Deeza added a topic in Lore PrimersPrimer: Dragonstar / DrakkenholdDragonstar / Drakkenhold
Feudal Rank: Divided: unrecognised Nordic Hold (east side);Tomba (self-governing traditional Yoku state) (west side)
Colors: White, ultramarine
Knightly Order: Seventh Battalion of the National Guard; Swords of the Thirty-eight (west side); Sons of Shor (east side)
Size: Standard Skyrim city
Architecture: Anvil/Markus hybrid (west side); Jehanna set (east side)
Theme: An ancient and incurable wound, still bleeding to this day. A frozen war. This once bubbling cauldron of intermingling Bretons, Nords and Raga was ripped in half by the Bend'r-Mach two hundred years ago, and it has never healed. The Old Crowns call it "the open sore on the face of Raguda”. The Forebears call it "the First Betrayal” (the second being the Concordat). Open hostilities have long since ceased, but the city is still psychologically and physically divided between its eastern and western halves, which are occupied by expatriot Nords and the Tomba do-Nudri respectively. The legal border with Skyrim may lie miles to the north, but the massive trench that cleaves the heart of the city demonstrates in the most dramatic manner possible that this is where the boundary between the two nations truly lies. To cross the narrow drawbridge that spans the trench is to leave the disputed borderlands of Skyrim and enter Hammerfell proper.
The naming of the city, the mountain range it stands on and numerous other locations and landmarks in the region are all ultimately derived from Drakkenhold, the old Nordic name for the “Eleventh Hold” of Skyrim that was established in what is now Northeastern Hammerfell at the greatest extent of the First Nordic Empire. Quite how the association with Dragons arose is uncertain, but most curiously the epithet first appears in the skaldic tales to be associated with “Fingol’s Peak” which through descriptions of its profile would appear to be the modern location of Fang Lair, perhaps explaining the persistent myth that it was a Dragon that drove the ancient Dwemer away from their mysterious complex.
The Dragontail mountain range that divides Raguda from Skyrim and Bretony has seen some of the bloodiest and most protracted conflict in the history of the nation. It was the last region to be conquered by the descendants of the Ra Gada, and the final area to be added to the modern boundaries of Raguda. Due to a combination of their being more heavily populated and easily defensible than the sparsely habitable interior, the indigenous Orcs and Men-of-the-Reach held out for many decades, in some cases centuries. Here, too, was where the Ra Gada crashed into the expanding frontiers of another colonising force with a ferocity and warrior ethos that rivalled their own - the Nordic Holds.
The Nords themselves had been present in the region, in one form or another, ever since a relict population of Falmeri chieftains withdrew to the mountains after the loss of their last holdings in what is modern Skyrim. The Nords’ hold over their newly acquired territories was still tenuous, and this last Falmeri redoubt posed a potent threat to their fledgling settlements. Though the initial operation to destroy the Falmer strongholds was a rapid success, the perilous journey south brought them into contact (and conflict) with two civilisations of which they had not previously been aware: the Dragontail Orcs and a mysterious race of men with whom they had no tongue in common, referred to in the Drakkenholdsaga as “folk of the feather”, whom many Oriental scholars believe to have been ancestors of the modern Reachmen tribes who still infest the region. With the proclamation of the First Nordic Empire, the regions of the mountains held by Skyrim were incorporated as the so-called “Eleventh Hold”, with a clan hall and fortified administrative centre constructed at Drakkenstjarn, a “cleft between two mountain peaks, beyond the Folk of Kreath”, which is readily identifiable as the valley in which Dragonstar would grow and flourish. Even at the apogee of their power, Nordic control of the remote region, separated by mountains from their core regions and surrounded by hostile Orc and mannish tribes, was tenuous at best, and they suffered numerous raids and setbacks, even losing control of Drakkenstjarn itself on numerous occasions. It accumulated a reputation in skaldic lore as a wild frontier of Skyrim, a proving ground for heroes eager to battle giants and witches. With the loss of the unified Nordic monarchy during the Wars of Succession, Skyrim was expelled from Morrowind and future Bretony, abandoning her remaining territories beyond her fortress wall of mountains to their fate. Thus was born Drakkenhold, a breakaway Nordic realm stretching which contracted and expanded across the Dragontails for the next several centuries. It was during one of these low periods that the skalds record that Drakkenhold was “invaded by the godless Dwarves”, though in truth it seems more likely that the arcane elves had been secretly undermining the region for decades prior to this as part of the great westward migration of Clan Rourken to establish Volenfell, and had merely chosen this moment to erupt their pre-constructed mechanical citadels from beneath the earth. The Dwemer, however, were an old threat that Drakkenhold knew well how to counter, though the price was steep. Skjorge Barrow, the honoured resting ground of heroes named for the founding Jarl of Drakkenstjarn, became copiously filled with champions of the Nordic clans slain in battle against the Dwemer, Orcs, “folk of the feather”, Direnni and their proto-Breton minions. The situation worsened dramatically after the expulsion of the Rourken clans from the West Reach, chased by Direnni sorcery even darker and more noxious than their own, an event that historians have dated to the final construction phase of the massive Dwemer facility at Fang Lair and renewed campaigns against the Nords. And yet, with just as much suddenness, the scouts of Drakkenstjarn would one day notice the distant lights of Fang Lair’s spire had gone out, the clans of its subterranean machinery silenced, and its attendant clouds of steam and smoke dissipating into the mountain air. The Disappearance of the Dwarves would spark the golden age of Drakkenhold, whose military dominance over its surrounding tribes would become more and more pronounced, leading to further expansion throughout the Dragontails and deep into the Land-of-Kreath. Drakkenstjarn, already known by this time under its Oriental name of Dragonstar, became something of an entrepot in the mountains, benefiting handsomely from its position at the crux of what is now thought of as the “Tri-Province Area” to position itself as a fortified resting place for caravans passing through narrow and hostile passes, opening up what was formerly a dangerous wilderness into one of the foremost overland thoroughfares for trade in northwest Tamriel. Drakkenhold would proper… until the Ra Gada came.
Reports of “screaming hairy ghosts” from initial expeditions from Rihad into the deep interior of Volenfell were met with scepticism, dismissed along with tales of many other fantastical wonders of the alien lands of Tamriel. But for the hel korei settlers of the interior and the wandering sinosu of Tomba do-Nudri, the Nords were far from idle fancy, representing a dire threat to their still fragile hold on their newly conquered territories. Much as in the Sentinese West, the inheritors of a Mktulu and an unruly independent Tomba finally encountered a force that was capable of offering them serious resistance. The Nords of Drakkenhold, too, appear to have been confused about who exactly they were facing, initially believing the “self-called Men of Rags” to be a previously unknown and belligerent Nedic tribe from western Volenfell. The violent initial encounters between sparked an immediate animosity between the two races, diluted only by a grudging respect that each came to hold for the other’s ability to wield powers that, in the shape of the shehai and thu'um respectively, were able to match their own. Warfare became endemic to the so-called “Eleventh Hold”, with the Raga many times coming close to, but never quite achieving, their goal of expelling the Nords from their final redoubt of Dragonstar. What resulted was a tug of war that dragged on for centuries with no clear winner. Even the famously hardy Nords found themselves evenly matched, as the hard-bitten frontiersmen of Tomba do-Nudri were arguably tougher than any of their soft brethren on the warm coasts to the west. Theirs was a world of constant warfare, raiding, and a daily struggle against freezing temperatures in the mountains, to which their foes were much better adapted.
The harsh conditions of mountain life bred a subculture of particular significance to the life of the Tomba do-Nudri in particular but also frontier Raguda writ large. These were the badh mansu, literally “mountain men”, though with connotations of either “men like a mountain in stature” or “men who strike blows like mountains falling”. These were the most hardened wilderness trackers, trappers and headhunters of the Dragontails, often highly individualist and living lives of self-imposed or forced isolation from mainstream Raga society. The archetype of these iconoclastic adventurers and ruthless killers was the man whose birth name is unknown but became famed throughout Tamriel as Ghaidoon Shinji. This moniker, which he chose for himself, is worthy of further explanation as it is extremely revealing as to his mindset and the genre he inspired. Ghaidoon is formed from the terms ghai dun, “angry (or fiery) throughout one’s entire being/body”. Shinji was the adjective form of shinjal, being the fourth kind of hell said to reside at the top of the world's highest mountain; this being a freezing hell, not a fiery one, though carrying the essential connotation of "infernal;" indeed, one of the many names given to the Dragontails by Tomba do-Nudri was Shinjalabau, because of their great height. Thus, "Ghaidoon Shinji" was a multilayered moniker, meaning literally something like "Angry and Demonic," but also describing his personality, fierce, and his origin, the mountains. It was even cunning in its contrasts, ghaidoon implying fire, and shinji implying ice.
Within Tomba do-Nudri but not of it, Shinji was, paradoxically, the nearest that era could have produced to an internationalist, travelling the still-unexplored interior of Tamriel beyond the Dragontails in pursuit of fresh challenges and wanderings that have become legend, achieving lasting fame far beyond Raguda for his prodigious output of aphorisms and brutally blunt summaries of the lands and people he visited, the largest extant collection of which is the semi-poetic Eight Hundred Lines of Ghaidoon Shinji, which even today remains something of a holy text for all those who attract (willingly or otherwise) the label of badh mansu. He thus made a critical contribution to the archetype of the wandering, rootless adventurer that has become such a ubiquitous institution across Tamriel, and brought Raga sword-arts to an entire new audience of devotees through his still-unrivalled tenure as Grand Champion of the Arena of the Imperial City, a role he fulfilled with a legendarily nonchalant manner of dispatching his foes which earned him a cult following among Oriental Arenite fanatics.
Shinji was of the type who attracted many would-be protégés but who was loathe to accept any of them. Nevertheless, he accumulated sufficient followers and imitators that over time they became impossible for him to ignore, and formed a loose association known informally as the Bhatu do-Shinji, or better to the outside world as the Order of Diagna, so named for their ecstatic devotion and copious sacrifices of Orcs to their patron Diagna, the deified First Uei-utei of Raguda (a cult which Shinji himself firmly rejected, seeing Diagna as a “mere man, inflated in stature.”) In its early years Shinji had little to do with the fraternity he had inadvertently inspired, but was reluctantly forced to confront it, like Franjir Undeing of old, when external circumstances and war compelled him to take up arms for his homeland. It was 1E xxx, and the orcish warlords of First Orsinium, emboldened by their newfound unity and able to strike out at the outside world without fear of one another, unleashed a reign of terror on the Wrothgarian and Dragontail regions. The Treaty of Wayrest was still fresh in memory, and the Sultanate of Sentinel, desiring ever greater prominence for itself in the Iliac Bay whose waters it aspired to dominate, had conceived a new and dangerous grand strategy: making common cause with the ancient enemies the Breton Kingdoms to cut off the orc warbands at their source, by destroying the orcish citadel of (First) Orsinium. Such a task was widely considered impossible, or at any rate prohibitively costly, as the fortifications of the orcish citadel were immense and virtually impregnable to a direct assault. But Sentinel made a persuasive case; telling the assembled Breton Kings that they possessed powerful allies who were uniquely suited to the task (though they were still unaware of being conscripted to such a campaign): the neighbours, the wild mountain-men of Tomba do-Nudri. They knew mastery of combat in mountainous terrain, and the tactics of the Orcs, like none other in Tamriel, and could prove a powerful force if only they could be United under a suitable leader. Thus it was that emissaries came seeking Ghaidoon Shinji, pleading for his aid in the Great War to exterminate the Orcs and forever secure his Tomba, a request even iron-willed Shinji could not turn down.
The Bretons were at first highly suspicious of the “wildmen”, and were loathe to let any of them through the symbolic gauntlet of Bangkorai Pass, even as allies. The March of Evermore, in particular, was a strong holdout, holding as they did proud memories of driving back many assaults on Bangkorai by the Totambu do-Nudri and do-Nahoukh, and whose allies in Mournoth and Ephesus still contended with the do-Nudri over the borders of their territories. With hindsight, the Raga should have been immediately suspicious when Evermore’s opposition suddenly wilted after the diplomatic intervention of King Joile of Daggerfall, who quickly became the leader of the assembled Breton coalition. Little did Sentinel suspect that even at this early stage Joile had promised Evermore the Lower Dragontails in exchange for their aid in his planned crusade to recover the Irridenti. And so Ghaidoon Shinji and his Order of followers became the first armed Raga to ever pass through the gates of Bangkorai en route to play their part in a campaign to slowly and systematically surround, isolate and strangle the orcish kingdom; a largely hidden war of attrition that would come to be known as the Siege of Orsinium.
The strategy which Shinji and Joile jointly devised was simple and ruthless. The conventional forces of Sentinel and the Breton coalition would pin the orcs in place, preventing them from deploying their hordes beyond their mountain redoubts, as all the while the badh mansu would slowly and relentlessly bleed them dry, depriving the orcs of the mountain hinterland that sheltered their warbands and fed their people. It was a remarkable feat of cooperation, and devastatingly effective. It took many years, but at length Orsinium settled into a state of famine and disorder, with many orcs fleeing into the spears of waiting cordons or launching ill-advised sorties. Maintaining iron discipline, Shinji and Joile stuck rigidly to the plan, resisting hasty action and waiting for the ideal moment to begin the final assault. That day came on xx xxx, when the enfeebled Orsinium at last came under assault from both the mountains above and from the plains below. Even then it was a long and bloody battle, the desperate orcs refusing to yield even an inch of territory without fighting to their last breath. For a moment it seemed as though the assault would fail, with rumors flying that Joile had been killed and the armies of Daggerfall and Glenpoint fleeing the battlefield. The Sultan ordered his last reserves into the breach, preventing the orcish forces from breaking out of the city, while Ghaidoon Shinji and his followers heroically cut their way down to join them from the heights. It was at that moment, when Sultan and sword-saint finally met each other's gaze across the fray, that the war-horns began sounding. Not the crude instruments of the Orcs - the carnyces of the assembled armies of Bretony.
Before they had time to react, the sky turned dark with Bretic arrows and a wave of armoured cavalry smashed into the Sentinese rear lines. The forces of King Joile had only feigned retreat, and now crushed the exhausted armies of Sentinel against the remaining Orcs. At a stroke, the armies of Sentinel and Orsinium were massacred, with Shinji himself falling, bleeding from too many wounds to count and cursing the treachery of Joile to the last. Only Tomba do-Nudri now lay in the path of the long-awaited crusade to reclaim the Irridenti, the gates to Bangkorai wide open and Sentinel’s ancient castles shorn of defenders. The elders of the Tomba knew there was but one chance to prevent an outright invasion of Raguda - containing the imminent Breton incursion at its source. The ancient fortresses of Bangkorai had been designed only to prevent assault from without; they were no guarantee of safety once forces had passed through it. Warriors from all over the Dragontails were rallied by outrage at the martyrdom of Ghaidoon Shinji, and it is said that Makela Leki herself took human form and fought at the side of the assembled ansei from all of Skaven’s schools of sword craft. The warriors of Nudri Tomba ambushed the armies of Joile as they exited Bangkorai, and finally gave Joile the death he had feigned at the walls of Orsinium. The Breton crusade was vanquished, though at terrible cost. An entire generation of do-Nudri warriors lay dead either at Orsinium or Bangkorai, and for many years afterward they could do little more than defend their own borders, leaving Bretic enclaves like Ephesus and the remnants of Drakkenhold to flourish. But Tomba do-Nudri had forever left behind its reputation as the backwater fringe of Raguda, having saved the nation from conquest, and from that day on the folk once mocked for not being a “true” Tomba would become prominent political players in the affairs of the realm, and enjoy the respect and ear of the Uei-utei.
Nevertheless, the ultimate prize still eluded them. It was only during the mid Second Era, taking advantage of the division of Skyrim and the wider chaos of the Interregnum, that Tomba do-Nudri were at last able to accomplish the feat which they had so long been denied, and finally breached the walls of Dragonstar. In a sign of how much even the most adamant of Raguda’s conservatives had changed since the founding days of the nation, the final battle was conspicuously bloodless by comparison with the glory days of their ancestors. Only those Nords who resisted were killed, and the burning of the city was relatively restrained, it's distinctive pattern of walls and old layout of streets would be retained despite the destruction. This was to be a conquest in the Oriental sense: an occupation and a turning of local institutions to the new rulers’ own purposes. Many Nords were allowed to remain in the area, and the attentions of the ruling class soon turned to reconciliation and profit. While Skaven would always remain the political centre of the tomba and custodian of its traditions, Dragonstar would became its economic powerhouse and avatar to the outside world, remodeled as the "pleasant" face of the Crowns - fiercely proud of their superior blood and traditions, but indulgent (within reason) of those of others, provided that they knew their place and acted with appropriate deference. Ironically, this occasionally placed them in the camp of the Forebears in the Province's disputes, at least with regard to other human races (orcs and elves were still personae non grata) and in their numerous triangulations to justify this apparently self-contradictory position they arguably spawned the philosophy of the middle ground that would one day become known as "Lhotunism". The belief that they could quarantine the influences of the outside world within Dragonstar whilst reaping the benefits of foreign trade may seem naive or even ignorant to modern eyes, but it seems to have been sincerely believed by many in the hierarchy of Tomba do-Nudri. In practice, Dragonstar would become merely another conduit through which the insidious influence of Oriental high culture would permeate into the lifeblood of Raguda.
Thus, then, was Tomba do-Nudri conflicted on the eve of Raguda’s civil war. Thassad and A'tor’s policies of open confrontation with the recrudescent Oriental Empire threatened the unstable balance of profitable accommodation they had wrought in Dragonstar, and they had fielded their own moderate candidate to succeed Thassad, buying the loyalty of the Forbear Republics with the promise of token representation in the Litombana. But Tiber had equally fanned the still-wounded pride of the Nords, who were never going to meekly accept the loss of Drakkenhold. In the end, pride and patriotism overcame lust for gold, and Tomba do-Nudri reluctantly joined the war on the side of A'tor, prompting an immediate command from Tiber, already anticipating Forebear defeat and his intervention, to prepare the full force of his Nordic minions for an assault on the Tomba, rashly promising them the entirety of the Dragontails as an annexe to Skyrim if they were to succeed, a declaration formalised in the Deed of Accretion that was proudly carried aloft by the harbingers of the Nordic invasion as their banner. The war that followed was savage, with huge numbers of Nordic warriors, undisciplined and unseasoned, pouring into the Dragontails to begin an erratic but determined march toward Dragonstar. Nudri Tomba’s strategy was to fall back, draw in the Nords, then ambush them in Bend'r-Mach Pass, sealing the end of the narrow rock passage with an engineered landslide and pouring wave after wave of arrows, darts and cannon fire into the hollow from the cliffs above. As one Chronicler of the Tomba proudly recorded: “truly, truly such a day must be accounted one of the most glorious since the founding of our Tomba, for we dammed that crevasse to make a pit, and filled it so deeply with the blood of these hairy white apes that it became a crimson lake.”
Following the Nordic rout and the very real possibility of a Crown counterattack on Skyrim itself, Tiber Septim dispatched the might of the Oriental Legions to achieve what his kinsmen could not. Yet they acted with wise prudence and caution, surrounding and containing the bastions of Tomba do-Nudri rather than risk a direct and bloody assault on the “wildmen” of the Dragontails. With the defeat of A'tor and surrender of Djilein, this encirclement became complete, and the Tomba do-Nudri, realising its position could at best result in decades of mountain warfare with no guarantee of victory, decided to honour Djilein’s submission in exchange for the revocation of the Deed of Accretion. Septim, citing “changed circumstances”, merely amended it to transfer the Nordic title to their former holdings in Morrowind, towards whose conquest his attention was once again pivoting. The Nords turned to other, more immediate goals, but never forgave nor forgot.
In the aftermath of the conflict that had permanently reshaped Raguda, Tomba do-Nudri took a pragmatic route, joining the Twin Uprisings in its own revolt to overthrow the Governorate of the Dragontails in order to make a point, but taking a conciliatory and calculated stance during negotiations. Its leaders decided to make the best of its new situation and the opportunities afforded by the demolition of national borders and imposition of a single centralised currency, enthusiastically opening the doors of Dragonstar to external investment and trade. In doing so, its strategic position in the heart of the "tri-province area" made it a major regional trade hub, and eventually the nexus for most of the three-way overland trade between Hammerfell, Skyrim and High Rock. Dragonstar became wealthy, and, some would say, complacent. Firm in the belief that sufficient wealth could smooth over any lingering racial grudges, they forgot that the Nords of Skyrim remained bitter over the loss of Drakkenhold and the massacre at Bend'r-Mach Pass, waiting only for the threat of the Legions to subside to pursue their long-awaited revenge. This opportunity came during the Imperial Simulacrum, when the Nords took advantage of the corrupt and chaotic administration of Jagar Tharn and struck suddenly and hard, attacking both Dragonstar and Elinhir (with which they held an even older grudge dating back to its foundimg). Although Elinhir rapidly fell (for which tale refer to its section of this guide), in Dragonstar the armies of Tomba do-Nudri, though equally surprised and rapidly losing almost half the city, rallied against all the odds and held the line at Siqar Siumeh, an ancient drainage ditch that carried stormwaters from the streets to a gulch beneath the city walls. Here the armies of Nudri Tomba improbably pushed back the Nords, retaking and losing sectors of the city in a deadly oscillation of advance and counterattack that utterly exhausted both armies and left the eastern half of the city in burning ruins. As the stalemate wore on, and winter approached, the two sides dug in and constructed impromptu barricades to protect their own lines from sorties by the enemy, walling off former streets and thoroughfares, and laying the foundations for the barriers that would divide the city permanently.
Spring brought renewed offensives by both sides, though without breakthrough, and the prospect of Sentinese was dashed by its involvement in the disastrous War of Betony. The early Nordic hopes of glorious reclamation of Drakkenhold were similarly dashed, with a successful counterattack by the Elinhites to liberate their city depriving the Dragonstar garrison of much needed secondary lines of supply. Even the restoration of Uriel Septim VII was not enough to defuse the ongoing conflict, even his vaunted diplomacy proving insufficient to defuse the raging emotions and deep hatreds that powered it. There as those who say that, near to the end of his life, he listed his failure to “heal the Bend'r-Mach” as one of his greatest regrets. The Nords were ordered to withdraw and respect the legal borders of Hammerfell, which they promptly refused, citing the Deed of Accretion and numerous historical evidences of their ancestral habitation of the land. After being placed under immense pressure by Uriel, the High King of Skyrim Hagar Khuulgrim renounced the occupiers of Dragonstar, leaving them (and the families they had brought with them to repopulate Drakkenhold) as stateless outcasts, a status they embraced with defiance. Legions were dispatched to keep the peace and quell overt hostilities, but the Nords were deeply entrenched and it was impossible to remove them without a bloody campaign, something which the necessity of Skyrim’s support for Uriel’s shaky throne made politically impossible.
This uneasy truce, and the unrecognised Nordic enclave it spawned, remain in place two centuries later, as successive Emperors have been forced to pragmatically recognise the situation, transforming the War of Bend’r-Mahk into a frozen conflict, incapable of truly ending in any conventional military sense, which periodically flares into violence. Inevitably, the traders, travellers, Bretons and Reachmen who once thronged the streets have since returned to the shattered city, though for the most part they are now travellers through the past, or itinerant merchants, rather than residents. What was once a place for people from three Provinces to meet and trade, has become a tense gauntlet in which foreigners quickly conduct their business and move on.
