The books in this section are as follows

History of empire IV

The Epic of the Grey Falcon

Holidays of the Iliac Bay

Broken Diamonds

The Legend of Lovers Lament

On Lycanthropy

The Story of Lyrisius

Origin of the Mages Guild

The Asylum Ball

Mysticism

The Fall of the Usurper

The Real Barenziah

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Brief History of the Empire, Part IV Stronach Brief History of the Empire, Part IV

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 describes the troubles of the next three emperors, the frustrated Uriel IV, the ineffectual Cephorus II, and the the heroic Uriel V. At 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 different woman, were the twins Morihatha and Eloisa, who had been born a month after Uriel V left. Uriel VI was coronated in the 290th year of the third era. The consort Thonica as the boy's mother was given a restricted Regency until Uriel VI reached his minority. The 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 make laws (and profits), Uriel VI was not given full license to rule until 307, when he was 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 give him reign. By the time he came to the throne, the mechanisms of government gave him little power, but the power to veto. This power he regularly 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 sister was his usual ally, 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 from his horse and could not be saved by the finest Imperial healers, his beloved sister Morihatha took the throne. At 25 years of age, she had been described by (admittedly self-serving) diplomats as the most beautiful creature in Tamriel. She was certainly well-learned, vivacious, athletic, and a well-practiced 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 truly a government under the Emperess. Outside the Imperial Province, however, the Empire had been slowly disintegrating. Open revolutions and civil wars had raged un challenged since the days of her grandfather Cephorus II. Carefully coordinating her counterattacks, Morihatha slowly took back her rebellious vassals, always avoiding overextending herself. Though Morihatha's military campaigns were remarkable successful, the Council was often frustrated by her deliberate pace. One Councilman, an Argonian named Thoricles Romus, furious at her refusal to send troops to his troubled lands, is believed to be the man who hired the assassins who claimed her life in 3E 339. Romus was tried and executed, though he protested his innocence. Morihatha had no surviving children, and Eloisa had died of a fever four years before. Eloisa's 25-year-old son Pelagius was crowned Pelagius IV. Pelagius IV continued his aunt's work, slowly bringing back the seditious kingdoms of his Empire. He had Morihatha's patience and deliberate pace in his endeavors, but, alas, he did not have her success. The kingdoms had been free of constraints for so long, even a benign Imperial presence was 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 3E 389, his Imperial Battlemage Jagar Tharn betrayed him. Uriel VII was imprisoned in a dimension of Tharn's creation, and Tharn used his magic of illusion to assume the Emperor's aspect. For the next ten years, Tharn used Imperial priveleges, but did not continue Uriel VII's schedule of reconquest. It is not entirely known yet what Tharn's goals and personal accomplishments were during the ten years he imitated his liege lord. In 3E 399, a mysterious champion defeated the Battlemage in the dungeons of the Imperial Palace and freed Uriel VII from his other dimensional cell. Since his release, Uriel VII has worked diligently to renew the battle to reunite Tamriel. Tharn's interference broke the momentuum, but the years since then have proven that the glorious golden age of Tiber Septim may be visited on Tamriel once again. barbed_wire

The Epic of the Grey Falcon

As uncovered and translated by Anido Jhone, Royal Archaeologist, from an ancient tome: This tale comes from sometime in the 2nd Era, most probably after the time of the Knahaten Flu, or at least I have so surmised due to reasons in the text. Whether or not the tale is true, it remains an interesting story of survival. The reader will, I trust, forgive me if I translated the epic somewhat informally. The message, I think, is universal, and should not be misread. Enjoy, gentle reader. A.J.J. Epic of řthe Grey Falcon The Grey Falcon , a small warship of the Sumurset Isle, Was patrolling deep in the ocean for a pirate That had been looting the coast. The first three weeks out were uneventful. Two hours after sunset, on the 22nd day out of port, The lookout spotted a top of a sail in the moonlight, Just on the horizon. "Sail! To starboard, forward quarter!" The lookout of the Grey Falcon cried. The crew and captain of the Grey Falcon were quickly roused, And stumbled to the deck. "'Tis the ship we're looking for, Captain," said the lookout. "All hands to battle stations! All archers to their posts," The Captain yelled, "Full ahead!" The two ships closed, And a dark figure stepped out onto the forecastle of the pirate ship. The figure made a gesture with his hands, And a giant ball of fire streaked towards the Grey Falcon. The ball of fire struck the Grey Falcon in her sails, Quickly catching them aflame. The figure made another gesture. Large bolts of ice streaked out from his hands, And hit the Grey Falcon just above and below the water line, Gouging large holes in her hull. The Grey Falcon was mortally wounded. The Captain cried, "All hands abandon shi-" As he was cut off by a pirate's arrow shot into his throat. As the Grey Falcon, aflame and listing badly, plunged ÷into the sea, One of her sailors, Darik Seaspit, Managed avoid the pirate arrows and spells to make his way to a lifeboat, And lowered it into the darkness below. Just as the lifeboat entered the water, a quick grey shape jumped into it. Darik looked, and saw it was Helnor Snarlsbane, A Khajiit mercenary assigned to the ship. The two rowed the small boat away, As the Grey Falcon finished her descent into the sea. In the darkness, the Pirate ship missed their small craft. After the two rowed well out of the pirates possible view, They both collapsed from exhaustion. Early morning the next day, They took an inventory of the lifeboats stores. Normally the lifeboat carries enough food and water To supply seven people for at least ten days. In place of the food, though, Helnor found a note: "The food in this lifeboat was found to be in violation of Sumerset Navy regulation during inspection. In accordance to that article, the food was taken away and destroyed. A replacement may be obtained by redeeming this letter at the Port Supply Office. Signed, Lt. Inspector Windhollow" Helnor read aloud. Said Darik, to his Khajiit Companion, "We have plenty of water, but we are out of food. I don't know what we're going to do. I suppose we could try fishing, but we have no bait. "There's no chance we can make it back to land Before we starve to death - 'twill be over a month in this craft" "Wait, I have an idea" said Helnor, with a gleam in his catlike eye. Six weeks later, the lifeboat entered the port of Corwich. As it was tethered to the dock, a solitary figure was pulled out, Looking weather beaten and thin. One of the dock workers peered into the life raft, After the figure was taken away to the port healer for treatment. "Hmm, what's this", a worker said to himself, As he picked up a large bone from the boat, A bone bleached white by the sun. After the sole survivor of the Grey Falcon recovered from his ordeal, He was taken to the inquest for the death of Darik Seaspit, And placed on a chair before the magistrate. "We here in High Rock have a dim view of cannibalism. You'd better have a good reason for your actions," The inquisitor boomed at Helnor Snarlsbane, "By the Lady, do you?" Helnor stood, and said, "Your Honor, I had no choice. There was no food, and it was at least two months to the closest port. We both decided this was the only way someone would make it" "Well, then , I suppose that is understandable, If somewhat distasteful," the inquisitor said. "You think it was distasteful?," Helnor muttered to himself, "I didn't have any seasoning." "One final thing, Mr. Snarlsbane, How was it decided that you would be the one that would dine on the other? The toss of a coin?" Helnor drew himself up and said, "Your honor, it was very simple. Darik Seaspit was a vegetarian" "Case dismissed!" barbed_wire

