The books in this section are...

The First Scroll of Baan Dar

A Tale of Kieran

Fragment: On Artaeum

The Wild Elves

Redguards, History and Heroes

Ark'ay The God

The Faerie

Oelander's Hammer

The Pig Children

The Old Ways

Ghraewaj

A Scholar's Guide to Nymphs

The First Scroll of Baan Dar

Arkan

The First Scroll of Baan Dar What follows is a translation of the first fragment from a series of vellum scrolls found in 3 Alabaster jars sealed in a cave. The discoverer was a nomad wanderer somewhere on the shores of Lake Vread in the Province of Elswyer. I can neither vouch for nor deny its authenticity or veracity - ÷only that the scrolls, as such, DO exist. Read and judge for yourself: Baan Dar, The Legend... Thief, Warlock, ShadowMaster, Ruthless Assassin, Undying Avenger, Dark God, Robber Baron, MasterMind of Nefarious Plots. All these things and more are the Legendary Baan Dar, he who is called The Bandit God. But what is the Truth? Baan Dar, The Man is a much more simple and complex being. I pen this tale as I slowly die of old age and a mortifying arrow wound. I cannot decide if the truth will add to or subtract from the legend that is Baan Dar, nor if the original Baan Dar would want the truth to be known. Therefore, I will leave this tale hidden when I am done and gone, and let Fate (which was ever Baan Dar's true master and motivator) decide. I was a child of 12 Seasons when I first met Baan Dar. Orphan of a Slaver raid during one of the many inter-provincial border wars. Living by my quick wits, nimble fingers, and the grace of Lady Luck in the back alleys and byways of my birth city. I had just "liberated" a loaf of bread and a few small apples from a local street vendor in the Bazaar on the edge of the city near the tumbled outer wall, and had withdrawn down an ill-lit alley to feast on ÷my bounty when I was beset by an older band of my ilk. The older and lazier variety which were want to engage in the easier and less dangerous art of stealing from the stealers. There were 5 of the bully boys who had decided they were more deserving of my booty than I, and they were beating me half to death with staves in between bites and laughter at the time. Lying on the ground curled up into as tight a ball as I could manage, trying to protect my head and groin, I heard a quiet voice ask if they were not "more suited to go down to the wharf and take food from your brother rats, or would you care to try your tricks on game a bit more your size and number?" Since my "companions" had become otherwise engaged with the newcomer and had for the nonce ceased thumping, kicking and cuffing at me, I looked up to see a dark shadow of boots, cloak, and chainmail hood leaning against the wall at the end of the alleyway. The others, being what they were, took this as a challenge to their manhood - and easy prey to their superior number with a promise of coin of the realm as added reward (else the first part would have been overlooked). The leader of my band of playmates suggested that the stranger take a leap off the mentioned wharf unless he wished to join me there when they were done with their evening meal. Having drawn ÷chuckles and courage from his underlings, he then proceeded forward with staff at high port. I'm not quite sure exactly what followed, but within a short space of time, Lead Bully was lying in the dirt with a thrown dagger in his chest, number two bully had lost three teeth to a boot (I still carry them in a leather pouch as a keepsake), and number three bully was brought short by his own staff applied forcefully up between his toes (the two big ones!). Bullies four and five thought better of the entertainment and departed rapidly for parts unknown. Baan Dar picked me up, dusted me off, and dragged me round to a near tavern where we shared a meal and a mug. I attempted to thank him for saving my life. How can I ever repay this favor, I asked? His reply was short, to the point, and has driven my actions in life ever since... "THE PROPER WAY TO REPAY A FAVOR, IS NOT TO - PASS IT ON INSTEAD." Things having not progressed well along the lines of health, wealth and welfare for me until that point in my ÷life came upon a sudden change that night. I later learned (along with MANY other things) that Baan Dar had decided to take a direct and immediate interest in me because my situation reminded him very much of the bad start his own life had taken, and the odds he had faced to survive it. On that night he took me under his wing as a kind of apprentice. He saw to it that I learned weaponcraft and stealth, that I learned to read and write! He took me along when he traveled for the next year. I served as messenger, valet, packmule, lookout, cook - many things. I saw other towns, cities, races, provinces, and broadened my view and knowledge of the world far beyond belief. He taught me both morals and coldhearted ruthlessness - and when and how to apply each as the ethics of the situation required. At the end of the year, he gave me good dagger, and decent horse, the 3 teeth, and leave (nay, Command) to make my own way in the world from that day forward - but to remember all I had been given, and to attempt to pass such a gift to another when and where I should find need and opportunity. That I have done, several times... as I assume he has also, and as I hope my various charges have after me (and they theirs). Thus has the Legendary Baan Dar been seen time and again in various lands of our world at numerous and the same times in days of ÷need. Thus also is the description so very hard to obtain and track - for in truth, there have been, and continue to be, many Baan Dars in the world. The most valuable lesson he ever taught me was that "for Evil to triumph required not so much that many bad men to do wrong, as for One good man to fail to do what was right." We only hope that our combined and concatenated efforts have produced enough single men and women that will not fail to do the right thing, regardless of current local, morals, laws, religion, creed, or lure of coin of the realm. The Legend grows still. Of the Dark Avenging Blade on the Wings of Night that make no sound. The Patron Saint of the Lone Wolf. The Thousand Eyes and Ears, the Hundred Arms direspectful of Time or Distance. Undying, Master of Disguise, Man of a Thousand Faces, Shapes and Sizes, Gentle, Rough-Edged, Gay, Stern. All the Mystery of the "Man Unknown and Undying"... not a single man nor God at all, but a string of seeds sown upon the land and left to grow into a forest. How to reconcile this truth with the tales of cruelty and the gangs of "Baan Dars" or "Bandits"? Some are jealous Thieves who take the name only for the cloak of mystery and hope of hiding in it's Shadow. Others are tales twisted to reverse by those justly served by Baan Dar's unfettered by ÷technicalities of law and custom. Some are backsliders drawn of the true path by temptation and returning to their old ways. Many are the things that any one Baan Dar cannot answer for, as others did the deeds in the same name. Some are tales of fishwives, made up to scare the child into doing what is wanted. Some are left as part of the "Mystery" that is both cloak and shield to the hidden purposes - a case where the fear of the tale serves to save the need of arms or action. But, by and large, the true Baan Dar is a string of beings taught to act upon what they believe in, and stand to take the yoke of needed action upon their own shoulders. Don't fight if you can avoid blood or war, But if you must make War, do so with all your Heart and Might. Leave it at Threats if Threats be enough - but never make threats you are unwilling to carry to conclusion if required. Use all the arts at hand. But ever keep the true purpose in mind. Stand Tall, but never forget how to bend your knee to help another. Note: The rest of the scrolls are tales and tellings of various parts of the Legend, some as passed from Bard to Bard, some as the true tales underlying the Ballads. These fragments are still to be translated and debated. This fragment, however, contains the kernel of the Revelation and the true source of the questions surrounding the Baan Dar Legend. What Say You, Reader? For myself, I do not know... but God or unrelated string of linked souls as laid out here... I do know that Baan Dar IS a force in our Land and Lives, and one that gives Hope to many that need it, and pause to many I despise. -- Arkan, Scribe of Daggerfall in the year 2E24 barbed_wire

