oceans and the 
Earth, the Trees, the Beasts, and the Sun, and I will return the Winds to my 
people, that we may feel the spirit of the All-Maker in our souls again."

And with that, he grabbed up the Greedy Man's bag and tore it open. The Winds
rushed out with gale force, sweeping the Greedy Man up and carrying him off, 
far from the island. Aevar breathed in the Winds and was glad. He walked back 
to the Wind Stone, where the All-Maker spoke to him a final time.

"You have done well, Aevar. You, the least of the Skaal, have returned my 
gifts to them. The Greedy Man is gone for now, and should not trouble your 
people again in your lifetime. Your All-Maker is pleased. Go now, and live 
according to your Nature."

And Aevar started back to the Skaal village.

---


"And then what happened, Grandfather?"

"What do you mean, Child? He went home."

"No. When he returned to the village," the Child continued. "Was he made a 
warrior? Or taught the ways of the shaman? Did he lead the Skaal in battle?"

"I do not know. That is where the story ends," said the Grandfather.

"But that is not an ending! That is not how stories end!"

The old man laughed and got up from his chair.

"Is it not?"

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ117)
               ~~Amantius Allectus' Diary~~   

                   Amantius Allectus

     Item ID: 000355ED
    
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I've planted the seeds of the Drinkers. Soon I shall know if my theories hold 
true.

The first shoots have appeared. I must make sure to continue the precise 
schedule of nutrient solutions.

Small Drinker fronds are clearly visible. This is a critical time in their 
development. I'm almost out of rat blood. I'll have to catch some more of the
filthy beggars.

The young plants are juveniles now. I can see them waving as if in a breeze, 
although the air in my cellar is still as death.

I'm having a hard time catching any more cats. I may have to start using dogs.
The damn Drinker plants have a voracious appetite.

One of them cut me today. I'll have to be more careful.

My creations are refusing to feed. As an experiment I offered a drop of my own
blood, which one of them drank greedily. The others Drinkers are beginning to
wither.

I collected a bucket of human blood from the healers. I had to pay her an 
exhorbitant amount to keep her tongue still. The Drinkers are doing much 
better. Am I doing the right thing? The benefit of these plants to all of 
Cyrodiil is beyond doubt, but the price may be too high.

It is one of the most difficult decisions of my life. I have destroyed my 
notes for how to hybridize Drinkers. I set the trays on the roof where the sun
could strike them. An hour after sunrise they were all dead. My attempt to 
create a hybrid of vampire and plant has failed. They were just too dangerous.

Two parts grave dust, one part ash salts. Mix with human blood. Expose to two
hours of moonlight each night.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ118)
                 ~~The Amulet of Kings~~   

                   Wenengrus Monhona

     Item ID: 00024578


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In the first years of the First Era, a powerful race of Elves called the 
Ayleids, or the Heartland High Elves, ruled central Tamriel with an iron hand.
The high and haughty Ayleids relied on their patrons, the treacherous Daedra 
Lords, to provide armies of daedra and dead spirits; with these fearless 
magical armies, the Ayleids preyed without mercy upon the young races of men,
slaughtering or enslaving them at their whim.

On behalf of the suffering human races, St. Alessia, the first in the line of 
Cyrodiils, sought the aid of Akatosh, the Dragon God of Time, and ruler of the
noble Aedra. Akatosh, looking with pity upon the plight of men, drew precious 
blood from his own heart, and blessed St. Alessia with this blood of Dragons, 
and made a Covenant that so long as Alessia's generations were true to the 
dragon blood, Akatosh would endeavor to seal tight the Gates of Oblivion, and 
to deny the armies of daedra and undead to their enemies, the Daedra-loving 
Ayleids.

In token of this Covenant, Akatosh gave to Alessia and her descendants the 
Amulet of Kings and the Eternal Dragonfires of the Imperial City. Thus does 
Alessia become the first gem in the Cyrodilic Amulet of Kings. The gem is the
Red Diamond in the middle of the Amulet. This is the Symbol of the Empire and
later taken as the symbol of the Septim line. It is surrounded by eight other
gems, one for each of the divines.

So long as the Empire shall maintain its worship of Akatosh and his kin, and 
so long as Alessia's heirs shall bear the Amulet of Kings, Akatosh and his 
divine kin maintain a strong barrier between Tamriel and Oblivion, so that 
mortal man need never again fear the devastating summoned hosts of the Daedra
Lords.

But if the Empire should slacken in its dedication to the Nine Divines, or if
the blood of Alessia's heirs should fail, then shall the barriers between 
Tamriel and the Daedric realms fall, and Daedra-worshippers might summon 
lesser Daedra and undead spirits to trouble the races of men. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ119)
                   ~~Ancotar's Journal~~   

                   Wenengrus Monhona

     Item ID: 00185934


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12th of Rains Hand: Today I begin my great project on the spontaneous 
generation of life. I expect that there will be difficult days ahead, but if I
succeed, my place among the great mages of history will be assured.

23rd Rains Hand: Still not able to even reproduce Empedocles's results with 
maggots. I'm beginning to think his reputation is overblown.

3rd Second Seed, Tirdas: Empedocles was right! The mistranslation of "sunlit"
to "scorching heat" explains my earlier problems. From now on I will work only
in the original daedric, despite the risks.

Fredas (mid Second Seed?): Local peasants came by to complain about the noise.
I promised them that all that was behind me. A pleasant if dull-witted crew.

Morndas (I think): The experiment today went better than expected. Although 
the number of rats produced was surprising, they were all remarkably docile, 
just as Malham predicted (although only I have ever proven it empirically!).

Middas: Villagers again. More complaints. You would think they'd never seen a
rat before! They are starting to become a real nuisance.

I've run into a terrible snag. Galerion's Ninth Law appears immutable! If the 
total life generated cannot exceed the cube of the source, this line of 
research may prove a dead end. I must reread Empedocles for any hint that he 
was able to circumvent this barrier.

Next day: The locals are becoming insufferable! While I was walking in the 
woods, some of them broke into my laboratory and spilled the solution I was 
preparing -- nearly a full quart of purified imp gall wasted! They did not
seem to grasp the absurdity of a crowd of unwashed peasants with dung on their
boots complaining about the smell. It is well past time I did something about 
this problem.

Two days later: I dug up the notes from my permanent invisibility thesis. No
time like the present to put theory into practice!

Today: The spell worked! Not perfect invisibility, of course (Vanto's Third 
Law), but it was more powerful than I expected. And there were none of the 
side effects that Professor Traven had predicted. Ha ha, even in my youth I 
was already outstripping my elders. Now I can get back to my real work in 
peace. 


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                  (Search Code: LOLZ120)
                   ~~Arcana Restored~~   

              Wapna Neustra, Praceptor Emeritus

     Item ID: 00024584
    
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FORM THE FIRST: Makest thou the Mana Fountain to be Primed with Pure Gold, for
from Pure Gold only may the Humors be rectified, and the Pure Principles 
coaxed from the chaos of Pure Power. Droppest thou then the Pure Gold upon the
surface of the Mana Fountain. Takest thou exceeding great care to safeguard 
yourself from the insalubrious tempests of the Mana Fountain, for through such
Assaults may one's health be utterly Blighted.

FORM THE SECOND: Make sure that thou havest with you this Excellent Manual, so
that thou might speak the necessary Words straightaway, and without error, so 
that thou not in carelessness cause thyself and much else to discorporate and 
disorder the World with your component humors.

FORM THE THIRD: Take in hand the item to be Restored, and hold it forth within
the Primed Fountain, murmuring all the while the appropriate phrases, which 
are to be learned most expeditiously and faultlessly from this Manual, and 
this Manual alone, notwithstanding the vile calumnies of Kharneson and Rattor,
whose bowels are consumed by envy of my great learning, and who do falsely 
give testament to the efficacies of their own Manuals, which are in every way 
inferior and steeped in error.

FORM THE FOURTH: Proceed instantly to Heal thyself of all injuries, or to 
avail yourself of the Healing powers of the Temples and Healers, for though 
the agonies of manacaust must be borne by any who would Restore a prized 
Arcana to full Potency, yet it is not wise that suffering be endured unduly,
nor does the suffering in any way render the Potency more Sublime, 
notwithstanding the foolish speculations of Kharneson and Rattor, whose faults
and wickednesses are manifest even to the least learned of critics. 


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                  (Search Code: LOLZ121)
             ~~The Argonian Account, Book 2~~   

                       Waughin Jarth
 
     Item ID: 00024559


    
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Decumus Scotti emerged from the dirt and reeds, exhausted from running, his 
face and arms sheathed in red fleshflies. Looking back towards Cyrodiil, he 
saw the bridge disappear beneath the thick black river, and he knew he was not
getting back until the tide went down in a few days' time. The river also held
in its adhesive depths his files on the Black Marsh account. He would have to 
rely on his memory for his contacts in Gideon.

Mailic was purposefully striding through the reeds ahead. Flailing 
ineffectually at the fleshflies, Scotti hurried after him.

"We're lucky, sir," said the Redguard, which struck Scotti as an 
extraordinarily odd thing to say, until his eyes followed where the man's 
finger was pointing. "The caravan is here."

Twenty-one rusted, mud-spattered wagons with rotting wood and wobbly wheels 
sat half-sunk in the soft earth ahead. A crowd of Argonians, gray-scaled and 
gray-eyed, the sort of sullen manual laborers that were common in Cyrodiil, 
pulled at one of the wagons which had been detached from the others. As Scotti
and Mailic came closer, they saw it was filled with a cargo of black berries 
so decayed that they had become hardly recognizable... more a festering jelly 
than a wagonload of fruit.

Yes, they were going to the city of Gideon, and, yes, they said, Scotti could 
get a ride with them after they were finished unloading this shipment of 
lumberries.

"How long ago were they picked?" Scotti asked, looking at the wagon's rotten
produce.

"The harvest was in Last Seed, of course," said the Argonian who seemed to be
in charge of the wagon. It was now Sun's Dusk, so they had been en route from 
the fields for a little over two months.