Holidays of the Iliac Bay

Theth-Holidays of the Iliac Bay

The region of the Iliac Bay has a rich history, and not surprisingly, a number of holidays unique to it because of this history. The Breton and the Redguard cultures have many similarities, but just as many distinctions. An analysis of the holidays is one way to study the people. As any schoolchild could tell you, the Redguards are a relatively new culture to Tamriel. Their arrival from their homeland is actually well recorded, though it occured several thousand years ago, in the 808th year of the 1st Era. Hammerfell was a great desert encompassed by almost impassable mountains -- unclaimed and unwanted. Many of the holidays extant in modern Hammerfell seem to be direct translations of older Redguard festivals before their migration to Tamriel. The orgiastic seasonal celebrations seem unusual in a province with few changes in the weather from month to month. Yet on the 28th of Suns Dawn, the Redguards of the Banthan jungle celebrate Aduros Nau to relieve the wintertide lethargy; on the 1st of Mid Year, the people of Abibon-Gora ÷celebrate Drigh R'Zimb in honor of the sun, which no normal Redguard worships in this day; similarly, on the 29th of Suns Height, the festival in the Desert called Fiery Night, seems almost perverse in such an environment; the Koomu Alezer'i on the 11th of Last Seed in Sentinel has been translated as a harvest thanksgiving, though many scholars have suggested that it was once a springtide holiday; similarly, the Feast of the Tiger in the Bantha on the 14th of Last Seed was probably once a religious holiday to a Tiger God, instead of a thanksgiving. Other old Redguard holidays have either been acknowledged as part of the old culture or adjusted to fit with the climate of Hammerfell. The Serpent's Dance, for example, of Satakalaam is patently an old festival honoring a Serpent God of the homeland who evidently did not survive the journey to Hammerfell. The significance of the date, the 3rd of Suns Dusk, has been lost with the Serpent Priests. Baranth Do, on the 18th of Evening Star, and Chil'a, on the 24th of the same month, are both New Years festivals. Most likely, they have been moved from their original dates to correspond with the notion of the year defined in Tamriel. The Bretons have been in Tamriel since before recorded history. Their holidays have remained almost unchanged since primitive times, though new holidays have been created to replace those which have lost popularity. The oldest holidays still observed in High Rock must include Waking Day, on the 18th of Morning Star, when the people of the Yeorth Burrowland wake the spirits of nature after the winter, very nearly in the tradition of their more reverential ancestors. Flower Day, held on the 25th of First Seed in the smaller villages of High Rock is most likely just as older or older. The old cult of the flower is also remembered as Gardtide in Tamarilyn Point on the 1st of Rains Hand. Daggerfall's Day of the Dead, on the 13th of Rains Hand, suggests the ancestor worship that marked the Breton religion of antiquity. Finally, the ancient goddess of the moons, Secunda, is remembered in the Moon Festival in Glenumbra Moors on the 8th of Suns Dusk, just as the nights begin to grow longer. The more recently created holidays of High Rock are those like Tibedetha, "Tibers Day," celebrated every 24th of Mid Year in honor of Alcaire's most famous, son, Tiber Septim. ÷Likewise, Othroktide on the 5th of Suns Dawn is held in honor of the first and most illustrious Baron of Dwynnen. In quite extreme contrast, Marukh's Day on the 9th of Second Seed, is a solemn holiday, immortalizing the lessons of the equally solemn 1st Era prophet Marukh. My favorite of the modern Breton festivals has to be Mad Pelagius, held in mock honor of the most eccentric of the Septim Emperors. Pelagius was, after all, a prince of Wayrest before he became King of Solitude, and then Emperor of Tamriel. The Bretons like to boast that it was his time in High Rock that drove him mad. barbed_wire

Broken Diamonds

Ryston Baylor Broken Diamonds I remember as a young lad in Glenumbra Moors my first Broken Diamonds holiday. The big noisy festivals I remember very well -- Harvests' End, Mid Year, New Year, the Emperor's Day. All of these I have memories of that stretch back before I became truly aware of the meaning of our celebrating. On the 19th of Frost Fall, every year, my family and I would walk to a ruined castle in the middle of the wilderness, together with everyone else we knew in the Moors. Hands clutched in hands, we would form an enormous circle around the ruins, and head reverently bowed we would sing a song, the Sepharve. For years, we did this and I never asked why. It is an odd thing that normally curious children, from my experience, never ask questions about Broken Diamonds, and adults seldom volunteer information. Gradually, as we learn about our homeland through university or the prattling of ancient relatives, we come to guess and then know the meaning of Broken Diamonds. I cannot be objective as a native of Glenumbra Moors, but visitors have told me that the sorrow -- more often they use the word shame -- of the natives is almost overwhelming. There is a sense that a great and ancient crime still burns in the conscience of the people of the Moors. Though it did not happen in our lifetimes, we know that the debt is not yet ÷paid. I refer, of course, to the murder of Her Terrible Majesty, Kintyra II, Emperess of Tamriel, on the frozen morning of the 23rd of Frost Fall, in the year 3E 123. We do not know the name of the castle where she was held; we do not know the name of her murderer (though the man who ordered the murder was her cousin and usurper, Uriel III); we do not know where she was buried. But our ancestors knew that their rightful ruler was imprisoned somewhere in their land, and did nothing to help her. For that, we bear their shame. On that morning, when our great-great grandparents heard of Kintyra's death, all were stricken with horror and regret at their lack of action. All the people of Glenpoint and Glenumbra Moors searched out those responsible in every Imperial castle. They formed barriers with their bodies to hold the killer within. Flags bearing the Red Diamond of the Septim family were torn and scattered, and broken diamonds littered the snow. The song we sing every Broken Diamonds, as I mentioned ÷before, is the Sephavre. I asked everyone in Glenumbra Moor what the meaning of the song is, for it is in Old Bretic, and each generation only knows it because they were taught by their parents. No one knew the exact meaning of the words, not even the tone and emotion the words can be easily translated. When I later talked to a scholar who gave me an accurate translation of the Sephavre, I began to understand both why our ancestors chose it as the anthem for the great injustice of the murder of Kintyra II and the sorrow that still prevades Glenumbra Moors since that dark morn. The Sephavre Souls of our fathers, suffer deeply, For you have led us to the dark time, When our own souls, filled with air, Allowed ignorance and villiany to thrive In what used to be our land. Howl, ancestors, howl and bring us Memories of our conformance with evil. We do anything we can to survive, Giving up our minds and hearts and bodies We will not fight, and we will be torn And like flotsam in a whirling tide We will be forever the agents of injustice But we will mourn it forever. barbed_wire