A Tale of Kieran

Vegepythicus,

Librarian's Note ... The recorded tales of Kieran the Bard fall into three ÷categories: the Woodland Cycle, Castles and Kings, and an unnamed cycle of lusty tales (recently destroyed by mysterious accident). Some are in the bard's own hand, while others, mere shadows of the originals, remain only as bedtime tales for children. The structure exemplifies the helical form favoured by listeners about the hearth on a long winter's eve. As to whether they describe real events, be allegory, or be mere entertaining fancy, the reader must decide. I. Kieran was on the road from Wren to Fairtree, when he grew weary from the midday sun. His boots were tight and he thought to remove them for a bit in the shade of a nearby oak (oaks ÷being a favourite of bards). This particular oak was venerable and gnarled, with sturdy branches that dipped and swooped, nearly touching the ground in spots. From its shade Kieran watched the forest creatures playing in the warm sun. But for the rustling of leaves, high above, the only sounds were of butterfly wings and birdsong. "What a peaceful day," Kieran thought as he watched a butterfly drift by, "What a beautiful day! In truth, since bards first told tales, has there ever been a day more peaceful and beautiful than this?" He drank from his waterskin and, taking his lute from its sack, cleared his throat and began to sing: "Oh, the maidens of Wren are passing fair ... ...with breasts like melons, and flaxen hair ..." He had just taken a deep breath to bellow the lusty chorus when a small, feminine voice said, "Kind sir ..." He leaped to his stockinged feet, his face flaming red. "Who's there?" he cried. ÷ The small voice repeated, "Please, sir, if you will be so kind ..." Kieran looked about but saw no person or creature addressing him. "Pray thee," he cried. "Show thyself or have cause to fear my dagger." (He tried desperately to remember where he had last seen it.) "Whether thee be friend or foe, pray thee show thyself now." The small voice replied from above him, "Kind sir, thou hast no cause to fear me, and I am in need of help. Can thou find it in thy heart to aid me?" He looked up and saw naught but a small robin's nest, three branches above him. Climbing swiftly, he found a robin with three tiny robinlings, their mouths open wide. "Good mother robin," he asked, "Can it be thee who addresses me thus?" "Kind sir," she replied, "I have hurt my wing and it will ÷be at least a day before I might fly. If my children do not eat soon, they will die. Would you be so kind as to bring a fat, juicy meal? Would you find a caterpillar or earthworm or grub for my children?" Now, Kieran was kind of heart and it was not within him to refuse a plea such as this, so off he went into the forest. Searching under some mulberry leaves, he soon found a small green caterpillar. It seemed a perfect meal for young robins. Plucking it from the leaf upon which it fed, he prepared to hurry back to the oak when he heard a tiny voice. He opened his hand and the caterpillar looked up at him with her big brown eyes wide with fear. "Kind sir," she said, "wouldst thou kill me so thoughtlessly?" Kieran scratched his head in puzzlement and the caterpillar continued: "When thou cooled thy feet beneath the oak, didst thou not find joy in my parents' beauty as they danced before thee in the sun? I, too, am soon to change. Wouldst thou deny thy successors the joy of my dancing? And if I do not live to have children, how will thine own children find ÷such joy? Please, sir, would not an earthworm serve the needs of the robinlings just as well? Kieran looked into the eyes of the caterpillar and knew that he could not feed her to the robins. Carefully, he placed her beneath her mulberry bush and continued his search. Near a rushing brook, Kieran found a flat stone that, when moved, revealed a juicy earthworm enjoying the cool moist earth. "Aha." he thought. "As nice as the caterpillar may have been, this truly seems a more fitting meal for young robins." He had no sooner plucked the earthworm from it's cool abode (where it had been frantically trying to burrow away from him), when he heard a voice so faint he might have imagined it: "Kind sir," he thought he heard, and Kieran looked in his hand. The worm continued: "I am but a lowly creature, it's true, but might I plead such case that I have?" Kieran rolled his eyes skyward as the worm sat up and seized its chance. "I am not a lowborn worm like others you might ÷find. No, I am a prince among earthworms. I come from an ancient lineage. My ancestors burrowed the earth when fires belched from black pits throughout these lands. I command millions like myself. Were it not for my loyal followers, you, good sir, would be up to your neck in leaves, tree trunks and mouldy carcasses. I'll make a bargain with you. If you release me and choose, instead, a pathetic grub for the robinlings, I will dispatch an entire clan of earthworms to keep your foreyard clean and sweet-smelling for as long as ye shall live." The earthworm looked hopefully at Kieran (while calculating the distance to the ground). "Good sir, what say ye?" Kieran was beginning to lose his patience, but, seeing the value of the earthworm's offer, decided that a grub would, indeed, make a tasty morsel for the young robins. He returned the earthworm to its moist haven and carefully replaced the flat stone above it. And, true to his desire, a short while later, in a forest glade, beneath a wide slab of discarded bark, Kieran chanced upon that which he sought: a fat white grub that would grow the robinlings into beautiful songsters. He plucked it from its hiding place and set forth. It was a beautiful day, indeed. II. Nearby, in stately Trowbridge, King Caladan did live with his lovely daughter, Einlea. The princess was the apple of the old man's eye and the crown jewel of his small kingdom. He looked upon her with the blind pride of a doting father, and she, for her part, did naught but bask and flourish in his bounty. Trowbridge was quiet now, the chief sounds being the clatter of cart wheels and the cries of street vendors, but it was not always so. Three years earlier there had been trouble with Carthan to the west. It was not much, a border dispute, but the king persuaded a wizard named Loziard to come to Trowbridge in his employ, to aid him in the contest. Loziard was unknown by all in Trowbridge and kept to himself within the palace, coming and going as he pleased. When Trowbridge prevailed, with almost no loss of life, there was joyous celebration for days and weeks thereafter. Time passed, yet ÷Loziard remained. The King, not wanting to seem ungrateful, said nothing, but became increasingly discomforted with the wizard's presence and wished for his departure. On Einlea's twentieth birthday, King Caladan called for a celebration and holiday through all his land. Unknown to his subjects, he intended to proclaim his retirement and the transference of his crown to his beautiful daughter. Out of politeness, and nothing more, he invited the wizard Loziard to aid him in devising a proper speech. Loziard was furious. He paced his chamber, his black brows knitted with intensity that would have soured any cow's milk. "Why," he cried aloud, "am I treated so unjustly by the old buffoon? Were it not for my skills, the border contest, mayhaps even the kingdom itself, might have been lost. I deserve more. I deserve the crown. To give it to that primping simpering daughter of his, who thinks naught of more than her own whim, is a slap more stinging than that of gauntlet. I will have justice. I will demonstrate, amply, for all to see, wherein lies true power." Thereupon, Loziard made his preparations. Princess Einlea's birthday came on a summer morning. Everyone within the city, and from the farms without, gathered to the palace for the festival. Banners waved from every rooftop. Fiddlers fiddled and dancers danced. Bakers baked wonderful sweets for the occasion. It was a day long to be remembered. At noon, precisely, King Caladan and Princess Einlea emerged onto the main balcony to the cheers of the kingdom. "Good citizens of Trowbridge," called the King, "We are but a tiny kingdom, but we prosper, do we not?" Loud hails (mostly) erupted from the crowd below. Encouraged, Caladan continued, "But now I am an old man. The day has arrived when younger blood can better attend to the needs and events of the kingdom. My subjects ... My loyal subjects and friends ... It is with honour ...and pride ...and the greatest of expectations ...that I transfer my kingdom and my crown to my loving