Clearly, Scotti thought, there were problems with transportation. But fixing 
that, after all, was what he was doing here as a representative of Lord 
Vanech's Building Commission.

It took close to an hour of the berries rotting even more in the sun for the 
wagon to be pushed to the side, the wagons in front of it and behind it to be 
attached to one another, and one of the eight horses from the front of the 
caravan to be brought around to the now independent wagon. The laborers moved
with dispirited lethargy, and Scotti took the opportunity to inspect the rest
of the caravan and talk to his fellow travellers.

Four of the wagons had benches in them, fit for uncomfortable riders. All the
rest were filled with grain, meat, and vegetation in various stages of 
corruption.

The travellers consisted of the six Argonian laborers, three Imperial 
merchants so bug-bitten that their skin looked as scaly as the Argonians 
themselves, and three cloaked fellows who were evidently Dunmer, judging by 
the red eyes that gleamed in the shadows under their hoods. All were 
transporting their goods along this, the Imperial Commerce Road.

"This is a road?" Scotti exclaimed, looking at the endless field of reeds that
reached up to his chin or higher.

"It's solid ground, of a sort," one of the hooded Dunmer shrugged. "The horses
eat some of the reed, and sometimes we set fire to it, but it just grows right
back up."

Finally, the wagonmaster signalled that the caravan was ready to go, and 
Scotti took a seat in the third wagon with the other Imperials. He looked 
around, but Mailic was not on board.

"I agreed to get to you to Black Marsh and take you back out," said the 
Redguard, who had plumped down a rock in the sea of reeds and was munching on 
a hairy carrot. "I'll be here when you get back."

Scotti frowned, and not only because Mailic had dropped the deferential title
"sir" while addressing him. Now he truly knew no one in Black Marsh, but the 
caravan slowly grinded and bumped forward, so there was no time to argue.

A noxious wind blew across the Commerce Road, casting patterns in the endless 
featureless expanse of reeds. In the distance, there seemed to be mountains, 
but they constantly shifted, and Scotti realized they were banks of mist and 
fog. Shadows flitted across the landscape, and when Scotti looked up, he saw 
they were being cast by giant birds with long, saw-like beaks nearly the size
of the rest of their bodies.

"Hackwings," Chaero Gemullus, an Imperial on Scotti's left, who might have 
been young but looked old and beaten, muttered. "Like everything else in this
damnable place, they'll eat you if you don't keep moving. Beggars pounce down
and give you a nasty chop, and then fly off and come back when you're mostly 
dead from blood loss."

Scotti shivered. He hoped they'd be in Gideon before nightfall. It was then it
occurred to him that the sun was on the wrong side of the caravan.

"Excuse me, sir," Scotti called to the wagonmaster. "I thought you said we 
were going to Gideon?"

The wagonmaster nodded.

"Why are we going north then, when we should be going south?"

There was no reply but a sigh.

Scotti confirmed with his fellow travellers that they too were going to 
Gideon, and none of them seemed very concerned about the circuitous route to 
getting there. The seats were hard on his middle-aged back and buttocks, but 
the bumping rhythm of the caravan, and the hypnotic waving reeds gradually had
an effect on him, and Scotti drifted off to sleep.

He awoke in the dark some hours later, not sure where he was. The caravan was
no longer moving, and he was on the floor, under the bench, next to some small
boxes. There were voices, speaking a hissing, clicking language Scotti didn't
understand, and he peeked out between someone's legs to see what was 
happening.

The moons barely pierced the thick mist surrounding the caravan, and Scotti 
did not have the best angle to see who was talking. For a moment, it looked 
like the gray wagonmaster was talking to himself, but the darkness had 
movement and moisture, in fact, glistening scales. It was hard to tell how 
many of these things there were, but they were big, black, and the more Scotti
looked at them, the more details he could see

When one particular detail emerged, huge mouths filled with dripping needle-
like fangs, Scotti slipped back under the bench. Their black little eyes had 
not fallen on him yet.

The legs in front of Scotti moved and then began to thrash, as their owner was
grabbed and pulled out of the wagon. Scotti crouched further back, getting 
behind the little boxes. He didn't know much about concealment, but had some 
experience with shields. He knew that having something, anything, in between 
you and bad things was always good.

A few seconds after the legs had disappeared from sight, there was a horrible
scream. And then a second and a third. Different timbres, different accents, 
but the same inarticulate message... terror, and pain, horrible pain. Scotti 
remembered a long forgotten prayer to the god Stendarr and whispered it to 
himself.

Then there was silence... ghastly silence that lasted only a few minutes, but
which seemed like hours... years.

And then the carriage started rolling forward again.

Scotti cautiously crawled out from under the carriage. Chaero Gemullus gave 
him a bemused grin.

"There you are," he said. "I thought the Nagas took you."

"Nagas?"

"Nasty characters," Gemullus said, frowning. "Puff adders with legs and arms, 
seven feet tall, eight when they're mad. Come from the inner swamp, and they 
don't like it here much so they're particularly peevish. You're the kind of 
posh Imperial they're looking for."

Scotti had never in his life thought of himself as posh. His mud and fleshfly-
especkled clothing seemed eminently middle-class, at best, to him. "What would
they want me for?"

"To rob, of course," the Imperial smiled. "And to kill. You didn't notice what
happened to the others?" The Imperial frowned, as if struck by a thought. "You
didn't sample from those boxes down below, did you? Like the sugar, do you?"

"Gods, no," Scotti grimaced.

The Imperial nodded, relieved. "You just seem a little slow. First time to 
Black Marsh, I gather? Oh! Heigh ho, Hist piss!"

Scotti was just about to ask Gemullus what that vulgar term meant when the 
rain began. It was an inferno of foul-smelling, yellow-brown rain that washed
over the caravan, accompanied by the growl of thunder in the distance. 
Gemullus worked to pull the roof up over the wagon, glaring at Scotti until he
helped with the laborious process.

He shuddered, not only from the cold damp, but from contemplation of the 
disgusting precipitation pouring down on the already nasty produce in the 
uncovered wagon.

"We'll be dry soon enough," Gemullus smiled, pointing out into the fog.

Scotti had never been to Gideon, but he knew what to expect. A large 
settlement more or less laid out like a Imperial city, with more or less 
Imperial style architecture, and all the Imperial comforts and traditions, 
more or less.

The jumble of huts half-sunk in mud was decidedly less.

"Where are we?" asked Scotti, bewildered.

"Hixinoag," replied Gemullus, pronouncing the queer name with confidence. "You
were right. We were going north when we should have been going south."

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ122)
             ~~The Argonian Account, Book 4~~   

                       Waughin Jarth

     Item ID: 0002455A


    
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ecumus Scotti was drowning, and he didn't think much of it. He couldn't move 
his arms or his legs to swim because of the paralysis spell the Argonian 
peasant had lobbed at him, but he wasn't quite sinking. The Onkobra River was
a crashing force of white water and currents that could carry along large 
rocks with ease, so Scotti tumbled head over heels, spinning, bumping, 
bouncing along.

He figured that soon enough he would be dead, and that would be better than 
being in Black Marsh. He wasn't too panicked about it all when he felt his 
lungs fill with water and cold blackness fell upon him.

For a while, for the first time in some time, Decumus Scotti felt peace. 
Blessed darkness. And then pain came to him, and he felt himself coughing, 
spewing water up from his belly and his lungs.

A voice said, "Oh bother, he's alive, ain't he, now?"

Scotti wasn't quite sure if that were true, even when he opened his eyes and 
looked at the face above him. It was an Argonian, but unlike any he had seen 
anywhere. The face was thin and long like a thick lance; the scales were ruby-
red, brilliant in the sunlight. It blinked at him, its eyelids opening and 
closing in vertical slits.

"I don't suppose we should eat you, should we now?" the creature smiled, and 
Scotti could tell from its teeth that it was no idle suggestion.

"Thank you," said Scotti weakly. He craned his head slightly to find out who
the "we" were, and discovered he was on the muddy bank of the still, sludgy 
river, surrounded by a group of Argonians with similarly needle-like faces and
a whole rainbow of scales. Bright greens and gem-like purples, blues, and 
oranges.

"Can you tell me, am I near - well, anywhere?"

The ruby-colored Argonian laughed. "No. You're in the middle of everywhere, 
and near nowhere."

"Oh," said Scotti, who grasped the idea that space did not mean much in Black 
Marsh. "And what are you?"

"We are Agacephs," the ruby-colored Argonian replied. "My name is Nomu."

Scotti introduced himself. "I'm a senior clerk in Lord Vanech's Building 
Commission in the Imperial City. My job was to come here to try to fix the 
problems with commerce, but I've lost my agenda, haven't met with any of my 
contacts, the Archeins of Gideon..."

"Pompous, assimiliated, slaver kleptocrats," a small lemon-colored Agaceph 
murmured with some feeling.

"...And now I just want to go home."

Nomu smiled, his long mouth arching up like a host happy to see an unwanted 
guest leave a party. "Shehs will guide you."

Shehs, it seemed, was the bitter little yellow creature, and he was not at all
pleased at the assignment. With surprising strength, he hoisted Scotti up, and
for a moment, the clerk was reminded of Gemullus dropping him into the 
bubbling muck that led to the Underground Express. Instead, Shehs shoved 
Scotti toward a tiny little raft, razor-thin, that bobbed on the surface of 
the water.

"This is how you travel?"

"We don't have the broken wagons and dying horses of our brothers on the 
outside," Shehs replied, rolling his tiny eyes. "We don't know better."

The Argonian sat at the back of the craft and used his whip-like tail to 
propel and navigate the craft. They traveled quickly around swirling pools of
slime that stank of centuries of putrefaction, past pinnacled mountains that 
seemed sturdy but suddenly fell apart at the slightest ripple in the still 
water, under bridges that might have once been metal but were now purely rust.

"Everything in Tamriel flows down to Black Marsh," Shehs said.