The Legend of Lovers Lament

Croll Baumoval

The Legend of Lovers Lament The night is very dark. Wind gently ruffles the willow trees. All is quiet, or it so appears, around the shores of the small lake. Tamriel's moons reflect in the slightly rippling surface of the water. An owl's questioning call echoes. No lights are shining from the castle nearby; it appears deserted. As the night wears on and the planet's satellites moves across the heavens, a faint glow appears near the castle. The light slowly moves towards the lake, and upon reaching the shore, stops. A figure, a beautiful woman by any measure, stands looking wistfully into the dark water. Her lantern flickers in the breeze, and illuminates her. Tears are streaming down her cheeks; her gown, once beautiful, is now tattered and stained. The surface of the lake becomes agitated, but not from a wind as the night has become as still as it is dark. Slowly from the water emerges the figure of a man, a warrior, fully adorned in the armor of a knight on the field of battle. He seems to float over the water towards the woman and stop just short of her. "Madylina," the ghostly warrior intones. "My Lord, Gerthland," whispers the lovely Madylina as she kneels. "You have come to me again." "Yes," Gerthland responds, "My days are long waiting for the night in which I can see my love." The lovers stand looking wistfully at each other, unable to touch, unable to kiss, unable to satisfy their unrequited love until the first tinges of dawn start to color the western sky. Gerthland drops something to the ground as does Madylina as each depart. The waters of the lake again take possession of the handsome knight and the beautiful maiden walks slowly back to the castle. As the waters of the lake settle into a gentle ripple and the light of Madylina's lantern disappears, dawn breaks over the lake. On the shore are two beautiful roses--one crimson and the other white as fresh cream. Ripples from the lake overtake the two flowers and pull them into the lake leaving the shore bare as it was in the hours before darkness fell. The townfolk around Gerthland Manor tell often of seeing these lovers in their nightly meeting. The Boar's Bristle Inn is always rumbling with conversation about them. Lord Gerthland and Lady Madylina who were betrothed. Lord Gerthland called to battle to defend the land. Hergen, the castle's resident sorcerer, becoming enflamed with love and lust for Madylina only to be rebuked by her. Lord Gerthland's death on the field of battle. Lady Madylina's death by her own hand at the news. Hergen's curse on both their souls that will not allow them to rest until Madylina will agree to become Hergen's consort even in death. Hergen, to this day, wanders the deserted halls of Gerthland Manor hoping that Madylina will agree to his demands. And the lovers continue to meet for a few moments each night on the shores of the lake now known as Lover's Lament. barbed_wire

On Lycanthropy

Varnard Karessen

On Lycanthropy How does one become interested in studying the disease lycanthropy? I have interviewed a number of my peers, and discovered that to a man, they have all entered the field ÷after a horrifying encounter with a lycanthrope of some variety. I am no exception. In Skyrim, it is an old tradition to rub canis root on the trees surrounding your house as a ward against werebears. When I was young and stupid (as opposed, I guess, to being old and stupid as I am now), I always had hoped to meet a werebear to see if they were as impressive as legend suggested. I would follow strange tracks in the woods until they disappeared, with no fear or even thought about what I would do after I had found my quarry. By Thorig's beard, I was lucky that my investigations were fruitless. When I did finally see a lycanthrope, it was not a werebear. It was a werewolf, the "common" lycanthope, which can be found in every part of Tamriel. My father was a priest and during the coldest part of the winter, he allowed the beggars and riffraff of Falcrenth to stay in the relative warmth of the cellar of his temple. We would even supply warm barley stew. My sisters and brothers and I actually enjoyed this bit of philanthropy, for in the cellars during the winter, it seemed there was a constant party. There were always ÷travellers with interesting stories and eccentricities, and the atmosphere in the cellars was always light and friendly. Until that night. By an established tradition, the beggars who were sick or wanted rest more than food and companionship would go to the cots at the farthest, darkest end of the cellar when they could be assured at least relative quiet. We were enjoying a song, and my sister Gethessa was dancing to the amusement of all. The song ended, but a chorus continued from the darkness at the far end of the cellar. As drunk and incomprehensible as most of the carolers were, it took a minute for us to realize that the sound we were hearing was not singing, but screaming. No one was too concerned, for some of the older tramps often suffered from vivid nightmares. Nevertheless, one of father's priests went to silence the screamer and the moment he disappeared into the murk, we heard another sound. The snarl of a wolf. Then we heard the priest screaming as the original scream died off. "Werewolf!" cried the old bard who had been leading the ÷song. The cellar exploded into chaos. I was pushed out the cellar door into the snow with the first wave of panic, but I could see that some of the more brave (or more drunk) hobos were rushing into the darkness to do battle with the lycanthrope. They were all, of course, almost instantly killed. My father, upon hearing of his unwelcome visitor, sealed off the cellar after the last survivor of the carnage had left. A seasoned battlemage from the Falcrenth Mages Guild, who owed father a favor, went into the cellar and slew the beast. "Not too tough," he said as he emerged, carrying the carcass with him. "Winter must have been tough on him too." Despite his bold words, the blood on his face and chest did not only come from his foe. Werewolves do not revert to their human forms upon death, despite what legends will tell you. I had the opportunity to look at the monster's steaming body out in the snow before it was carried away to be burned. The teeth, clotted with the flesh of the beggars, were horrifying, but the claws shocked me even more. I have since seen live lycanthropes battle golems, atronachs, and other beings not harmed by mundane weapons, and concluded that they act as naturally enchanted weapons. Because the werewolf is the most ubiquitous of lycanthropes, the term lycanthropy has been used since ancient days to describe the disease that transforms men into half-beast, although lycanthrope only strictly should refer to men who change into werewolves. But that is semantics. There are certainly differences between the seven documented forms of lycanthropy in Tamriel, but more similarities. In Black Marsh and southern Morrowind, werecrocodiles stalk the swamps. Black Marsh also shares with the Imperial Province and the wetter parts of Elsweyr the vile presence of werelions. Valenwood's werevultures are not found in any other province. The wereboar has found both the climates of High Rock and Hammerfell amenable. As I mentioned before, the werebear is the most common lycanthrope in Skyrim, and is also found in the northern parts of High Rock, the Imperial ÷Province, and Morrowind. The werewolf can be found in every province. The seventh lycanthrope, which I have never seen but my trusted peers have assured me exists, is a wereshark that roams the oceans around Tamriel. I have spent my life categorizing and observing lycanthropes, but I sometimes feel that I am still a child trapped in a cellar in my attempts to understand them. I know, for example, that lycanthropy can be cured shortly after infection, but after that time, the victim is doomed. No one of my acquaintance has cured themselves after undergoing the first transformation. On the other hand, I have a colleague investigating a coven of witches in the Glenpoint foothills of High Rock who are rumored to have a cure. I remain dubious. Perhaps it is because they are doomed that makes lycanthropes so aggressive. I have removed the contents of a werewolf's stomach and found more remnants of roots and berries than animal flesh. My conclusion is that they do not need to attack and devour humans to survive. Yet, for some reason they do. Does lycanthropy drive them mad, or do lycanthropes feel the need to spread the disease as a form of procreation? I do not know. I am not certain that any of us who are not lycanthropes ourselves will ever know. And then, of course, it's too late. barbed_wire