daughter. To one and all, I give you" (a long pause here) "Einlea." As cheers filled the air, Caladan made a grand, sweeping gesture with his arm, intending to make the presentation as spectacular as the pride that filled him. His robe went "swoooosh" and his hand pointed to ... nobody. What was this? Where had she gone? Where Einlea had been, moments earlier, there now was naught but vacant air. "Er ...Einlea ...?" he called, uncertainly. But there was no response. Silence fell over park and courtyard. People glanced at each other nervously. Old Loziard clapped his hands in glee. He danced. He hugged himself with uncontained laughter. "How wonderful ..." he cried. "What a breathtakingly stunning and talented a wizard I am.." For what he had done, of course, was to rid himself of Einlea for once and for all. With one stroke, crafty and evil, he had removed the vain creature from the palace. Nought else remained between him and that which he desired. Now, magic is a tricky thing. Like all forces in the world, it must be kept in balance. As surely as day balances night and summer balances winter, so too must positive magic ÷balance negative. For every hurtful or destructive spell, there must be an act of equal goodness or charity lest trouble overflow into the world. For every black wizard, there must be a white. For every spell of combat destruction, there must be healing. Know ye this ...if all who practice magic cast naught but healing or protective spells, dark, horrible forces would build up until chaos and ruin would burst forth and rain our doom down upon us. Thus may spells of healing be broken by harm, and the worst of spells be broken by charity. Knowing this, Loziard planned well his act of vengeance. To permanently rid himself of Einlea (short of killing her outright) he must devise a spell so cunning that no act of kindness would ever break it. He was pulling lice out of his long beard, late one evening, when he burst into laughter. He would make her into something ...disgusting. "I will make her into a frog." he laughed, then frowned. No ... that had been done. People might expect it and go around, like mindless idiots, seeking frogs, hoping to earn a kings ransom. And then, a brilliant plan occurred to him. "I will make her into a bug, an insect, a WORM ..." He almost choked on his wine. "Oh. How perfect.. I will make her into something so truly loathsome that she will spend the rest of her little bug life in terror of being squashed by the first person who sees her." He squealed and his rings jangled and his fat jiggled and he snorted wine out his nose in laughter. "Oh, how absolutely delicious ..." And that's exactly what he did. While King Caladan and his subjects scratched their heads in puzzlement, nobody saw a small fat white tree grub plop to the cobblestones beneath the main balcony and immediately curl up, glistening and quivering. III. Einlea was terrified. What had happened? Well, she had seen enough of Loziard's magic to know what had happened. But why? Why would he do this to her? She didn't have long to ponder the question. A huge black hound, hundreds of times her size, ran to the cobblestone where she lay, and almost gobbled her with one slurp of his tongue. From somewhere, she found the wherewithal to roll out of his way and into the crevice between the stones. His HUGE slurpy tongue followed her, drooling and panting great hurricanes of hot awful breath down at her. But just as the tongue was about to lick her into the waiting stomach, the hound's owner yanked his massive chain and pulled the beast toward home. It is true that Einlea, in her life as a human, was self indulgent and not inclined to effort or resource, but that was merely because she had no need of either. In the following days, she had cause to discover plenty of both within her. After the incident with the hound, she knew she must go far away from people and dogs. And she knew what kinds of creatures dined on grubs, too. She slept out of sight under leaves, in places where grubs would not likely be sought. Even so, Einlea's days were filled with terror and adventure. There were circling hawks by day and owls by night. A bear, tearing at a rotting tree trunk, gobbled grubs, indistinguishable from Einlea, by the hundreds, as she watched in horror from behind a nearby rock. The smallest stream was now an enormous, gushing torrent, to be crossed in a nutshell under the greatest of peril. Einlea passed these tests, along with many others, and she passed them well. It was on her tenth such day that a clumsy boot kicked aside the piece of bark under which she had sought shelter from the sun. Blinded by the sudden light, she heard an exclamation from high above. Then, before she could react, two fingers dropped from the sky and plucked her up and deposited her firmly inside a huge fist. Ten days ago, Einlea would have been paralysed with terror. But that was ten days ago. Her mind raced. "Who is this clumsy idiot, anyway??" she thought, "and what on earth does he want with a tree grub? At least he didn't squash me on the spot. That's encouraging, isn't it? So he must be here to rescue me.." She wriggled and squirmed in his fist until she could see his ÷face, high above her, between two of his fingers. "Ugh. A beard. If I'm going to be rescued, why can't it be by a fine young prince?" But it then occurred to her that she was speaking from old habit. "I wonder how many of those foppish boys could have survived these past ten days?" She laughed, thinking of them. "Not many, I bet. Those who wouldn't have curled up and died immediately would, by now, be whimpering and crying for their mothers." She looked at Kieran again. "Well ... maybe he would look better if I wasn't looking straight up his nostrils. Ouch.. Why isn't he more careful with me??" And then it occurred to Einlea that, if this oaf were truly rescuing her, he probably would have said something to her. "Uh-oh." Einlea's heart raced and she started wriggling furiously , imagining the worst of all possible deaths. "He must be going fishing." Einlea couldn't do much in her current state, but she could spit. And spit she did. In quantities unimaginable for so small a grub. She spit and spit and spit until her tiny grub mouth was too dry to spit another drop. She felt Kieran's hand squirming and thought, "It's working.." IV. Kieran was fair disgusted. Twas bad enough that he had to touch the slimy thing, but now it was oozing something and becoming truly revolting. Finally, just before he reached the robin's oak, he could take it no longer. He stopped and examined the creature in his hand. White and plump and glistening, it was, in truth, a repellent creature. Yet the poor thing was obviously terrified. It gazed up at him with what he imagined to be minuscule grub eyes, pleading. Kieran thought of the caterpillar and the earthworm, and his heart gave in. Heaving a great resigned sigh, he found a nice clean root and placed the grub upon it. And thus was Loziard's spell broken. None could have been more astonished than Einlea when she unexpectedly grew to her former size, except, perhaps for Kieran, who nearly died of fright. He was no more than catching his breath when Einlea regained her wits. Raising her index finger, warning Kieran not to say even ONE word, Einlea snatched Kieran's coat to cover herself. Then, with fire in her eyes, and as much dignity as she could muster, she was off to Trowbridge, leaving Kieran to stare, open- mouthed, at her departing figure. Einlea knew she could not simply enter the city and confront Loziard. The moment he saw her, he would but cast another enchantment upon her. So, disguising herself as a shepherd, she found an abandoned house on the moors and began to make her plans. What happened next is a tale worth hearing. But it is a tale for another evening. Indeed, it is a tale to be told over many an evening, and many a good pot of ale. And what of the baby robins? Having no alternative, Kieran climbed the tree and took from his pack his last piece of fatty mutton. Tearing it into small shreds, he gave it to the ÷grateful mother robin, who fed it to her family. Upon returning to the ground, Kieran looked first toward Fairtree, his former destination, then, grinning, set off after the most surprising young lady, for whom he now had many questions. "Who knows ..." he called back to the robins, "It may be fate. And besides, I need my coat." He was heard, late that evening, far down the road, singing: "Oh, the maidens of Trowbridge are passing fair ... ...with breasts like melons, and flaxen hair ..." barbed_wire