As they slid through the water, Shehs explained to Scotti that the Agacephs 
were one of the many Argonian tribes that lived in the interior of the 
province, near the Hist, finding little in the outside world worth seeing. He 
was fortunate to have been found by them. The Nagas, the toad-like Paatru, and
the winged Sarpa would have killed him on the spot.

There were other creatures too to be avoided. Though there were few natural 
predators in inner Black Marsh, the scavengers that rooted in the garbage 
seldom shied away from a living meal. Hackwings circled overhead, like the 
ones Scotti had seen in the west.

Shehs fell silent and stopped the raft completely, waiting for something.

Scotti looked in the direction Shehs was watching, and saw nothing unusual in
the filthy water. Then, he realized that the pool of green slime in front of 
them was actually moving, and fairly quickly, from one bank to the other. It 
deposited small bones behind it as it oozed up into the reeds, and 
disappeared.

"Voriplasm," Shehs explained, moving the boat forward again. "Big word. It'll 
strip you to the bone by the second syllable."

Scotti, desirous to distract himself from the sights and smells that 
surrounded him, thought it a good time to compliment his pilot on his 
excellent vocabulary. It was particularly impressive, given how far from 
civilization they were. The Argonians in the east did, in fact, speak so well.

"They tried to erect a Temple of Mara near here, in Umpholo, twenty years 
ago," Shehs explained, and Scotti nodded, remembering reading about it in the
files before they were lost. "They all perished quite dreadfully of swamp rot 
in the first month, but they left behind some excellent books."

Scotti was going to inquire further when he saw something so huge, so 
horrifying, it made him stop, frozen.

Half submerged in the water ahead was a mountain of spines, lying on nine-
foot-long claws. White eyes stared blindly forward, and then suddenly the 
whole creature spasmed and lurched, the jaw of its mouth jutting out, exposing
tusks clotted with gore.

"Swamp Leviathan," Shehs whistled, impressed. "Very, very dangerous."

Scotti gasped, wondering why the Agaceph was so calm, and more, why he was 
continuing to steer the raft forward towards the beast..

"Of all the creatures in the world, the rats are sometimes the worst," said 
Shehs, and Scotti noticed that the huge creature was only a husk. Its movement
was from the hundreds of rats that had burrowed into it, rapidly eating their 
way from the inside out, bursting from the skin in spots.

"They are indeed," Scotti said, and his mind went to the Black Marsh files, 
buried deep in the mud, and four decades of Imperial work in Black Marsh.

The two continued westward through the heart of Black Marsh.

Shehs showed Scotti the vast complicated ruins of the Kothringi capitals, 
fields of ferns and flowered grasses, quiet streams under canopies of blue 
moss, and the most astonishing sight of Scotti's life -- the great forest of 
full-grown Hist trees. They never saw a living soul until they arrived at the 
edge of the Imperial Commerce Road just east of Slough Point, where Mailic, 
Scotti's Redguard guide, was waiting patiently.

"I was going to give you two more minutes," the Redguard scowled, dropping the
last of his food onto the pile at his feet. "No more, sir."

The sun was shining bright when Decumus Scotti rode into the Imperial City, 
and as it caught the morning dew, it lent a glisten to every building as if 
they had been newly polished for his arrival. It astonished him how clean the 
city was. And how few beggars there were.

The protracted edifice of Lord Vanech's Building Commission was the same as it
had always been, but still the very sight of it seemed exotic and strange. It 
was not covered in mud. The people within actually, generally, worked.

Lord Vanech himself, though singularly squat and squinty, seemed immaculate, 
not only relatively clean of dirt and scabs, but also relatively uncorrupt. 
Scotti couldn't help but stare at him when he first caught sight of his boss. 
Vanech stared right back.

"You are a sight," the little fellow frowned. "Did your horse drag you to 
Black Marsh and back? I would say go home and fix yourself, but there are a 
dozen people here to see you. I hope you have solutions for them."

It was no exaggeration. Nearly twenty of Cyrodiil's most powerful and 
wealthiest people were waiting for him. Scotti was given an office even larger
than Lord Vanech's, and he met with each.

First among the Commission's clients were five independent traders, blustering
and loaded with gold, demanding to know what Scotti intended to do about 
improving the trade routes. Scotti summarized for them the conditions of the 
main roads, the state of the merchants' caravans, the sunken bridges, and all
the other impediments between the frontier and the marketplace. They told him 
to have everything replaced and repaired, and gave him the gold necessary to 
do it.

Within three months, the bridge at Slough Point had disappeared into the muck;
the great caravan had collapsed into decrepitude; and the main road from 
Gideon had been utterly swallowed up by swamp water. The Argonians began once
again to use the old ways, their personal rafts and sometimes the Underground
Express to transport the grain in small quantities. It took a third of the 
time, two weeks, to arrive in Cyrodiil, none of it rotten.

The Archbishop of Mara was the next client Scotti met with. A kindhearted man,
horrified by the tales of Argonian mothers selling their children into 
slavery, he pointedly asked Scotti if it were true.

"Sadly, yes," Scotti replied, and the Archbishop showered him with septims, 
telling the clerk that food must be brought to the province to ease their 
suffering, and the schools must be improved so they could learn to help 
themselves.

Within five months, the last book had been stolen from the deserted Maran 
monastery in Umphollo. As the Archeins went bankrupt, their slaves returned to
his parents' tiny farms. The backwater Argonians found that they could grow 
enough to feed their families provided they had enough hard workers in their 
enclave, and the buyers market for slaves sharply declined.

Ambassador Tsleeixth, concerned about the rising crime in northern Black 
Marsh, brought with him the contributions of many other expatriate Argonians 
like himself. They wanted more Imperial guards on the border at Slough Point,
more magically lit lanterns posted along the main roads at regular intervals, 
more patrol stations, and more schools built to allow young Argonians to 
better themselves and not turn to crime.

Within six months, there were no more Nagas roaming the roads, as there were 
no merchants traveling them to rob. The thugs returned to the fetid inner 
swamp, where they felt much happier, their constitutions enriched by the rot 
and pestilence that they loved. Tsleeixth and his constituency were so pleased
by the crime rate dropping, they brought even more gold to Decumus Scotti, 
telling him to keep up the good work.

Black Marsh simply was, is, and always shall be unable to sustain a large-
scale, cash-crop plantation economy. The Argonians, and anyone else, the whole
of Tamriel, could live in Black Marsh on subsistence farming, just raising 
what they needed. That was not sad, Scotti thought; that was hopeful.

Scotti's solution to each of their dilemmas had been the same. Ten percent of 
the gold they gave him went to Lord Vanech's Building Commission. The rest 
Scotti kept for himself, and did exactly nothing about the requests.

Within a year, Decumus Scotti had embezzled enough to retire very comfortably,
and Black Marsh was better off than it had been in forty years.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ123)
                 ~~Ayleid Reference Text~~   

                        Raelys Anine

     Item ID: 0003353B


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The following inscriptions were painstakingly transcribed and interpreted over
many long years, and are preserved here for all time.

--

Av molag anyammis, av latta magicka.
"From fire, life; from light, magic."



--

Barra agea ry sou karan.
"Wear lore as your armor."


--

Agea haelia ne jorane emero laloria.
"Wisdom learned by pain is a reliable guide in dark times." [literally, 
"Terrible wisdom never betrayed the loremasters."]




--

Nou aldmeris mathmeldi admia aurane gandra sepredia av relleis ye brelyeis ye 
varlais.
"Our exiled Elven ancestors heard the welcoming gifts of peace in the streams 
and beech trees and stars." ["Mathmeldi" means literally "from-home-driven."]
--

Suna ye sunnabe.
"Bless and blessed be."


--

Va garlas agea, gravia ye goria, lattia mallari av malatu.
"In the caverns of lore, ugly and obscure, shines the gold of truth."


--

Vabria frensca, sa belle, sa baune, amaraldane aldmeris adonai.
"The foaming wave, so thunderous, so mighty, heralds the lordly Elves."

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ124)
                 ~~Azura and the Box~~   

                     Marobar Sul

     Item ID: 0002453B
    
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Ancient Tales of the Dwemer, Part XI

Nchylbar had enjoyed an adventurous youth, but had grown to be a very wise, 
very old Dwemer who spent his life searching for the truth and dispelling 
superstitions. He invented much and created many theorems and logic structures
that bore his name. But much of the world still puzzled him, and nothing was a
greater enigma to him that the nature of the Aedra and Daedra. Over the course
of his research, he came to the conclusion that many of the Gods were entirely
fabricated by man and mer.

Nothing, however, was a greater question to Nchylbar than the limits of divine
power. Were the Greater Beings the masters of the entire world, or did the 
humbler creatures have the strength to forge their own destinies? As Nchylbar 
found himself nearing the end of his life, he felt he must understand this 
last basic truth.

Among the sage's acquaintances was a holy Chimer priest named Athynic. When 
the priest was visiting Bthalag-Zturamz, Nchylbar told him what he intended to
do to find the nature of divine power. Athynic was terrified and pleaded with 
his friend not to break this great mystery, but Nchylbar was resolute. 
Finally, the priest agreed to assist out of love for his friend, though he 
feared the results of this blasphemy.

Athynic summoned Azura. After the usual rituals by which the priest declared 
his faith in her powers and Azura agreed to do no harm to him, Nchylbar and a 
dozen of his students entered the summoning chamber, carrying with them a 
large box.

“As we see you in our land, Azura, you are the Goddess of the Dusk and Dawn 
and all the mysteries therein,” said Nchylbar, trying to appear as kindly and 
obsequious as he could be. “It is said that your knowledge is absolute.”

“So it is,” smiled the Daedra.

“You would know, for example, what is in this wooden box,” said Nchylbar.

Azura turned to Athynic, her brow furrowed. The priest was quick to explain, 
“Goddess, this Dwemer is a very wise and respected man. Believe me, please, 
the intention is not to mock your greatness, but to demonstrate it to this 
scientist and to the rest of his skeptical race. I have tried to explain your 
power to him, but his philosophy is such that he must see it demonstrated.”

“If I am to demonstrate my might in a way to bring the Dwemer race to 
understanding, it might have been a more impressive feat you would have me 
do,” growled Azura, and turned to look Nchylbar in the eyes. “There is a red-
petalled flower in the box.”