Because the modern city of Dragonstar remains so bitterly divided, it is impossible to generalise in the usual sense about the character of the city. The populations of the eastern and western halves of the city are almost completely segregated, and barely interact in the rhythms of their daily lives. Since the two halves of Dragonstar are effectively administered as separate cities, they have dramatically diverging political cultures, with the Eastern enclave being traditionally Nordic (to an extent rarely seen even in Skyrim), and the West that remains under the control of Tomba do-Nudri staunchly Crown. Nevertheless, there are common traits - suspicion and chauvinism towards the other community, an eagerness to resort to violence for solving disputes or perceived slights to honour, a burning conviction that the whole of the city is rightfully theirs, as well as a certain grudging respect for the prowess of the other side. There are exceptions, of course, who are more conciliatory, and the two halves have been known on occasion to co-operate against greater threats (notably during the Oblivion Crisis and the Great War). Nevertheless, the present calm is uneasy, and a profound sense of unease hangs like a dark cloud over the city.
Nowhere is the fragmented character of Dragonstar more apparent than in the deep and poisonous religious divides between its inhabitants. Aware of the Redguard distaste for Sep, the Nords of Dragonstar ostentatiously worship Shor's Ghost, who is portrayed as a warrior chieftain eager to defend them from the Raga who surround their enclave. For their part, the Tomba do-Nudri respond in kind by regularly singing the praises of Onsi, Diagna, the HoonDing and all other nudri-slaughtering deities across the trench that divides the two halves of the city. The few Breton and Reachman inhabitants worship the Eight and the Old Gods respectively, both eager to stay out of the way of the city's main conflict.
The Nordic enclave of Dragonstar East begged to be amalgamated into Falkreath Hold when the final borders were agreed following Raguda’s declaration of independence from the Oriental Empire, but such a territorial concession was politically impossible, with the Orientals merely offering them relocation into other lands, an offer that was angrily refused. As a result, following independence the Nordic enclave is now completely surrounded and justifiably frightened for their very survival, as many factions within Raguda now openly call for their expulsion, by force if necessary. In this doom-laden atmosphere, a Cult of Shor has sprung up and now plays a prominent role in the life of the settlement. The Nordic half of the city become a ghetto of sorts, disconnected and isolated by wider society in spite of their notable contributions to the defense of Raguda during the Great War.
In the interests of fairness, their position is not helped by their own actions, as many of them sympathise with Ulfric Stormcloak's dream of a restored "greater Skyrim", and mead-fuelled brawls between Raga and Nord youths in the trench that divides the city are commonplace. A coalition of nationalist factions, from the Young Crowns to old reactionaries from Hegathe, want them deported and the city restored to full do-Nudri control. But if it came to it, the Nords would fight any such attempt, and for so long as Raguda remains surrounded bybdire external threats, an uneasy stalemate prevails.
Shrine of Shor - The Nords of Dragonstar take great pride in being “true sons of Skyrim”, viewing their compatriots in the Fatherland as “milk-drinkers” who have supposedly surrendered their traditions to Imperial dictates - and nowhere more so than in the realm of religion. Whereas the Eight dominate in Skyrim itself, the Dragonstar Nords still worship Kyne as the head of their pantheon, and also venerate her dead husband Shor and demigod son Mhor, the winged bull consort of Perrif (better known as St. Alessia). Shor is a particular favourite due to his role as a warrior god championing the Nordic people in their founding sagas, and hence his worship has persisted here even as it has steadily declined throughout the rest of Skyrim.
Hoon Deing - The counterpart to the Shrine of Shor on the other side of the trench that divides the two halves of the city, Hoonding is the Yoku god of Perseverance Over Infidels, a natural choice for the local establishment, although other deities such as the Sword-gods Leki and Onsi are also worshipped in the hope that their divine favours will allow the Raga of Tomba do-Nudri to one day retake the whole of the city.
The Trench - a dividing line between the two halves of Dragonstar, cutting through what once were streets, which are now blocked up by walls on either side, allowing entry into the Trench only through a few guarded checkpoints on either side. Crossing the Trench is the most important social, political and symbolic act in the city, a setting for countless tales of illicit dealings, forbidden romances, surprising alliances, bigotry and courage. To traverse it is, in a very real sense, to pass from the last vestiges of Skyrim to Raguda proper.
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Deeza added a topic in Lore PrimersPrimer: ElinhirThe Republic of Elinhir
Feudal Rank: Forebear Republic
Colors: Garnet, brass
Knightly Order: Sixth Battalion of the National Guard, Firsts of the Families (citizen's milita)
Size: Standard Skyrim city
Architecture: Custom tileset
Theme: Buried history and secret origins. Elinhir is a wealthy, powerful city with a finger on the pulse of international trade and a deeply conflicted personality. On the one hand, their role as an outgoing trade hub might seem to put them squarely in the footsteps of their Forebear ancestors; but on the other, their lives bear witness to a deep streak of religious fundamentalism in the city that goes right back to its founding by some of the most fanatical members of the Ra Gada. And no matter how often they may celebrate driving out the original Nedic inhabitants of the region, beneath the surface there are plenty of hints that the city's true history may be rather different to the traditional story.
Elinhir is supposedly named in honour of Elin-niir, a local heroine martyred by Nord raiders in the First Era. However, this would be a highly atypical construction in light of the rigid naming conventions of the early Ra Gada settlers. Others have pointed out its suspicious similarities to the name of Elkreath, a Nedic citadel mentioned sporadically in surviving fragments of First Empire literature as lying “beyond the Jeralls, in Outer Colovia”, whose position has never been determined with certainty but appears suspiciously similar to the location of modern Elinhir. Quite how (if at all) this seeming coincidence can be reconciled with Elinhir’s own account of its origins remains to be seen.
It has often been observed by outsiders that there sometimes appear to be two Elinhirs. The first is the factual Elinhir of patchy historical records and conventional sequences of cause and effect. The second is the other Elinhir, the secret Elinhir, home to forgotten ritual and ancient mystery, floating freely on the chaotic not-quite-visible fringe of the Ra Gada's known world and independent of ordinary historical considerations. This discrepancy is likely to be met with anger and denial if it is broached with one of the city’s inhabitants, but it cannot be avoided if one is to discuss the city's early history.
Put bluntly, the circumstances of the founding of Elinhir are mysterious and confusing. It was not recorded in the divisions of land between the Divadmktulu and Franjirmktulu; indeed, the area enclosing its modern Republic boundaries, as marked by the counting of mountains, was explicitly stated to be beyond the bounds of either. And yet a century later, when Forebear settlers and militias finally began their great push east on the way to establishing the modern boundaries of Hammerfell, there Elinhir was, in an embryonic but already recognisable state. Although the archives of Tomba do-Undeing record many waves of Raga settlement and adventurers heading inland, it is hard to see how any of these piecemeal, uncoordinated efforts could have resulted in a settlement of the scale and sophistication found in early Elinhir. A more probable source are the fragmentary records of a “third army” (most likely composed of factions of the same Totambu remnants who later formed Tomba do-Nudri) navigating up a “creek” that was most likely the River Irq , supposedly in pursuit of “the stars themselves, which were otherwise than in the sky”, a fanciful tale that would barely even merit a mention, were it not so eerily similar to the records made centuries later by outsiders who could not have known of this tale, sealed away in Rihadi vaults, of the bizarre events that overshadowed Craglorn in the Second Era.
Little clarity can be gained by cross-checking the indigenous records. What little we can know of its inhabitants prior to the Ra Gada must be gleaned second hand from the notoriously verbose, opaque and incomplete records of the First Empire. With this caveat, it seems that in the First Era this region was said to be inhabited by the Men-of-Kreath, a mysterious Nedic civilisation which, like the Kothringi of Black Marsh, lived on the fringes of the Ayleid Empire and were never enslaved, or at least not for long. Following the Alessian Revolt, which they supported, the Men-of-Kreath opted not to join the new Empire, carving out their own Land-of-Kreath ("Outer Colovia" to Cyrodiils) in what is now the "tri-Province area" between Skyrim, Hammerfell and High Rock. Falkreath, Belkarth, and even (for a time) Bruma were under their control. Sadly, where the Ayleids had failed, the Men-of-Kreath found themselves increasingly under the control of (and forced assimilation to) the expanding Nord Empire, and though the borders shifted back and forth continually, by the time the Ra Gada hit Volenfell, much of their civilisation had been erased. The region now known as Craglorn was to witness one last great flowering of their culture, resulting in the construction of the many Nedic towers that dot its countryside. Tragically, this was also the area where the renewed Nordic conquests clashed with the Ra Gada, and what was left of the declining Men-of-Kreath's civilisation disappears from the historical record as they are lost in the back-and-forth between waves of Nords and the Yokudans who laid waste to the region.
The mythic tale of the founding of Elinhir, by contrast, is quite clear and definite. Local historians state confidently that some time after the initial conquest of Hammerfell (about 1E 820), Elinhir was founded after the daughter of a prominent Forebear settler family was kidnapped, violated, and murdered by Nord raiders. In revenge for this atrocity, an army of landless veterans of the Ra Gada massed together and launched an attack on the raiders' fortress, a "rude and foully sorcerous" citadel high in the mountains. Despite incredible odds and the Nords using thuu'um from the towers of the citadel, the Forebears succeeded in shattering the mountain with their sword-singing and wiped out the Nords. Elinhir (named after Elin-niir, the martyred daughter) was built on the site as an ever-watchful sentinel to prevent such evil ever happening again. Needless to say, Nordic chroniclers categorically deny that this ever took place, pointing to inconsistencies in the timeline when this supposedly happened, and insisting that it was still under the control of “Colovians” at the time. If indeed “Elkreath” was still in existence at this time, at a date when historians have long argued postdates the final collapse of their civilsation, then exactly what happened to these mysterious people is almost as poorly known as the fate of the Dwemer. One thing is for certain - the city's past is so deeply buried under nationalistic myths and counter-narratives, its true origins are likely to remain forever a mystery.
What not in any doubt is that despite its isolation in the eastern mountains of Raguda, political necessity soon compelled the proto-Elinhites to take sides in the growing divide that was emerging on the plains of Raguda far below their mountain redoubt. One of the first acts that prefigured the creation of the later so-called “Forebear Front” was the decision of the Utei of Undeing to intervene in the Litombana on behalf of Elinhir (at the insistence of Helkori and Craglorn settlers) to prevent the settlement’s annexation to the expanding territories of the newly recognised Tomba do-Nudri. This act of charity was never forgotten, though the increasing openness of Rihad and Tanyedt to Tamrielic religious teachings sat ill with the Elinhites, who were already at this stage gaining a reputation for the religious puritanism that would come to define their polity.
Nevertheless, once the Siege of Orsinium was concluded and Hammerfell opened up to the rest of Tamriel for the first time, Elinhir profited and grew enormously from all the trade that suddenly poured through the mountain passes it had been built to defend. The city became an early adopter of the Tamrielic language and currency, and what few traces remained of the old Tomba system of government were quickly eradicated in favour of Cyrodilic egalitarian capitalism (which soon produced inequalities of its own, as we shall see). Elinhir was the chief proponent, surpassing even Rihad, of the need to normalise relations with Reman’s Second Empire, and paved the way for the Bright Memorandum with numerous embassies to the Imperial City. So self-confident and open to foreign influences was Elinhir by this stage that they took the step, remarkable for Raga and never repeated since, of inviting in a whole dissident sect of the Imperial Mages' Guild in the Second Era, the famed "Blackcasters", in an ambitious attempt to set up Hammerfell's own mage academy in rivalry to the Arcane University in Cyrodiil. In the years that followed, Elinhir did indeed become a renowned centre of learning, profiting from the collapse of centralised Imperial patronage of scholarship during the decline of the Second Empire and Interregnum to attract scholars of international repute including the renowned naturalist Phrastus. The city was reconstructed, incorporating many Cyrodilic elements including an expensive Nibenese-style sewer system commissioned for the Eastern Emperor’s master architect Pomptinius. However, it was an era that was just as suddenly to end, in a series of events so bizarre, inexplicable and disturbing that they have haunted the region to this very day.
It is unclear what exactly happened in the early hours of that fateful day, with rumours abounding of forbidden experiments, abuse of lost Nedic artefacts, and stars plummeting from the sky. It seems likely that the Blackcaster mages attempted some kind of summoning ritual (possibly based on Nedic antecedents) whose details have been lost along with their archives, but released unknown energies too powerful for them to control. Elinhir was virtually flattened by the initial explosion, saturated with a corrosive magic that destroyed the minds and warped the bodies of many of its inhabitants. The records of the next few months are a morass of frenzied rumor and myth, tales of messianic cults, the dead rising from their tombs, hideous new monsters being spawned and anthropomorphic stars leading spectral armies. Fortunately, that most valuable yet indefinable of Tamrielic institutions, the independent adventurer, stepped in, as so often, when all the authorities had failed, vanquishing these nightmares back to whatever vaporous realm from which they hailed. The coruscating energies released by the disaster ultimately dissipated, though not without leaving permanent effects on the region's fauna, landscape and people.
The end result, regardless of speculation, was the rejection of this grand experiment in tolerance, and as Elinhir diligently rebuilt itself with the same pioneer spirit that had established it in the first place, to the first of many great Yoku religious revivals which have swept the city periodically ever since. Never again would it allow itself to be seduced by the whisperings of foreign cults and sorcery, a development that would have fateful consequences for its political alignment. Though Elinhir dutifully put aside its doubts and joined the civil war against Prince A’tor in solidarity with its fellow Republics, and played a key role in brokering their fateful treaty with Tiber Septim, the new constitutional settlement that finally ended Raguda’s warfare with the Eastern Empire and established its status as an autonomous Province would slowly and inexorably lever Elinhir apart from its erstwhile fellow travellers. As the other Forebear cities became ever more assimilated to Tamrielic Culture, going so far as to adopt the Imperial Church, Elinhir started to find itself being driven further and further from their fellow Forebears by a deepening and acrimonious religious divide. The dispute became nasty, even outright violent after Taneth banned the worship of the Yokudan pantheon, after which the rulers of Elinhir became widely regarded as de facto Crowns. Elinhir has often seemed to oscillate between accommodation with its neighbours and xenophobia. More benign observers would say that this is because it is uniquely positioned to be both harmed by and profit from contact with other nations. More cynical ones might reply that Elinhir's attitude to its neighbours seems to shift with the prevailing economic climate!
The sharpest of these swings took place in the late Third Era, after Hammerfell was invaded by Skyrim in the War of the Bend'r-Mach and Elinhir, to its lasting shame, was captured almost overnight by a surprise assault. Although the scattered defenders of the city finally got their act together and helped drive the Nords back as far as Falkreath, the refusal of the Imperial-leaning cities to the south to send assistance kindled a bitter and lasting hatred between the rulers of Taneth and Elinhir. In the aftermath of the war Elinhir was taken over by the messianic leadership of Ra Pashat Ayaan-si, who preached open insurrection against Lhotun and virulently denounced the Empire who had also failed them. Though ultimately the Ra Pashat’s uprising was not a success, due mainly to his own untimely death (most contemporary observers suspected Lhotun Sultan of procuring his demise, a charge he vehemently denied), it solidified Elinhir's status as an honorary "Crown" city, and contributed to the bitter infighting that left the Province fatally divided on the eve of the Great War.
Elinhir was never directly attacked during the Great War, as the Thalmor mistakenly deemed it of only minor tactical importance until it was too late. As a result Elinhir seized its opportunity to become a rallying point for fleeing Forebears from across the southern coast, and took control of the resistance throughout the Goldmoor and Helkori regions. This proved so fierce that it blocked the approach to Skaven and forced the Dominion to cross the Alik'r in an attempt to encircle the Legions. Naturally, in the aftermath of the Great Betrayal, Forebears attribute much more importance to this fact in deciding the outcome of the war, assigning General Decianus' Legions only a supporting role! But this hyperbole should not detract from the enormous financial and logistic support that Elinhir poured into the next five years of war, which proved key to the recapture of Rihad that spelled the beginning of the Dominion's defeat.
In the aftermath of the Second Treaty of Stros M’Kai, Elinhir struck an uncharacteristically conciliatory tone and declared full solidarity with their sometimes-rivals the Ragudan Front of Rihad, standing shoulder to shoulder in their bid for the creation of the Limansuna that finally achieved for the Forebear Republics the representation they had so long been denied. What is less well known is the price of this support: the incorporation of Belkarth and its surrounding territories, with which the Elinhites share many cultural affinities and much history, as the newly autonomous Craglorn District. In the years since, the empowered neighbours have joined with the Helkori to become a formidable bloc in the Limansuna, stridently conservative but opposed to protectionism, a stubborn thorn in the side of Sentinel, Rihad and Heigidh alike.
The proclivities of Elinhiri culture have often presented something of a conundrum to both successive Oriental Empires and their western compatriots, as at first glance they appear not to fit neatly into conventional categories of Crown of Forebear. Whether or not one believes that they combine “the bigotry of the former and the avarice of the latter” as one unsympathetic Breton observer wrote, it remains the case that they defy easy political classification. On the one hand, both culturally and architecturally it is quite clearly a Forebear city, where people only speak Yoku at Temple (if at all), and the locals are outgoing and eager to trade with nudri. On the other, they would never refer to themselves as such, view the word "Forebear" as an insult, and are ferociously devout adherents of the Yokudan pantheon. But in truth their affiliations are not so mysterious, reflective as they are of two common threads that weave through the tangled web of their culture. First, while the Elinhites are as zealous adherents as any Heigidhi of the inherent superiority of the children of Yokuda, they explicitly reject defining this in racial terms. What it is to be a true Raga, in their telling, is a question of praxis, not lineage, and adoption of Yoku customs, language, and religion are sufficient qualification. Second, while they affirm that Yoku culture is superior in the aggregate to any that emerged on Tamriel, that is not to say that others are wholly without merit, or devoid of concepts that are worthy of adoption by Raga. But any such adoption must be slow, cautious and done with great care to ensure its efficient integration with inviolable Yoku precepts.
These two commonalities are perhaps sufficient to explain the paradox that whilst remaining in some respects the closest of all Forebear cultures to their Yokudan ancestral progenitors, in other respects they have deviated from it so dramatically as to raise suspicion that these were acquired through heavy influence from or wholesale fusion with some other ancestral culture that was clearly non-Yokudan in origin (a source usually identified by Oriental scholars as the Men-of-Kreath, a civilisation known chiefly from fragmentary Alessian records and so mysterious that to invoke it as explanation is, as Frastu do-Eilin’neer the Elder put it: “To answer a question with another question.”)
Most striking of these oddities are their wholesale rejection of the traditional Yoku kinship system, in favour of a social arrangement utterly peculiar to their region: mutei blubamka, or “polyandrous corporate gynocracy” to use the Oriental scholarly term. Families in Elinhir consist of a single woman, four husbands and their children, an arrangement which, some have observed, would be impractical were it not for the puzzling fact that the ratio of female to male births in the region is roughly one to four, a phenomenon which has yet to be explained by any conventional natural science. Still more curiously, the "marriage" itself is considered a legal personality, akin to a corporation, which can own property and adopt children in its own name. When the wife dies, her husbands remain legally bound by the marriage, and are obliged to continue their duties as soon as a new wife can be found and duly appointed. Accordingly, marriages can (and do) persist for centuries, and very few people in Elinhir own any property or land themselves. This effectively means that anyone who has not been accepted into a marriage is effectively a second class of citizen, and since the oldest and wealthiest marriages have the most exclusive requirements, this results in a great deal of poverty and homelessness in the region, especially among young women.
Another matter of note is that, even in by Hammerfell's sceptical standards, the inhabitants are distrustful of "eastern" magic in all of its forms. It was not always so - indeed, the city once housed one of the largest mage universities in Tamriel, prior to the Second Era disaster that firmly hardened attitudes, and any person using any kind of "foreign" magic is viewed with extreme suspicion. Conjuration, necromancy, and many other spells are punishable by death, and even such seemingly benign arts as Restoration may only be used after holy blessings have been administered and even then only under priestly supervision. So intense is this aversion that it has spilled over into a suspicion of the written word itself, thought to be a receptacle for errant energies that can easily harm the unwary, to be used only where necessary. As a replacement, Elinhites have assembled a marvellously complex and concise assembly of shorthand and mnemonics designed to render their documents illegible to any prying malignant forces, containing as little on the page as possible and as much in the unwritten codex of interpretive rules as memory allows.
None of this is to imply that the Elinhite is anti-intellectual. Indeed, even the humblest of Elinhites can boast a remarkable affinity for mental calculation and memory, which had served them well not only in the commerce that is the lifeblood of their city, but as covert agents or messengers in the wider world. In essence, no Elinhite document can simply be read; it must be reassembled in the mind of an appropriately trained reader, which combined with the many linguistic peculiarities of the region have rendered them a practically unbreakable code. This property has seen Elinhites employed extensively by organisations as diverse as the Elder Council, the EETC and, (so it is rumoured) the Dark Brotherhood and Oriental Thieves’ Guild. Closer to home, the intellectual life of the city is extensive, if rather narrow and austere: intense debates over the interpretation of ancient Yoku texts and orally inherited mantras are a common feature of everyday conversation.
This discursive element of social life finds its ultimate expression in the Pnyx, which forms the city's government. A weekly caucus of all the heads of Elinhir’s households, the Pnyx may only be convened when they have previously debated with their husbands and “formed a common understanding between them.” The Pnyx’s powers of oversight are rather minimal, with most matters not relating to foreign relations or defence considered to be matters for individual marriages. Nowadays, typically it will only meet to when it is necessary to elect delegates to the Limansuna or discuss some other urgent matter that affects the entire Republic. The daily administration of the city is effected by an annually elected Headwife and four symbolically wed male officials with distinct portfolios of responsibilities (though this bond is only sacral, and in their civilian lives they may originate from different marriages).
The underlying factor that shapes Elinhir's life more than any other is its religion, without which the city cannot be properly understood. This region of Hammerfell was conquered by some of the most devout and fanatical members of the Ra Gada, with the consequence that they have always stood out among Forebears. No matter how accepting of Oriental language, dress or food they might be, they refuse to make even the slightest of concessions when it comes to Tamrielic religion. This devotion even approaches the evangelical, as Elinhir is unique among Raga in offering a Rite of Adherence, whereby the foreign-born may renounce their gods of birth and vow to adhere to the worship of the Yoku pantheon, The nearest phenomenon is to “conversion” in the Alessian sense, and a contradiction in terms for other Raga, for whom the Yoku religion has an inseparable ethnic component. The zealous expression of the belief that the land the city was built on was "destined" for them is common even amongst the city's most secular inhabitants. Elinhites claim not to perceive any contradictions in their periodic embrace of the East - it is only from a rock solid foundation of one's own principles, their priests assert, that one can reach out and safely take on board the best of other cultures without risk of spiritual extinction.
But this process accommodation has not always been easy - while the grand temple of Ra Morwha is literally gilded with the fruits of the city’s international commerce, it is not uncommon to see wandering self-proclaimed prophets, returning from years of astounding deprivation and meditation in Hammerfell’s wilderness, to denounce the materialism of the city's wealthy traders and call for a return to purer and more austere ways of living with a fervour that has, on occasion, stirred the populace to action. This occurred most notoriously in the late 3rd Era, when the city was taken over by the followers of Ra Pashat, the firebrand preacher and mystic who called for open insurrection against the Imperial system. Though his dream was never realised in his lifetime, in the aftermath of the "Great Betrayal" of the Concordat, there has been a revival of interest in the man (a controversial statue was recently unveiled one of the city's plazas). In the economic downturn sparked by the civil war in Skyrim, he does not lack followers.