The Story of Lyrisius

Bresne Smythe

The Story of Lysirius In ancient times, there lived a hero named Lyrisius. He fought agains the Akaviri slavetraders and single-handedly slew hundreds. Despite his valor, Lyrisius' army was routed and scattered to the four winds. Lyrisius fled into the moors to escape the Akaviri chariots. Far from the lands of men, Lyrisius entered the blasted lands. At the heart of this forsaken landscape, he met the wyrm. The great scaly beast mocked the mighty blows of Lyrisius' enchanted spear. It melted the shield Fearstruck, gift of the Daedra Boethiah, with a single blast of its fiery breath. Lyrisius, seeing that he could not defeat the creature by force of arms, surrendered. The wyrm intended to devour Lyrisius when the hero offered to be its slave and manservant. Ever prideful, the wyrm agreed. Seeing that the wyrm was vulnerable to conceit, Lyrisius spoke, "Oh great wyrm. For my first service, I beg that you allow me to polish your one tarnished scale." Indeed, centered between the great wings of the creature was a dull scale, clearly out of reach of its long neck. Its vanity was such that it immediately lowered one wing for Lyrisius to climb upon. Once astride the great lizard, Lyrisius slid his dagger underneath the scale and into the tender flesh of the beast. Though it spun and twisted in all directions, the wyrm could not get at the hero. Finally it took to the air. Lyrisius clung to the neck with all his strength as the wyrm banked, rolled, and dove. Seeing that Lyrisius could not be shaken free, the wyrm demanded that he remove the stinging blade. Lyrisius answered, "Fly straight on until you see a great army. Destroy that army and I will remove my blade." With a great roar, the scaled creature set off. The Akavari army had no chance against the fire-breathing beast. They have never plagued Tamriel since. "I have done as you bid. Now sheath your stinger," roared the wyrm. Knowing that he would be devoured or worse, Lyrisius pulled the blade and then leapt from the back of the flying wyrm. Indeed, the foul monster had intended to slay the hero. The wyrm pursued the plummeting Lyrisius. Boethiah appeared beside the falling hero. Praising him for ultimately destroying the army of Akavir, she turned him into a raven. Lyrisius quickly lost the wyrm in the clouds. Legend has it that the wyrm still lives, though this happened in the first era long, long ago. The dragon nurses a grudge against Lyrisius and all of his kind. It has vowed never again to trust two legged bearers of weapons. Scholar's Note: If this legend has a basis in fact, the artifact Fearstruck was utterly destroyed. No other reference to it has ever been found. barbed_wire

Origin of the Mages Guild

Salarth

The Origin of The Mages Guild The idea of a collection of Mages, Sorcerors, and assorted Mystics pooling their resources and talents for the purpose of research and public charity was a revolutionary concept in the early years of the 2nd era. The closest organization to what we today know as the Mages Guild was the Psijic Order of the Isle of Artaeum. Magic was something to be learned by individuals, or, at most, in intimate covens; mages were, if not actual hermits, usually quite solitary. The Psijic Order served the rulers of the Sumurset Isle as counselors, and chose its members by a complex, ritualized method not understood by the common people. Its purposes and goals were likewise unpublished, and its detractors attributed the worst evil as the source of its power. The religion of the old order could be described as ancestor worship, an increasingly unfashionable philosophy in the 2nd Era. When Vanus Galerion, a Psijic of Artaeum and student of the famed Iachesis, began collecting mages from around ÷Sumurset Isle, he attracted the animosity of all. He was operating out of Firsthold, and there was a common (and not entirely unsensible) attitude that magical experiments should be conducted only in unpopulated areas. Even more shocking, Galerion proposed to make magical items, potions, and even spells available to any member of the general public who could pay. No longer was magic to be limited either to the aristocracy or intelligensia. Galerion was brought before Iachesis and the King of Firsthold, Rilis XII, and made to state the intentions of the guild he was forming. The fact that Galerion's speech to Rilis and Iachesis was not recorded for posterity is a tragedy, though it does allow the opportunity for historians to amuse one another with lies and persuasions Galerion might have used to found the ubiquitous organization. The charter was approved. Almost immediately after the guild was formed, the question of security had to be answered. The Isle of Artaeum did not have to have a force of arms to shield it from invaders interested in stealing its treasures -- when the Psijic Order does not wish someone to land on the island, the ÷island and all on it become insubstantial. The new Mages Guild had to hire guards. Galerion soon discovered what nobles have known for thousands of years: money alone does not buy loyalty. The knightly Order of the Lamp was formed the following year. Like a tree from an acorn, the Mages Guild grew branches all over Sumurset Isle and then to the mainland of Tamriel. There are many records of superstitious or sensibly fearful rulers forbidding the Guild in their kingdom, but their heirs or their heirs' heirs recognized the wisdom of allowing the Guild to practice. The Mages Guild was a powerful force in Tamriel, a dangerous foe if a somewhat disinterested ally. There have been only a few rare incidents of the Mages Guild actually becoming involved in local politcal struggles. On these occasions, the Guild's participation has been the ultimate decider in the conflict. By tradition begun by Vanus Galerion, the Mages Guild as a singular institution is presided over by a council of six Archmagisters. Each guild location is run by a Guildmagister, assisted by a counsel of two, the Master of Incunubula and the Master at Arms. The Master of Incunubula ÷presides over a counsel of an additional two mages: the Master of Academia and the Master of the Scrye. The Master at Arms also has a counsel of two: the Master of Initiates and the Palatinus, the leader of the Order of the Lamp. One need not be a member of the Mages Guild to know that this carefully constructed order is often nothing more than an illusion. As Vanus Galerion himself said bitterly, leaving Tamriel to travel to other lands, "The Guild has become nothing more than an intricate morass of political infighting." barbed_wire