Nchylbar did not smile or frown. He simply opened the box and revealed to all
that it was empty.

When the students turned to look to Azura, she was gone. Only Athynic had seen
the Goddess's expression before she vanished, and he could not speak, he was 
trembling so. A curse had fallen, he knew that truly, but even crueler was the
knowledge of divine power that had been demonstrated. Nchylbar also looked 
pale, uncertain on his feet, but his face shone with not fear, but bliss. The 
smile of a Dwemer finding evidence for a truth only suspected.

Two of his students supported him, and two more supported the priest as they 
left the chamber.

“I have studied very much over the years, performed countless experiments, 
taught myself a thousand languages, and yet the skill that has taught me the 
finally truth is the one that I learned when I was but a poor, young man, 
trying only to have enough gold to eat,” whispered the sage.

As he was escorted up the stairs to his bed, a red flower petal fell from the
sleeve of his voluminous robe. Nchylbar died that night, a portrait of peace 
that comes from contented knowledge.

Publisher's Note

This is another tale whose origin is unmistakably Dwemer. Again, the words of
some Aldmeris translations are quite different, but the essence of the story 
is the same. The Dunmer have a similar tale about Nchylbar, but in the Dunmer
version, Azura recognizes the trick and refuses to answer the question. She 
slays the Dwemer present for their skepticism and curses the Dunmer for 
blasphemy.

In the Aldmeris versions, Azura is tricked not by an empty box, but by a box 
containing a sphere which somehow becomes a flat square. Of course the 
Aldmeris versions, being a few steps closer to the original Dwemer, are much 
more difficult to understand. Perhaps this "stage magic" explanation was added
by Gor Felim because of Felim's own experience with such tricks in his plays 
when a mage was not available.

"Marobar Sul" left even the character of Nchylbar alone, and he represents 
many "Dwemer" virtues. His skepticism, while not nearly as absolute as in the 
Aldmeris version, is celebrated even though it brings a curse upon the Dwemer 
and the unnamed House of the poor priest.

Whatever the true nature of the Gods, and how right or wrong the Dwemer were 
about them, this tale might explain why the dwarves vanished from the face of 
Tamriel. Though Nchylbar and his kind may not have intended to mock the Aedra 
and Daedra, their skepticism certainly offended the Divine Orders. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ125)
                    ~~Beggar Prince~~   

                      Anonymous

     Item ID: 0001FB53


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We look down upon the beggars of the Empire. These lost souls are the poor and
wretched of the land. Every city has its beggars. Most are so poor they have 
only the clothes on their backs. They eat the scraps the rest of us throw out.
We toss them a coin so that we don't have to think too long about their 
plight.

Imagine my surprise when I heard the tale of the Beggar Prince. I could not 
imagine what a Prince of Beggars would be. Here is the tale I heard. It takes 
place in the first age, when gods walked like men and daedra stalking the 
wilderness with impunity. It is a time before they were all confined to 
Oblivion.

There once was a man named Wheedle. Or maybe it was a woman. The story goes to
great lengths to avoid declaring Wheedle's gender. Wheedle was the 13th child 
of a king in Valenwood. As such Wheedle was in no position to take the throne 
or even inherit much property or wealth.

Wheedle had left the palace to find independent fortune and glory. After many 
days of endless forest roads and tiny villages, Wheedle came upon a three men 
surrounding a beggar. The beggar was swaddled in rags from head to toe. No 
portion of the vagabond's body was visible. The men were intent on slaying the
beggar.

With a cry of rage and indignation, Wheedle charged the men with sword drawn. 
Being simple townsfolk, armed only with pitchforks and scythes, they 
immediately fled from the armored figure with the shining sword.

"Many thanks for saving me," wheezed the beggar from beneath the heap of foul
rags. Wheedle could barely stand the stench.

"What is your name, wretch?" Wheedle asked.

"I am Namira."

Unlike the townsfolk, Wheedle was well learned. That name meant nothing to 
them, but to Wheedle it was an opportunity.

"You are the Daedric lord!" Wheedle exclaimed. "Why did you allow those men to
harass you? You could have slain them all with a whisper."

"I am please you recognized me," Namira rasped. "I am frequently reviled by 
townsfolk. It pleases me to be recognized for my attribute, if not for my 
name."

Wheedle knew that Namira was the Daedric lord of all thing gross and 
repulsive. Diseases such as leprosy and gangrene were her domain. Where others
might have seen danger, Wheedle saw opportunity.

"Oh, great Namira, let me apprentice myself to you. I ask only that you grant
me powers to make my fortune and forge a name for myself that will live 
through the ages."

"Nay. I make my way alone in the world. I have no need for an apprentice."

Namira shambled off down the road. Wheedle would not be put off. With a bound,
Wheedle was at Namira's heel, pressing the case for an apprenticeship. For 33
days and night, Wheedle kept up the debate. Namira said nothing, but Wheedle's
voice was ceaseless. Finally, on the 33rd day, Wheedle was too hoarse to talk.

Namira looked back on the suddenly silent figure. Wheedle knelt in the mud at 
her feet, open hands raised in supplication.

"It would seem you have completed your apprenticeship to me after all," Namira
declared. "I shall grant your request."

Wheedle was overjoyed.

"I grant you the power of disease. You may choose to be afflicted with any 
disease you choose, changing them at will, so long as it has visible symptoms.
However, you must always bear at least one.

"I grant you the power of pity. You may evoke pity in anyone that sees you.

"Finally, I grant you the power of disregard. You may cause others to 
disregard your presence."

Wheedle was aghast. These were not boons from which a fortune could be made. 
They were curses, each awful in its own right, but together they were
unthinkable.

"How am I to make my fortune and forge a name for myself with these terrible 
gifts?"

"As you begged at my feet for 33 days and 33 nights, so shall you now beg for 
your fortune in the cities of men. Your name will become legendary among the 
beggars of Tamriel. The story of Wheedle, the Prince of Beggars, shall be 
handed down throughout the generations.

It was as Namira predicted. Wheedle was an irresistible beggar. None could see
the wretch without desperately wanting to toss a coin at the huddled form. 
However, Wheedle also discovered that the power of disregard gave great access
to the secrets of the realms. People unknowingly said important things where 
Wheedle could hear them. Wheedle grew to know the comings and goings of every
citizen in the city.

To this day, it is said that if you really want to know something, go ask the 
beggars. They have eyes and ears throughout the cities. They know all the 
little secrets of the daily lives of it's citizens.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ126)
                ~~Bible of the Deep Ones~~   

                      Irlav Moslin

     Item ID: 000C7B33


    
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Given to me by the Chief of the Deep Ones. He taught me his language and his 
runes. This is the ancient lore of his people which we shall follow from now 
until forever.

Signed in the presence of twelve witnesses,
Irlav Moslin
3E 345

SO CXIUMONATAJ KUNVENAUW SED NATURE ANKOIX PRI ALIAJ AKTUASOJ AKTIVECAUW SO 
SOCIETO NE MALOFTE ENAHKSTAS KROME PLEJ DIVERSASPEKTA MATERIALO EDUKA OIX 
DISTRA

SO INTERRETA KVAKO RETLETERA KAJ VERJHEAUW AHKSTAS UNUFSONKE ALTERNATIVAJ 
KANASOUW POR DISTRIBUI SO ENHAVON SO PAPERA KVA KVAK SED ALIFSONKE SO ENHAVAUW
SO DIVERSAJ VERJHEAUW ANTOIXVIBLE NE POVAS KAJ ECX NE VUS CXIAM AHKSTI 
CENTPROCENTE SO SAMA EN MALVASTE CIRKUSONTA PAPERFOLIO EKZEMPLE EBSOS 
PUBLIKIGI ILUSTRAJXAUWN KIUJ PRO KOPIRAJTAJ KIASOUW NE AHKSTAS UZEBSOJ EN SO 
INTERRETO ALIFSONKE SO MASOLTAJ KOSTAUW RETA DISTRIBUO FORIGAS SO SPACAJN 
LIMIGAUWN KAJ PERMAHKSAS PLI AMPLEKSAN ENHAVON POR NE PAROLI PRI GXISHORA 
AKTUALECO

TIUJ CIRKONSTANCAUW RAHKSPEGULIGXOS EN SO ASPEKTO SO KVAKOA KIU JA CETERE 
SERVOS ANKOIX KIEL GXENERASO RETEJO SO RANETAUW

This Daedric text translates to the following: (punctuation and capitalization
added)

so cxiumonataj kunvenauw, sed nature ankoix pri aliaj aktuasoj aktivecauw so 
societo. Ne malofte enahkstas krome plej diversaspekta materialo eduka oix 
distra.

So interreta Kvako (retletera kaj verjheauw) ahkstas unufsonke alternativaj 
kanasouw por distribui so enhavon so papera Kva! Kvak!. Sed alifsonke so 
enhavauw so diversaj verjheauw antoixvible ne povas kaj ecx ne vus cxiam 
ahksti centprocente so sama. En malvaste cirkusonta paperfolio ekzemple ebsos 
publikigi ilustrajxauwn, kiuj pro kopirajtaj kiasouw ne ahkstas uzebsoj en so 
interreto. Alifsonke so masoltaj kostauw reta distribuo forigas so spacajn 
limigauwn kaj permahksas pli ampleksan enhavon, por ne paroli pri gxishora 
aktualeco.

Tiuj cirkonstancauw rahkspeguligxos en so aspekto so Kvakoa, kiu ja cetere 
servos ankoix kiel gxeneraso retejo so ranetauw. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ127)
              ~~Biography of Barenziah, v 1~~   

               Stern Gamboge, Imperial Scribe

     Item ID: 00024550


    
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Late in the Second Era, a girl-child, Barenziah, was born to the rulers of the
kingdom of Mournhold in what is now the Imperial Province of Morrowind. She 
was reared in all the luxury and security befitting a royal Dark Elven child 
until she reached five years of age. At that time, His Excellency Tiber Septim
I, the first Emperor of Tamriel, demanded that the decadent rulers of 
Morrowind yield to him and institute imperial reforms. Trusting to their 
vaunted magic, the Dark Elves impudently refused until Tiber Septim's army was
on the borders. An Armistice was hastily signed by the now-eager Dunmer, but 
not before there were several battles, one of which laid waste to Mournhold, 
now called Almalexia.