Naturally, given their polyandrous tendencies, the city's deity of choice is Morwha, God of Good Mother Loving, whose four beckoning arms "for grabbing more husbands with" and proud nudity belie her status as a fierce guardian of hearth and home. The city's destitute, however, have another patron - the mysterious “Esha” or “Santesha”, whose worship thrives among the poor of Elinhir. Santesha is a folk heroine who, according to legend, was born a slave to the left-handed elves and led her fellow captives in Revolt, leading to the establishment of the ancient Yokudan Empire. The similarities between her origin story and the more widely known exploits of Saint Alessia have been noted by more than a few commentators, though her devotees counter any suggestion that she may be a simple derivation with the claim that Santesha has known many forms in many times and places, and that she will come again to bring about a new age. Elinhir's orthodox citizens consider this a dangerous and degenerate cult, which must be stamped out at all costs.
The near-total implosion of the pro-Imperial Forebear front in the aftermath of the Great War has left Elinhir in its element, with their worst enemies within Hammerfell having lost the argument and in many cases their lives. Its religious conservatism has been triumphantly vindicated, and spread back all through Forebear lands by warriors fired up with the anti-elven and anti-Imperial sermons of Elinhir's priests during the war. The dream of replacing destroyed Taneth as the center of Forebear culture has never seemed more within reach. But this dream has been shattered by unforeseen consequences - the coup d'etat in Taneth and the rise to power of the "Young Crowns", who cherish a different version of the romanticised past that they wish to take Hammerfell back to. Rather than resting on its laurels, Elinhir should be gearing up for a political struggle to determine the future direction of Hammerfell. Instead, they content themselves with trying to stir up a pogrom against their neighbouring Dragonstar Nords and the Orcs of Fourth Orsinium - two more pieces of land whose holy ordained destiny is to be claimed by the descendants of the Ra Gada.
Relations with other Regions
Elinhir’s idiosyncratic politics have often left it ploughing its own furrow in the complex politics of Raguda, frequently finding itself on the same side as other Forebear Republics (on representation and foreign relations), Sentinel (on trade) and the Crown Totambu (on religious affairs), while being implacably opposed to each of them on many others. Yet the consistency and stubbornness with which they maintain their positions on each of these issues has precluded accusations of being fickle allies. All Ragudan factions know that the Elinhites can be trusted to support them on certain issues, and equally trusted to oppose them to the hilt on others, a situation which, far from leaving it isolated for its strangeness, has allowed it to retain a cautious foot in every camp.
Elinhir’s only true ALLIES are the caucuses from the Helkori and Craglorn districts, fellow conservative Forebears who, while not agreeing with them on every issue, share enough similarities to cooperate on a continuous basis, though this is conceived as a partnership or voting pact rather than a unitary party in the Limansuna after the fashion of the Ragudan Front or Grandees.
Although initially SUPPORTIVE of the Young Crown government in Taneth due to their pro-Yoku religious policies and revivalism, both sides have subsequently realised that many aspects of their ideologies, notably the Young Crowns’ collectivism and economic protectionism, were incompatible. Nonetheless many of the more religiously inclined Young Crowns continue to regard its dogmatic Yoku orthodoxy as an inspiration for their thinking, and frequently visit with their disciples to engage its clerics in debate.
Elinhir retains BUSINESSLIKE relations with Cyrodiil and the Breton Kingdoms (save for Jehanna, which it regards as part of Skyrim). Although anti-Imperial sentiment is riding high after the “Great Betrayal” of the Concordat, international commerce is too important to Elinhir’s survival to be sacrificed on the altar of nationalism. Even traders who visited the city frequently before the Great War, however, have noted a markedly chillier reception in recent years.
Like their sometime opponents Tomba do-Nudri, Elinhir remains legally AT WAR with the Holds of Skyrim (a category in which it includes the Dragonstar enclave and Jehanna), and has repeatedly stated that it will remain so until “all of Dragonstar is restored.” This continued hostility is most likely due to it exacting little financial penalty, as the once rich overland trade route from Skyrim has been virtually blocked since the War of Bend’r-Mahk. Nords may only enter the city if they are Ragudan citizens or “under the protection of the Oriental Emperor.”
Elinhir is HOSTILE towards Fourth Orsinium, decrying it as an “Imperial confection” and refusing to recognise its existence or its legitimacy. The leadership of Elinhir consider the orcish enclave to be an active threat against which they are prepared to defend themselves “by all means at our disposal, since the powers-that-be refuse to take action”.
Needless to say, Elinhites are HOSTILE towards the Aldmeri Dominion and its subject peoples, though they are happy to make an exception for the Anequine caravans which have travelled through their passes since time immemorial.
The Apex Towers - a series of ancient Nedic towers that were produced in the First Era by the Men-of-Kreath. The inhabitants of the city avoid them when possible out of superstitious dread, as these and "foreign" magic, it is confidently stated, were the cause of the cataclysm that razed half the city in the Second Era. Sometimes it is said that weird lights flicker within them when certain constellations process through the sky.
Ra Morwha - a truly gigantic, lavishly ornate temple in the center of the city, devoted to the Mother Goddess herself and all of her many, many husbands. Funded and expanded by generations of local merchants, it is arguably the biggest, and certainly the most richly decorated, in all of Hammerfell. Whenever the temple's wind-calendar decrees it is time for the city's Colored Chorist to sing out the Prayer Tone, life in the bustling city grinds to a halt as the population rushes to attend their devotions.
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Deeza added a topic in Lore PrimersPrimer: Gilane / Tomba do-DjileinGilane/ Tomba do-Djilein
Feudal Rank: Tomba (self-governing traditional Yoku state)
Colors: Black, iron, red clay
Knightly Order: Household guards of the Sinu do-Djilein; Fifth Battalion of the National Guard
Size: Standard Skyrim city with attached semi-separate port towns
Architecture: Custom tileset
Theme: A quiet, seething rage slowly building to a savage denouement. Djilein is a city deeply scarred by the atrocities committed during the Great War, unable to move on or return to normal life while so many of the perpetrators remain at large, unpunished. It sits uneasily within the modern Republic, visibly bristling at the awkward compromise and consensual decision making that characterise the slow plodding of its parliament. The calculations of realpolitik and pieties of internationalism are of small importance to the inhabitants, whose code of ethics, inherited from the ancient Na-Totambu, is far simpler. Bloodshed begets bloodshed, one way or another, and heaven help anybody who stands in the way of a Raga seeking vengeance.
“Gilane” is the most commonly used Cyrodiilic spelling of the old Tomba name, though the official policy of the Republic of Hammerfell is that “Dzhilein” is the more accurate rendering. Nevertheless it is more common in the Raga vernacular to spell it “Djilein”, which usage is therefore adopted in this text. The subtleties of Imperial lettering are of little concern to its inhabitants, however, most of whom have no interest in learning to read the Tamrielic language and deign only to speak it when necessary. Appropriately enough, the origin of the Tomba name lies in the phrase “dzhi-ha-lai-ein” meaning “curt of speech” or “laconic” in the Nalongu language family of ancient Yoku, the name formerly attached to the confederation of Totambu under the loose authority of Zamsa Tomba in the midwest plains of Yokuda, and which ultimately shifted into the designation of an independent polity. As one of the seven Totambu to survive the destruction of Yokuda intact (albeit drastically reduced), the name came to be applied to the land they acquired in south Central Hammerfell, and eventually the city that grew up as their Capitol.
Dzhilein Tomba is arguably the oldest surviving political entity in Hammerfell, surpassing even the Elder Baronies of Sentinel in age. All written records of its founding were lost in the destruction of Yokuda, and thus we must rely on the oral histories handed down by elders of the Tomba itself, a notoriously fickle source of information. The story these tell is that Dzhilein Tomba is one of the seven Totambu which survived the destruction of Yokuda, and has become the largest and most successful transplant of that ancient social system to Tamriel. Originating in the Midwest region of Yokuda, the location of their ancestral homeland is now lost, as there are no extant remnants to give us hints from naming similarities as to their possible extent. What is known (and corroborated by other sources) is that the sinosu that founded Dzhilein Tomba achieved this goal under the rule of the military dictator Randiq Torn, and were only with difficulty reintegrated into the reconstituted Litombana after the Minn Restoration.
Dzhilein Tomba are said to have supported Hira during the final Yokudan civil war, though their reasons were legalistic rather than ideological, believing Hira to be the legitimately elected Uei-utei regardless of their opinion of his politics. This much we can surmise from the fact that they were forgiven by the newly installed Oshiru in the aftermath, following a long tradition of clemency for those who fought on principle rather than for personal gain. Nevertheless, it is clear that an aura of mistrust surrounded them, as their oral history records that many Dzhileini militias and sinosu were dispatched to quell rebellion in far flung reaches of Yokuda to show their loyalty, a tactic which ironically ensured their survival of the cataclysm that was to follow.
Though the homelands of Dzhilein Tomba were wholly inundated, such that no trace of them remains above the surface of the Sea of Pearls today, the scattered garrisons of Dzhilein suffered wildly disparate fates based on their respective locations and were integrated with their local evacuations. The Utei and almost all of the tombana ba were killed in the initial earthquakes that shattered their territory, and the successor, a distant second cousin of the Utei, was known ever after as Sha-Teai (“wave queen”) after being appointed in a boat within sight of the still-crumbling shore. Yet despite the devastation of their homeland, as the scattered boatloads of refugees from around the continent slowly coalesced into the Migrant Fleet, it became apparent to Sha-Teai that far more of her tomba had survived than she had initially dared hope.
The significance of this fact does not seem to have been lost on Diagna either, which perhaps explains why he insisted they remain with him on Herne as others were dispatched to subdue the mainland, most likely with the entirely rational fear that, were they to be unleashed in the new territories, they would seize the opportunity to carve out an independent state. But Sha-Teai no doubt also knew this and drove a hard bargain, extracting a guarantee from Diagna for half of the land conquered in his name by his son Divad. Diagna was true to his word, and the Divadmktulu was partitioned in the aftermath of the infamous post-Ra Gada Conference of Quills to create Tomba do-Heigidh and Tomba do-Dzhilein, both of which, with minor revisions, remain to this day.
Back on Yokuda, the ancestors of the Dzhileinis had traditionally been pastoralists and foragers on the vast central plains, but the arid and cramped land in which they now found themselves was unsuitable for such living. There followed a wrenching transition to permanent settlements and intensive agriculture, which left permanent marks on their society and resulted in the splitting off of a large segment into the short-lived Tomba do-Balhar, who left to live in a more traditional manner in what is now Dakfron District. This process was largely complete by the late First Era, by which time the axis of power had shifted from Herne and Rihad to Heigidh and Sentinel, with profound consequences for the future development of Tomba do-Dzhilein. Though there was no love lost between the leaderships of Dzhilein and Heigidh, their sheer proximity alone mandated a close relationship, even as the developing political schisms of Raguda placed these former antagonists on the same side. Even at this early stage Dzhilein began to acquire an unwelcome reputation as Heigidh’s poorer and more rustic older sibling. Like Heigidh, Dzhilein had been built in imitation of the architecture of its people’s lost homeland, but whereas Heigidh reflected the lost grandiloquence of the imperial capital, Dzhilein was constructed in homage to the humbler but more ancient mudbrick cantons of the Yokudan midwest. While Heigidh would require two centuries of meticulous craftsmanship to construct, the founding settlement of Dzhilein merely took years. On the sole occasion Uei-utei Zutun, the founder of Heigidh, ever visited the citadel, he described it as “squalid” and personally offered the services of his house architects to construct “a more edifying habitation worthy of Na-Totambu”, an offer that was politely but firmly declined. Dzhileinis have never taken kindly to the condescending charity of others, a trait which no doubt explains their profound antipathy to Oriental Empires past and present.
This hostility can be seen most clearly in Dzhileinis’ refusal to assist the insular Totambu against the Sload, contributing not one single ship to the All Flags Navy on the grounds that Raga should not fight alongside other races lest it weaken their self reliance. For their part, Tomba do-Dzhilein had escaped the worst of the ravages of the Thrassian Plague through the simple expedient of promptly sealing their borders and mercilessly slaughtering any foreigners found within before burning the bodies. Similarly, the Tomba vehemently rejected the Treaty of Wayrest, dismissing the arguments that it was necessary to collaborate against the Greater evil of the Orcs in memorable terms:
“The dam has burst, and even now the waters seep down our vales and into our creeks, and trickle over our fields to the crops that we harvest, and even the wine that we drink and the food that we eat are changed, and changed utterly. They have failed to expel us with the sword, and so slowly and surely, they shall steal into our thoughts and make us like them; they shall plunder our lore and fill our children's minds with poison, and it would have been better to drown with Old Yokuda, than to be saved only to sell all that was most precious to our ancestors for so cheap a price.”
Readers of this guide must judge for themselves how much of this speech, described by Prince A'tor as “the foundational document of the Crown philosophy” proved to be prescient. The Dzhileinis certainly believed themselves thoroughly vindicated when, in the aftermath of the Siege of Orsinium, Breton forces under the command of King Joile of Daggerfall launched the first crusade to reclaim the Irridenti. From that moment on, nothing could dissuade Dzhilein from its opposition to foreign influences, and the Tomba became a potent voice for reaction, vociferously opposing the Bright Memorandum and taking a militant stance against any representation of the Republics in the Litombana, believing them to be little more than Imperial infiltration fronts who would only spread their corruption further if they were permitted entrance into the hallowed halls of governance. It was at this point that the Tomba do-Dzhilein first asserted its rule over the peninsula of Hew's Bane, which to that point had remained unclaimed for centuries. Dzhilein was motivated by the need to firmly control both sides of the Dwemeri Canal that severs it from the mainland in order to control shipping through the Canal and deny its use to the Forebears, forcing them for centuries to take the longer and perilous pirate-infested detour around the rocky peninsula. This was always more of a military occupation than an outright settlement, as then and now the harsh landscape held little appeal for colonists, with the notoriously lawless and semi-ruinous port city of Abah’s Landing remaining only under nominal control by the Tomba. By this stage Heigidh and successive Uei-utu had come to lean almost entirely on the reliable Na-Totambu of Dzhilein’s voting Bloc in the Litombana to curtail the insidious influence of Sentinel and Rihad (the Insular Totambu and Tomba do-Nudri both being seen as fickle and liable to act in their own interests). This reliance manifested itself as a favoritism by successive monarchs towards Dzhilein that rubbed further poison into the Forebears’ grievances and even strained relations with otherwise sympathetic Crowns. This manifested most notoriously in Uei-utei Yunud’s abuse of her residual prerogatives over the Mktulu to declare the self-governing Balhar region “a schismatic faction of Tomba do-Dzhilein”, effectively giving them licence to annex it. The independent minded Balharis fiercely resisted, and even at the apex of Dzhilein’s control the situation on the ground never quite matched the legal niceties (for a full accounting of which, refer to the section of this guide pertaining to Balhar District). But in one important sense this was irrelevant, as the position in law was used to further entrench existing injustices in the composition of the Litombana. Despite being culturally at odds with Taneth and Rihad, the Balharis had been sympathetic to their demands for representation, being themselves excluded in a similar fashion. Following the Dzhileini annexation, this request was finally granted - only for the additional seats to be awarded to the territories of existing Sinosu of Dzhilein, further increasing the potency of what was already the most uniform and obstructive Bloc in Raguda's parliament. Flush with success, Yunud next attempted to target the unincorporated and unrecognised Tomba do-Tanyedt, a move which, if successful, would have given Dzhilein licence for open warfare across most of the southern coast.
This was one step too far, even for some Crowns, with Tomba do-Nudri in particular concerned that it could set a precedent that would leave even their own territories open to internal conquest. Yunud’s assurances that “true Crowns” had nothing to fear from the precedent was doubly disastrous, as it confirmed that what was supposed to be power to resolve land disputes was being abused for partisan political purposes, and convinced Nudri Tomba that the integrity of their own holdings would henceforth be conditional on their loyalty to the whims of the current Uei-utei. In a rare show of unity a grand coalition of Na-Totambu from across Raguda effectively blocked the acquisition by voting to abolish the residual Mktulu. Yunud’s authority as Uei-utei was destroyed, and she had no option but to resign in the traditional manner: serial trial by combat. In a cruel Irony, it was a particularly aggrieved Dzhileini who struck the fatal blow. A new and more crafty Uei-utei was duly elected, but the incident caused irreparable harm to Hammerfell's institutions and both the Litombana and the office of the Uei-utei became discredited, a dangerous situation that left Hammerfell on the brink of open civil war. It was a legacy that would bear its full, bitter fruit in the aftermath of the untimely death of Uei-utei Thassad II.
The Dzhileini Na-Totambu’s unconstitutional use of block voting against their own Tomba’s elected candidate was the final straw, going back on representations they had made to Rihad to ensure the election of the hardline Prince A'tor, and convincing many that the Litombana was unreformable and that only violence would make the Crowns see reason. It was a struggle that Dzhilein eagerly embraced, launching an attack on the borders of Tanyedt within hours of the rebellion being announced, convinced that the “pathetic” Forebear militias would be easily defeated. They were wrong. Though superior in training and warrior mettle, the Dzhileinis fought with antiquated equipment and tactics, and the two sides were evenly matched in many bloody, inconclusive battles until A'tor’s insular armies came to their rescue, prompting the Forebears to abandon Raguda altogether and swear allegiance to the Orientals. Dzhilein suffered catastrophic losses during Richton’s repulsion of their sieges of Tanyedt and Rihad, and were forced to fall back to the city of Dzhilein itself, where Prince A'tor, perhaps feeling that their impetuousness had cost him victory, embarked with the bulk of his armies while leaving the Tomba do-Dzhilein to organise a rearguard action. So began the Battle of Seranga, one of the bloodiest phases of the Tiberian campaigns, in which the remaining armies of Dzhilein made the Legions pay dearly for every inch they advanced towards the distant mudbrick citadel, while hurling rocks from the walls of the Great Canal to sink the fleets that attempted to break through to the Isles beyond, forcing, as planned, Richton to fight A'tor on his chosen terms in an all-out assault on Stros M’Kai. The remaining Dzhileini fleet joined in the battle, but even their combined might was not sufficient, and only a lone, charred hulk of a vessel limped back to Dzhilein’s western port of Iglé to carry the news that Richton had triumphed. It was here, as the last surviving duly elected Utei of Raguda, that Basaj do-Djiki boarded the Imperial Barge to formally deliver Raguda's surrender to Tiber Septim, pleading for accession to the relatively generous terms of his previous treaty with the Republics. Legend tells that in response Tiber simply held aloft his copy of the treaty and casually tossed it into the maw of the Red Dragon, before commanding the beast to “fire the clay walls of this citadel to ceramics.” The scorched ruins of the old eastern district of Adjimei, shadows of its inhabitants still baked into the walls, still stand mute testimony to the efficacy of this threat, and Djilein certainly understood it well, as the Totambu of the city were true to their word and never raised a further hand against the occupation. But the rebellious nature of their subjects, on the other hand, was far from quelled, with many joining or allying themselves with the Restless League, spawning a buccaneering reputation that the Tomba has struggled to shake ever since, indeed, one that is quite at odds with its staid and conservative self-image.
This was the situation in which Djilein unhappily simmered throughout the Tiberian Empire, its government regarded by Oriental Potentates as surly but dependable, but its wider populace viewed with deep suspicion. During this period Djilein interacted with the outside world almost exclusively through its ports, with the interior city and hinterland beyond it virtually unknown to foreigners. However, it never descended into poverty as similarly isolationist Heigidh did, leading many to suspect that its prosperity had an illicit source, an issue which crystallised around the thorny issue of taxation. Year after year, Imperial quaestors found the net income and trade of the city to be negligible, an outcome rendered absurd by the fine temple restorations and quality armor that were clearly affordable by a great many. The question was finally resolved by a direct payment of annual tribute to the Imperial Treasury in exchange for no further inquiries into its source, a solution that was frenziedly denounced by the Breton monarchs as “privateering by proxy”. But it was a truce that held, at least until the dread ascendancy of the Camoran Heresiarch, whose demoniacal campaign set the Republics ablaze, prompting a desperate plea for help to their erstwhile opponents, brought to Djilein by a messenger who made an emotional appeal directly to the tombana ba, speaking with great distress of the atrocities committed by the Heresiarch’s forces. Utei Qakor answered simply:
“You were warned.”
Before casting the incredulous messenger out from the city gates, to be captured and flayed by agents of the Heresiarch. Legend tells that Qakor stood on the battlements of the Tower of Hives, looking impassively east across the Bay to watch Tanyedt burn. It was a choice that shocked even some of the Na-Totambu of Djilein, but none dared to gainsay their Utei. Djilein would pass from being viewed as a foe of the Forebear Republics to an object of abject hatred, a betrayal that remains unforgiven to this very day. For his part, Qakor claimed that the Imperial-backed reconstruction of Tanyedt after the war thoroughly vindicated his decision, but others disagreed, pointing out that it was the very devastation of Tanyedt that Qakor had sanctioned which created the space for a testbed of Oriental colonialism. Four years later, Qakor’s most prominent critic Tsekle do-Sheineng killed him in a duel over this very issue, but the damage was done. Raguda's next four centuries would be dominated by vicious infighting between Crown and Forebear supporters, a zero-sum contest in which both sides were quite literally willing to watch greater Raguda burn simply to injure the other party, reducing the nation to the shameful state that only the external boot of the Oriental Legions upon Raga necks prevented open violence between the most hostile partisans. By even conservative estimates, the amount of Raga blood spilt in such generations of cultural warfare exceeded even that lost in Raguda's earlier civil war. Small wonder that other nations regarded us merely for our martial prowess, since that was the only face we showed the outside world! [Surely some mistake? - Ed.]
Thus Djilein on the eve of the Great War, standing proud but perilously isolated among the coastal cities of the south. Raguda’s underlying weaknesses had become painfully observable during the preceding decades due to their failure to contain the Hyus Insurgency on Djilein’s peninsula (a failure that was certainly not for lack of Djilein’s zeal in attacking their bastions). The Tomba do-Djilein firmly placed the blame for the long-running conflict on the alleged complicity and barely-hidden sympathy of the coastal Forebear elites and Imperial institutions, an attitude summed up by the Imperial Ambassador Julius Genides’ technically correct but politically foolish admission in 4E152 that “it is, after all, their land.” On the eve of Dominion invasion, diplomatic boats shuttling up and down the southern coast frantically attempted to organise a common defence, but to no avail. All three of the fleets of the south remained at anchor, protecting their own domains, leaving the Imperial Navy to fend off the landing force alone and leading to the disastrous naval battle near Stirk that left the Dominion able to land on the southern coast with virtual impunity. The rapid fall of Taneth and Rihad was, Imperial tacticians concluded, unavoidable. None, though, could have predicted the Thalmor’s pact with the Hyus that also sealed Djilein’s fate. At a stroke it allied the Dominion's considerable forces with the Hyus’ intimate knowledge of their terrain, allowing them to rapidly move a large force overland and seize both sides of the Dwemeri Canal while the Tomba do-Djilein was distracted by the (expected) naval assault on its twin ports. With the canal secured, heavy siege equipment was brought up within hours and began pounding on Djilein’s mudbrick walls. It was immediately clear that the city could not hold, but the Tomba do-Djilein fatally decided to stand and fight rather than break out to the north and retreat to Heigidh. The result was a bloodbath, as the city took over a week to capture in brutal hand-to-hand combat through its streets. But much worse was to come, as the victorious Thalmor immediately proclaimed “that in restitution for the many abominable crimes committed against their ancestors, the territory of Gilane and all of its inhabitants shall be put at the disposal of the Hews, to deal with as they see fit.”