Fragment: On Artaeum

TaurceAnselma

Fragment: On Artaeum by Taurce il-Anselma, 3E 400 The Isle of Artaeum (ar-TAY-um) Artaeum is the third largest island in the Sumurset archipelago, located south of the Moridunon village of Potansa and west of the mainland village of Runcibae. It is best known for being the home to the Psijic Order, perhaps the oldest monastic group in Tamriel. The earliest written record of Psijics is from the twentieth year of the first era and tells the tale of the author, the renowned Breton sage Voernet, travelling to the Isle of Artaeum to meet with the Rite Master of the Psijics, Iachesis. Even then, the Psijics were the counselors of kings and proponents of the "Elder Way," taught to them by the original people of Tamriel. The Elder Way is a philosophy of meditation and study said to bind the forces of nature to the individual will. It differs from magicka in origin, but the effects are much the same. That being said, it is perhaps more than coincidence that the Isle of Artaeum literally vanished from the shores of Sumurset at the beginning of the second era at about the time of the founding of the Mages Guild of Tamriel. Various historians and scholars have published theories about this, but perhaps none but Iachesis and his own could shed light on this. Five hundred years passed and Artaeum returned. The Psijics on the Isle consisted of persons, mostly elves, who had disappeared and were presumed dead over the second era. They could not or would not offer an explanation for Artaeum's wherebouts during that time or the fate of Iachesis and the original council of Artaeum. Currently, the Psijics are led by the Lore Master Celarus who has presided over the Council of Artaeum for the last two hundred and fifty years. The Council's influence in world politics is tidal: the kings of Sumurset, particularly those of Moridunon, have often sought the Psijics' opinion; Uriel V was much influenced by the Council in the early, most glorious part of his reign, before his disasterous attack on Akavir; it has even been suggested that the fleet of King Orghum of Pyandonea was destroyed by a joint effort of Emperor Antiochus and the Psijic Order. The last four emperors, Uriel VI, Morihatha, Pelagius IV, and Uriel VII, have been suspicious of the Psijics, even enough to refuse ambassadors for the Isle of Artaeum in the Imperial City. The Isle of Artaeum is difficult to chart geographically. It is said that parts of it exist simultaneously in multiple dimensions and continuously shift either at random or by decree of Council. Visitors to the island are so rare to be almost unheard of. Anyone desirous of a meeting with a Psijic may find contacts in Potansa and Runcibae as well as many of the kingdoms of Sumurset. Were it more accessible, Artaeum would be a favored destination for travellers. I have been to the Isle once and still dream of the idylic orchards and pastures, the still and silent lagoons, the misty woodlands, and the unique Psijic architecture that seems to be as natural but wondrous as the surroundings. The Ceporah Tower in particular I would study, for it is a ruin from a civilization that predates the High Elves by several hundred years and is still used in certain rites by the Psijics. ÷ Perhaps one day I might return. Note: The author is currently on the Isle of Artaeum by gracious consent of Master Sargenius of the Council of Artaeum. barbed_wire

The Wild Elves

KiergoChorvak

Wild Elves In the wilds of most every province of Tamriel, descended philosophically if not directly from the original inhabitants of the land are the Ayleids, commonly called the ÷Wild Elves. While three races of elven stock, Salache (or High), Boiche (or Wood), and Moriche (or Dark) have assimilated well to the new cultures of Tamriel, the Ayleids and their brethren have remained aloof of our civilization, preferring to practice the old ways far from the eyes of the world. The Wild Elves speak a variation of Old Cyrodilic and not Tamrielic, separating themselves further even than their more urbanized Elven cousins. In temperament they are dark-spirited and taciturn, though they doubtless act differently with outsiders (or "Pellani" in their tongue) than within their own tribes. Indeed, one of the finest sages of the University of Gwilym was a civilized Ayleid elf, Tjurhane Fyrre (1E 2790 - 2E 227) whose published work on Wild Elves suggests a lively, vibrant culture. Fyrre is one of the very few Ayleids to speak freely on his people and religion, and even he said "the nature of the tribes of Ayleid are multi-hued, their personalities often wildly different from their neighbor tribes." (Fyrre, T. "Nature of Ayleidic Poesy" p. 8, Univ of Gwilym Press, 2E 12) Like any alien culture, Wild Elves are often feared by the simple people of Tamriel. The Ayleids continue to be one of the greatest enigmas of the continent of Tamriel. They seldom appear in the pages of written history in any role, and then only as a strange sight a chronicler stumbles upon before they vanish into the wood. When probable fiction is filtered from common legend, we are left with almost nothing. The mysterious ways of the Ayleids have remained shrouded since before the first era, and may well remain so for thousands of years to come. barbed_wire