Little Princess Barenziah and her nurse were found among the wreckage. The 
Imperial General Symmachus, himself a Dark Elf, suggested to Tiber Septim that
the child might someday be valuable, and she was therefore placed with a loyal
supporter who had recently retired from the Imperial Army.

Sven Advensen had been granted the title of Count upon his retirement; his 
fiefdom, Darkmoor, was a small town in central Skyrim. Count Sven and his wife
reared the princess as their own daughter, seeing to it that she was educated 
appropriately-and more importantly, that the imperial virtues of obedience, 
discretion, loyalty, and piety were instilled in the child. In short, she was 
made fit to take her place as a member of the new ruling class of Morrowind.

The girl Barenziah grew in beauty, grace, and intelligence. She was sweet-
tempered, a joy to her adoptive parents and their five young sons, who loved 
her as their elder sister. Other than her appearance, she differed from young 
girls of her class only in that she had a strong empathy for the woods and 
fields, and was wont to escape her household duties to wander there at times.

Barenziah was happy and content until her sixteenth year, when a wicked orphan
stable-boy, whom she had befriended out of pity, told her he had overheard a 
conspiracy between her guardian, Count Sven, and a Redguard visitor to sell 
her as a concubine in Rihad, as no Nord or Breton would marry her on account 
of her black skin, and no Dark Elf would have her because of her foreign 
upbringing.

“Whatever shall I do?” the poor girl said, weeping and trembling, for she had
been brought up in innocence and trust, and it never occurred to her that her
friend the stable-boy would lie to her.

The wicked boy, who was called Straw, said that she must run away if she 
valued her virtue, but that he would come with her as her protector. 
Sorrowfully, Barenziah agreed to this plan; and that very night, she disguised
herself as a boy and the pair escaped to the nearby city of Whiterun. After a 
few days there, they managed to get jobs as guards for a disreputable merchant
caravan. The caravan was heading east by side roads in a mendacious attempt to
elude the lawful tolls charged on the imperial highways. Thus the pair eluded 
pursuit until they reached the city of Rifton, where they ceased their travels
for a time. They felt safe in Rifton, close as it was to the Morrowind border
so that Dark Elves were enough of a common sight. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ128)
              ~~Biography of Barenziah, v 2~~   

               Stern Gamboge, Imperial Scribe

     Item ID: 00024552

    
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The first volume of this series told the story of Barenziah's origin-heiress 
to the throne of Mournhold until her father rebelled against His Excellency 
Tiber Septim I and brought ruin to the province of Morrowind. Thanks largely 
to the benevolence of the Emperor, the child Barenziah was not destroyed with
her parents, but reared by Count Sven of Darkmoor, a loyal Imperial trustee. 
She grew up into a beautiful and pious child, trustful of her guardian's care.
This trust, however, was exploited by a wicked orphan stable boy at Count 
Sven's estate, who with lies and fabrications tricked her into fleeing 
Darkmoor with him when she turned sixteen. After many adventures on the road,
they settled in Rifton, a Skyrim city near the Morrowind borders.

The stable boy, Straw, was not altogether evil. He loved Barenziah in his own 
selfish fashion, and deception was the only way he could think of that would 
cement possession of her. She, of course, felt only friendship toward him, but
he was hopeful that she would gradually change her mind. He wanted to buy a 
small farm and settle down into a comfortable marriage, but at the time his 
earnings were barely enough to feed and shelter them.

After only a short time in Rifton, Straw fell in with a bold, villainous 
Khajiit thief named Therris, who proposed that they rob the Imperial 
Commandant's house in the central part of the city. Therris said that he had a
client, a traitor to the Empire, who would pay well for any information they 
could gather there. Barenziah happened to overhear this plan and was appalled.
She stole away from their rooms and walked the streets of Rifton in 
desperation, torn between her loyalty to the Empire and her love for her 
friends.

In the end, loyalty to the Empire prevailed over personal friendship, and she
approached the Commandant's house, revealed her true identity, and warned him
of her friends' plan. The Commandant listened to her tale, praised her 
courage, and assured her that no harm would come to her. He was none other 
than General Symmachus, who had been scouring the countryside in search of her
since her disappearance, and had just arrived in Rifton, hot in pursuit. He 
took her into his custody, and informed her that, far from being sent away to 
be sold, she was to be reinstated as the Queen of Mournhold as soon as she 
turned eighteen. Until that time, she was to live with the Septim family in 
the newly built Imperial City, where she would learn something of government 
and be presented at the Imperial Court.

At the Imperial City, Barenziah befriended the Emperor Tiber Septim during the
middle years of his reign. Tiber's children, particularly his eldest son and 
heir Pelagius, came to love her as a sister. The ballads of the day praised 
her beauty, chastity, wit, and learning. On her eighteenth birthday, the 
entire Imperial City turned out to watch her farewell procession preliminary 
to her return to her native land. Sorrowful as they were at her departure, all
knew that she was ready for her glorious destiny as sovereign of the kingdom 
of Mournhold. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ129)
              ~~Biography of Barenziah, v 3~~   

               Stern Gamboge, Imperial Scribe

     Item ID: 00024553

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

In the second volume of this series, it was told how Barenziah was kindly 
welcomed to the newly constructed Imperial City by the Emperor Tiber Septim 
and his family, who treated her like a long-lost daughter during her almost 
one-year stay. After several happy months there learning her duties as vassal 
queen under the Empire, the Imperial General Symmachus escorted her to 
Mournhold where she took up her duties as Queen of her people under his wise 
guidance. Gradually they came to love one another and were married and crowned
in a splendid ceremony at which the Emperor himself officiated.

After several hundred years of marriage, a son, Helseth, was born to the royal
couple amid celebration and joyous prayer. Although it was not publicly known 
at the time, it was shortly before this blessed event that the Staff of Chaos 
had been stolen from its hiding place deep in the Mournhold mines by a clever,
enigmatic bard known only as the Nightingale.

Eight years after Helseth's birth, Barenziah bore a daughter, Morgiah, named 
after Symmachus' mother, and the royal couple's joy seemed complete. Alas, 
shortly after that, relations with the Empire mysteriously deteriorated, 
leading to much civil unrest in Mournhold. After fruitless investigations and 
attempts at reconciliation, in despair Barenziah took her young children and 
travelled to the Imperial City herself to seek the ear of then Emperor Uriel 
Septim VII. Symmachus remained in Mournhold to deal with the grumbling 
peasants and annoyed nobility, and do what he could to stave off an impending
insurrection.

During her audience with the Emperor, Barenziah, through her magical arts, 
came to realize to her horror and dismay that the so-called Emperor was an 
impostor, none other than the bard Nightingale who had stolen the Staff of 
Chaos. Exercising great self-control she concealed this realization from him. 
That evening, news came that Symmachus had fallen in battle with the revolting
peasants of Mournhold, and that the kingdom had been taken over by the rebels.
Barenziah, at this point, did not know where to seek help, or from whom.

The gods, that fateful night, were evidently looking out for her as if in 
redress of her loss. King Eadwyre of High Rock, an old friend of Uriel Septim 
and Symmachus, came by on a social call. He comforted her, pledged his 
friendship-and furthermore, confirmed her suspicions that the Emperor was 
indeed a fraud, and none other than Jagar Tharn, the Imperial Battlemage, and 
one of the Nightingale's many alter egos. Tharn had supposedly retired into 
seclusion from public work and installed his assistant, Ria Silmane, in his 
stead. The hapless assistant was later put to death under mysterious 
circumstances-supposedly a plot implicating her had been uncovered, and she 
had been summarily executed. However, her ghost had appeared to Eadwyre in a 
dream and revealed to him that the true Emperor had been kidnapped by Tharn 
and imprisoned in an alternate dimension. Tharn had then used the Staff of 
Chaos to kill her when she attempted to warn the Elder Council of his 
nefarious plot.

Together, Eadwyre and Barenziah plotted to gain the false Emperor's 
confidence. Meanwhile, another friend of Ria's, known only as the Champion, 
who apparently possessed great, albeit then untapped, potential, was 
incarcerated at the Imperial Dungeons. However, she had access to his dreams, 
and she told him to bide his time until she could devise a plan that would 
effect his escape. Then he could begin on his mission to unmask the impostor.

Barenziah continued to charm, and eventually befriended, the ersatz Emperor. 
By contriving to read his secret diary, she learned that he had broken the 
Staff of Chaos into eight pieces and hidden them in far-flung locations 
scattered across Tamriel. She managed to obtain a copy of the key to Ria's 
friend's cell and bribed a guard to leave it there as if by accident. Their 
Champion, whose name was unknown even to Barenziah and Eadwyre, made his 
escape through a shift gate Ria had opened in an obscure corner of the 
Imperial Dungeons using her already failing powers. The Champion was free at 
last, and almost immediately went to work.

It took Barenziah several more months to learn the hiding places of all eight
Staff pieces through snatches of overheard conversation and rare glances at 
Tharn's diary. Once she had the vital information, however -- which she 
communicated to Ria forthwith, who in turn passed it on to the Champion-she 
and Eadwyre lost no time. They fled to Wayrest, his ancestral kingdom in the 
province of High Rock, where they managed to fend off the sporadic efforts of
Tharn's henchmen to haul them back to the Imperial City, or at the very least 
obtain revenge. Tharn, whatever else might be said of him, was no one's fool-
save perhaps Barenziah's -- and he concentrated most of his efforts toward 
tracking down and destroying the Champion.

As all now know, the courageous, indefatigable, and forever nameless Champion 
was successful in reuniting the eight sundered pieces of the Staff of Chaos. 
With it, he destroyed Tharn and rescued the true Emperor, Uriel Septim VII. 
Following what has come to be known as the Restoration, a grand state memorial
service was held for Symmachus at the Imperial City, befitting the man who had
served the Septim Dynasty for so long and so well.