The remainder of the Great War under almost seven years of Hyus occupation was to be for the Tomba do-Djilein a time of unremitting horror, unleavened even, as in Taneth, by the semi-heroic mythos of Dura Ungai resistance. The vengeful Hyus ruled the city with unrelenting savagery, shocking even the brutal Aldmeri garrison, who were forced to step in to prevent near-daily human sacrifices to their pagan star-gods, out of fear that their supply of enslaved dock labourers would become depleted. Still the monstrous crimes did not cease, and for the last four years of the war the Thalmor was forced to retake direct control of Djilein and import fresh conscripts from Tanyedt and Rihad to man the docks (the Djileinis being so malnourished that they could no longer do so), an action that prompted the most militant Hyus faction to renounce the Dominion and launch a fresh Insurgency, affording a number of Djileinis the opportunity to escape from their prison. By the time they and those who had been fortunate enough to flee earlier returned at the end of the war, the city was barely recognisable, a foul-smelling slum whose rubble and rubbish heaps frequently concealed unburied bodies. Many structures had to be demolished, and the desecrated, bloodstained temple of Onsu ba katu had to be purified in a months-long ritual. Others were simply left ruined as silent memorials or reminders of incurable grief. But no rebuilding project could over hide the scars that the Occupation inflicted on the city’s psyche, nor overcome the overwhelming sense of betrayal, desolation and a burning desire for righteous vengeance.
Djilein represents what is perhaps the purest example of the traditional Tomba system that originated on ancient Yokuda to have been transplanted to mainland Tamriel, though even it has been accused of “laxity” and “contamination” by the three insular Totambu. In answer to this charge, Djileinis would reply that even among the ancients, there was acknowledgment that the traditions and needs of each Tomba were different and that this fact should be respected, and further that the pure communalism practiced on the Isles would be impractical to execute for a city and region as large and complex as Djilein.
The basic unit of Dzhileini society is the sinos, a social unit composed of a core family, ruled by the Itei, a central circle of affiliated families and a much larger circle of indentured individuals and families who are bound to the service sinos either for a certain number of years or a certain number of generations. The core family may be thought of as analogous in function to a Tamrielic peerage, but its organisation is considerably more fluid, owing to the traditional Yokudan kinship system which means that membership and inheritance are not dependent on such factors as marriage or order of birth. Accordingly, promiscuity is strongly discouraged and intercourse for the core family is strictly regulated to suitable partners, as deemed by the ruling council of the sinos, usually via the regulatory mechanism of a real or simulated trial by combat in order to prevent the sinos being diluted by the addition of “feeble” members through irresponsible copulation. The lower ranks of servitors to the sinos are continuously circulated between the sinosu with each generation, in order to prevent their accretion to the sinos as kin by being born for successive generations under the same house. This practice serves both to instill a sense of loyalty and belonging to the wider Tomba itself rather than to any one sinos, as well as to redistribute power between rival sinosu and prevent any from becoming too dominant. Within the core family, leadership is determined by martial prowess, as judged by the exquisitely choreographed contactless duels for which members will spend much of their lives preparing. The life of a sinos core family member is one of near constant training from the earliest years, with every child considered a potential Itei in the making, with no consideration given to such trivialities as sex or disability, to be proven by decades of relentless preparation and testing which will almost inevitably at some stage include a journey to Skaven to study under the revered ansei. An Itei can only be appointed through the death of their predecessor or by challenging and defeating them in combat - following the death of an Itei, the entirety of the upper ranks must duel until only one is left standing (unless they are lawfully excused by pregnancy or illness).
It is notable that for all the renowned ferocity of their warriors, Djilein has consistently produced relatively few ansei of note. The Move-Like-This schools of Heigidh ascribe this to lack of finesse, only for the mendicant masters of Skaven’s schools to retort that polish is irrelevant, and that what Djileinis truly lack is patience. But there is perhaps a simpler explanation for their lack of aptitude for the art of swordsong, as local warband leader Na’ab observed with typical Djileini humour: “In Heigidh and Skaven they say the highest goal for a swordsman is to enter a state of mystical oneness with his sword. In Djilein, we prefer to reserve this privilege for our enemies.” This directness of approach may be seen reflected in the daily interactions of the populace, who favour a bluntness of speech and confrontational approach to disagreements which, to outsiders, often come across as gratuitous bellicosity. But in truth this is simply the register in which Djileinis most naturally function, and the vast majority of the seemingly continuous confrontations that occur in its streets are resolved much like the swordless duels that determine the succession of its ruling caste: much theatrical display followed by little bloodshed.
This phenomenon perhaps deserves further explanation. The warrior ethos is strong here, with a heavy emphasis on personal dignity and the absolute necessity to avoid losing face. To back down is to show weakness, or worse yet implied mockery of the antagonist, and to compromise is to invite disdain, a characteristic which, with retrospect, has fueled many of the Tomba’s often catastrophic interactions with other peoples. This is not by any means to say that negotiation with a Djileini is impossible; far from it. But to do so successfully requires a deep appreciation for their mindset and customs, leaving always an escape route through which one’s interlocutor may enter without being perceived to have retreated.
The chief point of differentiation between Djilein and the insular Totambu is that, uniquely in Hammerfell, it is possible for members of a Sinos or the Tomba itself to renounce their affiliation or be expelled. This is not an option exercised lightly, and occurs only a few times in each generation, as even the most irreconcilable of rebels would usually rather die honorably by execution as a full member of the Tomba than suffer the living death of exile and loss of access to its ancient star charts of the route to the Far Shores, which are known only to the Priests of Tu’whacca and drawn on the inside of coffin lids. Djilein still diligently pursued until the end of the Great War the ancient practice of burying criminals in unsanctified ground, at a secret site in the interior of Hew's Bane rendered an offshore island by the technicality of the Grand Canal. But unlike the Isles, who hold the bonds of the Tomba system to be indissoluble, this grave site is also the final resting place of those expelled from their sinos or Tomba, a source of mild horror to the insular Totambu.
It is with the lower castes of Djilein, ironically, with which the insular Sinosu feel a closer affinity, not least because they are concentrated in the twin dock districts on either side of the isthmus of Hew's Bane, and with which their wide-roving ships have the most frequent contact. Especially since the devastation of the Great War, these dockyards have come to be seen as dangerous places, especially for foreigners, as they embody a different side to the city that could not be further removed from the crusty formalities of its immaculately preserved Tomba system. This is a dark, violent world liberated from many of the strictures of the Tomba system, where blood ties and oaths of loyalty to the nameless captains of the many shadowy ships that slip in and out of the Djileini docks at night count for more than the abstract formalities of the kinship system. The haunted, dragon-glassed district of Old Adjimei in particular is a rumoured hunting ground of the Dura Ungai, and even the hardiest dockers will visit there only when compelled to do so. The reigning Tombana ba-do-Djilein is, naturally, well aware of all this, and even slyly alludes to it from time to time, perhaps in the hope that it's twin ports’ fearsome reputation will discourage foreigners from penetrating deeper into their injured sanctum citadel of Yoku tradition.
Dzhilein has always been a preeminent centre of the cult of Onsi, god of Pull Your Knives Like This, who is strongly associated not only with the sacred rites of forging but with the origins of the art of swordplay itself. Indeed, there is evidence that he may originally have been the primary sword-deity in the days before the advent of the ansei, when swordplay came to be seen not as a bloody necessity but a form of art in itself. This transition is thought by many to be commemorated in the various legends of Onsi being outsmarted, tricked or otherwise defeated by Makela Leki, initially a demigoddess of “Aberrant” swordsmanship but ascending, via the domination of the “Move Like This” school of martial arts over more traditional forms, after which the cult of Leki became the primary warrior deity in the Yoku pantheon. This history bears mention only because it is the primary reason why the Tomba do-Djilein, so often mocked as backward, rustic and slow, feels such a strong affinity for Onsi, “without whom Leki could never have even drawn her swords,” which goes far beyond the adoption of a patron deity found in so many other cities.
Onsi is not merely a distant lord of civic ritual, he is an integral part of the daily lives of the majority of the Tomba inhabitants. On practically every farmstead on the Seranga and every street corner in Dzhilein can be found a block of sun-baked clay pierced with knives, pins, tools, and metal shards in honour of Onsi’s sacrifices of his own bones in the quest to make the first true iron (prior to that time the only iron had fallen from the sky). The prevalence of his cult has mutually drawn from the city’s status as the primary fount of traditional Yoku forging expertise (even the haughty ansei, since the loss of the shehai, have been forced to humble themselves to come here to commission swords). This can be seen most dramatically in the city’s main temple, the Onsu ba katu (also the city’s largest blast furnace complex), to which every apprentice blacksmith, on finally ending their apprenticeship, must sacrifice the masterpiece that gained them the right to operate their own forge by making the perilous rope climb to the furnace towers or mud brick dome of the temple to drive their sword into the thick layer of clay that envelops the building, joining the thousands of others left there over the centuries by past generations of masters.
None of this is to say that other Yoku deities do not have their place in the life of the Tomba. Leki, naturally, is revered almost as much as she is resented, the ultimate worthy opponent, and cults of many other lesser deities and folk heroes proliferate. However, Onsi dominates the spiritual life of the Tomba to an extent unusual for the profusely polytheistic Raga, and his festivals and rites are always the most lavish and diligently attended.
Dzhilein remained under Dominion occupation until the day of signing of the Second Treaty of Stros M’Kai, when the Thalmor and their Hyus allies finally withdrew to the newly established Hew's Bane SAR. Most of the hierarchy of the Tomba were either killed or imprisoned within their city, and were unable to participate in the negotiations. As a result Djilein suffered doubly from the final settlement that ended the Great War, losing first Hew's Bane and then her western fringe with the partitioning of Balhar into the Capitol of the newly created Dakfron District, a total of nearly two thirds of the Tomba’s claimed territory. These developments have left her people with a burning sense of injustice and rage against the federal government, the Thalmor, the Empire, and most of all the abominated Hyus, about whose occupation of the city most Dzhileinis are barely even able to bring themselves speak, lapsing at once into a cold silence of anguished fury. The reclamation of Hew's Bane, and the wreaking of terrible vengeance on the Hyus, to “finish the job the Ra Gada began” is the all consuming focus of the city's public life, with barely a week going past without a thunderous denunciation by the Utei or his subordinates of the “cowardice” of Heigidh, Sentinel and the Litombana for standing in the way of “justice”.
It should be noted that this federal reluctance to allow further private warfare within the peninsula is not born of any love for the Hyus. The establishment of the SAR was a critical condition of the Dominion's withdrawal, and Raguda’s leaders are all too painfully aware that the Thalmor, having had fifteen years to re-arm, would leap at the slightest excuse to renew hostilities, which a divided and infighting Raguda would be hard pressed to withstand. Such strategic necessities, however, are of little comfort to the wounded of Djilein, who still nurse the memory of loved ones starved or murdered and yearn for the day when Raguda’s territorial integrity can finally be restored in full.
Relations with other Kingdoms
Djilein is ALLIED with Heigidh, though increasingly out of necessity than due to any genuine feeling of friendship. Though they are ideologically in almost complete alignment, Djilein has become increasingly estranged from a partner they feel has sold out the traditional Old Crown axis in order to regain its prestige and position as the Capital of Raguda. The current attitude is best summarised by an exchange in which Uei-utei Atusha-Kwesa counselled delay in assaulting Hew's Bane “until we can be secure in our alliances”, prompting Utei Gwundi of Djilein to retort “Delay. Compromise. We have heard such words before. Since what date did you become a Forebear?”
Djilein is IN DISPUTE in Raguda's highest court with Dakfron District and, by extension, its fellow Districts of Helkori and Craglorn. The Tomba do-Djilein alleges that these districts were formed illegally by land appropriation contrary to the ancient Mktulu and demand their restitution, the first land rights case under traditional Yoku law in over five hundred years (Oriental law of property having applied in the interim). The three Districts have countersued that the modern Constitution of Raguda is “properly basic” and overrides all previous precedent. Judgment is eagerly anticipated.
Dzhilein is CONTEMPTUOUS towards Taneth, viewing its Young Crown ruling party as pretentious upstarts who are mere pretenders to the true legacy of the Ra Gada (not to mention that they regard the land Tanyedt is built on as rightfully theirs). In spite of their criminal activities, many in Dzhilein were always more supportive of the Dura Ungai, and covertly aided them as co-religionists in their struggles against the old County. It seems highly likely that these ties persist to this day behind closed doors, especially in the seamy underbelly of Djilein’s twin dockyard districts.
Djilein is implacably HOSTILE towards Rihad, Sentinel and Elinhir, to an extent that veers dangerously close to an outright broad-brush condemnation as race traitors, a sentiment that is frequently expressed with outré sexual imagery (most frequently the insinuation that Rihadis and Elinhites are servile and submissive creatures who enjoy being physically dominated by other races). In the case of Sentinese, the racialist subtext is more overt: their lack of sympathy for Djilein is frequently attributed to their “paleblood” and the fact that they are “merely descended from true Raga.”
Djilein has CORDIAL relations with the Tomba do-Nudri, believing them to be fellow victims of the post-Great War settlement due to the continued occupation of Dragonstar East. This fellow feeling is tempered however with a suspicion of Nudri Tomba itself, still widely held to be an artificial construct and not really a Tomba in the true Yokudan sense.
Djilein utterly despises the Oriental Empire, the Dominion and above all the Hew’s Bane SAR, refusing to dignify such loathed adversaries with even the most cursory diplomatic gestures. Even fifteen years later, the Djileini caucus still walks out of the Litombana every time the Imperial or Dominion Ambassador addresses Raguda's parliament. If they think of the Breton Kingdoms at all, it is merely as the corrupters of Sentinel and a subordinate appendage of the hated Oriental Empire.
Onsu ba katu: The greatest temple of Djilein is also the city's largest and best blast furnace, producing some of the highest quality iron and steel in praise of the Sword-god Onsi and his attendant edge-spirits. Only the greatest swordsmiths can afford the temple’s produce, which is in demand as far afield as Sentinel, Cyrodiil and the Breton Kingdoms. Mere revenue is of little concern to the custodians of the temple, however, and they are highly selective in their clients. The distant sight of gouts of orange flame from its summit is one of the first things seen of Djilein by travellers as they cross the Seranga, but in fact, due to the fire hazard of its continuously operating furnaces, it is uniquely among Yoku temples built outside the city walls.
The Seranga Canal: A sheer cut carved directly through the neck of the Hews Bane peninsula by the ancient Dwemer using some unknown, no doubt sorcerous means. Why they took the trouble to do so is unknown, as the Dwemer had no known maritime interests or trade. It was encountering this vast gulf, at the time thought to be a natural phenomenon, that persuaded Franjir Undeing and Divad to cease their joint advance up Hew's Bane and set sail again in opposite directions, with fateful consequences for the future politics of Hammerfell. Today, it is the main thoroughfare for shipping passing from the North West Circuit around High Rock from Skyrim and the East towards Rihad and Anvil, not to mention for domestic trade and communications.
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Deeza added a topic in Lore PrimersPrimer: Skaven / Tomba do-NudriSkaven / Tomba do-Nudri
Feudal Rank: Tomba (self-governing traditional Yoku state)
Colors: Terracotta, jade
Knightly Order: Order of Diagna, Eighth Battalion of the National Guard
Size: Standard Skyrim city
Architecture: Custom Set
Theme: A long forgotten dying city suddenly dragged back from the brink and still adjusting. Skaven was for many years the second city of Tomba do-Nudri. Despite its illustrious history and magnificent architecture, the more modern and cosmopolitan city of Dragonstar had come to dominate the Tomba due to its connections to lucrative trade with Cyrodiil, High Rock and Skyrim. The loss of Dragonstar 200 years ago has permanently rebalanced the Tomba away from the outside world and towards its rugged heritage, the consequences of which are still being felt across the wider region.
The citadel of Skaven is named after Majuprei-Sut do-Skavein, a First-Era Na-Totambi who was the ultimate inspiration for its founding, though he did not live to see his vision fully realised. The origins of the name of the Tomba of which Skaven forms the capital are rather more convoluted. Literally meaning “outside”, it originated from the ancient debate at the Isle of Herne among the Na-Totambu on the laws of war, regarding whether the indigenous Men of Tamriel were to be treated as mhunika “like us”, dimhunika “not like us” (elves) or parhaio “monsters” (orcs and other beast races). It was concluded that Tamriel’s Men were none of these, hence nudri “outside”. This ambiguous placement was alternately used to justify their extermination or forcibly assimilating them into Yoku society, depending on the region of Raguda. It came to be applied to the northwesternmost Tomba as, uniquely among Totambu, it was founded on Tamriel itself. By this time, nudri had shifted in meaning to imply “native of Tamriel”, and hence, initially as a joke, Tomba do-Nudri came to share the label (the pun having a double meaning, as they were also “outside” any of the Totambu surviving from Yokuda). The label stuck and eventually came to be used by the Tomba itself, for whom it has none of the pejorative connotations nudri has acquired in other regions of Raguda.
It is easy to forget, given how much of the history of Raguda has been determined by the interactions between just seven Totambu and their successors, that these survivals represent only a tiny proportion of the Totambu which were once in existence. According to even the most conservative of estimates, prior to the destruction of Yokuda there were more than one hundred, a number which does not even include areas that, for various reasons, did not participate in the Litombana and are thus invisible to recorded history. It is impossible to ascertain how many of these perished utterly in the catastrophe, and how many more were reduced to so few survivors that they were simply lost among the crowded boats of the Migrant Fleet and disappeared without trace. What is known is that among the more familiar groups within the Fleet that ultimately arrived on the shores of Tamriel were a large number of survivors from other Totambu, often scattered and few in number, trapped in cramped, overloaded boats with people who spoke different languages and unsure if they had been rescued or captured.
The eventual fate of these fragments was acknowledged in the great discussions at Hirn on the division of Hammerfell, but they were too heterogeneous a group to exercise any meaningful influence over the allocation of the Mktulu. In fairness, neither of the leaders of the Ra Gada were unsympathetic to their plight: Franjir offered dispossessed Totambu the opportunity to join his army as hel korei and share in the spoils of his conquests; Diagna offered absorption into their choice of the seven “whole” Totambu. Many survivors accepted one of these offers, but for just as many others, both were unacceptable. Often coming from Totambu that had been larger, older and more powerful than most of those now held up as the only “whole” survivors, these saw their new beggarly status as the operation of mere chance, and refused to serve or assimilate to a Tomba who had “done nothing to earn such allegiance save being crowned by fickle luck.” An order of Diagna kept all of these recalcitrant groups as virtual prisoners on Hirn as the Ra Gada set out, no doubt out of concern that they would seek their own territories if released. In practice, this fear seemed ill-founded, as none of the fragmentary Totambu had the numbers to attempt such a feat, but what about all of them together? Perhaps Diagna was right that they were no longer whole Totambu, but perhaps together, they could be once again? This was the radical proposition of Majuprei-Sut, a physician-noble and the sole survivor of the once mighty Tomba do-Skavein. Challenged that it would be impossible to unite so many groups with different languages and traditions, Majuprei-Sut refuted his critics thus:
“My people are among the greatest fighters in the world, able to run for a day and fight a battle at the end of it. It is surely impossible that a cripple like me should be named Utei of such folk, and yet here I am - I name myself, for there is no-one left to gainsay me. And with just as much ease can a Tomba be, where there was none before.”
In the end, the survivors of thirty-eight Totambu answered his call. Keeping their plans secret, they gathered together what boats they could and stole away from the island one moonless night, slipping away into the darkness towards the alluring shoreline of unexplored Tamriel.
Their journey would not be easy. Seeking to avoid both the armies of Franjir and Divad lest they be accused of disloyalty in a position of weakness, they crossed the Alik'r Desert directly, becoming the first Raga ever to do so, under the guidance of seasoned desert-walkers from the blazing badlands of Tomba do-Lepi of Asos Kazaz. Their destination was the mountainous land they had heard reported to exist beyond the desert, its rusty peaks just barely visible floating above the glare and haze. What they found was the harsh landscape of the Dragontails, fertile by comparison with the wasteland they had crossed and well suited for a people who had already endured unspeakable deprivations on the voyage and their desert trek. And they were inhabited - not only by indigenous Nedes and Orcs but by Men of the Reach and the remnants of the Nordic Empire.
The embryonic Tomba do-Nudri had truly chosen a formidable land to subdue, but they proved equal to the task. Carving out a place for themselves from the lands of the many tribal peoples who struggled against one another in the area, their advance would not be a rapid conquest like the Ra Gada had enjoyed - they would have to fight for every inch of land and advance painstakingly slowly over the centuries, quickly becoming esteemed as the wildest and most ferocious frontier settlers in Raguda. When news of their survival reached Herne (they had to this point been assumed perished in the Alik'r), a punitive expedition was considered, but was judged by Uei-utei Divad to be counterproductive. These runaway clans were, aware of it or not, performing a valuable service for his domain, acting as a shield deflecting the energies of powerful tribes who could otherwise have raided the still fragile settlements of the Helkori. Better to leave them be, and pay for their defiance in blood on an arena of their own choosing.
The full tale of Tomba do-Nudri’s long, slow conquest of the Dragontails is told in the section of this guide relating to Dragonstar, their second city. For present purposes it is sufficient to note that within a generation they were confident enough in hold on their their core territories that they were able to devote themselves to constructing a fortified capital to permanently anchor their control. The unorthodox layout of the city was inspired by the Tomba’s founders gazing for the first time on the most striking monument of an even older civilisation, the lofty and seemingly gravity defying spires of Dwemeri Fang Lair. Not wishing to be outdone by a civilisation composed of infidels who refused to acknowledge the gods - “not even the wrong gods - no gods at all!” - the developing Tomba do-Nudri set out to build their answer to metallic Fang Lair in stone and forever make their mark upon and assert their ownership of the landscape, choosing for their site the improbable location of a tall mountain with twin narrow peaks separated by a howling chasm. The construction of the citadel, split across both peaks and linked by a narrow bridge, was an extraordinary feat of architecture, often since imitated but never quite replicated. Legend has it that the wind spirits of old Yokuda themselves provided paths of air for stoneworkers to reach some of the city’s most dizzying heights and crevasses, but whatever the truth, it remains one of the most striking and original monuments in Hammerfell. Viewing from atop the neighbouring mountain their creation complete for the first time, the now aged Na-Totambu unanimously decided to name the city Skaven, after the extinct Tomba of Majuprei-Sut, who had died several years before.
Perceptive readers will note that at no point in the previous events was it mentioned that Skaven had any special connection with the schools of ansei or their training, an association which has become ubiquitous in the minds of modern Raga. This omission is deliberate - for Skaven’s status as the pre-eminent centre for the arts of the shehai is an altogether more recent phenomenon. Despite producing many ansei of note, the schools of the Virtues of War in Tomba do-Nudri were once, inconceivably to modern ears, considered small, poorly furnished, unpolished and crude, an acceptable starting point for novices but incapable of producing the sophistication one could attain by studying at the oldest and largest schools in Heigidh. The transformation of their reputation to its unrecognisable current state is largely due to the persistent influence of one man, a remarkable ansei known to posterity as Diriq Hallein.