The Asylum Ball

Waughin Jarth

The Asylum Ball My great great uncle was a warder at an asylum in Torval (maybe he was my great great great uncle -- it was quite a long time ago), and this is the story that has been passed down in my family from his generation to mine. Perhaps it is purely apocryphal, but when I was told it, it was whispered in such a way that it was meant to be taken seriously. Not having any children of my own to whisper to, and being in need of some gold, I have elected to publish my story. The asylum my great great uncle worked in was apparently very posh. Only the right class of lunatics were admitted. Eccentric dukes, mad baronesses, touched lords, and daft ladies filled the asylums tapestried and gilded halls. Still, it was a time of great excitement when the rumor began that the unhinged Emperor of Tamriel, Pelagius III, was transferring there from a resort in Valenwood. When the rumor became a reality, the asylum went into nice, calm, restive chaos. Pelagius was given an entire wing of the asylum for his own use, for, though he was madder than a jackal, he was still His Terrible Majesty, the Emperor of Tamriel. The Emperor was remarkably well behaved, my great great ÷uncle supposedly asserted. Of course, he did not have to face the commoners who came on all sorts of pretenses to gawk at their overlord, the loon. When one of the warders (not, I have been assured, my uncle) forgot himself and let His Terrible Majesty know that people had been there to see him, the Emperor grew very excited. He made up his mind right there and then to have a ball. A huge party with musicians, dancing, and dinner, right at the lunatic asylum. Or precisely, in his wing of the asylum. Rumors of the Emperor's interest in holding a ball spread throughout Torval and eventually it reached the ears of the Emperess Regent Katariah, Pelagius' dear wife, in the Imperial City. Eager to make her husband happy, she sent a caravan laden with gold to the asylum so a ball might be held befitting the Imperial dignity. The Emperor picked a date for the ball, and preparations began immediately. The old asylum walls were beautifully decorated, but needed cleaning. A pit had to be constructed to house the orchestra; servants for cooking and serving the food had to be hired; gold and ebony candelebras and ÷matching chandeliers were ordered; the old rugs were destroyed, and new rugs embroidered with gems were weaved; lists of guests had to be compiled, reconsidered and recompiled. The Emperor knew that the guest list had to be very exclusive, and he relied on his advisors to tell him who was alive, who was dead, and who was imaginary. The party was set to begin at nine o'clock. At six, the hairdresser he had hired from Torval finished his Imperial coiffure. At seven, he was fully dressed in the robes he had ordered for the ball: voluminous black silk and piled velvet crusted with red diamonds. At eight, he walked down the newly reconstructed staircase to supervise the final preparations -- the lighting of the candles, the opening of the wine, the murder of the first course. At nine o'clock, he took his seat at the facsimile throne he had ordered and awaited the first guests. At nine thirty, his advisor, seeing the royal eyes beginning to glaze over with madness, said, "Your Terrible Majesty surely knows that it is not fashionable to arrive at any ball for at least an hour after the desired time, yes?" The Emperor just stared. At ten thirty, the Emperor called for some food and wine, and sat at his throne, looking at the open door, eatting. Thirty minutes later, he ordered the orchestra to begin playing. For the next three hours, they played gaily for the empty, candlelit ballroom. At one o'clock, the Emperor announced his intention to retire for the evening. My uncle was one of the warders who assisted His Terrible Majesty up the staircase. Halfway to his room, Pelagius threw himself on the floor in a hysteria, screaming and laughing, ordering more wine (my mother was good at this part of the story, rolling her eyes and shreiking, "More wine! More wine! Wine!"), and, in short, imagining that he was possessed by all the revellers at his party that never was. Two days later, he was still not better. He had cut himself and those who tried to grapple him horribly with the red diamonds of his robe. Eventually it was decided that the Torval asylum was not equipped to deal with a lunatic of his severity, and he was sent to a more secure location in Black Marsh. It was only three months later, my uncle heard that the Emperor had died. One of my uncle's duties was to clear out the personal property of the inmates after their death. Being primarily landed nobility, the personal property was often quite extensive. Several years after the asylum ball, my uncle was called to clear out the apartment of a duchess whose chief eccentricity was a propensity to pilfer. Kleptomania, I believe it's called. Locked away in a secret door in her desk, protected by a trap armed with a barbed needle, was a variety of jewels, piles of gold, and a five large stacks of beautifully engraved invitations signed in the Emperor's childlike handwriting. barbed_wire