Barenziah and good King Eadwyre had come to care deeply for one another during
their trials and adventures, and were married in the same year shortly after 
their flight from the Imperial City. Her two children from her previous 
marriage with Symmachus remained with her, and a regent was appointed to rule 
Mournhold in her absence.

Up to the present time, Queen Barenziah has been in Wayrest with Prince 
Helseth and Princess Morgiah. She plans to return to Mournhold after Eadwyre's
death. Since he was already elderly when they wed, she knows that that event, 
alas, could not be far off as the Elves reckon time. Until then, she shares in
the government of the kingdom of Wayrest with her husband, and seems glad and
content with her finally quiet, and happily unremarkable, life. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ130)
                     ~~A Bloody Journal~~   

                       Viranus Donton

     Item ID: 0002FF32


    
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[Many of the pages of this journal have been shredded or are too covered in 
blood to be legible.]

Sundas

It has been two weeks since Vitellus' death, and I fear that Mother will never
truly accept the fact that he is gone. She visits his grave nightly, though I 
do not believe she knows I have seen her go. She speaks to him there, 
apologizing for sending him on his last mission. I know in my heart that he 
would have sought no other end. Better to die fighting for the honor of the 
Guild than to waste away in a life of relative safety.

...

Middas

Another day, another day of barracks duty. It's been a full month since I've 
been given a contract, any contract. My time is spent polishing weapons and 
training with the new boots. Eduard and I have spoken at length about this. 
His reasoning, as always, is sound. Mother fears for my safety, and for the 
safety of the Guild. This is a terrible weight for her to bear.

Perhaps when our numbers have risen, she will once again feel comfortable 
allowing me to perform my duties.

...

Morndas

Thank the gods for Eduard. I fear without him I would go mad. His constant 
companionship keeps me hopeful that I will one day be returned to active duty.
Until then, we have each other. He has willingly forgone lucrative contracts 
in order to help me pass the days. A truer companion I could not imagine.

...

Loredas

Some days I question whether or not I am fit to be a Guild member. Perhaps 
Mother's fears for my safety not because of Viranus, but because of my own 
abilities. Am I a failure in her eyes? Does she believe me to be less a man 
than Viranus?

...

Turdas

Freedom! Finally, a contract! I was sent with one of our newer members to 
investigate a disappearance in Nonwyll Cavern. It was nothing glamorous, but I
am glad for the opportunity to see some action.

I doubt, however, that Mother even knew about the contract, as the order came 
directly from Oreyn. It is good to see that he still has faith in my skills, 
and my ability to keep that new boot alive.

...

Loredas

Again, nothing. It seems my only hope is that Oreyn will find another contract
for me, though contracts are harder and harder to come by with the increasing 
presence of the Blackwood Company in Cyrodiil.

Eduard and I spoke of them over breakfast this morning. He believes them to be
nothing more than a rogue mercenary band. I fear he is as naïve as he is 
beautiful. The Blackwood Company bears watching.

...

[date obscured]

I've been given another contract, clearing out some trolls that have been 
troubling miners. And Eduard is to accompany me!

I can't think of better news. This is exactly what I need.

...

[date obscured]

Eduard is dead, along with the rest. I fear I will follow shortly. The 
fighting grew heavy with the trolls, but was under control. Then came the 
Blackwood Company. They were like madmen. Trolls, men, mer fell to their 
blades. It was inhuman

[text unreadable]

...

[text unreadable]

Blackwood Company gone quick as they came

Eduard fought bravely. All did. Rest now


...

I hear trolls

I'm sorry Mother 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ131)
                ~~The Book of Daedra~~   

                       Anonymous

     Item ID: 00024563

    
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Azura, whose sphere is dusk and dawn, the magic in-between realms of twilight,
known as Moonshadow, Mother of the Rose, and Queen of the Night Sky.

Boethiah, whose sphere is deceit and conspiracy, and the secret plots of 
murder, assassination, treason, and unlawful overthrow of authority.

Clavicus Vile, whose sphere is the granting of power and wishes through ritual
invocations and pact.

Hermaeus Mora, whose sphere is scrying of the tides of Fate, of the past and
future as read in the stars and heavens, and in whose dominion are the 
treasures of knowledge and memory.

Hircine, whose sphere is the Hunt, the Sport of Daedra, the Great Game, the 
Chase, known as the Huntsman and the Father of Manbeasts.

Malacath, whose sphere is the patronage of the spurned and ostracized, the 
keeper of the Sworn Oath, and the Bloody Curse.

Mehrunes Dagon, whose sphere is Destruction, Change, Revolution, Energy, and 
Ambition.

Mephala, whose sphere is obscured to mortals; known by the names Webspinner, 
Spinner, and Spider; whose only consistent theme seems to be interference in 
the affairs of mortals for her amusement.

Meridia, whose sphere is obscured to mortals; who is associated with the 
energies of living things.

Molag Bal, whose sphere is the domination and enslavement of mortals; whose 
desire is to harvest the souls of mortals and to bring mortals souls within 
his sway by spreading seeds of strife and discord in the mortal realms.

Namira, whose sphere is the ancient Darkness; known as the Spirit Daedra, 
ruler of sundry dark and shadowy spirits; associated with spiders, insects, 
slugs, and other repulsive creatures which inspire mortals with an instinctive
revulsion.

Nocturnal, whose sphere is the night and darkness; who is known as the Night 
Mistress.

Peryite, whose sphere is the ordering of the lowest orders of Oblivion, known 
as the Taskmaster.

Sanguine, whose sphere is hedonistic revelry and debauchery, and passionate 
indulgences of darker natures.

Sheogorath, whose sphere is Madness, and whose motives are unknowable.

Vaernima, whose sphere is the realm of dreams and nightmares, and from whose 
realm issues forth evil omens.

    Especially marked for special interest under the heading "Malacath" you 
find a reference to SCOURGE, blessed by Malacath, and dedicated to the use of
mortals. In short, the reference suggests that any Daedra attempting to invoke
the weapon's powers will be expelled into the voidstreams of Oblivion. 

"Of the legendary artifacts of the Daedra, many are well known, like Azura's 
Star, and Sheogorath's Wabbajack. Others are less well known, like Scourge, 
Mackkan's Hammer, Bane of Daedra...."

"...yet though Malacath blessed Scourge to be potent against his Daedra kin, 
he thought not that it should fall into Daedric hands, then to serve as a tool
for private war among caitiff and forsaken. Thus did Malacath curse the device
such that, should any dark kin seek to invoke its powers, that a void should 
open and swallow that Daedra, and purge him into Oblivion's voidstreams, from 
thence to pathfind back to the Real and Unreal Worlds in the full order of 
time." 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ132)
                ~~Brenus Astis' Journal~~   

                     Brenus Astis

     Item ID: 0002A577
    
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[much of this journal has become unreadable]

...the Cyrodiilic Rat appears less aggressive than its counterpart in various
other provinces. They are prevalent in all parts of Cyrodiil, equally at home
in basement dwellings, caves, ruins, or grasslands. They are known to carry 
disease, and their bites can be painful....

[Illegible]

...though once thought to be intelligent. They are social creatures, often 
appearing in groups numbering twenty or more. The largest male dominates this
clan structure, and seems to have breeding rights with all females of 
reproductive age. Younger males will often challenge the older, dominant males
in a fight to the death. Their horns locked, the two minotaurs will wrestle 
until one can no longer continue. This often....

[Missing]

...called "Billies" by many of the local farmers. But, is this so-called "land
dreugh" actually of any relation to the sea-dwelling dreugh? There certainly 
seem to be similarities in morphology, especially in the region of the head 
and thorax. And they produce the same "dreugh wax" found in the aquatic 
creatures. However, while true dreugh are known to be cunning, even 
intelligent, these "land dreugh" demonstrate none of the same intelligence. 
They are violent and aggressive, killing indiscriminately.

Some believe them to be of Daedric origins, perhaps related to the Spider 
Daedra. That, however, is not the opinion of this researcher. It appears more 
likely that the "land dreugh" are a distant relative of the true dreugh, 
perhaps an ancestor from far back on the evolutionary timeline....

[Missing]

Much has been made of the fact that trolls can be killed only by application 
of fire, whether it be by spell or torch. This is, in fact, a myth. Trolls do 
seem to have a weakness to fire and fire-based spells, and a fantastic ability
to regenerate tissue, but they can be killed by conventional means. One should
note, however, that trolls should absolutely not....

[The rest of this journal is unreadable.] 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ133)
          ~~Brief History of the Empire v 1~~   

             Stronach k'Thojj III, Imperial Historian

     Item ID: 00024554
 

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

For thirty-eight years, the Emperor Tiber reigned supreme. It was a lawful, 
pious, and glorious age, when justice was known to one and all, from serf to 
sovereign. On Tiber's death, it rained for an entire fortnight as if the land
of Tamriel itself was weeping.

The Emperor's grandson, Pelagius, came to the throne. Though his reign was 
short, he was as strong and resolute as his father had been, and Tamriel could
have enjoyed a continuation of the Golden Age. Alas, an unknown enemy of the 
Septim Family hired that accursed organization of cutthroats, the Dark 
Brotherhood, to kill the Emperor Pelagius I as he knelt at prayer at the 
Temple of the One in the Imperial City. Pelagius I's reign lasted less than 
three years.

Pelagius had no living children, so the Crown Imperial passed to his first 
cousin, the daughter of Tiber's brother Agnorith. Kintyra, former Queen of 
Silvenar, assumed the throne as Kintyra I. Her reign was blessed with 
prosperity and good harvests, and she herself was an avid patroness of art, 
music, and dance.