Redguards, History and Heroes

DestriMerlarg

Redguards Their History and Their Heroes Notes on the Redguards, their history and their heroes. This is a publishers proof of the initial draft of my book, "REDGUARDS, THEIR HISTORY AND THEIR HEROES". The following is a collection of the tales, myths and history of the Redguards. Much of their history is shrouded in mystery and in the mists of time. It is hard to distinguish between myths, and real history. Below are the first chapters of the draft by Destri Melarg Author's note as translated into the Modern Tongue of Hammerfell: Frandar Hunding was born in 2356 in the old way of reckoning, in our beloved deserts of the old land. The traditional rule of emperors had been overthrown in 2012, and although each successive emperor remained the figurehead of the empire, his powers were very much reduced. Since that time, our people saw 300 years of almost continuous civil war between the provincial lords, warrior monks and brigands, all fighting each other for land and power. Our people once were artisans, poets, and scholars, but the ever evolving strife made the way the sword inevitable - the ÷song of the blade through the air, through flesh and bone, its ring against armor: an answer to our prayers. In the time of Lord Frandar the first Warrior Prince, lords called Yokeda built huge stone castles to protect themselves and their lands, and castle towns outside the walls begin to grow up. In 2245, however, Mansel Sesnit came to the fore. He became the Elden Yokeda, or military dictator, and for eight years succeeded in gaining control of almost the whole empire. When Sesnit was assassinated in 2253,a commoner took over the government. Randic Torn continued the work of unifying the Empire which Sesnit had begun, ruthlessly putting down any traces of insurrection. He revived the old gulf between the warriors - the sword singers - and the commoners by introducing restrictions on the wearing of swords. "Torn's Sword-hunt", as it was known, meant that only the singers were allowed to wear swords, which distinguished them from the rest of the population. Although Torn did much to settle the empire into its pre-strife ways, by the time of his death in 2373 internal disturbances still had not been completely eliminated. Upon his death, civil war broke out in earnest; war that made ÷the prior 300 year turmoil pale in comparison. It was in this period that Frandar Hunding grew up. Hunding belonged to the sword-singers. This element of empire society grew from the desert artisans and was initially recruited from the young sons and daughters of the high families. They built the first temple to the unknown gods of War and build a training hall "The Hall of the Virtues of War". Within a few generations the way of the sword - the song of the blade - had become their life. The people of the blade kept their poetry and artisanship in building beautiful swords woven with magic and powers from the unknown gods. The greatest among them became known as Ansei or "Saints of the Sword". Each of these began their own training schools teaching their individual way of the sword. Those Ansei of the highest virtue wandered the country side engaging in battle, righting wrongs, and seeking to end the strife. To sum it up. Hunding, was a sword-singer, a master, no, a Master Ansei at a time when the peak of the strife was reborn out of the chaos of Torn's death. Many singers put up their swords and became artists, for the pull of the artisan ÷heritage was strong; but others, like Hunding pursued the ideal of the warrior searching for enlightenment through the perilous paths of the Sword. Duels of revenge and tests of skill were common place, and fencing schools multiplied. Frandar do Hunding Hel Ansei No Shira, or as he is commonly known Frandar Hunding, was born in the far desert marches in the province of High Desert. Hunding is the name of the High Desert region near where he was born. No Shira means noble person or person of noble birth and Hel Ansei is his title of Sword Sainthood. Hunding's ancestors reach back to the beginning of recorded time in the high desert and were artisans and mystics, his grandfather was a retainer of the Elden Yokeda, Mansel Sesnit, and led many of the battles of unification prior to Sesnit's assassination. When he was 14, Hunding's father died in the one of the many insurrections, and he was left to support his mother and four brothers. His prowess with the sword however, made his life both difficult and easy. Easy in that his services came in great demand as a guardian and escort. Hard in that his ÷reputation preceded him, and many awaited their turn to face him in battle and gain instant fame through his defeat. By the time Hunding was 30 he had fought and won more than 90 duels killing all his opponents. He became virtually invincible with the sword, gaining such skill and mastery that he finally stopped using the real swords created through the artisanship of his people and began using the Shehai or "way of the spirit sword". All sword singers learn through their intense training and devotion to the gods of war and way of the sword, the forms of discipline that allow the creation of the spirit sword. This is a simple form of magic or mind mastery where by a image of a sword is formed from pure thought. The sword singer forms the sword by concentrating, and it takes shape in his hand - usually a pale thing of light, misty and insubstantial, a thing of beauty perhaps, a symbol of devotion to the Way and the gods, but no weapon. However, those Ansei of the highest level and sensitivity and those with talent in magic, can at times of stress, form a spirit sword, the Shehai which is far more than light and air - it is an unstoppable weapon of great might, a weapon which can ÷never be taken from the owner without also taking his mind. The Shehai became Hunding's weapon, and with this he slew bands of brigands and wandering monsters than infested the land. Finally upon finishing his 90th duel, defeating the evil Lord Janic and his seven lich followers, he was satisfied that he was indeed invincible. Hunding then turned to formulating his philosophy of"the Way of the Sword". He wrote his Learnings down in the BOOK OF CIRCLES while living as a hermit in a cave in the mountains of high desert in his sixtieth year. In that year Hunding having enlisted in the many battles of the empire, defeating all opponents, had thought himself ready for death and retired to his cave to capture his strategy and mystical visions to share with other Sword Singers. It was after his completion of the scroll of the Circle that the Singers found him composing his death poem and preparing to join the gods of war in final rest. At sixty he was a vigorous man, who thought himself through with life, but his people,the sword-singers needed him. They needed him as never before. Torn's Sword Hunt, had separated the Singers from the common people, and the rise of the Last Emperor began the last great strife of the desert empire. The Emperor and his consort Elisa's final effort to wrest control of the empire from the people by destroying the sword-singers. Hira vowed to search out every Singer with his Brigand army composed of Orcs and castoffs of the wars of the empire, and to scourge them from the face of the planet. The Sword Singers were never a numerous people. The harsh desert kept the births few, and growing up in the unforgiving wastes eliminated all but those of iron spirit and will. Thus the final strife which became knows as the "War of the Singers" found the people of the sword unprepared and unready to join together their individually great skills into an army that could defend their homes and lives. Frandar Hunding was sought out, his death poem interrupted, and unceremoniously command of the singers was thrust upon him. To the unknown gods of war great thanks is owed that Hunding had the time in his cave to write down his years of accumulated wisdom, of strategy, of the way of the Shehai. The singers fled from their camps up into the desert hills and mountains. Fled to the foot of Hattu "the father of Mountains" where Hunding had gone to write in peace and to die, and there these remnants formed into the Army of the Circle - they learned Hunding's Way, his strategies his tactics, and the final great vision for a master stroke. Hunding devised a plan of seven battles leading the Armies of Hira further and further into the wilderness to the foot of Hattu, where the final battle could be fought. Hunding called his plan the "Hammer and the Anvil". With each battle Hunding's Singers would further learn his strategies and tactics, grow strong in the use of the Shehai, and be ready to defeat their opponents in the seventh battle. And thus it was, the six first battles were waged, each neither victory or defeat, each leading to the next. The larger armies of Hira following the small army of Hunding. Outnumbered thirty to one, the singers never faltered from the Way. The stage was set, Hira and his Army maneuvered to the base of Hattu Mountain, where the hammer blow was delivered. The battle was pitched, and many singers fell that day. Hunding knew, that the singers who lived would be few, but Hira and his empire of evil would not live and so it went. At the end Hunding and less that twenty thousand Singers survived the day, but no army of evil was left to pillage and murder, more than three hundred thousand fell that day on Hattu. Of those who were left to run and live, all were scattered to the four winds, and organized force no more. The singers packed their lives, folded their tents, mourned their dead, and followed Hunding to the great port city of Arch, in the province of Seawind. There Hunding had a flotilla of ships waiting. The Singers left their desert for a new land. No longer welcome in the desert empire, they left to be sung about and spoken of in legend. The final great warrior, the singers of Shehai, the Book of Circles, all leaving that land where their virtue was unappreciated. Red, red with blood they were in the eyes of the gentle citizenry, never mind that they had saved them from a great evil. The singers vowed to learn new ways as they traveled across the great ocean to their new land. To adopt a new name, but to honor the past. In honor of their final battle, they named their new land Hammerfell and adopted the name Redguards. In honor to Hunding the great warrior prince, each household in Hammerfell has a place by the hearth an alcove really, just a niche, big enough to hold the scroll - The Book of Circles. barbed_wire