Mysticism

Tetronius Lor

Mysticism: The Mysticism is the school of magic least understood by the magical community, most difficult to explain to novices mages. The spells effects commonly ascribed to the School of Mysticism are as wildly disparate as Soul Trap -- the creation of a cell for a victim's spirit after death -- to Silence -- the extinction of sound. But these effects are simply that: effects. The sorcery behind them is veiled in a mystery that may go back to the oldest civilizations of Tamriel, and beyond. The Psijics of the Order of Artaeum's term for Mysticism is the Old Way. The phrase becomes bogged in a semantic quagmire, because the Old Way also refers to the religion and customs of the Psijics which may, or may not, be part of the magic of Mysticism. There are few mages who devote their lives to the study of Mysticism. The other schools are far more predictable and fathomable. Mysticism seems to derive its power from its cunundrums and paradoxes; the act of experimentation, no matter how objectively implemented, can influence the magicka by its very existance. Thus, the Mystic mage must regulate himself to finding consistant patterns in an imbroglio of energy. In the time it takes him to find a source with a consistant trigger and result, his peers researching in other schools may have researched and documented dozens of new spells and effects. The Mystic mage is a patient and uncompetitve scholar. For centuries, mostly during the Second Era, scholarly journals publishes theory after theory about the aspect or aspects of magicka that we call Mysticism. In the tradition of the Mages Guild to find answers to all things, respected researchers suggested the energy source as coming from Aetherius or the Daedra themselves to explain the seemingly random patterns of Mysticism; some ventured to guess that Mysticism comes from unused elements of successfully or unsuccessfully cast spells; discussion with the Order of Artaeum after its reappearance has led some scholars to postulate that Mysticism is more spiritual in nature, either ÷the intellect or emotion of the believer influences the energy pattern and flow. None of these explanations is truly satisfactory. For the beginning student of Mysticism, it is best to simple learn the patterns distinguished in the maelstrom in the centuries past. The more patterns are found, the clearer the remaining ones become. Until, of course, they change. And then the journey begins anew. barbed_wire

The Fall of the Usurper

PalauxIllthre

The Fall of the Usurper The people of Dwynnen celebrate Othroktide every 5th of Suns Dawn, the date when, according to legent, a man emerged from the wilderness of High Rock and defeated the undead of Castle Wightmoor to become the first Baron of Dwynnen. Few people believe the legend anymore, but there most certainly was a Baron Othrok of Dwynnen who was destined to become one of true heroes of High Rock, if not all Tamriel. The legend, as most any Dwynnen child will tell you, is that years and years ago (archivists have agreed to the year 3E 253), the people of Dwynnen were ruled by a lich and its armies of zombies, ghosts, vampires, and skeletons. Othrok was blessed with by gods and given an army of men and animals to destroy the dead. He brought peace and prosperity to the land, growing more powerful as the land improved. Years later, he led the tiny barony against the Camoran Usurper, and saved all of Tamriel. How much credit the Baron ought to receive for the defeat of the Camoran Usurper has been debated, but it is an ÷uncontestable fact that in the year 3E 267, the Camoran Usurper's relentless move north through High Rock was halted around the area of contemporary Dwynnen. Dwynnen is actually larger than it was in the first Baron's day -- it did not, in fact, have a sea port -- but the Battle of Firewaves was a coastal battle. The fact that the battle probably did not occur in Dwynnen does not in itself belittle the Baron's participation in it. The Camoran Usurper had conquered Hammerfell and Valenwood by means of a large army, which by legend consisted entirely of undead and daedra, but was mostly composed of Redguards and Wood Elves. In all probability, the Usurper summoned the daedra and undead in Arenthia and slowly replaced the original summoned creatures with the armies of his conquered territories. Most armies of Valenwood have been historically mercenary. Word of the Usurper's conquests reached High Rock in early 266, but preparations to repel the invasion did not begin until early the following year. Historians attribute two factors to High Rock's hesistancy. The primary powers of the Bay were ruled by particularly inept monarchs -- Wayrest ÷and Sentinel both had kings in their minority, and Daggerfall was torn by contention between Helena and her cousin Jilathe. The Lord of Reich Gradkeep (now Anticlere) was deathly ill through 266 and finally died at the end of the year. There were, in short, no leaders to unite the province against the Usurper. Of the leaders with any influence, at least eight (the "Eight Traitors" of legend) made secret allegiances with the Usurper to protect their lands. The secondary reason for the lethargy of High Rock had to do with the depth of relations between the province and the Septim Empire. For the first time since the beginning of the Dynasty, an Emperor ruled Tamriel who was neither Breton nor had spent any of his childhood in High Rock. The difference between Cephorus II and his cousin Uriel IV who preceded him was appalling to the people of High Rock. Even mad Emperors like Pelagius III revered the Bretons over all other races, and cousins and younger siblings of the Emperors have ruled in High Rock since the foundation of the Empire. Cephorus was a Nord, with Skyrim and Morrowind sympathies. The attitude of the common men of High Rock was sympathetic toward the Camoran Usurper as an archfoe of this hated Emperor. The Baron and his less legendary allies, the rulers of Ykalon, Phrygia, and Kambria, changed this favorable perception. News of the Usurper's barbaric treatment of captives and abuse of conquered lands, mostly true, spread rapidly through their territories, and then to other neutral lands. Within a few months, the greatest navy ever combined organized along the High Rock edge of the Iliac Bay. Only the navy of Uriel V's illfated invasion of Akavir was comparable. How the combined forces of High Rock defeated the endless army of the Camoran Usurper is certainly worthy of a lengthy book in itself. And perhaps, it is best left to the public imagination. Certainly the weather worked against the Usurper, which is reason in itself to attribute divine intervention. Baron Othrok's divine purpose is the central theme to Othroktide, after all. And as the poet Braeloque wrote, "To find the facts, the wisest always look first to the fiction." barbed_wire