Until the late First Era the primordial witchcraft of Alessia kept the lands of Tamruda closed to the Back Passages travelled by the Lords of Misrule, but its power could only be sustained while a living host was appointed to bear the terrible weight of the blood-seal she laid at White-Gold. The Raga, of course, knew nothing of this at the time but became intimately familiar with the effects of the eastern throne lying empty for too long, being suddenly and rudely awakened from their misconception that they had left the Lords of Misrule behind forever in drowned Yokuda. Nursing deep and bitter vengeance for the slaughter by the Ra Gada of his creatures, the God of Infidel Hordes Malooc opened his Back Passage as wide as possible and voided the steaming contents of the bowels of Oblivion all over the lands of Raguda. Charged by convention with the duty of slaying monsters, the assembled ansei of Heigidh and Djilein marched out to battle the goblin-like beings of colossal stature which emerged from the effluent. Yet despite slaying countless of these beasts their numbers were constantly replenished by the never ending flow, with even the mighty ansei finally forced to retreat.
Diriq was at that time a merely promising ansei, largely self-taught on the field of battle against the mountain Nords and dispatched to Heigidh by his master who felt there was no more he could teach him. Having heard tales of the legendary city and its heroes since childhood, Diriq was astonished by what he found: artists of the blade whose technically impressive but overly complex moves for ceremonial duels were of next to no use in combat. Travelling from one school of the Virtues of War to the next, at first with bemusement and eventually with disgust, Diriq concluded that there was nothing of value that any master in either Heigidh or Djilein could teach him. Deeming himself at least as qualified as any of them to teach the Virtues of War, Diriq returned to Skaven and began to teach his own radical reconception of the Way of the Spirit Sword.
Diriq’s core insight was that the art of the shehai needed to be stripped back to its roots, casting aside centuries of accumulated tradition in favour of a return to the basic principles of the art’s pre-deluge golden age; encapsulated most concisely in Franjir Undeing’s Book of Circles and a boldly reinterpreted Last Will and Testament of Divad. The only ansei Diriq believed had truly advanced the art since then were the so-called Five Masters whom Divad had trained, each of whom had supposedly established schools of their own and whose writings had now been lost. Diriq made it his mission to scour Raguda for and recover these, assembling his own four students to aid him in this task, who would become the core of his new school. Miraculously, they were successful, and from the recovered teachings Diriq was able to devise a ritual modelled after the Snake Folk Slaughter, only one iota as powerful as the original but adequate for the task at hand. With the aid of his students he finally did what all the masters of Raguda could not, attacking the incursion at its source and sealing the dark portal from within, inflicting such intestinal discomfort upon Malooc that he was unable to threaten Raguda again until the late Third Era.
Though Diriq perished in that final confrontation his teachings would be immortal, and the four schools founded by his former students became the pre-eminent centre of the shehai in the Raga world. The shared key to their approach was single minded devotion to rigorous but simple technique and fluidity of style, encapsulated in the mandate to win a duel with as few strokes as possible; ideally, just one. The great canon of fighting manuals of the Heighidi masters still had its place, but only as exercises to improve dexterity or focus in the apprentice. Central to this simplicity of approach was worldly renunciation, eliminating any distraction from single-minded focus. From this period onward all true ansei would live a mendicant existence, wandering Hammerfell and beyond in search of monsters to slay and worthy foes to defeat, only ever accepting food and lodging in payment.
At their peak, the mountains around Skaven were home to more than forty schools of the Virtues of War, the ruins of many of which can still be seen today. Their decline was long and slow, corresponding exactly to the gradual waning of the power of the shehai. Although initially blamed on the inadequacy of newer generations of ansei, over time even the greatest of masters began to struggle to form the shehai and hone it to razor sharpness, and it only became worse as time went on. The causes are still debated. Some believe that this was the judgment of the gods for the misuse of the shehai that destroyed Yokuda, preventing such evil from ever happening again. Others speculate that the wellspring of the shehai was in some way tied to the land of Yokuda, and has slowly dissipated since its destruction. The official position of the House of Quills in Heigidh is that its cause is the dilution of Yoku blood by admixture with the natives (though this would not explain why even Heigidhi ansei have lost this power). Regardless of the truth, with the loss of the shehai came the decline of the ansei as a social class, such that by the Third Era only very few remained, and many of those killed each other fighting on opposite sides of the Crown-Forebear Civil War. Today, only a handful are known to exist. In parallel, there was a slow but steady shift in the importance of Skaven itself. The long war against the Dragontail Nords and Orcs had finally been won, and the rich merchant crossroads of Dragonstar had fallen into the hands of Tomba do-Nudri. Over time,the political and cultural centre of the Tomba would pivot towards Dragonstar, leaving Skaven as a glorious but rather static monument to the Tomba’s illustrious past.
All of this changed suddenly with the devastation, occupation and division of Dragonstar during the War of Bend’r-Mahk. Overnight Tomba do-Nudri found itself relocating its centre of government back to its ancient capital, now ill-suited for the trappings of a modern and much larger Tomba. Nevertheless the huge influx of new inhabitants has been a great boon to a city which had struggled with population decline for many years. The citadel is now at full occupancy for the first time in centuries, and even some of the old abandoned schools of the shehai outside its walls have been rehabilitated as dwellings to serve its swollen population.
The outlying areas of Skaven were occupied by the Dominion during the Great War in the wake of General Decianus’ Legions’ forced retreat, but the citadel itself remained inviolate. Sending emissaries to demand surrender, the Thalmor were greeted at the citadel gates by ten ansei, who challenged the finest warriors of the Dominion to single combat. The arrogant Dominion commander eagerly accepted, wishing to prove the superiority of his champions’ varliance against the legendary swordsingers of Hammerfell. In the event, five Altmer were felled, as were five ansei, but both sides now had the full measure of each other and the Dominion dug in for another prolonged siege. They were still waiting there when they were themselves surrounded by Sentinese forces, discharged Legionnaires and the Ragudan Front, who broke the Siege and liberated Outer Skaven. The Dominion commander was cut into ten pieces, which were scattered to the mountain winds. Skaven has never since been threatened by any outside force, returning to its proud, austere guardianship of the frigid upper reaches of the Dragontails.
Tomba do-Nudri follows a modified version of the ancient social system that once united all Raga. Due to its origins as a fusion of fragmentary remains of many Totambu, it never truly attained a common culture in the same way as Djilein or Kai, its people remaining clannish and beholden to their own separate family traditions, a situation exacerbated by the isolated mountain valleys and passes that make up the territory of the Tomba. It has remained a collection of parts rather than a unified whole, though this is not to say that its people are divided when they have need to work together. Each settlement (frequently to be found in well-appointed cave complexes threaded throughout the mountain range) is organised around a sinos that manages its affairs, but typically rules by consensus, an arrangement which can be enforced by martial challenge from members of subordinate families. Although in most cases the lifelong training of all members of ruling sinosu renders such challenges to all practical intents and purposes suicidal, it nevertheless retains an immense symbolic force of persuasion. In a still-harsh alpine environment where the threat from Orc and Reachmen raids is ever-present, the trust and loyalty of followers is a deeply valued commodity, and a subordinate being willing to risk instant death rather than follow an order would be enough to give even the most arrogant Itei pause to reconsider.
It must be noted that in general the life of fellow Raga is afforded far greater weight in the Dragontails than in other Crown regions of Hammerfell, where the strict stipulations of the Totambu caste system and principle of utter devotion to sinos and tomba may seem self-abnegating and callous. Though Nudri Tomba retains a strong culture of personal and family honour, even in blood-feuds over water going back generations between clans in neighbouring gorges, duels to the death are rare, and a victor will in most cases merely ritually scar the vanquished, even in honour duels that in Crown tradition would demand death. Taking things further, in particularly fractious districts it is common for quarrelling families to be ritually adopted by the local member of the tombana ba, rendering them “kin” and thus forcing them to resolve their differences through the theatrical bloodless duels that are traditionally used to adjudicate disputes within families. Defeat means merely a loss of face (a terrible enough penalty in the Dragontails).
This aversion to infighting has little if anything to do with an objection to killing, or even mortal life being held in particular value. Visitors to the region, even under the Hegemony of the Tiberian Empire, have noted, frequently with horror, of the sheer extent of violence that still haunts the Dragontails, and the brutality and lack of mercy shown to each other by Nudri Tomba, Reachmen and Orcs. It is still an all too common and gruesome sight in the mountain passes to observe a “greenskin”, the tanned hide of an Orc flayed in punishment for raiding, stretched across the barren trees lining mountain pathways as a marker of territory and a statement of intent toward any further incursions. Also to be found, further off the beaten track for those unfortunate enough to wander into their territory, are the hideous altars of the Men of the Reach, against whose treatment of captives Nudri Tomba’s own habit of decapitating “witchmen” may be accounted civilised by comparison.
None of this is to say that Tomba do-Nudri are mere barbarians, as some have crudely caricatured them, especially in the safe, comfortable port cities of the coastal Forebear elites. But it is worth reflecting, as Divad did all those centuries ago, on the security that their savage and bloody intransigence has bought for the inner lands of Hammerfell. The homesteads of Craglorn and the Helkori can, for the most part, sleep soundly knowing that orc and Reachman raiders cannot descend from the mountains to ravage their lands, and that Sentinel may rest easy knowing that any Breton crusader seeking to reclaim the Irridenti through Bangkorai Pass must first run a gauntlet of precipitous valleys guarded by the implacable opposition of Tomba do-Nudri.
There is indeed a rough poetry to be found in the harsh simplicity of Dragontail life, in a profound connection to the land and a fierce pride in family and local customs. The old ways are still kept here to such an extent that even other Crowns may sometimes confess to finding Skaven rustic and embarrassing: for example, a light-hearted challenge to a duel is still considered a friendly greeting for nudri (“if they're feeling unfriendly,” the old Forebear joke goes, “they'll just kill you”). One of the less pleasant consequence of this traditionalism is their attitude towards orcs, who are still regarded as subhuman, at best worthy of the respect that a hunter might pay to a particularly fierce lion or bear. Their mountain is still home to the Order of Diagna, who took the lead in all three sackings of Orsinium. (For their part, the orcs of the Dragontails are happy to pay the Redguards back in spades, raiding across the border every chance they get).
It is here, perhaps, that one can find the only softening influence on their otherwise uncompromising ethno-nationalism: a grudging admiration for “worthy” native cultures and their ways, which have managed to hold out against them for so long when all others fell before the Ra Gada. Perhaps uniquely among the Crown districts it is possible for outsiders (other than orcs that is) to attain a measure of social standing or at least notoriety in the service of the Tomba, through the slaying of monsters or the hunting of troublesome bandits.
The tone for Skaven’s religious life has been largely set by the pervasive influence of the resident ansei for whom the city has become so famed. Over the years Skaven has become notably concerned with esoteric and meditative religion rather than the more conventional pieties and worship that dominate the spiritual life of other cities. Religion for an ansei is, while important, fundamentally a question of practice and discipline, with rituals and prayer seen as distractions from the all-consuming focus on the sword, which should be eschewed as frivolities. The only deity to whom the ansei regularly pray is their patron Leki, God of Move Like This, though they will praise her only in silence, through the movements of their bodies.
This austerity of religious conduct has substantially spilled over to the rest of the city, with the Temple of Leki crowning the second peak of Mount Skaven known as a place of quiet solitude and silent devotion, where only the sound of wind passing through the chasm below disturbs the meditations of visiting and retired ansei. Following the relocation of the seat of Nudri Tomba back to Skaven, the influx of more boisterous Dragonstar Raga found all this too monastic and ascetic for their liking and, rather than reclaiming the Temple, have abandoned it out of respect to the ansei and now worship the gods in a smaller Temple dedicated to the folk hero Diagna on the other peak.
In the aftermath of the war, Tomba do-Nudri reclaimed its old seat in the reconstituted Litombana, where it has taken an active role ever since. Its internal and foreign affairs are utterly consumed by just one topic: the continued Nordic presence in their eastern territories and how to end it. Following the recent death of Great War leader Habbik do-Samsel, the search for his successor was dominated by the question of what approach should be taken to recovering the lost territories, with the conciliatory approach of Surat Coskai finally losing out to the more aggressively confrontational approach of the new Utei Chalash do-Bagal.
In the years since, Tomba do-Nudri has pursued a policy of calculated provocation against the Dragonstar Nords and wider Skyrim, mindful of their status as citizens afforded by Raguda’s constitution but hoping to trigger through legal means a revolt that would provide a pretext to occupy the Nordic enclave and drive out its inhabitants. The life of Hammerfell's Nordic population has come to be one of almost daily harassment and intimidation, skirting close to the very boundaries of the law and inciting condemnation from “soft-hearted” Rihad and Sentinel. But Tomba do-Nudri have never cared much for the niceties of those who hypocritically claim the mantle “civilised,” and they are certainly not going to start now because of the protestations of “half-Raga who can barely even mutter Yoku at Temple.” In their eyes, they are simply doing what they have always done: taking necessary action to preserve their territories. In the mountains, to flinch from ugly necessity is not mere squeamish cowardice - it is to invite death at the hands of a more ruthless adversary.
Relations with other Kingdoms
Tomba do-Nudri enjoys CORDIAL relations with its neighbour the Sultanate of Sentinel. Although local Raga are more likely than not to speak of the Sultanate as “decadent”, “soft” or “assimilated”, and despite ongoing Sentinese protestations at the treatment of the Dragonstar Nords, both sides realise that the other is essential for their security, especially in an era of recrudescent Breton nationalism, and the fundamental need for cooperation outweighs any moralistic concerns.
Nudri Tomba cultivates a RIVALRY with its other immediate neighbour Elinhir, the two sharing much in common as frontier civilisations whilst remaining disdainful of the more outre elements of Elinhese culture. In the olden days before Dragonstar was lost they also competed for trade, though this has largely disappeared from Tomba do-Nudri’s priorities since. Despite their differences they remain staunchly allied on continuing to struggle to reverse the legacy of the War of Bend’r-Mahk.
Tomba do-Nudri is generally HOSTILE towards the other Forebear Republics, having never forgiven them for failing to send aid to their Tomba during the Nordic invasion, even suspecting that the ever-eager-to-please Forebears had secretly hoped their Tomba would be destroyed, preferring to deal with native Tamrudu than fellow Raga. Following the “Second Betrayal” that allowed the Dragonstar Nords to remain post-independence, this attitude has hardened even further and the Forebear establishment are considered self-hating traitors to the race. No distinction is drawn in this regard between the Ragudan Front and “lying” Young Crowns, with an honorable exception made only for the Helkori who defied their nominal rulers to come to Nudri Tomba’s aid.
Tomba do-Nudri is ESTRANGED from its fellow Crown Totambu of Djilein, Heigidh and the Isles. Fully expecting them to rally to their side and reclaim their lost territories after independence, they were bitterly disappointed when their supposed allies decided that the risk of renewed war with Skyrim and perhaps even the Empire was too great a risk “at least for the present time.” This justifiable but perceived slight has rekindled an ancient suspicion that the other Crowns still do not consider them a “true” Tomba worthy of the expenditure of their warriors’ lives.
Nudri Tomba remains AT WAR with Skyrim and all its holds, who have never relinquished their claim over the lost “Eleventh Hold” of Dragonstar. Although overt hostilities have been mercifully rare in recent years the Tomba is still a dangerous place to be a Nord, and they will rarely travel there alone or without protection.
Tomba do-Nudri is RESENTFUL towards the Empire, not only for its demand to respect the rights of the Dragonstar Nords but also for its role in concealing Fourth Orsinium. That said, the Tomba does greatly respect martial strength, and admires many Imperials as individuals (most notably the discharged “invalids” who participated in the battle that broke the Great War Siege of Skaven).
Tomba do-Nudri is implacably HOSTILE towards Fourth Orsinium. Plaques in its citadel still proudly commemorate its role in the destruction and slaughter of all three previous incarnations of the Orcish Kingdom and it is often remarked that “there is plenty of space for another.” In their eyes, orcs are beasts who cannot be reasoned or negotiated with, fit only for the sword. Only the protection of the Empire gives their ancient hatred pause.
Tomba do-Nudri has MISTRUSTFUL relations with the Breton Kingdoms, with which it has no territorial disputes per se but is all too aware that it has been used as a “gateway” by various Bretic forces attempting to invade Sentinel and reclaim their precious “lost Bretony”, incursions which they felt morally bound to repel despite their many differences with Sentinel. It still considers that the nigh-impregnable fortifications of Bangkorai Pass cultivate an attitude of impunity in this regard, and would not hesitate to redress this imbalance if given the chance.
Maka Lekka Leki: Although by tradition the Ansei have never had a fixed residence and prefer to wander, living hand to mouth, over the centuries the huge temple at Skaven has become something of a spiritual home for the swordsingers, and its halls have come to be a place of respite for ansei passing through the area, as well as a place of retirement for those have become too old or infirm to continue their hermetic existence, and now spend their days passing on their wisdom to younger warriors. In the old days, ansei who could no longer fight were expected to walk out into the desert to die, but these days there are so few left that a more concerted effort has been made to pass on their skills to a younger generation. Many pilgrims come to the city to pray at the temple or in the hope of studying with the old masters of the shehai, but few can even manage the climb up the unforgiving mountainside, let alone running the gauntlet of Orc warbands and Witchmen bandits that plague the area.
Bhatu Badh-Mansu do-Shinji: otherwise known to the outside world as the mansion of the Order of Diagna (whose story is told herein as part of the annals of Dragonstar). A magnificent example of the cliff-hanging mansions for which Skaven is so famed, the Bhatu is constructed in the form of an inverted citadel, reportedly fashioned after the pathways and outline of First Orsinium. It is inside the winding depths of this structure that those who wish to gain initiation into the Order are placed to carry out the grim ancient rites of re-enacting the Order’s foundational mythos of the Siege of Orsinium, from the perspective of the defenders.
Do-Totambu: in part an ancestral shrine, in part a library and museum, this complex houses all that remains of many of the thirty-eight Totambu that merged to form Tomba do-Nudri. Housing archives, artefacts and genealogies, it is also something of a place of pilgrimage for those seeking to research and document the “lost” Totambu whose fate is unknown, and trace their descendants.
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Deeza added a topic in Lore PrimersPrimer: The Republic of Taneth / TanyedtThe Republic of Taneth / Tanyedt
Feudal Rank: Forebear Republic
Colors: Tawny, bronze
Knightly Order: None, for the concept of Knightly Orders is an Imperial notion implanted into the Raga consciousness to further their subjugation and weaken their resolve. Resist their tricks! Resist the Empire of the Mind! , Fourth Battalion of the National Guard, the Auxiliary Particulars Militia
Size: Standard Skyrim city
Architecture: Sentinel Architecture Set; TR dock meshes; miscellaneous international clutter
Theme: The cooling fervour of a youthful revolt. Taneth is a city that was devastated by both the Great War and the mismanagement of its aftermath, destroying the immense reserves of respect accumulated by the Empire and its Church in the city that was once considered to be almost a traveller from the future of a Cyrodified Raguda that the Orientals wished to create. The subsequent Revolution that swept away the old pro-Imperial regime brought with it fresh hope, but soon revealed religious and political problems of its own that are yet to be adequately resolved.
Scholars agree that the name Taneth is derived from the earlier form of “Tanyedt”, meaning “of (possessive personal) Yedt” in Tanjupro, the socialect of the marsh farmers and jupru fishermen who were the first Raga to settle this area. Who, or indeed what, Yedt was is a matter of some debate and no little speculation, with various candidates including an indigenous deity, a forgotten Nedic culture inhabiting the area before the Ra Gada, a character from local folktales or, indeed, the earliest founder of the settlement that became Taneth, whoever that may have been.
According to local tradition, in the late First Era, the Utei-do-Heigidh and the Utei-do-Rihad had a child (they were not married, as marriage was a foreign concept at the time). The Scribes of the House of Quills in Heigidh duly studied the stars and proclaimed that, when he grew up, their child would be the utei of both totambu. This was anathema to the people of Rihad, who feared that Heigidh would use this prophecy to try to restore hereditary rule in their city. And so late in the night a man who became known forever as Ngaz-Snake-Fingered stole the baby boy, only one year old, and threw him into the marshy delta of the River Irq. Through his own strength, the boy survived, growing strong and healthy in the wild. He learned to talk by listening to the marsh itself speak, and became wise in the ways of nature and living without anyone to guide him. When he was twelve, he found a dying old man named Yedt near the shore, and nursed him back to health. Recognising the nobility of the boy, Yedt took him into the city to learn the ways of his people, and he became educated in the ways of the Raga. Yedt was old, though, and died within years. Later, the boy founded a city of his own on the spot he met Yedt, and he named it Tanyedt, in gratitude for the kindness the old man had shown him.
Under Eastern Imperial rule, an alternative “rationalist” version of the tale was distributed via the sermons of the Alessian church. Namely the founder of Taneth was a bastard born to the Queen of Rihad, who was smuggled out of the palace under cover of darkness and given to a righteous old fisherman named Yedt to raise as his own. When Yedt died, the boy's royal blood made him a natural leader, and he founded a city on the site of Yedt's shack. Although this is still the version that is most commonly told in the city today, the older "correct" version has made a comeback post-independence, and forms a core part of the Young Crown movement’s anti-marital propaganda.
What less partial scholars agree most likely happened was that a prominent itei (possibly named Yedt, or devoted to a lost marsh-god of that name) with family ties to the rulers of both Heigidh and Rihad acquired a large amount of land where Taneth is now located and began the process of draining the marshes and clearing them of monsters and walking corpses, the success of which prompted a wave of immigration from Rihad and its hinterland (which were undergoing a drought at that time) and even from the West, where many low-caste families chafing under the strict rule of the Na-totambu sought a new life with greater freedoms and opportunities.
From the start, Tanyedt conceived of itself as an outward-looking and forward-thinking city, utterly outside the old Tomba system and unbound by the traditions of the Yokudan past (or even the post-Undeing legacy of Rihad). Though it adopted some of the trappings of the older ways in a bid to secure legitimacy for itself, such as an elective Utei, their operation was wholly transformed. Even while Rihad remained in the late stages of its long transition from Totambu rule to popular citizenship, Tanyedt had leapt ahead towards the same destination and abolished the old ranks, granting every household the once exalted status of sinos. But the legacy of the past was not so easy to escape. The Litombana outright rejected the recognition of Tanyedt as a new Tomba and refused its representatives the right to speak at its meetings or contribute to Raguda’s legislation, leaving them as “terra nullius” under the direct rule of the Uei-utei. Left with no other options, Taneth had no other way to make its voice heard than through the regent Consulate of Rihad, bringing its concerns via the empty seat left by the Tomba do-Undeing. This was a responsibility that Rihad was happy to accept, as it bought them concessions from upstart Tanyedt and added weight to their own concerns. The foundations were laid for a partnership between the “twin cities” of the south East that would endure throughout the centuries.
Tanyedt, initially little interested in the outside world, became inexorably drawn into its elder sister’s wider struggles with the Na-Totambu, especially concerning the long fight to open up Raguda’s borders to eastern trade and alliances. Although at first Tanyedt was primarily interested in doing so to weaken those who had spurned them in the Litombana, their heads were soon turned by the lucrative opportunities it presented. Although Tanyedt played only a minor role in the negotiation of the Bright Memorandum itself, they more than made up for it in their positioning of their city to reap the benefits, amassing great wealth and judiciously investing it in a massive new port. Tanyedt (already by this stage known as an entrepot and trade route stopoff under its mispronounced name of Taneth) became famed as a place of social mobility, where anyone could rise to become part of the ruling council or even utei if they showed enough business acumen and political talent. Maintaining good relations with both the Forebear and Crown camps paid off handsomely in terms of trade, whilst the international influences in the port made Tanyedt one of the most open and tolerant societies in Hammerfell. Which, ultimately, placed it firmly on the Forebear side of Raguda's developing cultural warfare during the Second Empire, with fateful consequences.