Kintyra's son was crowned after her death, the first Emperor of Tamriel to use
the imperial name Uriel. Uriel I was the great lawmaker of the Septim Dynasty,
and a promoter of independent organizations and guilds. Under his kind but 
firm hand, the Fighters Guild and the Mages Guild increased in prominence 
throughout Tamriel. His son and successor Uriel II reigned for eighteen years,
from the death of Uriel I in 3E64 to Pelagius II's accession in 3E82. 
Tragically, the rule of Uriel II was cursed with blights, plagues, and 
insurrections. The tenderness he inherited from his father did not serve 
Tamriel well, and little justice was done.

Pelagius II inherited not only the throne from his father, but the debt from 
the latter's poor financial and judicial management. Pelagius dismissed all of
the Elder Council, and allowed only those willing to pay great sums to resume 
their seats. He encouraged similar acts among his vassals, the kings of 
Tamriel, and by the end of his seventeen year reign, Tamriel had returned to 
prosperity. His critics, however, have suggested that any advisor possessed of
wisdom but not of gold had been summarily ousted by Pelagius. This may have 
led to some of the troubles his son Antiochus faced when he in turn became 
Emperor.

Antiochus was certainly one of the more flamboyant members of the usually 
austere Septim Family. He had numerous mistresses and nearly as many wives, 
and was renowned for the grandeur of his dress and his high good humor. 
Unfortunately, his reign was rife with civil war, surpassing even that of his
grandfather Uriel II. The War of the Isle in 3E110, twelve years after 
Antiochus assumed the throne, nearly took the province of Summurset Isle away
from Tamriel. The united alliance of the kings of Summurset and Antiochus only
managed to defeat King Orghum of the island-kingdom of Pyandonea due to a 
freak storm. Legend credits the Psijic Order of the Isle of Artaeum with the 
sorcery behind the tempest.

The story of Kintyra II, heiress to her father Antiochus' throne, is certainly
one of the saddest tales in imperial history. Her first cousin Uriel, son of 
Queen Potema of Solitude, accused Kintyra of being a bastard, alluding to the
infamous decadence of the Imperial City during her father's reign. When this 
accusation failed to stop her coronation, Uriel bought the support of several
disgruntled kings of High Rock, Skyrim, and Morrowind, and with Queen Potema's
assistance, he coordinated three attacks on the Septim Empire.

The first attack occurred in the Iliac Bay region, which separates High Rock 
and Hammerfell. Kintyra's entourage was massacred and the Empress taken 
captive. For two years, Kintyra II languished in an Imperial prison believed 
to be somewhere in Glenpoint or Glenmoril before she was slain in her cell 
under mysterious circumstances. The second attack was on a series of Imperial
garrisons along the coastal Morrowind islands. The Empress' consort Kontin 
Arynx fell defending the forts. The third and final attack was a siege of the
Imperial City itself, occurring after the Elder Council had split up the army
to attack western High Rock and eastern Morrowind. The weakened government had
little defence against Uriel's determined aggression, and capitulated after 
only a fortnight of resistance. Uriel took the throne that same evening and 
proclaimed himself Uriel III, Emperor of Tamriel. The year was 3E 121. Thus 
began the War of the Red Diamond, described in Volume II of this series.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ134)
          ~~Brief History of the Empire v 2~~   

             Stronach k'Thojj III, Imperial Historian

     Item ID: 00024555
 

    
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Volume 1 of this series described in brief the lives of the first eight 
Emperors of the Septim Dynasty, beginning with the glorious Tiber Septim and 
ending with his great, great, great, great, grandniece Kintyra II. Kintyra's 
murder in Glenpoint while in captivity is considered by some to be the end of 
the pure strain of Septim blood in the imperial family. Certainly it marks the
end of something significant.

Uriel III not only proclaimed himself Emperor of Tamriel, but also Uriel 
Septim III, taking the eminent surname as a title. In truth, his surname was 
Mantiarco from his father's line. In time, Uriel III was deposed and his 
crimes reviled, but the tradition of taking the name Septim as a title for the
Emperor of Tamriel did not die with him.

For six years, the War of the Red Diamond (which takes its name from the 
Septim Family's famous badge) tore the Empire apart. The combatants were the 
three surviving children of Pelagius II-Potema, Cephorus, and Magnus-and their
various offspring. Potema, of course, supported her son Uriel III, and had the
combined support of all of Skyrim and northern Morrowind. With the efforts of
Cephorus and Magnus, however, the province of High Rock turned coat. The 
provinces of Hammerfell, Summurset Isle, Valenwood, Elsweyr, and Black Marsh 
were divided in their loyalty, but most kings supported Cephorus and Magnus.

In 3E127, Uriel III was captured at the Battle of Ichidag in Hammerfell. En 
route to his trial in the Imperial City, a mob overtook his prisoner's 
carriage and burned him alive within it. His captor and uncle continued on to
the Imperial City, and by common acclaim was proclaimed Cephorus I, Emperor of
Tamriel.

Cephorus' reign was marked by nothing but war. By all accounts, he was a kind
and intelligent man, but what Tamriel needed was a great warrior -- and he, 
fortunately, was that. It took an additional ten years of constant warfare for
him to defeat his sister Potema. The so-called Wolf Queen of Solitude who died
in the siege of her city-state in the year 137. Cephorus survived his sister 
by only three years. He never had time during the war years to marry, so it 
was his brother, the fourth child of Pelagius II, who assumed the throne.

The Emperor Magnus was already elderly when he took up the imperial diadem, 
and the business of punishing the traitorous kings of the War of the Red 
Diamond drained much of his remaining strength. Legend accuses Magnus' son and
heir Pelagius III of patricide, but that seems highly unlikely-for no other 
reason than that Pelagius was King of Solitude following the death of Potema, 
and seldom visited the Imperial City.

Pelagius III, sometimes called Pelagius the Mad, was proclaimed Emperor in the
145th year of the Third Era. Almost from the start, his eccentricities of 
behaviour were noted at court. He embarrassed dignitaries, offended his vassal
kings, and on one occasion marked the end of an imperial grand ball by 
attempting to hang himself. His long-suffering wife was finally awarded the 
Regency of Tamriel, and Pelagius III was sent to a series of healing 
institutions and asylums until his death in 3E153 at the age of thirty-four.

The Empress Regent of Tamriel was proclaimed Empress Katariah I upon the death
of her husband. Some who do not mark the end of the Septim bloodline with the 
death of Kintyra II consider the ascendancy of this Dark Elf woman the true 
mark of its decline. Her defenders, on the other hand, assert that though 
Katariah was not descended from Tiber, the son she had with Pelagius was, so 
the imperial chain did continue. Despite racist assertions to the contrary, 
Katariah's forty-six-year reign was one of the most celebrated in Tamriel's 
history. Uncomfortable in the Imperial City, Katariah travelled extensively 
throughout the Empire such as no Emperor ever had since Tiber's day. She 
repaired much of the damage that previous emperor's broken alliances and 
bungled diplomacy created. The people of Tamriel came to love their Empress 
far more than the nobility did. Katariah's death in a minor skirmish in Black
Marsh is a favorite subject of conspiracy minded historians. The Sage 
Montalius' discovery, for instance, of a disenfranchised branch of the Septim 
Family and their involvement with the skirmish was a revelation indeed.

When Cassynder assumed the throne upon the death of his mother, he was already
middle-aged. Only half Elven, he aged like a Breton. In fact, he had left the 
rule of Wayrest to his half-brother Uriel due to poor health. Nevertheless, as
the only true blood relation of Pelagius and thus Tiber, he was pressed into 
accepting the throne. To no one's surprise, the Emperor Cassynder's reign did
not last long. In two years he joined his predecessors in eternal slumber.

Uriel Lariat, Cassynder's half-brother, and the child of Katariah I and her 
Imperial consort Gallivere Lariat (after the death of Pelagius III), left the 
kingdom of Wayrest to reign as Uriel IV. Legally, Uriel IV was a Septim: 
Cassynder had adopted him into the royal family when he had become King of 
Wayrest. Nevertheless, to the Council and the people of Tamriel, he was a 
bastard child of Katariah. Uriel did not possess the dynamism of his mother, 
and his long forty-three-year reign was a hotbed of sedition.

Uriel IV's story is told in the third volume of this series. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ135)
          ~~Brief History of the Empire v 3~~   

             Stronach k'Thojj III, Imperial Historian

     Item ID: 00024556
 

    
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The first volume of this series told in brief the story of the succession of 
the first eight Emperors of the Septim Dynasty, from Tiber I to Kintyra II. 
The second volume described the War of the Red Diamond and the six Emperors 
that followed its aftermath, from Uriel III to Cassynder I. At the end of that
volume, it was described how the Emperor Cassynder's half-brother Uriel IV 
assumed the throne of the Empire of Tamriel.

It will be recalled that Uriel IV was not a Septim by birth. His mother, 
though she reigned as Empress for many years, was a Dark Elf married to a true
Septim Emperor, Pelagius III. Uriel's father was actually Katariah I's consort
after Pelagius' death, a Breton nobleman named Gallivere Lariat. Before taking
the throne of Empire, Cassynder I had ruled the kingdom of Wayrest, but poor 
health had forced him to retire. Cassynder had no children, so he legally 
adopted his half-brother Uriel and abdicated the kingdom. Seven years later, 
Cassynder inherited the Empire at the death of his mother. Three years after 
that, Uriel once again found himself the recipient of Cassynder's inheritance.

Uriel IV's reign was a long and difficult one. Despite being a legally adopted
member of the Septim Family, and despite the Lariat Family's high position --
indeed, they were distant cousins of the Septims -- few of the Elder Council 
could be persuaded to accept him fully as a blood descendant of Tiber. The 
Council had assumed much responsibility during Katariah I's long reign and 
Cassynder I's short one, and a strong-willed “alien” monarch like Uriel IV 
found it impossible to command their unswerving fealty. Time and again the 
Council and Emperor were at odds, and time and again the Council won the 
battles. Since the days of Pelagius II, the Elder Council had consisted of the
wealthiest men and women in the Empire, and the power they wielded was 
conclusive.