The Fall of the Usurper

Tsathenes

The Madness of Pelagius The man who would be Emperor of all Tamriel was born Thoriz Pelagius Septim, a prince of the royal family of Wayrest in 3E 119 at the end of the glorious reign of his uncle, Antiochus I. Wayrest had been showered by much preference during the years before Pelagius' birth, for King Magnus was Antiochus' favorite brother. It is hard to say when Pelagius' madness first manifested itself, for, in truth, the first ten years of his life were marked by such insanity in the land itself. When Pelagius was just over a year old, Antiochus died and a daughter, Kintyra, assumed the throne to the acclaim of all. Kintyra II was Pelagius' cousin and an accomplished mystic and sorceress. If she had sufficient means to peer into the future, she would have surely fled the palace. The story of the War of the Red Diamond has been told in many other scholarly journals, but as most historians agree, Kintyra II's reign was usurped by her and Pelagius' cousin Uriel, by the power of his mother, Potema -- the so-called wolf queen of Solitude. The year after her coronation, Kintyra was trapped in Glenpoint and imprisoned in the Imperial dungeons there. ÷ All of Tamriel exploded into warfare as Prince Uriel took the throne as Uriel III, and High Rock, because of the imprisoned Empress' presence there, was the location of some of the bloodiest battles. Pelagius' father, King Magnus, allied himself with his brother Cephorus against the usurper Emperor, and brought the wrath of Uriel III and Queen Potema down on Wayrest. Pelagius, his brothers and sisters, and his mother Utheilla fled to the Isle of Balfiera. Utheilla was of the line of Direnni, and her family manse is still located on that ancient isle even to this day. There is thankfully much written record of Pelagius' childhood in Balfiera recorded by nurses and visitors. All who met him described him as a handsome, personable boy, interested in sport, magic, and music. Even assuming diplomats' lack of candor, Pelagius seemed like, if anything a blessing to the future of the Septim Dynasty. When Pelagius was eight, Cephorus slew Uriel III at the Battle of Ichidag and proclaimed himself Emperor Cephorus I. For the next ten years of his reign, Cephorus battled Potema. Pelagius' first battle was the Siege of Solitude, which ended with Potema's death and the final end of the war. ÷In gratitude, Cephorus placed Pelagius on the throne of Solitude. As king of Solitude, Pelagius' eccentricities of behavior began to be noticeable. As a favorite nephew of the Emperor, few diplomats to Solitude made critical commentary about Pelagius. For the first two years of his reign, Pelagius was at the very least noted for his alarming shifts in weight. Four months after taking the throne, a diplomat from Ebonheart called Pelagius "a hale and hearty soul with a heart so big, it widens his waist"; five months after that, the visiting princess of Firsthold wrote to her brother that "the king's gripped my hand and it felt like I was being clutched by a skeleton. Pelagius is greatly emaciated, indeed." Cephorus never married and died childless three years after the Siege of Solitude. As the only surviving sibling, Pelagius' father Magnus left the throne of Wayrest and took residence at the Imperial City as the Emperor Magnus I. Magnus was elderly and Pelagius was his oldest living child, so the attention of Tamriel focused on Sentinel. By this time, Pelagius' bizarrities were becoming infamous. There are many legends about his acts as King of Sentinel, but few well documented cases exist. It is known that Pelagius locked the young princes and princesses of Silvenar in his room with him, only releasing them when an unsigned Declaration of War was slipped under the door. When he tore off his clothes during a speech he was giving at a local festival, his advisors apparently decided to watch him more carefully. On the orders of Magnus, Pelagius was married to the beautiful heiress of an ancient Dark Elf noble family, Katariah Ra'athim. Nordic kings who marry Dark Elves seldom improve their popularity. There are two reasons most scholars give for the union. Magnus was trying to cement relations with Ebonheart, where the Ra'athim clan hailed. Ebonheart's neighbor, Mournhold, had been a historical ally of the Empire since the very beginning, and the royal consort of Queen Barenziah had won many battles in the War of the Red Diamond. Ebonheart had a poorly-kept secret of aiding Uriel III and Potena. The other reason for the marriage was more personal: Katariah was as shrewd a diplomat as she was beautiful. If ÷any creature was capable of hiding Pelagius' madness, it was she. On the 8th of Second Seed, 3E 145, Magnus I died quietly in his sleep. Jolethe, Pelagius' sister took over the throne of Solitude, and Pelagius and Katariah rode to the Imperial City to be crowned Emperor and Empress of Tamriel. It is said that Pelagius fainted when the crown was placed on his head, but Katariah held him up so only those closest to the thrones could see what had happened. Like so many Pelagius stories, this cannot be verified. Pelagius III never truly ruled Tamriel. Katariah and the Elder Council made all the decisions and only tried to keep Pelagius from embarassing all. Still, stories of Pelagius III's reign exist. It was said that when the Argonian ambassador from Blackrose came to court, Pelagius insisted on speaking in all grunts and squeaks, as that was the Argonian's natural language. It is known that Pelagius was obsessed with cleanliness, and many guests reported waking to the noise of an early-morning ÷scrubdown of the Imperial Palace. The legend of Pelagius while inspecting the servants' work, suddenly defecating on the floor to give them something to do, is probably apocryphal. When Pelagius began actually biting and attacking visitors to the Imperial Palace, it was decided to send him to a private asylum. Katariah was proclaimed regent two years after Pelagius took the throne. For the next six years, the Emperor stayed in a series of institutions and asylums. Traitors to the Empire have many lies to spread about this period. Whispered stories of hideous experiments and tortures performed on Pelagius have almost become accepted as fact. The noble lady Katariah became pregnant shortly after the Emperor was sent away, and rumors of infidelity and, even more absurd, conspiracies to keep the sane Emperor locked away ran amok. As Katariah proved, her pregnancy came about after a visit to her husband's cell. With no other evidence, as loyal subjects, we are bound to accept the Emperess' word on the matter. Her second child, who would reign for many years as Uriel IV, was the child of her union with her consort Lariate, and publicly acknowledged as ÷such. On a warm night in Suns Dawn, in his 34th year, Pelagius III died after a brief fever in his cell at the Temple of Kynareth in the Isle of Betony. Katariah I reigned for another forty six years before passing the scepter onto the only child she had with Pelagius, Cassynder. Pelagius' wild behavior has made him perversely dear to the province of his birth and death. The 2nd of Suns Dawn, which may or may not be the anniversary of his death (records are not very clear) is celebrated at Mad Pelagius, the time when foolishness of all sorts is encouraged. And so, one of the least desirable Emperors in the history of the Septim Dynasty, has become one of the most famous ones. barbed_wire