In 2E xxx, the long smouldering dispute between Rihad and the Crowns finally came to a head after the death of Thassad II and the contested election of Prince A’tor, eventually resulting in Rihad’s walkout (and subsequent lockout) from the Litombana that triggered Raguda’s civil war. Taneth stood shoulder to shoulder with its old ally in the conflict, making a modest military but far larger financial contribution, and enthusiastically backing the decision to involve Tiber Septim once defeat appeared certain, an intervention which arrived in the nick of time as the Legions drove back A'tor’s forces from the walls on Tanyedt.
The city collaborated enthusiastically with the Imperial occupation, profiting handsomely from thus and being showered with favours, many of which were retained even after Imperial withdrawal. But the Crowns had long memories, and would wait many years for the opportunity to avenge this “treachery”. In 3E 253, when the Camoran Heresiarch (known elsewhere as the Usurper but chiefly infamous in Raguda for his assertions that the Yoku gods were mere degenerate reflections of Left-Hander theosophy) summoned an army of demons and laid siege to the city. Rihad, their usual source of aid, was also under siege, anf so the rulers of Tanyedt pleaded to the Crowns for aid, offering the chance to reconcile and bury forever the legacy of the civil war. In a moment that shall live in infamy, Heigidh and Djilein callously refused, abandoning Tanyedt to its fate. The city walls were breached and its inhabitants put to the sword, and worse. The Crowns would never be forgiven, even to this very day, and any hope of reconciling the wound opened by the civil war was forever lost. Raguda would now be divided for the next four hundred years into pro and anti-Imperial camps.
In the aftermath of the war, Emperor Uriel V saw a chance to increase Cyrodiil’s influence in Raguda and evade the Treaty of Stros M’Kai’s restrictions on setting up additional Imperial colonies. Appealing to the Tanethis’ sense of alienation from their fellow Raga, and promising generous financial aid, Uriel took the unusual step of intervening personally to install the next utei, selecting as his choice Masutrus Klavulrus, an Imperial-friendly Raga converso, who was independently wealthy in the Imperial City, and had not even visited Raguda for years. Although Masustrus was initially selected as a safe, non-ideological pair of hands who could be trusted with the reconstruction of the city, his heirs were more radical, and began an explicit programme of Cyrodification of Taneth. The motivations for this were partly political, partly economic, and partly a result of sincere conviction that the Empire represented the future. Converting Taneth to a Cyrodiilic County under Imperial laws of succession allowed the rulers of the city to entrench their position as a hereditary dynasty, contrary to the traditions of the Forebears, and transitioning to Imperial Law brought increased trade and prosperity. But it was their religious persecutions, carried out with particular intensity under the hated Countess Clavilla at the start of the 4th Era, that proved the most divisive. Although publicly a huge success and the toast of Cyrodiil, Taneth's policy of aggressive (even forced) conversion to the Alessian faith created massive social tensions which ultimately led to a decades-spanning struggle with the County's unlikely nemeses: the Dura Ungai, a mafia-like Raga criminal syndicate living in the dark underbelly of the city, who managed to reverse their shady image (at least in some quarters) by waging a principled campaign of defiance against the County (now the subject of many local legends).
Twenty years ago during the Great War, Taneth suffered the humiliation of being the first city in Hammerfell to fall to the Dominion after it was betrayed by insiders. The Count of the time, Metrius Sybacles, decided the city was lost and abandoned it to the Dominion, an act of cowardice for which many of his subjects never forgave him. The Dura Ungai stepped in to fill the breach, waging a ruthless campaign of systematic terrorism against the Aldmeri occupiers, who responded in kind with savage brutality. Ultimately, however, they were unable to defeat the syndicate, and, fearful of losing control of the city, the Dominion General ordered it to be razed to the ground. The long and gilded history of Taneth was ended in a single night of fire, reduced to little more than a shanty town of homeless refugees, an abject position from which it is yet to fully recover.
After the Dominion finally withdrew, exiled inhabitants began to drift back, and the restored Count Sybacles who, it is said, spent the whole of the Great War relaxing in a garden in Sentinel, attempted to carry on much as before. But this was not to be. The sting of the Empire's betrayal, and the influx of young warriors radicalised by years of fighting in the wilderness, had changed the character of the town. A new and youthful faction characterised by its violent rejection of Imperial ways was formed, at first (jokingly) called "Young Crowns" by their enemies, despite being almost all Forebear in ancestry. The inexplicably out of touch decision by Count Sybacles to begin his ambitious programme of rebuilding with an enormous palace “as a guiding inspiration to all my subjects” proved to be the final straw. Ten years ago the increasingly hated and irrelevant Count was overthrown by a coup d'etat organised by the Young Crowns and their allies, who seized control of the city, declared the abolition of the County and the establishment of a new Republic of Tanyedt, which ironically went on to achieve the one prize that had always evaded the old Utei - representation in the Limansuna.
Although traditionally, Forebears have represented the more egalitarian interpretation of the traditions of the Ra Gada (owing to their origins as the low-caste footsoldiers in the Warrior Wave), Taneth's policy of explicit Cyrodification opened up deep gulfs between the social classes. Between the ruling class, who increasingly styled themselves after the Cyrodiilic nobility, and the more traditional public. Not to mention between the new middle class of wealthy merchants who profited from the Empire, and those who were consigned to penury as traditional crafts and markets were replaced with Imperial industry and foreign conglomerates, who descended like vultures to buy up swathes of the local economy. Despite this, until relatively recently, Taneth was seen as the Empire's most reliable friend in Hammerfell, always ready to lobby on the Empire's behalf with the other cities, and a prime recruiting ground for the Legions and Imperial Navy. As such, the Crown establishment looked upon Taneth as nothing less than a pit of infamy and sin, an awful warning of what would befall the rest of Hammerfell if they gave in to "modernizing" platitudes. For their part, the Taneth elite raised a cheerful middle finger to the Crowns' conservatism, even as they happily took their money.
The flip side of all of this, was a massive increase in the power of the Dura Ungai, or "Old Family". Although they claim to be an ancient secret society originating in Yokuda itself and brought over amongst the warrior-cults of the low-ranking Ra Gada, this claim is dubious to say the least. Regardless of the truth, they first came to wider attention in the 3rd Era, when they emerged as a protection racket to fill the gap left by corrupt city guards who cared little for the poorer districts. Due to their deep secrecy, disdain for authority and intense devotion to the old Yoku pantheon, the Dura Ungai emerged as an unlikely locus of resistance against the County's pro-Imperial policies, fighting back with thefts, desecrations and even assassinations, and cultivating a heroic image for themselves that was at odds with their often savage behaviour. Nevertheless, joining the Old Family remains the highest aspiration of just about any kid from a tough neighbourhood in Taneth's slums. It means protection, mystique, respect and possibly even wealth. Non-Raga are forbidden from joining the society proper, although they have been known to use foreign agents to do their dirtiest work.
Taneth's flirtation with the exotic Cyrodiilic East ended (perhaps forever) during the Great War, during which the city was almost completely destroyed down to the ground. In the aftermath, cultural momentum passed to a loose but consistent movement of angry young veterans of the Great War, the so called “Young Crowns”. But this jibe does not imply they are conservative - their adoption of the Yokudan pantheon, for example, appears to outside observers to be more of a gesture against the Empire than a result of sincere conviction. Rather, they place their faith in the "true traditions of the Ra Gada", which they believe were sold out to Imperial capitalism. The Young Crowns espouse radical social egalitarianism, the abolition of "foreign" legal institutions and all hereditary privileges, and they wish to export this radicalism all over the rest of Hammerfell.
The Young Crowns disdain formal leadership hierarchies, with the city being run by numerous committees with different responsibilities, whose membership is assigned periodically by random lottery, a system which was designed to eliminate corruption and ensure equality but which in practice has resulted in chaotic administration and lack of long term planning. Despite grand plans for a utopian rebuilding of the city, much of it remains in ruins or as a shanty town, with many Young Crowns now taking the view that rebuilding Taneth as a new model city of Raguda can only take place once “outside forces” are overthrown and the Revolution spread to the rest of the country. The Young Crowns operate their own militia (the Auxiliary Particulars) for self defence and citizens’ courts, criticised by many civilians for exhibiting ideological bias and punishing dissent rather than attacking crime, a charge which the Young Crowns argue is a reflection of the faulty priorities of conventional justice.
Taneth was formerly famous (or infamous, depending on one’s sympathies), for its unwavering dedication to the Nine (latterly Eight) Divines, and its rejection of the Yoku pantheon. This resulted in a kind of institutionalized double life for many, in which many "crypto-Yoku" would often attend the Chapel in public to prove their loyalty (and avoid being flogged as heretics), whilst secretly carrying out their old rituals in basements, caves and other secret locations. This resulted in the construction of a maze of narrow secret tunnels and catacombs underneath the city, which naturally became the meeting place of choice (and recruiting ground) for the Dura Ungai, as well as innumerable other private and quasi-legal activities, from illegal moonshine distilleries to prostitution. Accordingly, to be an "old" Yoku devotee in Taneth is to have a somewhat dark and sordid reputation - a life filled with secrecy and hidden rituals. Upon the surface, the Imperial Cult reigned supreme until the Revolution came.
Although on paper Taneth is still an Exarchate of Cyrodiil's Alessian Church, one of the Revolution's first acts was to abolish the privileges of the clergy, confiscate all Church property and deport all "nudri priests" (not the first time their strident nationalism has opened them to accusations of being closet racialists, despite their earnest protestations to the contrary). Although nominally a secular organisation, the Young Crowns' antipathy towards Cyrodiilic culture also extends to Imperial religion, which they blame for, among other things, being an agent of political oppression, advocating imbalance of the sexes, racism and toxic "foreign" marriage. Their initial guarantees of religious tolerance and freedom in the city have been revealed to be anything but in the years since. Although there is no overt persecution of Alessians, a climate of intellectual intolerance and casual mockery has taken hold of the city which makes those who still hold to the Church feel isolated and uneasy. When the Chapel of the city was desecrated last year, the Young Crown administration's silence and inaction in seeking out the perpetrators spoke volumes.
It's now been several years since the Revolution expelled the last of the Counts and brought the "Young Crown" faction to power in the city. Initially, they rode to power on a wave of popular support for their abolition of Taneth's hated blasphemy statutes which outlawed the Yokudan Pantheon, and for their fearless expropriation of Imperial-owned industries and expulsion of “greedy” foreign merchants and “toxic” priests. But in the years since, their relationship with the people they claim to embody has soured. The inexperience of the Young Crowns at governing has resulted in a mixed record in tackling the poverty and inequality that brought them to power, and many of the inhabitants of the city are growing increasingly tired of their rigidly ideological rule and ceaseless propaganda. Some of the more pragmatic Young Crowns see this disenchantment as an opportunity to purge their movement of its extremist elements and establish it as a mature political force, but they face implacable opposition from hardliners, who claim that the movement has not done enough to cleanse the city of Imperial influences and spread the Revolution to other parts of Hammerfell.
Relations with other Kingdoms
Taneth is in theory ALLIED with the Republic of Elinhir, with its many public declarations of eternal sorority between “the Elder Sister” (the Elinhir Pnyx) and “the Younger Sister” (Taneth’s new regime). However, many have remarked that this may be due to a mutual misperception by each of what the other stands for. Many of the Young Crowns were originally radicalised by the fiery sermons of Elinhese preachers during the Great War, and hence look on it as a beacon of proud Raga religion, and the ideal based on which their own city’s long-suppressed faith should be reconstructed. The actual practices adopted by the Young Crowns, however, are very different to those of Elinhir, being based more on Eastern Imperial scholarly interpretations than the oral traditions and local quirks which form the basis of most observance. More seriously, the radical redistribution and economic equality espoused by the Young Crowns is diametrically opposed to the mercantilist philosophy of Elinhir. For their part, the Elinhese view these divergences as mere youthful foibles, to be dissolved in time as the Young Crowns grow to appreciate the wisdom of their elders. But with the Young Crowns only growing more rigid in their ideology with time, it does not take a master of perception to envision a dramatic rupture in relations in the near future. A similarly conflicted approach also governs Taneth's relationship with Elinhir’s fellow travellers, the rural Forebears of Helkori and Craglorn.
Taneth is HOSTILE towards Heigidh and Djilein, still unforgiven for their abandonment of Taneth to the ravages of the Heresiarch four hundred years ago. The Old Crowns represent everything that they have set themselves against: the embodiment of blind Adherence to traditions and entrenched social heirarchy. The feeling of contempt is mutual. Although it is too far away to much affect their calculations, remote Tomba do-Nudri is also a target of disdain for its association with the Old Crowns.
Taneth is HOSTILE towards the current regime of the Republic of Rihad, viewing it as the most realistic target for the export of their Revolution, working tirelessly to infiltrate their agents into its caucus, committees and streets. Overt hostilities were somewhat mitigated until recently by the fond memories of many Young Crowns of fighting alongside Ghosek Ryusai and his Ragudan Front resistance in the Great War, but this has dissipated following his successor Proconsul Nahasmiah’s quick action to purge the Front of all suspected Young Crown “entryists”. From that moment on, future conflict was assured, often through proxy issues such as the demand to close or reorient the controversial Richton College at Stonemoor.
Taneth is FRUSTRATED by its relations with Sentinel, which has thus far remained remarkably resistant to their revolutionary overtures, despite years of attempting to raise its “downtrodden” citizenry. No doubt much of this is due to the famously efficient activities of the Sultanate’s secret service, who have apprehended and imprisoned several Young Crown agitators for sedition in recent years.
Taneth is HOSTILE towards the Oriental Empire, the Dominion, Fourth Orsinium and all other external powers, all of which are viewed as potential sources of intrusion and domination over the Raga, old enemies with whom scores must be settled. This is often not reciprocated, with Imperials frequently baffled by the hatred shown to them from citizens of a region that was, until recently, considered their truest friend and brightest light in Hammerfell.
Palace of the Raga - formerly the residence of the Counts, and before that, the location of Castle Taneth, which was slighted by the Dominion's Khajiiti garrison when they pulled out the city after the Great War, in one final act of revenge (or possibly as the climax of an epic final skooma-party, depending on who is asked). Upon returning from exile (having spent the Great War in a garden in Sentinel) the former Count Taneth looked upon the smoking ruin of his ancestral home, and went on to prove just how out of touch he had become by ordering the construction of a luxurious new palace from white limestone as "a shining beacon of hope for the city." After his overthrow, the Young Crowns "returned it to the people", although in practice, it is now mostly filled with their bureaucracy and impromptu propaganda lectures, with the occasional agitprop theatre performance.
Chapel of St. Baurus, Apostle to the Redguards - Originally built for employees of the East Empire Company who worked in Taneth's docks, this Chapel, built in local stone but using imported Cyrodiilic stonemasons and architecture, was the spiritual heart of Taneth for centuries. Now, it has been thoroughly desecrated by recent riots - the statues of the Divines were torn out by a mob and thrown into the sea, the windows smashed (now boarded up), and its library burned. The city's cowed population of Alessians lack the confidence and the resources to restore it at present.
The Arena - Located a short distance outside and to the south of the city proper, this Cyrodiil-style arena was intended to help distract the people of Taneth away from their pesky Raga traditions and help them embrace the pure, simple Imperial joys of watching two people butchering each other whilst eating snacks. During the war, the Thalmor occupied it as their headquarters during the Siege of Taneth, and it has since been abandoned by law-abiding citizens, having become infamous for its use by the Dura Ungai late at night for illegal underground fighting matches, which often pit brave (or perhaps foolhardy) young warriors against Giant Scorpions, Medusae or other monstrous fauna of Hammerfell, as part of their lucrative gambling operation.
Whacca Nata Wo - the conflux of dozens of mazelike narrow passages under the city, pitch black, steep and slippery (hence why the name invokes both the God of Death whose rituals are carried out in its depths, as well as the God of Don't Go This Way). Even before the Yoku religion was literally driven underground, this was an important cultic site, and it has been further enlarged and filled with traps for the unwary ever since. Since the Young Crowns disdain traditional temples in favour of worshipping ostentatiously in the streets, nowadays this undercity complex is mostly known as the chief meeting place for the Dura Ungai.
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Deeza added a topic in Lore PrimersPrimer: SentinelThe Sultanate of Sentinel / Tomba do-Nahoukh / Tsent'ein-el
Feudal Rank: Sultanate (self-governing principality within the federal Republic of Raguda)
Colors: Yellow, black and grey
Knightly Order: Knights of the Watching Moon, Order of the Candle, Third Battalion of the National Guard
Size: Determined by the size of the islands
Architecture: Sentinel Architecture Set; TR dock meshes; miscellaneous international clutter
Theme: A realm torn between loyalty to the Raga people and the seductive lures of independence. Sentinel is a cosmopolitan city, a fusion of Raga and Breton in an age when nationalist and racialist tensions are rising. Despite its central role in the forging of the Republic of Hammerfell, rising voices of isolation and protectionism are leaving the city’s inhabitants wondering if there is still a place for a trading hub like themselves in the modern nation. Sentinel controls a vast Sultanate of its own on the north coast of Hammerfell, and has the strength and resources to prosper on its own. And yet the nagging counter fear still stirs within the city’s breast: it saved Raguda once before - what message would it send to the Republic's enemies if Sentinel abandoned the nation it helped to create?
The names of both the city and the state of which it is the capital are, despite first appearances, derived from the same word “tsu-tei” of High Court Yoku, meaning “strength, fastness, refuge, indomitable.” A common honorific awarded to particularly intransigent or resilient Raga and locations in ancient Yokuda, it became associated with the northern region of Hammerfell due to the construction of Tsent’ein-el (“the unbreakable one”) , a massive fortress constructed by the Ra Gada on the site of the modern city to guard their conquests against invaders. The association was reinforced by the regnal epithet of Tsu-tei being adopted by the hereditary seneschals of this fortress, from which the modern monarchical title of Sultan is derived.
I. The Merethic Era
The Sultanate of Sentinel can trace its dual heritage to two principal sources: the Bretic city states that arose in the region after the fall of the Direnni Hegemony, and the now-defunct Tomba do-Nahoukh which arose on ancient Yokuda and migrated to Tamriel with the Ra Gada. The origins of the Nahoukh Tomba are lost, as is the location of their homeland (though the -oukh suffix would suggest a Yathi connection). Much ink has been spilled over whether they were the same Nohoku that earlier Zamsari records describe as nomadic plains raiders, but this must remain mere speculation. There are conflicting reports about Tomba do-Nahoukh’s conduct during the Yokudan civil wars, leading some to suggest that they played both sides, or at least switched when it became clear that Hira’s position was untenable. Certainly the oral histories imply that they had acquired a slippery reputation, though how much of this is retrospective slander due to their subsequent dealings with erdeshi and mainland Bretons is unknown. Quite how they survived the fall of Yokuda in significant numbers is also unknown (even assuming that they are the same as the Nohuku sinosu to which fragmentary pre-cataclysm records refer). But though questions swirled over their character, Nahoukh’s military prowess was never in doubt, as they achieved a feat even mighty Divad had been unable to accomplish: The conquest of the Bretic city states of the southern Iliac Bay. Their methods of doing so, however, were unorthodox, laying the foundations for a very distinctive regional subculture within Raguda.
The lands that comprise the modern Sultanate, better known across the Bay as the Irridenti or Lost Bretony, posed a uniquely formidable obstacle to the Ra Gada. Colonised by entrepreneurial Aldmeri clans during the Merethic Era, they displaced and enslaved the indigenous Nedic population and introduced agriculture and metalworking to the region. After Clan Direnni completed consolidation of their rule of what is now High Rock, they turned their attention to the other side of the Bay and formally completed the annexation of the region in 1Exxx. From then on it would undergo a similar development to the rest of the Hegemony, though this was not enough to erase the cultural peculiarities that had arisen before. After the fall of the mainland Direnni holdings in 1Exxxx the region experienced a last flowering of Direnni rule in the following century before a second uprising and invasion to “liberate” the remainder by the Breton Kingdoms finally displaced them, after which the area was considered to be an integral part of Greater Bretony. Various areas were claimed or incorporated as overseas colonies by Daggerfall and Glenpoint, while others fought for and retained their independence. But the end result was to present the Ra Gada with an opposition unlike anything they had encountered before on Tamriel.
II. The First Era
Up to that stage the Warrior Wave had destroyed with ease the tribal and fragmented cultures of the Khanovaks, Hyus, orc clans and nomadic Algemha. The discovery of massive red stone castles, “devil-worshipping” sorcerers and witches and the devastating charges by heavily armoured kataphractoi cavalry astonished the invaders, who up to that point had assumed that Tamriel was inhabited solely by illiterate barbarians and monsters. For the first time since setting foot on Tamriel the Ra Gada suffered defeats, bearing losses that their still fragile society of deluge survivors could ill afford. Cutting his losses, Divad cancelled his plans for the invasion of northern Volenfell and retreated to a defensive position near what is now Dragongrove, sending a ship back to Herne to request reinforcements.
His plea was heard, but not only by Uei-utei Diagna. Fearing that soon, there would be no land left to claim, and anxious that his tomba should not have to depend on the charity of others, the ambitious Utei Yoghobi of Nahoukh took an enormous risk, both by defying Diagna’s command to remain at anchor and by sailing north into uncharted waters. His gamble paid off handsomely, as Yoghobi’s flagship the Tsentein discovered the entrance to the Iliac Bay (or Starfall Bay, as he named it, observing the wondrous distant spire of Ur-Adamantia). Landing at and claiming the Isle of Betony (an act that would have fateful consequences for his successors centuries later) before leaving immediately to land near where what is now Pothago, Yoghobi launched a lightning assault by land and sea on the Bretic armies from the rear, claiming in one day the Bretic citadel that occupied the present site of Sentinel.
Yoghobi’s messenger skiffs returned in triumph to Herne, bearing tidings of the conquest as well as news of an entire new “green” country to the north. This news was deeply disquieting to Diagna and his counsellors, both for the revelation that Tamriel was much larger than any of them had until that point believed, and also because it revealed Yoghobi to be an unreliable, talented, and highly dangerous subordinate. Diagna’s response showed typical guile. Congratulating Yoghobi on his victory, Diagna promised his tomba as much land as it could conquer on either side of the Iliac, in exchange for “constructing and maintaining forevermore a suitable bastion on the New North Shore to guard the upper flank of Raguda.”
Diagna was surely proven correct in his calculation that this grant would bog down the tomba do-Nahoukh in near-perpetual warfare with the remaining Bretic colonies and their mainland parents for the next several centuries, comfortably forestalling any designs they might have had on his Crown. But what even his wisdom could not have foreseen was the way that this conflict would transform the Nahoukh’s culture, society and language, and indeed, alter the trajectory of the history of Raguda.