Ark'ay The God

MymophonustheScribe

Arkay The God So be it known that the gods were once as we. Ark'ay, the god of death and birth, was an ordinary shopkeeper whose only unusual characteristic was a passion for knowledge. To indulge his hobby he became an avid collector of books on almost any subject he could find in print. One day he stumbled across a tome which purported to tell the secrets of life, death, and the purpose of existence. After months of studying the convoluted logic, written in opaque language, he thought that he was finally beginning to understand what the author was saying. During this time he became so intent on understanding the book that he ignored everything else: his business started to slide towards bankruptcy, his few friends stopped visiting him, he ignored the plague which was ravaging the town, and his family were ready to leave him. Just as he felt that the book was opening visions of new worlds, the plague brought him low. His family tended his illness out of a sense of duty, but he slowly sank towards death. So, as a last resort, he prayed to Mara the mother-goddess to allow him enough time to complete his studies of the book. "Why should I make an exception for you, Ark`ay?" asked ÷Mara. "Mother Mara, I am finally beginning to understand this book and the meaning of life and death" he answered, "and with a little more time to study and think, I should be able to teach others". "Hmmm, it sounds to me like that `teaching others' is an afterthought to appeal to me", she replied. "What is the reason for death and birth?" "There are far more souls in the Universe than there is room for in the physical world. But it is in the physical world that a soul has an opportunity to learn and progress. Without birth, souls would not be able to acquire that experience, and without death there would be no room for birth." "Not a very good explanation, but it does have elements of truth. Maybe with more study you could improve it," she mused. "I cannot give you `a little more time.' I can only condemn you to Eternal labor in the field you have chosen. How say you to that?" "I do not understand, mother," said Ark'ay. "Your choice is to either accept the death that is so close or to become a god with us. But a god is not an easy nor pleasant thing to be. As the god of death and birth you will spend eternity making sure that deaths and births stay in proper balance in the physical world. And, in spite of what you believe you understand, you will always agonize over whether your decisions are truly correct. How do you decide?" Ark'ay spent what seemed to him as an eternity in thought before answering. "Mother, if my studies are not completely wrong, my only choice is to accept the burden and try to transmit the reasons for death and birth to humanity." "So be it, Arkay, God of Birth and Death." barbed_wire

The Faerie

SzunTriop

Faerie have been on Tamriel, in all probability, long before recorded history, perhaps since or before the days of the Elder Ones. The tales of their mischief are found in every culture, in most every village, town, and city-states in the Empire. Alternately they are called Faerie, Fey, Illyadi, Sprites, Pixies, and Sylphim, and their natures seem to flit from one story to the next with the same variation. It could almost be said that Faeries are anything unpredictable in nature. The noted scholar Ahrtabazus studying at the time in the Crystal Tower of Sumurset Isle developed an interesting if controversial theory about Faerie. He organized the Fey variants on a chain, beginning with the glimmering sparks called Pixies or Whilloki by the Redguards at one end and the godlike beings such as Gheateus, Chonus, and Sygria at the other. In the middle are human and semi-human beings generating up to intelligent trees, brooks, rocks, even mountains. All of this was a new and completely original theory and would have prompted enthusiastic, if somewhat skeptical response had Ahrtabazus not added this footnote: "It may be that elves as a whole are part of this chain, above whilloki and below nephrine. They certainly have similar features and propensities for magicka as the other Faerie." (Ahrtabazus, "The Faerie Chain" Firsthold, 2E 456) No elf liked to be put in a hierarchy slightly above ÷whimsical pranksters like the whilloki, and Ahrtabazus was challenged on his assumptions based on very slight coincidences. Nevertheless, with modification, his Fairie Chain theory has gained wider and wider acceptance since its publication. The hierarchial chain is not, in the strictest sense, an order of command. While Gheateus and Sygria are said to be surrounded by a host of minor Sylphim, faerie on the whole are not followers nor leaders. Their plans and schemes are not governed by a higher purpose, simply by their own whim. To this most faerie scholars agree. Because it is based on coincidental evidence and supported by auxiliary theories, it may very well be wrong. barbed_wire