The Council's last victory over Uriel IV was posthumous. Andorak, Uriel IV's 
son, was disinherited by vote of Council, and a cousin more closely related to
the original Septim line was proclaimed Cephorus II in 3E268. For the first 
nine years of Cephorus II's reign, those loyal to Andorak battled the Imperial
forces. In an act that the Sage Eraintine called “Tiber Septim's heart beating
no more,” the Council granted Andorak the High Rock kingdom of Shornhelm to 
end the war, and Andorak's descendants still rule there.

By and large, Cephorus II had foes that demanded more of his attention than 
Andorak. “From out of a cimmerian nightmare,” in the words of Eraintine, a man
who called himself the Camoran Usurper led an army of Daedra and undead 
warriors on a rampage through Valenwood, conquering kingdom after kingdom. Few
could resist his onslaughts, and as month turned to bloody month in the year 
3E249, even fewer tried. Cephorus II sent more and more mercenaries into 
Hammerfell to stop the Usurper's northward march, but they were bribed or 
slaughtered and raised as undead.

The story of the Camoran Usurper deserves a book of its own. (It is 
recommended that the reader find Palaux Illthre's The Fall of the Usurper for
more detail.) In short, however, the destruction of the forces of the Usurper
had little do with the efforts of the Emperor. The result was a great regional
victory and an increase in hostility toward the seemingly inefficacious 
Empire.

Uriel V, Cephorus II's son and successor, swivelled opinion back toward the 
latent power of the Empire. Turning the attention of Tamriel away from 
internal strife, Uriel V embarked on a series of invasions beginning almost 
from the moment he took the throne in 3E268. Uriel V conquered Roscrea in 271,
Cathnoquey in 276, Yneslea in 279, and Esroniet in 284. In 3E288, he embarked 
on his most ambitious enterprise, the invasion of the continent kingdom of 
Akavir. This ultimately proved a failure, for two years later Uriel V was 
killed in Akavir on the battlefield of Ionith. Nevertheless, Uriel V holds a 
reputation second only to Tiber as one of the two great Warrior Emperors of 
Tamriel.

The last four Emperors, beginning with Uriel V's infant son, are described in
the fourth and final volume of this series.

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ136)
          ~~Brief History of the Empire v 4~~   

             Stronach k'Thojj III, Imperial Historian

     Item ID: 00024557
 

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The first book of this series described, in brief, the first eight Emperors of
the Septim Dynasty beginning with Tiber I. The second volume described the War
of the Red Diamond and the six Emperors who followed. The third volume 
described the troubles of the next three Emperors-the frustrated Uriel IV, the
ineffectual Cephorus II, and the heroic Uriel V.

On Uriel V's death across the sea in distant, hostile Akavir, Uriel VI was but
five years old. In fact, Uriel VI was born only shortly before his father left
for Akavir. Uriel V's only other progeny, by a morganatic alliance, were the 
twins Morihatha and Eloisa, who had been born a month after Uriel V left. 
Uriel VI was crowned in the 290th year of the Third Era. The Imperial Consort 
Thonica, as the boy's mother, was given a restricted Regency until Uriel VI 
reached his majority. The Elder Council retained the real power, as they had 
ever since the days of Katariah I.

The Council so enjoyed its unlimited and unrestricted freedom to promulgate 
laws (and generate profits) that Uriel VI was not given full license to rule 
until 307, when he was already 22 years old. He had been slowly assuming 
positions of responsibility for years, but both the Council and his mother, 
who enjoyed even her limited Regency, were loath to hand over the reins. By 
the time he came to the throne, the mechanisms of government gave him little 
power except for that of the imperial veto.

This power, however, he regularly and vigorously exercised. By 313, Uriel VI 
could boast with conviction that he truly did rule Tamriel. He utilized 
defunct spy networks and guard units to bully and coerce the difficult members
of the Elder Council. His half-sister Morihatha was (not surprisingly) his 
staunchest ally, especially after her marriage to Baron Ulfe Gersen of 
Winterhold brought her considerable wealth and influence. As the Sage Ugaridge
said, “Uriel V conquered Esroniet, but Uriel VI conquered the Elder Council.”

When Uriel VI fell off a horse and could not be resuscitated by the finest 
Imperial healers, his beloved sister Morihatha took up the imperial tiara. At 
25 years of age, she had been described by (admittedly self-serving) diplomats
as the most beautiful creature in all of Tamriel. She was certainly well-
learned, vivacious, athletic, and a well-practised politician. She brought the
Archmagister of Skyrim to the Imperial City and created the second Imperial 
Battlemage since the days of Tiber Septim.

Morihatha finished the job her brother had begun, and made the Imperial 
Province a true government under the Empress (and later, the Emperor). Outside
the Imperial Province, however, the Empire had been slowly disintegrating. 
Open revolutions and civil wars had raged unchallenged since the days of her 
grandfather Cephorus II. Carefully coordinating her counterattacks, Morihatha 
slowly claimed back her rebellious vassals, always avoiding overextending 
herself.

Though Morihatha's military campaigns were remarkably successful, her 
deliberate pace often frustrated the Council. One Councilman, an Argonian who 
took the Colovian name of Thoricles Romus, furious at her refusal to send 
troops to his troubled Black Marsh, is commonly believed to have hired the 
assassins who claimed her life in 3E 339. Romus was summarily tried and 
executed, though he protested his innocence to the last.

Morihatha had no surviving children, and Eloisa had died of a fever four years
before. Eloisa's 25-year-old son Pelagius was thus crowned Pelagius IV. 
Pelagius IV continued his aunt's work, slowly bringing back under his wing the
radical and refractory kingdoms, duchies, and baronies of the Empire. He 
exercised Morihatha's poise and circumspect pace in his endeavours-but alas, 
he did not attain her success. The kingdoms had been free of constraint for so
long that even a benign Imperial presence was considered odious. Nevertheless,
when Pelagius died after an astonishing forty-nine-year reign, Tamriel was 
closer to unity than it had been since the days of Uriel I.

Our current Emperor, His Awesome and Terrible Majesty, Uriel Septim VII, son 
of Pelagius IV, has the diligence of his great-aunt Morihatha, the political 
skill of his great-uncle Uriel VI, and the military prowess of his great 
grand-uncle Uriel V. For twenty-one years he reigned and brought justice and 
order to Tamriel. In the year 3E389, however, his Imperial Battlemage, Jagar 
Tharn, betrayed him.

Uriel VII was imprisoned in a dimension of Tharn's creation, and Tharn used 
his sorcery of illusion to assume the Emperor's aspect. For the next ten 
years, Tharn abused imperial privilege but did not continue Uriel VII's 
schedule of reconquest. It is not yet entirely known what Tharn's goals and 
personal accomplishments were during the ten years he masqueraded as his liege
lord. In 3E399, an enigmatic Champion defeated the Battlemage in the dungeons 
of the Imperial Palace and freed Uriel VII from his other-dimensional jail.

Since his emancipation, Uriel Septim VII has worked diligently to renew the 
battles that would reunite Tamriel. Tharn's interference broke the momentum, 
it is true -- but the years since then have proven that there is hope of the 
Golden Age of Tiber Septim's rule glorifying Tamriel once again. 

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                  (Search Code: LOLZ137)
                 ~~The Brothers of Darkness~~   

                       Pellarne Assi

     Item ID: 00024586
 
    
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As their name suggests, the Dark Brotherhood has a history shrouded in 
obfuscation. Their ways are secret to those who are not themselves Brothers of
the Order (“Brother” is a generic term; some of their deadliest assassins are 
female, but they are often called Brothers as well). How they continue to 
exist in shadow, but be easily found by those desperate enough to pay for 
their services, is not the least of the mysteries surrounding them.

The Dark Brotherhood sprang from a religious order, the Morag Tong, during the
Second Era. The Morag Tong were worshippers of the Daedra spirit Mephala, who 
encouraged them to commit ritual murders. In their early years, they were as 
disorganized as only obscure cultists could be-there was no one to lead the 
band, and as a group they dared not murder anybody of any importance. This 
changed with the rise of the Night Mother.

All leaders of the Morag Tong, and then afterward the Dark Brotherhood, have 
been called the Night Mother. Whether the same woman (if it is even a woman) 
has commanded the Dark Brotherhood since the Second Era is unknown. What is 
believed is that the original Night Mother developed an important doctrine of 
the Morag Tong-the belief that, while Mephala does grow stronger with every 
murder committed in her name, certain murders were better than others. Murders
that came from hate pleased Mephala more than murders committed because of 
greed. Murders of great men and women pleased Mephala more than murders of 
relative unknowns.

We can approximate the time this belief was adopted with the first known 
murder committed by the Morag Tong. In the year 324 of the Second Era, the 
Potentate Versidue-Shaie was murdered in his palace in what is today the 
Elsweyr kingdom of Senchal. In a brash move, the Night Mother announced the 
identity of the murderers by painting “MORAG TONG” on the walls in the 
Potentate's own blood.

Previous to that, the Morag Tong existed in relative peace, more or less like
a witches' coven-occasionally persecuted but usually ignored. In remarkable 
synchronicity at a time when Tamriel the Arena was a fractured land, the Morag
Tong was outlawed throughout the continent. Every sovereign gave the cult's 
elimination his highest priority. Nothing more was officially heard of them 
for a hundred years.

It is more difficult to date the Era when the Morag Tong re-emerged as the 
Dark Brotherhood, especially as other guilds of assassins have sporadically 
appeared throughout the history of Tamriel. The first mention of the Dark 
Brotherhood that I have found is from the journals of the Blood Queen 
Arlimahera of Hegathe. She spoke of slaying her enemies by her own hand, or if
necessary “with the help of the Night Mother and her Dark Brotherhood, the 
secret arsenal my family has employed since my grandfather's time.” Arlimahera
wrote this in 2E412, so one can surmise that the Dark Brotherhood had been in 
existence since at least 360 if her grandfather had truly made use of them.

The important distinction between the Dark Brotherhood and the Morag Tong was 
that the Brotherhood was a business as much as it was a cult. Rulers and 
wealthy merchants used the order as an assassin's guild. The Brotherhood 
gained the obvious rewards of a profitable enterprise, as well as the 
secondary benefit that rulers