The war for the conquest of the southern Iliac shore was long and savage, the situation worsened by the two sides’ equally strong but mutually incompatible codes of warrior honour, leading both sides to commit what the other regarded as incomprehensible atrocities. But at length it became clear to all parties that though the southern Bretons had no hope of expelling the invaders, neither was Tomba do-Nahoukh, without Heigidhi support it was loathe to accept, capable of penetrating their remaining bastions. And it was here that the Nahoukh displayed what was, depending on one’s political inclinations, either an admirable pragmatism or a worrying openness to corruption by Tamrielic norms. The two sides had to come to terms, and at the insistence of the indigenous Breton rulers these pacts were to be sealed in the Breton manner, by marriage. The effect of this on the development of Sentinese society cannot be overestimated. For the first time since they set foot on Tamriel, the mighty Ra Gada crashed into but did not submerge their foes.
The result was, after years of lengthy combat, that the Yokudan culture did not sweep aside the Breton culture, but rather absorbed it. Indeed, some might say that it grew like a seed in its would-be devourer’s belly, conquering the conqueror from within! The invaders were forced, at least in part, to come to terms, settlements which, following Bretic tradition, were to be sealed by marriage. This was, at the time, a foreign concept to Yokuda – though lifelong couples were well-known and praised in poetry for their devotion, the idea of a legal bond, as the guarantor of all inheritance, was strange and alien. And yet, as some of the more cunning among the Na-Totambu at once realised, it was not an idea without its advantages. As the Adamantine Chronicler Aves Direnni noted, “these Western Men, who had poured scorn on the ideas of chivalry and holy matrimony, had within a generation taken them as their own, enclosing by these “foreign” ideas the social commons by which any sword-swinger could challenge the rule of their forefathers.” By the time the grandchildren of the original Sentinese Ra Gada were starting to be born, the local Na-Totambu had successfully leveraged local marriage customs to convert themselves into a hereditary aristocracy, ruling by primogeniture, and enforcing those rights through vassalage.
There were other, less political reasons for adopting foreign customs too. The Bretic concept of female nobility as decorative, genteel and versed in poetry, the arts and courtly love was diametrically opposed to that of traditional Yokudan womanhood, which was supposed to be both autonomous and (ideally) martially skilled. To be able to seduce and wed an exotic Breton maiden according to the “arcane” rules of nudri love soon came to be accounted the pre-eminent method by which a Raga warrior could demonstrate himself to be modern, worldly and silver-tongued. Quite what the women of the Sentinese Ra Gada thought of all this is not known, though the increasing rate of intermarriage became a subject of derision for Raga from other regions. Witness the stinging denunciation of Macheingi of Hegathe:
“The weakling menfolk of Sentein’el are too feeble to satisfy a true woman in the Yoku fashion, and for this reason they prefer them in the nudri manner, arrested in a state of perpetual girlhood: pale, as the sun has never touched their skin, and with soft hands that have never held a sword. Pretty little songbirds caught in cages of lace and fine filigreed silver.”
But for their part, neither were the women of Sentinel immune to the cultural influences of their new subjects. The curious custom of dzeno-gyoko (literally, “white face”), in which young Sentinese girls seeking a marriage would paint their faces or wear masks so as to imitate the appearance of Bretic natives, is but one of the stranger manifestations of the wider adoption of indigenous conceptions of beauty, a trend which has oscillated back and forth many times between embrace and rejection over the centuries. But a few, in part as a reaction to the new exaltation of Bretic ideals of femininity, sought sisterhood among a very different indigenous culture – the independent Witch Covens living outside the civilised lands of Man. The original Ra Gada had slaughtered these “carrion-hags” wherever it found them, drawing no distinction between Bretic-Nedic nature cults and the “demon worship” that was grounds for beheading in Yokuda. But it seems that many of these cells not only survived in secret, but found eager new apprentices among the descendants of their would-be destroyers, experimenting with hybridisation of their own ancient magic with the antediluvian traditions of Yoku mysticism, prophecy and often-arcane rituals of midwifery. The result of these efforts was, in parallel to the civilised cities, the emergence of a unique witch-culture which combined elements of Tamrielic and Yokudan, which was to be found nowhere else in Hammerfell.
The overall effects of these tendencies were twofold: first, Sentinel was set at once after its founding on a very different cultural trajectory to its fellow colonies, and even to the future Forebear cities (with which it is sometimes lumped together by Oriental scholars); and second, this would have great, and occasionally dire, political consequences for its future. From the very beginning, the newly founded tomba of Sentein’el and its corona of loosely connected principalities which sprang up in the wake of the Ra Gada came under near continuous and relentless attack from what remained of Greater Bretony. In their haste to appropriate the local bloodlines for their own ends, the fast emerging “Grandee” class of Sentinese nobility had overlooked the often-distant Breton relatives in mainland High Rock who were held by Bretic law to have direct claims on the lands of “Lost Bretony”, a ready-made justification for any ambitious noble family willing to acquire one of these valuable claims by marriage and obtain writs of holy warfare from the Bretic churches to recover their “stolen patrimony.”
Yoghobi himself had fulfilled his side of Diagna’s offer with the construction of the immense fortress that would one day provide the foundations of the Palace of Sentinel, proclaiming himself in a fit of characteristic hubris the T’su-tei do-Tsent’ein-el, the Redoubt of Redoubts, the Defiant Unbreakable. Or, as later chroniclers would retrospectively afford him the title, the first Sultan of Sentinel. Outraged by this effrontery, the Litombana took immediate measures to install a closer watch on the errant Nahoukh and revoked Diagna’s contract with the Tomba, cancelling their licence to wage war upon the remaining Breton states and awarding the right to acquire new colonies on an individual basis to prominent Heighidi and Dzhileini Na-Totambu with exemplary loyalty and proven intolerance to native customs. Sneering at the Sentinese they deemed to be fatally weakened by compromise, this second wave of northern migration renewed the conquest with singular brutality. Of particular note was the the pogrom that accompanied the conquest of Lainlyn, previously a major cultic centre that was chiefly famous as the site of one of the first pacts between Nahoukh and Breton (romanticised as the legend of the Women of Lainlyn). In the aftermath of the capture of the citadel hundreds of “devil-worshipping carrion hags” and ordinary women accused of witchcraft were beheaded, a massacre that so outraged the Bretic population that it led directly to a prolonged period of Uprisings and racialist violence which engulfed even the conciliatory Nahoukh. Yet by contrast, having seen the alternatives, some neighbouring Bretic states such as Ayasofya were instead driven to directly pledge fealty to the Sultan, in order to acquire his protection. The final (and surely intended) result was that the region that emerged was not a unitary Tomba but a loose coalition of city states with nominal loyalty to the Sultan but fierce regionalism and incompatible laws and traditions, a bizarre patchwork of diehard Na-Totambu enclaves, hybrid settlements, and relict Breton fiefdoms.
True to form, successive Sultans took this division and turned it into an asset, zealously shaping the growing city of Sentinel into the meeting point (and axis between) Raguda and the Bretic nations, an Iliac naval city-state in Raga skin. Marketing themselves to developing Crown and Forebear alike as the only ones capable of understanding the inscrutable customs of the pale natives, this period saw the emergence of the phrase “the moon has two faces” (a proverb playfully referenced on Sentinel’s double sided flag) as they also sent ambassadors schooled in the Bretic courtly arts as far afield as Farrun and Jehanna, offering (for a price) the chance to use their right to speak at the Litombana to argue on behalf of foreign rulers who could not.
The ascent of the House of Ajad to the Sultanate under the rule of the founder of the dynasty Sultan Ajad I, and the final dissolution of the old Nahoukh tombana ba that followed an abortive uprising by the “Totambu” enclaves in the Bjoulsae borderlands against the same, completed the process of Sentinel’s transformation into a hereditary monarchy. The old elective position of Tomba Utei was retained as a separate, appointed position, one which gradually morphed with the passage of time into the Sultanate’s chief delegate to the Litombana. Secure in their rule, Ajad’s heirs grew ever more ambitious, cultivating a role for their beloved city not just on the national but on the continental stage. The House of Ajad was known for flamboyance, a daredevil attitude to risk and an extravagant taste in public works, openly stating their ambition to make Sentinel “the greatest city in the world, the Imperial City of the Iliac.” Vast numbers of lavish monuments, dynastic tombs, and, more prosaically, hospices, markets and roads were constructed or rebuilt under their rule, paid for by the booming profits that arose from opening the docks and Grand Bazaar of Sentinel wholeheartedly to tariff-free trade by land and sea. Sentinel prospered amidst the jealous protectionism of the Crowns and unstable warfare of its Bretic rival ports, becoming a jewelled entrepot on the southern Iliac shore, the economic and cultural capital of Raguda in all but name.
Further wars against the remaining Breton and orcish holdouts and internal colonial adventures in Hew's Bane were not enough to sate Sentinel’s international ambitions. Though Heigidh remained the ceremonial capital of Raguda, the place of coronations and court ritual, Sentinel became the centre of true power, which any Uei-utei neglected at his or her peril. It is easy to forget, given how dramatically the Forebear-Crown divide has come to dominate the politics of Hammerfell, that for much of its early history this developing conflict was wholly overshadowed by the struggle for primacy between Heigidh and Sentinel. It was this rivalry which led successive Sultans to frequently side with the lower caste Forebears, with whose economic and security concerns they frequently coincided, despite their nominal membership of the Na-Totambu ruling class.
The first of these occasions came in 1Exxxx when Sentinel provided critical mass and (crucially) support in the Litombana for the Forebear effort to open all of Raguda’s formal diplomatic and trade relations with the outside world, an effort which, through influence only Sentinel was in a position to provide, culminated in the signing of the Treaty of Wayrest, which itself paved the way for a joint Bretic-Raga assault on the mutual enemy of First Orsinium. But it was also the first time that an overreaching Sentinel’s fingers were burnt by exotic foreign dalliances. In the aftermath of the Siege the Bretic alliance of convenience soured, and eventually collapsed amidst mutual acrimony and accusations of conspiracy. Though the precise sequence of events may never be known, the exchange culminated in the first Bretic crusade to reclaim the “Irridenti” (from which the erdeshi Bretons of modern Sentinel take their name) under the leadership of King Joile, an invasion from which Sentinel’s unprotected eastern flank was only spared by the intervention of their much-derided “mountain man” neighbours of Tomba do-Nudri. The longer term consequences took much longer to become apparent: The destruction of First Orsinium directly led to the establishment of Wayrest as an alternative entrepot. Never again would Sentinel dominate Iliac trade to the same extent as it once had.
III. The Second Era
Seemingly undaunted by this experience, Sentinel pressed ahead with even grander plans. Eager to open the lucrative overland trading route direct to Cyrodiil, Sentinel threw its considerable weight behind the Rihadi project to normalise relations with Reman’s expansionist Second Empire, forever resolving the “Outer Colovian Question” and definitively settling the borders of modern Hammerfell. As tense negotiations dragged on in Sutch, in the background the Sentinese Utei repeatedly vetoed attempts by hardline Crowns to derail the proposed treaty, and launched a relentless charm offensive against the Uei-utei of the day. Their efforts were rewarded with the Bright Memorandum, by which Western and Eastern Emperors recognised each other as mutually supreme in their own domains. It has been suggested, and not without evidence, that Sentinese diplomats were responsible for the infamous inconsistencies between the text of the Cyrodiilic and Yoku editions of the Treaty. Most notoriously, while the Cyrodiilic version recognised the Uei-utei as the undisputed ruler of the Autonomous Province of Hammerfell, the Yoku version recognised the Cyrodiilic Counts, Breton Kings and and Nordic Jarls as Utei. Or, as one later historian put it: “the Sentinese effectively convinced both Emperors that each had surrendered to the other.”
Despite vehement denials and excuses blaming transcription errors as the details of these discrepancies began to emerge, the suggestion that the House of Ajad deliberately engineered the situation gains plausibility when one considers how they maneuvered themselves to exploit the Treaty ambiguities in the power vacuum following the collapse of the Reman Dynasty. As Cyrodiil collapsed into feuding, Sentinel began to increasingly aggressively position itself as a rival continental power base to the bitterly divided and ungovernable Imperial City, a process that was hugely boosted, but at a price, when Sentinel became at last the full capital of Hammerfell. The Uei-utei, tired of having to ceaselessly travel back and forth to keep an eye on Sentinel, relocated the Litombana there, a genius move which saw the Sultans, unable to deny their hospitality to the Uei-utei and his voluminous court, forced by the necessary public display of deference to withdraw from their own Palace, an act of humiliation they never forgot. For the duration of Sentinel’s status as Capital of Raguda the Sultans divided their time between the Lesser Harem in the city and their summer residence in Satakalaam, all the while watching, waiting and planning with ruthless efficiency.
The immaculately prepared wheels finally began to grind into motion with the collapse of the Akaviri Potentate and the countdown to the Three Banners War. Under the capable leadership of Fahar Sultan I, the dynasty engineered a marital alliance with King Emeric of Wayrest and procured the downfall of his only true rival for dominance in High Rock, Ranzer Brankett, assembling a grand coalition of overmighty subjects fueled by increasingly heated propaganda about the need to restore “true leadership and kingly qualities” to the Orient. It does not require much imagination to envisage the ultimate trajectory of Fahar Sultan’s ambitions. The serpent and dragon intertwined, the Banner of the Watching Moon, garlanded by Wayrest roses, fluttering by the banks of the River Niben; White-Gold reborn as a new and even Grander Harem; a fair but acceptably dusky scion of Ajad seated upon the Ruby Throne. A heady, indeed intoxicating vision, but not one which was to come to pass. The immense expenditure of the war to capture Cyrodiil, and the ruination of trade networks by continent wide conflict, bankrupted even the mighty coffers of Sentinel. Fahar was also hamstrung by the Uei-utei’s refusal to cooperate, dissolving the Litombana for the duration of the war rather than granting legitimacy to Fahar’s actions and risking his own usurpation. Eerie disaster in Craglorn, unnatural weather, and plagues of walking corpses convinced many that the gods did not favour Fahar’s cause. After five years of unremitting expenditure, Sentinel could bear no more and the Covenant collapsed amidst bitter blaming for military failures and allegations of insufficient support. Predictably, it was Emeric’s orcish allies who bore the brunt, facing a new pogrom of unsurpassed viciousness that doomed their abortive attempt at a Second Orsinium, but Fahar did not escape unscathed either, forced to travel to Heigidh to plead for assistance to recapitalise his city's failing banks left teetering by reams of worthless war bonds. The day was saved by an enormous loan, mostly composed of the huge quantities of gold jewellery owned by the Na-Totambu of Heigidh, but the damage was done. When the Uei-utei returned to his capital after the war, it was not as guest but as unchallenged lord, ruling with the implied threat of financial blackmail. They had played Sentinel at its own game and triumphed, and the central faultline in Ragudan politics would forever shift to the deepening divide between Crown and Forebear.
But in truth, the nadir of Sentinel had not yet arrived. The true reckoning was to come in the following century. The eclipse of Sentinel as a trading power had truly brought to the fore the rising Forebear Republics, who made ample use of their expanding clout to noisily demand their more rational representation in the increasingly anachronistic Litombana which, in “an act of ventriloquism”, they had to petition using the empty seat vacated by Undeing Tomba. Sentinel had no particular desire to see the cosy Na-Totambu domination of Raguda’s parliament to end, but the House of Ajad knew an opportunity to destabilise the Uei-utei and reclaim its primacy when it saw one.
When the struggle finally came to a head in the aftermath of the death of the popular Uei-utei Thassad and the disputed election of his divisive son A’tor, the Sultan seized his moment. Taking the side of the Forebear delegates who found themselves locked out of the Litombana, the Sultan declared war on A’tor and proclaimed himself supreme in his own domain (autokrator), throwing the royal household and Litombana out of his palace and onto the streets before the outraged A’tor could race back to Sentinel to react. It was one moment of defiance too far. The Sultan had overplayed his hand, and fatally underestimated the ability of A'tor to rally the Crowns. He had expected military retaliation, but was utterly unprepared for the sheer scale of the onslaught he now faced. A’tor’s forces routed the poorly coordinated forces of Sentinel and its allied Forebear militias and ransacked the city. A’tor put the docks to the flame and the population to the sword, executing not only the Sultan but his entire immediate family amidst a purge of the nobility so thorough that it not only cut the line of House of Ajad but effectively destroyed any remaining links to the structure of the old Tomba do-Nahoukh.
But now it was A'tor who had overstepped his mark. By showing the Forebears how he treated his defeated enemies, he had removed any incentive for Rihad and Tanyedt to surrender and, as his forces encircled their cities and threatened a repeat of the massacre, he finally forced them into the hands of Tiber Septim. The rest of the tale is known to all: Raguda fell, and the devastated, leaderless Sentinel was unable to raise more than a whimper of objection to its annexation as a County of Cyrodiil. And yet even here, at the darkest moment in its history, the salvation of Sentinel was being plotted by the man who won one day be known as her Third Founder, the improbable figure of Baron Volag of Bergama.
A self-described “mongrel” of convoluted Bretic and Raga ancestry “so churningly admixed I have no idea what colour I shall wake up in the morning”, Volag had spent his youth in Cyrodiil and knew the ways and, more importantly, the weaknesses of the occupiers better than most. A prominent and loquacious supporter of the Forebear representation cause (having ascertained, more astutely than most, that its success would set a precedent that would inevitably come to apply to his own barony) Volag was “proud” to be listed third on A’tor’s list of traitors to execute, behind the Sultan and Utei of Nahoukh themselves. He was slipperier than either, however, and fled his estate moments before A'tor’s guards came for him. Wisely opting to remain underground and encourage rumours of his death during the Imperial occupation, Volag amassed a considerable fortune smuggling contraband around the Iliac, all the while making contacts, sealing alliances, and waiting for the perfect moment to retaliate.
IV. The Third Era
Volag’s chance came in the moment of Imperial disorientation following their devastating naval defeat at the Battle of Stros M'Kai, and he used it to full effect. His coup d’etat was meticulously planned, lightning fast, and ruthlessly executed. Where the Crowns fought against the Empire with sword and cannon, Volag fought with stiletto, with poison-slipping courtesan, ragged street urchin whose rags concealed razors, explosive trap and carefully cultivated lynch mob. Having grown accustomed to the niceties of Raga high culture and the “noble but futile” resistance of warrior Princes like A'tor, the Imperial administration were simply not prepared for an opponent who fought as they did, who knew and stabbed at their worst fears, and could count on a seemingly inexhaustible supply of local passive support in which their opponents could hide. Within the week, the nascent County Sentinel had been isolated, outmanoeuvred, surrounded and bled white, the Legions still milling in confusion when Volag finally revealed himself to administer the coup de grace, leading the final assault on the terrified Imperial officials barricaded inside the Greater Harem. After defenestrating the remaining Legionnaires to prove a point, Volag held these hostage, demanding an equal place at the negotiating table to “ensure the interests of the Forebears are adequately represented”, knowing full well that Rihad and comrades were too close to the Imperial border and the threat of imminent retaliation to drive a hard bargain. Was this the sharp tactics of a true nationalist, or just sheer opportunism? As ever, Volag kept his friends and enemies guessing.
Whereas the Crowns turned up to the talks with swords and armor, Volag “preferred honey to vinegar”, coming armed with crates of fine silks, jewels and wine, with which he copiously showered his opposite numbers. Derailing the staid negotiation with a whirlwind of calculated bluster, Volag shamelessly exploited the divisions among the parties, dispatched parallel diplomatic missions to the Imperial City behind the other parties’ backs, and leveraged his own Victor status to the hilt, “for even the most blockheaded Crown loves a winner.” It was Volag who brokered the Grand Bargain, emerging not only answering only to the Emperor himself, but acquiring the position of Uei-imbatair as nominal High King of the Imperial Province of Hammerfell. Dismissing as “mere salacious rumour, unworthy of such a silver tongue” the insinuation by the disgusted Swordsaint Iszara that the notoriously lecherous Tiber Septim had ultimately been won around by the tender ministrations of Volag’s daughters, the erstwhile Baron returned in triumph to his still-scarred city, to be greeted on the Grand Balcony of Sentinel Palace by cheering crowds who acclaimed him Sultan, taking the regnal name of Temur. Not for nothing was he called the true Victor of the war, denied the final, cherished prize of the mantle of Uei-utei only by the technicality of the previous incumbent A'tor strictly speaking not being dead.
The Temurid dynasty founded by Volag has ruled Sentinel continuously for the succeeding five hundred years, shepherding it both to new heights and new humiliations. Under their rule Sentinel blossomed into one of the wealthiest city states on the continent, powerful, privileged and at the very heart of worldwide commerce due to its early patronage and assistance in establishing the East Empire Company. The once charred streets of Sentinel became renowned for their opulence, and its Sultans for their generous sponsorship of public works and exploration (notably expeditions to map the coasts of Atmora and Akavir), not to mention their extravagant personal tastes, vast wine cellars, beautiful gardens, lavishly decorated palace residences and Greater and Lesser Harems.
But with unparalleled prosperity, came what can only be described as decadence. Ironically, as the city of Sentinel soared to ever newer heights of wealth and power, its influence and hold over the surrounding territories began to wane, old vassals regarded as of little interest compared to the intrigues of foreign courts and the Elder Council itself. This lack of attention proved costly when powerful city-states began to ignore and openly defy the Sultanate and in many cases declared outright independence, starting (with Heighidi support) with the so-called Yoloku Bloc led by perennial troublemaker Lainlyn. By the time the Sultanate was concerned enough to take notice, its inland power was a mere shadow of its former self and it was reduced to a de facto Iliac Bay city-state. Hubris followed decadence, as Khamrun Sultan II sought to assuage his nation’s badly wounded pride by taking advantage of the chaos of the Imperial Simulacrum to reassert Yoghobi’s ancient claim to the Isle of Betony. It was an error that would cost him more than money, invoking the wrath of King Lysandus of Daggerfall, Septim-appointed Warden of the West and spoiling for a chance to unleash the full force of his levies against a worthy opponent. Despite some early successes and the death in battle of Lysandus, Khamrun snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at Cryngaine Field by allowing himself to be taunted by Lysandus’ son Gothryd, who accused the Sultan of cowardice for leading his troops from the rear and challenged him to single combat, striking him down in front of his men and turning a defeat into a rout. Demoralised and surrounded in a strange land, the Grand Army of Sentinel surrendered, and a part of Hammerfell was added to High Rock.
And yet even at this humiliating juncture Sentinel, as ever, was blessed to receive the ruler of prodigious talents that it needed at such a crucial moment. Khamrun’s successor, acclaimed unopposed, was his wife Akorithi Sultan I, who wasted no time in salvaging her husband's disaster by brokering a marriage-peace with Daggerfall, sealed by the wedding of her daughter Aubki to King Gothryd. Under no illusions that this would buy peace for long, and all too aware that Sentinel was now surrounded by former vassals turned predators who greedily eyed the weakened city’s wealth, Akorithi devoted herself single mindedly to rebuilding the Grand Army, and prepared for war. Her intuition was to prove accurate. On the 9th of Frostfall, 3E 417 Sentinel found itself under attack from all sides, the sky filled with dread portents, the seas churning, winds howling and corpses rising from their graves. The terrible Warp in the West was upon the Iliac Bay, and Akorithi was ready to meet the challenge. Exhibiting an immense, almost frenetic energy, dashing from one front to another so quickly that she almost seemed to be in many places at once, Akorithi Sultan fended off the armies of Daggerfall, Wayrest, hordes of Orcs and alliances of mutinous city states, then launched the counterattack, sweeping all before her in a glorious wave of conquest, a Sentinese Ra Gada, that utterly expelled the Twin Breton invasions and drove them back through Totambu and Myrkwasa and into the sea, securing vast swathes of territory in her wake. Dozens of city states, ravaged by Breton assaults, welcomed their salvation; others resisted and were crushed by the all-conquering Grand Army. In a single, lightning campaign, Akorithi became the master of all she surveyed, and even as the smoke cleared the territory of Sentinel had been increased a hundredfold.