Oelander's Hammer

Krowle

Oelander's Hammer: An Instructive Tale řFor Children The two children, Froedwig and his younger sister Silvanda, had been exploring all morning. The noon sun was directly overhead and everything was warm and bright. The had left their Redguard village, Granitsta, early that morning for a day in the wildnerness, a picnic, and with a stern warning from their father to be home before dark. They crossed a huge field that was bare save a single rose bush right in the middle. The little girl asked Froedwig about it. "Well," he said, "according to father a great battle was fought in this place many years ago. The battle was visited by the God of all warriors, Reymon Ebonarm, who caused the leaders to end the battle and return to their homes. It is said that the rose bush grows where he stood that day." "Oh, how exciting," giggled Silvanda. The children continued their trek approaching some woods. As they entered the forest the air became very cool and a deep quiet seemed to envelope them. "What is that?" Silvanda pointed to a large hole in the ground from which protruded a long, thick pole. Around the hole thorny plants had grown into an impenetrable wall. "I don't know," said Froedwig, "but let's see if we can get a closer look." "Stop!" They did. Looking beyond the hole, the children saw an elderly Redguard of many years. His gray beard, scraggly hair and stooped shoulders certainly did not support the authoritarian command he gave. But the children stopped just the same as he approached. "Who are you?" stammered Froedwig as Silvanda carefully tucked herself behind her brother's back. "My name is Hoennig Groevinger, and I live in these woods." "Why can't we examine yon hole, Master Groevinger?" asked Froedwig. "Because, my dear children, it and what it holds are cursed. Now just wh-h-h-o are you?" he stuttered, mimicing Froedwig. Finally gaining his composure, Froedwig said, "I am Froedwig-aj- Murr of the village Granitsta. This is my sister Silvanda. We are on an outing. Can you tell us about this mysterious hole?" "Well," said the old man as he slowly settled to the ground, "Why don't you sit here with me for a while and I will tell you about Oelander's Hammer. That's the handle of the fabled weapon sticking out from yonder chasm." ÷ With this the children also settled into sitting positions in front of the old Redguard ranger. Groevinger began, "Many year's ago there was a huge battle fought in this very field ..." "Oh, yes, I know," said Silvanda, interrupting the old man. "It was ended by the Warrior God Reymon Ebonarm, and the magic rose bush grows where he stood that day..." she continued breathlessly. The old man sternly cleared his throat causing the little girl to again shrink behind her brother. "Now, if I may continue without interruption... On the day that battle ended, a young Redguard soldier stopped in this spot as he was leaving to go to his home. He carried the equipment he had used on the field which included a marvelously fashioned war hammer that had been given to him by his father. The weapon was beautifully made and unknown to the young warrior carried an enchantment that had protected him through the vicious battle just ended." "The young man, Oelander by name, rested by this very tree. Suddenly he was confronted by a wizard dressed all in black from head to toe. Without so much as a how-do-you-do, the wizard demanded that Oelander give him his hammer. Still flushed from the battle, the young man just looked at the dark man and laughed. The wizard shaking with rage raised his hands to cast a horrible spell against the soldier. However, the young man was quicker. The huge war hammer whistled through the air smiting the wizard a mortal blow just as the spell left his fingers. There was a loud explosion." The children stared at the old man. He surpressed a grin and continued. "Clouds of dusk and smoke covered the forest clearing, and when the air settled, yon hole was there with the hammer's handle protruding from it. Oelander and the wizard had vanished! The thorny vines you see grew up immediately around the hole, and to this day no one has been able to approach it close enough to remove that marvelous weapon. Many have tried and all have failed. It is said that only someone of tremendous merit can take it." All of a sudden, both children in unison stood and shouted, "Oh, look how the day has gone. We must go. If we are late getting home, our father will be most unhappy with us." As they turned to leave, Froedwig said to the old man, "Thank you, Master Groevinger, for telling us of Oelander's Hammer. You know, I may just come back one day and try to retrieve it!" As they disappeared from his view, the old man said to himself, "Ah, yes, Master Froedrig aj-Murr, you just might do that." barbed_wire

The Pig Children

TystonBane

The Pig Children No one, not the oldest Dark Elf of Mount Dagoth-Ur or the Ancient Sage of Solitude, no one can recall a time when the Orc did not ravage our fair Tamriel. Whatever foul and pestilent daedra of Oblivion conjured them could scarcely have created a more constant threat to the well-being of the civilized races of Tamriel. Orcs are thankfully easy to recognize from other humanoids by their size, commonly forty pertans in height and fifteen thousand angaids in weight, their brutal pig-like features, and their stench. They are consistantly belligerant, morally grotesque, intellectually moronic, and unclean. By all rights, the civilized races of Tamriel should have been able to purge our land of their blight eras ago, but their ferocity, animal cunning, and curious tribal loyalty has made them inevitable as leeches in a stagnant pool. Tales of orcish barbarity preceed written record. When Jastyaga wrote of the Order of Diagna joining the armies of Daggerfall and Sentinel "to hold the wicked orcs in their foul Orsinium tower ... and burn all" in 1E 950, she assumed that any reader would be aware of the savagery of the orcs. When the siege was completed thirty years later, after the death of many heroes including Gaiden Shinji, and the destruction of Orsinium scattered the orc survivors throughout the Wrothgarian Mountains, Jastyaga wrote, "the people rejoiced for their ancient enemy was dispersed." Obviously, the orcs had been terrorizing the region of the Iliac Bay at least since the early years of the first era. barbed_wire

The Old Ways

Celarus

The Old Ways: The Customs and Philosophy of Grave and Faithful Council We who know the Old Ways are well aware of the existence of a spiritual world invisible to the unenlightened. Just as one living in a kingdom but unaware of the political machinations may see a new tax or battle preparation as capricious fortune, many observe floods, famines, and madness with helpless incomprehension. This is deplorable. As the great Cuilean Darnizhaan moaned, "The power of ignorance can truly shatter mithril like glass." What, after all, is the origin of these spiritual forces that move the invisible strings of Mundus? Any neophyte of Artaeum knows that the spirits are our ancestors, and that, while living, they too were bewildered by the spirits of their ancestors, and so on to the original Acharyai. The daedra and gods the common people turn to are no more than the spirits of superior men and women whose power and passion granted them great influence in the phantom world. ÷Certainly, this is our truth and our religion, but how does it help us in our sacred duty to seliffrnsae, or "provide grave and faithful counsel"? Firstly, we can easily grasp the necessity of both bringing good men great power and making powerful men good. We recognize the multiple threats that a strong tyrant represents -- he breeds cruelty which feeds the daedra Boethiah and hatred which feeds the daedra Vaernima; if he should he die performing a particularly malevolent act, he may go to rule in Oblivion; worst of all, he inspires other villians to power and other rulers to villiany. Knowing this, we have developed patience in our dealings with such despots. They should be crippled, humiliated, impoverished, imprisoned. Other counselors than we may advocate assassination or warfare, which, aside from its spiritual significance, is expensive, aleatric, and likely to cause at least as much pain to innocents as the brutish dictator was inflicting. No, we are intelligence gathers, dignified diplomats, not revolutionaries. How, then, are our counselors "faithful"? We are faithful only to the Old Ways -- it is essential always to ÷remember the spiritual world in watching our world. Performing the Rites of Moawita on the 2nd of Hearth Fire and the Vigyld on the 1st of Second Seed are essential means of empowering the salutary ghosts and debilitating the unclean spirits. How, then, are we faithful to those we counsel and to the Isle of Artaeum? Perhaps the sage Taheritae said it best: "In Mundus, conflict, disparity is what brings change, and change is most sacred of all the eleven forces. Change is the force without focus or origin, and it is the duty of the disciplined Psijic (enlightened one) to dilute change where it brings greed, gluttony, sloth, ignorance, prejudice, cruelty ... (Taheritae lists the 111 Prodigalities) ... and to encourage change where it brings excellence, beauty, happiness, and enlightenment. As such, the faithful counsel has but one master, his mind. If the man the Psijic counsels acts wickedly and brings oegnithr ¸"bad change" and will not be counselled, it is the Psijics duty to counterbalance the oegnithr by any means necessary." A student of the Old Ways may indeed vassal himself to a lord, but it is a risky relationship. Should the lord refuse ÷wise counsel and order the Psijic (to use Taheritae's out-moded word) to perform an act contrary to the teachings of the Old Ways, there are few available options. The Psijic may abandon his lord, which will bring shame on him and the Isle of Artaeum, and so may never be allowed home again. The Psijic may also kill himself. barbed_wire