The Real Barenziah

Anonymous

The Real Barenziah Five hundred years ago in Mournhold, city of gems, there lived a blind widow woman and her only child, a strapping young man. He was a miner, as was his father before him, a common laborer in the king's mines, for his magicka ability was but small. The work was honorable, but poorly paid. His mother made and sold small wildenberry cakes in the market to help eke out their living. They did well enough, his mother said. They had enough to fill their bellies, no one could wear more than one suit of clothing at a time and the roof only leaked when it rained. Symmachus would have liked more. He hoped for a lucky strike in the mines, which would garner him a large bonus. In his free hours he enjoyed hoisting a glass of ale in the tavern with his friends, and gambling with them at cards, and he drew the eyes and sighs of more than one pretty elven girl, although none held his interest for long. In short, Symmachus was a typical young dark elf man, remarkable only for his size. It was rumored that he had a bit of Nord blood in him. ÷ In Symmachus' thirtieth year there was great rejoicing in Mournhold for a girl child was born to their lord and his lady. A queen, the people sang, a queen is born to us! For among the people of Mournhold, the birth of a female heir is a sure sign of peace and prosperity to come. When the time came for royal child's Rite of Naming, the mines were closed and Symmachus rushed home to bathe and dress in his best. "I'll come straight home and tell you all about it," he promised his mother, who was not to attend. She had been ailing; besides, there would be a great crush of people as all Mournhold would be there, and being blind she would be unable to see anything anyway. "My son," she said. "Ere you go, fetch me a priest or healer, else I may pass from the mortal plane ere you return." Symmachus crossed to her bed at once and noted anxiously that her head was very hot and her breathing shallow. He pried up the loose floorboard where their small hoard of savings was kept. There wasn't nearly enough to pay a priest for ÷healing. He would have to give what they had and owe the rest. Symmachus snatched up his cloak and rushed away. The streets were full of folk hurrying to the sacred grove, but the mage guild and the temples were locked and barred. "Closed for the ceremony" read the signs. Symmachus elbowed his way through the crowd and managed to overtake a brown-robed monk. "After the rite, brother," the monk said, "if you have gold I shall gladly to attend your mother. My lord has bade all clerics to attend and I shall not offend him." "My mother's desperately ill," Symmachus pled. "Surely, my lord will not miss just one lowly monk." "The father abbot will," the monk said nervously, tearing his robe loose from Symmachus' grip and vanishing into the crowd. Symmachus tried other monks and mages, too, but with no better result. Armored guards came through the street and pushed him aside with their lances and Symmachus realized that the royal procession was approaching. As the royal ÷carriage drew abreast, Symmachus rushed out from the crowd and shouted, "My lord, my mother's dying--" "I forbid her to do so on this glorious night!" the lord shouted, laughing and scattering coin into the throng. Symmachus was close enough to smell wine on the royal breath. On the other side of the carriage his lady clutched her babe to her breast, and stared wide-eyed at Symmachus, her nostrils flared in disdain. "Guards!" she cried. "Remove this oaf." Rough hands seized Symmachus. He was beaten and left dazed by the side of the road. Symmachus, head aching, followed in the wake of the crowd and watched the Rite of Naming from the top of the hill. He could see the brown robed clerics and blue robed mages gathered near the royal folk far below. Barenziah. The name came dim to Symmachus ears as the High Priest lifted the naked babe and showed her to the twin moons on either side of the horizon: Jone rising, Jode setting. "Behold the Lady Barenziah, born to the rule of Mournhold! ÷Grant her thy blessings and thy counsel ever that she rule to Mournhold's weal." "Blessings, blessings..." all the people murmured with their lord and lady, hands upraised. Only Symmachus stood silent, head bowed, knowing in his heart that his dear mother was gone. And in his silence he swore a mighty oath, that he should be his lord's bane and in vengeance for his mother's needless death, the child Barenziah he would have as his own bride, that his mother's grandchildren should be born to rule Mournhold. After the ceremony he watched impassively as the royal procession returned to the palace. He saw the monk to whom he'd spoken first. The man came gladly enough now in return for the gold Symmachus had and a promise of more later. They found his mother dead, as he had feared. The monk sighed and tucked the bag away. "I'm sorry, brother. Well, you can forget the rest of the gold, as there's naught I can do here. Likely--" "Give me back my gold!" Symmachus snarled. "You've done ÷naught to earn it!" He lifted his right arm threateningly. The priest backed away, beginning a curse, but Symmachus struck him before more than three words had left his mouth. He went down heavily, striking his head sharply on one of the stones that formed the firepit. He died instantly. Symmachus took the gold back and fled the city, muttering the name "Barenziah". The child Barenziah stood on the upper balcony of the palace, staring down into the courtyard where soldiers milled, splendid in their armor. Presently they formed into ordered ranks and cheered as her parents, the lord and lady ÷emerged from the palace, clad head to toe in ebony armor, long purple-dyed fur cloaks flowing behind. Splendidly caparisoned shining black horses were brought for them and they mounted and rode to the courtyard gates, then turned to salute her. "Barenziah!" they cried. "Barenziah, farewell!" The little girl blinked back tears and waved bravely with one hand, her favorite stuffed toy animal, a gray wolf cub she called Wuffen, clutched to her breast with the other. She had never been parted from her parents before and had no idea what it meant, save that there was war in the west and the names Tiber Septim and Symmachus were on everyone's lips, spoken with hate and dread. "Barenziah!" The soldiers cried, lifting their lances and swords and bows. Then her dear parents turned and rode away, soldiers trailing in their wake until the palace was near emptied. Some time after came a day when Barenziah was shaken awake by her nurse, dressed hurriedly and carried from the palace. All she remembered of that dreadful time was seeing a huge shadow with burning eyes that filled the sky. She was passed from hand to hand. Foreign soldiers appeared. Her nurse vanished and was replaced by strangers, some more strange than others. There were days, or was it weeks?, of travel. One morning she woke to step from the coach into a cold place with a large gray stone house set amid endless empty gray-green and hills patchily covered with gray-white snow. She clutched Wuffen to her breast with both hands and stood blinking and shivering in the gray dawn, feeling very small and very black in all this endless space gray-white space. A large gray-white woman was staring at her with dreadful bright blue eyes. "She's very -- black, isn't she?" the woman remarked to her companion, a brown skinned, black-haired woman named Hana who had been travelling with Barenziah for several days. "I've never seen a dark elf before." "I don't know much about them myself," Hana said. "This one's got red hair and a temper to match, I can tell you that. Take care. She bites. And worse." "I'll soon train her out of that," the other woman sniffed, "And what's that filthy thing she's got? Ugh!" The woman snatched Wuffen away and cast him into the fire blazing in the hearth. Barenziah shrieked and would have flung herself into the fire after him, but was forcibly restrained, despite her attempts to bite and claw her oppressors while poor Wuffen was reduced to a little heap of charred ash. barbed_wire