Ghraewaj

Tidasus

Ghraewaj and the Harpies On the twelfth of Hearth Fire every year, the people of the Hammerfell township and barony of Lainlyn celebrate Riglametha. Riglametha in the Banthan dialect of the ancient Redguard tongue means "grateful-offering" and is a festival of the graces the gods have granted the people of ÷Lainlyn over the centuries. Tradition dictates the performance of a number of plays about the great moments from Lainlyn's past, and one of the most popular is Ghraewaj, which may be translated as "The Crows Who Were Punished" or "The Crows Who Punish." Old Redguard is somewhat vague with its objective case. The story of Ghraewaj, as any Lainlyn child will tell you, is of the wicked sisterhood of daedra worshippers who craft lies, curses, murders, and suicides to hurt the people of Lainlyn. Most of all, they use their beauty as a weapon to drive men to mayhem. Their leader, the temptress Noctyr-a, seduces the unnamed baron of Lainlyn and is about to force him to commit suicide to prove his love, when the baroness arrives. The baroness tricks Noctyr-a into wearing a beautiful white robe from the baroness' closet: "See how the robe glows with the lumniscience of pearl, but the inside is soft, feathered with down." Noctyr-a puts on the robe and the trap is sprung: the robe is magical and transforms Noctyr-a into an giant black bird. The baron, no longer enchanted, slays the great bird and calls in his cook. ÷ The sisterhood has, by this time, taken over Lainlyn castle and turned it into a orgy-filled den of decadence. At the height of their frenzied debauch, the cook arrives with an enormous roast to keep their energy high. They dig into the deliciously prepared meal, and at the crescendo of their gorging, the baron and baroness appear to tell them all that they have just devoured their leader, Noctyr-a. The women scream and caw and suddenly they too are transformed by the magic of the robe, into harpies, vicious half-bird creatures. The interesting thing about Ghraewaj from a scholarly perspective is how much the story has changed and continues to change over the years. In some versions of the story, Noctyr-a is an innocent peasant seamstress and it is the baroness who is the cruel and wicked leader of the harpies. Noctyr-a prays to Dibella and is given the charm to make the magical robe, and she and the baron live happily ever after once the harpies have feasted on the tranformed baroness. During the long reign of the virgin baroness of Lainlyn, Viana the Pure (2E 120 - 2E 148), the baron was portrayed as a willing conspirator of Noctyr-a. The harpies thus have two birds to dine on. It is unlikely that trying to find the truth in the story is profitable research. Harpies are indeed a common nuisance in the Iliac Bay, particularly around Lainlyn. They do have their own tongue, and the few who have mastered it and not been devoured by their interviewees suggest that the harpies have no more idea about their origins than we do. In a different vein, one of the best known of the Daedra Princes is named Nocturnal, who is often portrayed as a beautiful dark woman holding two black crows. It is not a difficult etymologic trick to derive the name Noctyr-a from Nocturnal, or vice-versa. barbed_wire

A Scholar's Guide to Nymphs

VondhamBarres

A Scholar's Guide to Nymphs I grew up a scholar, an ascetic devoted to knowledge, with ÷eyes that saw beauty in a fascinating passage in a dusty tome, love in the candle that allowed me to study on starless nights, passion in a well-reasoned argument of a long dead issue. I was a student who never graduated and was never expelled. Though I am not defending myself, I should further define myself. I am not what you would call a prude. In fact, I can speak of subjects in a detached way that would make the most debauched strumpet in Skyhawk blush with discovered modesty. I wrote an essay the House of Dibella as a scholar should, analysing the cult of beauty and physical relations as one might study crop rotation or the digestive system of an orc. The acquaintances of mine who were inclined to wink and giggle I tolerated, but barely. With all that said, the reader will understand that when I decided to study the language of the nymphs in order to study their character and culture, it was not a decision I made on account of prurience or lust. Scholars have historically neglected the nymph as a subject worthy of research, and this neglect I attribute to prejudice. The sages with whom I have spoken on the subject have eloquently and intelligently ÷formed sentences which, boiled down, can be translated as: "Nymphs look like beautiful, naked women who skip along tra-la-la and like to have indisciminate sex. What could they have to say that would be of any interest?" So here I was faced with the most daunting of projects -- to study and research a species unstudied is a potentially rewarding challenge. If the subject was unstudied because the scientific community had deemed it beneath interest, a potentially rewarding but decidedly frustrating challenge. If I spent months in serious study of their language and culture and additional time in their company, and discovered nothing more than that the common prejudice is correct, the term "laughing stock" would not do me justice. So, excited and nervous for reasons unrelated to the notoriously promiscuous behavior of my subjects, I began my studies. I mastered the language, a melodious tongue that sounds like wild elf and faerie but share no vocabulary with them. I studied the lore, and found it to be on the whole, little more than pornography and crude conjecture. ÷ I next had to find a nymph. From my centralized location in the Imperial City, I found it easy to send word around to several wellknown temples and guilds devoted to study in all the provinces. Not all replies back were serious in nature, but one, from the School of Julianos in Sentinel helped me considerably. To Magister Oitos and his disciples, I here offer my sincere gratitude. Nymphs are extremely shy creatures, no matter what the more obscene stories will tell you. No one who I've spoken with has had one seek him or her out. Thus to speak with a nymph requires energy and patience. Out of courtesy for her privacy, I will not here give the location of the little grotto off the coast of Hammerfell where I found the nymph. It took three months of patient waiting, leaving presents where I knew the nymph would be, before the nymph stood still at my approach. I remember I was carrying a bouquet of purple and white tetias, and she looked at them and then at me, and smiled. The effect of her smile was truly magical, I'm convinced. Her body was, of course, perfect; her face lovely and serene; her hair like silk flame. But until she smiled, she was beautiful in the abstract, a perfect statue by a master. The smile made her approachable and, thus, terrifying. "For you," I said, attempting my first utterance of Nymph to a real nymph. Her smile grew into a grin which became a giggle and then a laugh. The reader has doubtless heard of the silver laughter of the elves. The nymph's laugh is earthy and spontaneous, and very ... suggestive. "And what do you want from me in return, mortal?" she asked. "I am," There is no, I should say, known word in the Nymph language for scholar, "I am a man who likes to learn things. I want to learn things about you." And I did. Nymphs are the wisest, most wonderful creatures in Tamriel. ÷My nymph, her name is Ayalea (a poor phonetic transcription of a word that sounds more like a light wind blowing through a small crack in a hollow chamber) and she knows more about the behavior and varieties of the deep woodland creatures than the greatest wood elf scholar I ever met. She taught me of flowers and ghosts and creatures too fast and timid to have ever been seen by man. Ayalea taught me how to learn for the very first time. How to open my mind to all of the possibilities of life and how to use that knowledge, not just to hold in my cramped brain like a dragon's horde. If you ever meet a nymph, speak to her. * * * Editor's note: the writer Vondham Barres is no longer a scholar at the Imperial University. He deposited this manuscript and disappeared from the civilized world. His current wherebouts are unknown. barbed_wire