A refreshingly humble and austere ruler, Lhotun Sultan rejected the ostentation of his predecessors and devoted his reign to forging a common culture that could bring together the disparate peoples of his vast new domain and unite Crown and Forebear in a new Grand Bargain. His philosophy of “Lhotunism”, combining wary embrace of modernity with traditional trappings and religious tolerance, was despite vast amounts of expensive missionary work only ever very popular within Greater Sentinel itself, and even there it was not unopposed. Much of Lhotun’s reign was occupied putting down a series of rebellions by the”True Crowns of the North” orchestrated with perpetually quarrelsome Lainlyn as the epicentre in response to the provocations of the radical Elinhite preacher Ayaan-si. Nevertheless, the rebellion gave Lhotun the excuse he needed to complete the task that every prior Sultan had only dreamed of: finally abolishing the residual hereditary rights of the Na-Totambu and achieving direct rule of every fiefdom within Sentinel, all of which were fully subordinated to a new, unitary Sultanate, rightly earning him the title of “Fourth Founder of Sentinel” as the Fourth Era itself approached.
Due to the widespread existence of witchcraft (quite unlike the rest of Hammerfell) and general tolerance for cults with unusual beliefs, the Sultanate was heavily infiltrated by the Mythic Dawn and faced an unprecedented onslaught during the Oblivion Crisis, as hordes of demons poured out through tears in the world. But while in some ways uniquely vulnerable to demonic invasion, the unified Sultanate, invigorated and reborn from fresh conquest, proved one of the most formidable obstacles to their infernal designs on Tamriel. The Grand Army, swelled by levies from the annexed principalities, cast armies of Merdaga’s demons back into the pits of hell, dissipated clouds of inconceivable horrors from the darkness of Vaha Nima, and plugged the oozing stench-holes of Malooc. Losses were heavy, but many were the heroes forged in those dark days, and the struggle against a common foe did more to unify the new bounds of the Sultanate than Lhotun’s wise teachings could have done alone.
V. The Fourth Era
At the dawn of the Fourth Era, Sentinel emerged bloodied but unbowed, an island of stability in an Empire reduced to chaos. Wisely remembering the consequences of his predecessor’s failed attempt to seize an Imperial Interregnum, Lhotun opted to remain above the fray, waiting to judge who would likely triumph and, in his capacity as Uei-imbatair, striking an early and advantageous bargain on behalf of Raguda with the victorious Titus Mede. Relations between the House of Temur and House of Mede remained close ever after, perhaps sensing their common roots in being founded by opportunistic “men of the people”. The Sultanate could provide the gravitas of long establishment and favourable loans at a time when the Medes lacked both, and in return was acclaimed as a pillar of the Empire, fighting at its side against secessionists in Valenwood and Alik'r and Reachman raiders in Hammerfell. It became a convention for young Temurids to spent part of their education for rule in the Imperial City under the Emperor’s guardianship, and for this favour to be reciprocated. Thus did the two Houses find themselves standing shoulder to shoulder, on the eve of the Great War that would wrench them apart.
Unfortunately, while the Temurid Sultanate had been supremely successful at securing Raguda's place as a crucial member of the Median Empire, they had ultimately failed to unify the country, as the waters of Oblivion receded and the dismal jagged contours of the Crown-Forebear dispute came back into view. Persistent and increasingly petty infighting over religion, culture and values tore wider Raguda apart as two increasingly exhausted political parties struggled for primacy, despite Sentinel becoming ever more of an island unto itself, floating above and resented by both sides. The onslaught of the Dominion took Sentinel by surprise, with half the south coast lost before it could even muster forces and Heigidh and the Isles under siege. Past his prime and taken aback by the ferocity of the invasion, the elderly Jahar Sultan chose to keep his forces in reserve, fearful of an assault on Sentinel itself. The south crumbled, and the defenders of Heigidh grew ever more desperate. It seemed as if Hammerfell would succumb once again to what was becoming an ignominious pattern, Crown and Forebear refusing to fight alongside one another, dooming Raguda and perhaps all of Tamriel to Thalmor control.
The sudden debilitation of Jahan Sultan by a stroke ended all this, leaving the frightened, leaderless Sultanate in the hands of his sons, Emir Qasim and Raja Pasha. In a remarkable display of brotherhood, these two Princes of Sentinel cast aside the ruthless traditional rites of succession, recognising the urgent necessity of immediate, bold, united action and declaring a joint regency, with Qasim leading a relief army towards Heigidh while Raja coordinated the defence of Sentinel with such luminaries as General Decianus and the Ragudan Front of Miha Trana. Both Princes accomplished feats worthy of the legacy of their ancestors in breaking the Siege of Heigidh and turning back the Dominion's northward advance, but even this was not enough to turn the tide, forcing the brothers to reunite in a desperate forced march across Craglorn and arrive at Lake Rumare with moments to spare, charging when all seemed lost into the Battle of the Red Ring and turning the tide.
In the aftermath of their crushing defeat, it was inevitable that the Thalmor would sue for peace. But they were full of the cruel cunning of their race, demanding a price that the Empire could not refuse but Raga could never accept: the permanent cession of occupied Taneth, Rihad and Djilein. Sentinel now faced a terrible dilemma. It could support its allies the Medes, or its fellow Raga, but not both. Initially the Princes tried to play for time, agreeing to the terms of the Concordat only while demanding the right to ratify it through the city-states of Hammerfell, in the hopes of derailing the process and extracting further concessions as fighting in the south continued. But even as Qasim rushed back to Sentinel it became clear that events were slipping away from him; news arrived by boat as he reached the city that Titus had unilaterally signed the Concordat, and it was too late to contain the outrage that was building among both wings of his fragile coalition of Crown and Forebear. The Empire was breaking apart, facing civil war, with the Thalmor waiting in the wings. Alone and without his brother’s counsel, Qasim made his choice, once again deciding the destiny of nations.
Qasim knew that only one thing could guarantee Raguda’s survival. Respectfully removing the ancient writs and seals from his comatose father's chamber, Qasim marched to Heigidh once more, to relinquish his title of Uei-imbatair and declare in broken Yoku, as a mere “Itei da-Nahoukh, servant of my father” before the Heigidhi tombana ba that the High Kingdom’s time was at an end, endorsing Atusha-Kwesa as the long-awaited Uei-utei, successor to A'tor, the man who had once razed his city, so moving the assembled Na-Totambu that even his people’s bitterest opponents shed tears for the day they had long dreamed of but had never believed would come. Qasim knew full well what this would mean, declared an outlaw and indicted for high treason by the Emperor he had once called “cousin”. But it was too late for regrets. The confirmation from his brother that Miha Trana was with him was all that Qasim needed, in his last act as Uei-imbatair, to declare the secession of the Republic of Hammerfell, forestalling feeble Imperial attempts to call for an uprising against his rule by “true Imperial citizens”. Raguda would fight on alone, with Sentinel at last where it should always have been, at the heart of its United armies. Qasim, Raja Pasha and many other Sentinese heroes covered themselves with glory in five years of unrelenting combat against the Thalmor and their minions, proving once and for all that, if only they can put aside their petty squabbles the Raga are unbeatable, humbling the Dominion that had brought even the Oriental Empire to its knees. And yet even in that moment of triumph, Greater challenges loomed in the peace. Sentinel had saved Hammerfell. But could it hold it together? The answer to this question is unwritten, but there is no doubt that if anyone could achieve this feat, it would be Sentinel’s current generation of royalty.
The Sentinese race have often earned a reputation as being the part within Raguda which has most successfully made its peace with Imperial ways; and while this is so, it is notable for having adopted a decidedly Bretic mode of accommodation to Cyrodiil, even at the very apex of Septimian influence. This is no doubt in part due to the mixed ancestry and complex cultural stew that define the region, but the present Sentinel is no mere sum of its blood and history, but is in many respects unique in all of Tamriel.
The fount of all authority in Sentinel is the royal person of the Sultan, who is autokrator, possessing power without limit. This does not mean, however, that the Sultan can exercise his powers just as he pleases. In practice his rule is constrained by “ut-deing” - royal custom, “ba-deing” - popular custom, and “baikek” - the bodies of foreign law (including those of the Republic, Heigidh, and the Empire at various times) to which the Sultanate is deemed to have voluntarily subjected itself. The Sultan is supreme commander of all military forces and the final resort of judicial appeal, but in practice no Sultan has sufficient time to rule directly and delegates his considerable powers to a large and highly sophisticated civil and military service distributed throughout the Sultanate, ruling his domain on his behalf. The Sultanate itself is hereditary in the broad sense but lacks the rigidity of the Bretic and Imperial systems. Although one must be of the blood to rule, there is no strict concept of primogeniture or otherwise, such practices being believed to spawn weakness by risking the wasting of a royal generation’s greatest talent by an accident of birth. Accordingly the inheritor is whomever within the family is most quickly able to establish their power, meaning that Sentinese successions are often protracted and unstable Affairs, frequently accompanied (historically at least) with a not inconsiderable amount of bloodshed. It was in anticipation of this that Khamrun Sultan II in 3E 325 took the step of preemptively murdering his own sickly son Atagu in order to clear the path for his preferred heir Grejlidh. Though this design was foiled by plague and Lhotun took the throne, upon accession he was so horrified by this revelation that he reformed the succession system, reinstating the traditional Yoku prohibitions against kinslaughter, following which rival claimants to the Sultanate are merely imprisoned within the gilded cage of the Grand Harem.
There exist a multitude of lesser Sentinese titles beneath the Sultan which bless the upper ranks of the nobility, most of which are held by rulers of the many subordinate cities and settlements that owe fealty to Sentinel, such as emir (the approximate equivalent of a Bretic Duke), beylerbey (akin to a Count), and bey (equivalent in Rank to a Barony). However, unlike the Bretic system, these are not heritable as of right and exist entirely within the gift of the Sultan, and must be reaffirmed on the coronation of each Sultan and the appointment of each new lord. This naturally provides numerous opportunities for jockeying for position and the currying of favours, such that it is not unheard of for a small village’s ruler to bear the title of emir as reward for services rendered, or a mighty city reduced to a mere beylik because of some perceived slight. Importantly, there also exist a number of non-heritable lifetime titles awarded to high ranking members of the Sultanate’s civil or military service, some of which equal or even exceed the ranks that may be obtained by birth. Of these the most important are vizier and vali, designating oversight of an administrative department or a governing region respectively, and pasha, akin to a knighthood but more elevated in status. Accordingly, there is a considerable degree of latitude for social mobility in the Sultanate, and the histories of many of its mighty families are tales of precipitous rises and falls. Yet it should be noted that those who rise do tend powerfully towards a thick stratum of families with deep past links to power, the perennial Grandee class that has done well by doing the Sultan’s bidding since the founding days of Sentinel.
None of such Lords would be able to exercise their power, however, without the invaluable support of their subordinates, the mamluk caste of heavily armoured, lifelong trained warriors who approximate the status of the Breton Knights with which they share a common ancestry. In sharp contrast to the fluid fighting style favoured in the rest of Hammerfell, the heavy cavalry charge is the weapon of choice of the mamluk, a legacy of the legendary kataphractoi of old, many of whom ultimately found themselves in the service of new Raga Lords, most famously including the Agnatic Guard of foreign warriors in service to the Sultan himself. Many Lords maintain and cultivate orders of mamluku in the Bretic mould, some of which predate the conquest. Bound by oaths of loyalty and a strict code of honour, the mamluku are feared and respected throughout the West.
Beneath this complex web of shifting nobility lies the mass of the common population, divided by convention into several castes: The Yoloku (“pure” Raga in enclaves such as Lainlyn), Sentinese (the common majority, typically of mixed race to some degree), and erdeshi (remnant Breton populations in areas such as Ephesus). Although legally equal in numerous respects, each caste owes somewhat differing duties to their superiors, with, as a crude approximation, the Yoloku society bearing the closest resemblance to a traditional tomba at one extreme, and the erdeshi remaining nearest to Bretic feudalism on the other, with various shades of nuance and contradiction in between.
Although Forebear and Cyrodiilic notions of egalitarianism have exercised a powerful hold on the Sentinese imagination, it has achieved little more than to refine and subtilise the otherwise uncompromising authoritarianism of their system. Although the belief that all must be afforded the chance to prove their own worth is commonplace, the maintenance of a firm but flexible hierarchy is equally widely seen and defended as natural, inevitable and benign. It is a mindset which has often seen the Sentinese race regarded as contemptuous of both “pompous” Crowns and “chaotic” Forebear Republics. This belief in the superiority of their customs as the superior middle ground has on several occasions throughout history found an unfortunately racialised expression in the belief that Sentinese, as descendants of both Yokudans and (via Bretons) Altmer, carry “the blood of three continents” and exemplify the best traits of all three as a so-called “universal race”, supposedly the closest remaining heirs to the mythical Ehlnofey. While this belief undoubtedly originated as a defensive rebuttal to Heigidhi and other Old Crown claims that their complex ancestry rendered them “impure” it has over time hardened into a belligerent triumphalism of its own, adding further fuel to the fires of division that have so often scorched wider Raguda.
Virtually every religion in Tamriel from Alessians to psijics can be found in the crowded streets of Sentinel, where Divines rub shoulders with Yoku gods, Iliac folk-heroes and elemental spirits rub shoulders in a vast and easygoing pantheon of chaos. Even Aldmeri worship was once permitted here, with the mournful charred ruins of the Temple of Xarxes still marking the last trace of the Night of Green Fire that destroyed the city's Altmeri émigré community. The only worshippers not tolerated are those of the Barons of Misrule, though this was not always so. The laxity of the Houses of Ajad and Temur in this regard were often infamous among more orthodox Raga (Sangayu himself was rumoured to inhabit the depths of Sentinel Palace in the Second Era) with many families seeking counsel from Witch Covens and Temple Priests alike and seeing no contradiction between the two. In the aftermath of the Oblivion Crisis, this laxity was seen to have provided cover for the Mythic Dawn to freely infiltrate the region and ever since attitudes have been stricter. While Sentinel did not replicate the excesses of the Breton Kingdoms’ Great Witch Hunts, it has installed far closer watches on its more outre religious practices. Today, “summoning or invocation of devils” or “theft of souls” carry the death penalty, as they do in the rest of Hammerfell, though Sentinel secured exemptions for the rights of its Dunmeri subjects and the use of Daedric corporeal manifestation parts is permitted under licence. Witches remain, as ever, isolated and aloof from the restrictions of wider society, but this renewed vigilance has driven them deeper into the wilderness.
Perhaps most controversially in current affairs, the open worship of Talos is still permitted. The White-Gold Concordat has no force in the Sultanate, a concession acceptable to the Thalmor due to the negligible prevalence of worship in Hammerfell of a man who laid waste to half the country, no doubt reasoning that it would soon be rendered illegal by domestic law without their stir. To date this has not happened, with Rihad and Sentinel joining forces to veto a joint bid by the Elinhir caucus and Young Crowns to outlaw the practice. Sentinel remains an unlikely locus of Talos worship, especially in the enclave of former Legion exiles at Tigonus.
The reigning supreme ruler of Sentinel is Qasim Sultan Temurshah ap-Jahan III, Master of Masters, Lord of the Twenty One Realms, Utei do-Nahoukh and Ruler of Lesser Betony, who acceded on the death of his long-infirm father Jahan Sultan in 4E 192. Graciously, his loyal brother Raja Pasha chose not to contest the succession, and serves to this day as Grand Vizier and Master of the Vaults. Their partnership has steered Sentinel through the stormy waters of independence, leaving it in the unique position of being represented in both houses of Raguda’s parliament: the Sultan’s personal emissary attends the Litombana upper chamber, while the elected representatives of Sentinel’s districts and chambers of commerce form the largest single Bloc in the lower chamber the Limansuna. Sentinel has utilised this dual influence well to outmanoeuvre other factions (even sometimes voting against itself tactically in different chambers), a strategy that has brought them prosperity at the price of no small amount of resentment.
Glorious though the start to his reign has been,Qasim Sultan’s rule has since not been a happy one. It is said that the greatest rulers are only those crowned in the most troubled times, to face the ultimate challenge of disaster or joining the ranks of legend. Qasim’s campaigns against the Dunedwellers to reclaim the lands lost by his father and grandfather have not been successful, and his marriage to Azana-Kwesa Sultana do-Hirn, sister to the Uei-utei and a renowned swordswoman in her own right, has of yet produced only a single heir, the youthful prince Kamil Pasha ap-Qasim. The fact that his own brother Emir Raja Pasha stands ready and able to inherit the throne in case of disaster must be only a slim comfort.
Relations with other Kingdoms
Sentinel suffers TENSE relations with the Tomba do-Heigidh. Concealed behind oily platitudes about “different ways to respect tradition” it is no secret that Sentinese consider Heighidis to be motivated largely by barely disguised racialism and xenophobia, and interpret Heighidi suspicion towards many Sentinese schemes as distrust of her people’s mixed blood. Despite high hopes that the two ancient rivals could be reconciled by the dramatic events of the Great War, the mutually incompatible strategic goals of the two cities have slowly but inexorably driven them further apart. Heigidh’s aggressive campaign to outlaw the golden Septim may prove to be the final straw.
The Sultanate is PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE towards Tomba do-Dzhilein, well aware that the vengeful Dzhileinis will never forgive or forget Sentinel’s initial support for the Concordat that ceded their city, nor its role in brokering the Dominion's withdrawal that lost them half its territory to the Hews Bane SAR. Sentinel maintains a cordial front in the hope that relations might one day be repaired, but is realistic in accepting that this is unlikely to ever happen.
The Sultanate is HOSTILE towards the current regime in Taneth, which has sent agents to agitate against its rule of the North and unrelentingly attacked its dual representation in parliament. The Sultanate has responded by imprisoning Young Crowns within its territory for sedition, and has used its immense powers of patronage to commission scholarly and satirical works mocking their “childish petulance”.
Sentinel has always enjoyed CORDIAL relations with Tomba do-Nudri despite their differences, ever since their actions foiled King Joile’s crusade in the First Era. The Sultanate views their neighbours as pragmatic Crowns with whom it is possible to deal in good faith, and has attempted to mediate in its ongoing struggle over Dragonstar East.
Sentinel has a FROSTY relationship with Elinhir, distrustful of its “po-faced puritanism” ever since since its leader Ra Pashat Ayaan-si sponsored a rebellion against the Sultanate in the Third Era. Despite this, the city remains an important, if wary, political partner on issues relating to trade and fiscal policy.
Sentinel has a WARM relationship with Rihad, a perennial ally on questions of mutual interest and fellow conciliator, “the great ice pool that lowers the temperature of Raguda”. Much of the closeness of their recent regimes was down to the personal friendships of Sentinese royalty with prominent members of the Ragudan Front during the Great War, including Miha Trana, Ghosek Ryusai and the current Proconsul Nahasmiah, and may be at risk following the Front’s waning influence in the city.
Sentinel is still FRIENDLY towards the Empire it renounced, even as circumstances pulled them apart. Perhaps the reigning Qasim Sultan put it best: “I think of Cyrod as one thinks of an old, dear friend from childhood, whom one loves as a brother even though he has fallen into wicked vices, and earnestly prays for his redemption even as he rejects one’s offers of assistance.”
Sentinel is studiedly NEUTRAL toward the orcish citadel of Fourth Orsinium, eager to avoid angering its protector the Empire any further but sharing the concerns of many of their fellow countrymen as to its intentions.
Sentinel is ALLIED by blood with the United Kingdom of Daggerfall-Camlorn, with which it has nevertheless had a tumultuous relationship over the centuries. Their most recent collaboration to suppress the great postwar revolt of the Alik'r in exchange for “consideration” of joint sovereignty over some of the most emotive Irridenti was a disaster, resulting in the loss of large swathes of territory in the Alik'r and Dakfron claimed by Sentinel after the Warp and the death of King xxx of DFC. Relations have been strained since, and the recent accession of the ominously named Gothryd IV has not helped matters.
Sentinel is DISTRUSTFUL of the other Breton Kingdoms, aware that many of their noble bloodlines still hold de jure claims on its subject territories. Recent Sultans have permitted certain of their vassals to send embassies to the Eltheric League to discuss matters of common interest in resisting larger realms’ “predatory aggression.”
Sentinel remains AT WAR with various tribes and bands of the Alik'r and Dakfron who dispute the “absurd” claim of sovereignty over their lands asserted by Sentinel after the Warp in the West, “drawing a line with their finger in the sand.” The last major uprising ten years ago resulted in Sentinese withdrawal from certain indefensible border regions, though the heavy casualties sustained by the Alik'r in expelling them have left the vast desert quiet in recent years.
The Greater Harem: the personal living quarters of the Sultan himself, his extended family, personal servants, household guards and innumerable functionaries, servants and administrators. The largest single structure in all of Raguda, the Greater Harem occupies fully nine tenths of the interior space of the Palace of Sentinel (the remainder being taken up by kitchens, storage and the garrison). The core of the Greater Harem is built around the Bretic castle that formerly occupied its place, and its lower levels are bored deep into the acropolis it once crowned.
The Lesser Harem: A smaller and more private residence constructed by Sultans past when they were forced to vacate Sentinel Palace during Sentinel’s period as Capital. Since the death of Jahan Sultan, it has been the residence of Grand Vizier Emir Raja Pasha and his personal court and administration.
The Pantheon: an ancient Direnni religious structure of unique design appropriated and enhanced by their successor erdeshi Bretons as a regional cultic centre. After the conquest it was converted into a temple of Zeht, the patron god of Tomba do-Nahoukh but later, inspired by a visit to the Temple of the One in the Imperial City, Balhar Sultan Ajad III ordered its conversion into a “temple to all the gods, Divine and Yoku alike praised as one”. It remains the most important ritual centre in the region, and is the place of coronation and marriage of Sultans.
The Great Tidal Clock: a curious monument erected by the Ajadi Dynasty in the Second Era, through the pressure of water passing through various underground passages it is able to tell the time accurately based on the tides of the Iliac Bay washing into Sentinel’s Grand Dock. It has become an icon of the city and a popular meeting landmark.
The Grand Bazaar: the ancient Direnni-Bretic catacombs beneath the city, once places of burial but now filled with warmth and light as the largest covered market in Tamriel, a maze of tiny stores selling everything from groceries to gems that is the beating heart of Sentinel’s world-famous economy. Everything from Dunmeri delicacies to Sloadic artefacts can be found in its winding halls, niches and burial chambers converted into shops.
The National Caravan Company: whereas in most regions of Hammerfell the old Continental Fighter's Guildhalls were liquidated under the Nationalisation of Infidel Companies Act, in Sentinel alone they have survived under a new charter directly issued by the Sultan. As their new name reflects, their primary business remains, as ever, escorting caravans across the perilous wastes of the Alik'r, Dakfron and Dragontails.
Halls of the Magi: formerly known as Sentinel Mages’ Guild, this facility became an independent institution under the Sultan’s patronage and has since become a rallying point for magic users fleeing persecution and tightly enforced restrictions on “sorcery” following both Synod and College being added to the list of proscribed organisations by the Act for the Suppression of Soul Theft and Trafficking with Devils.
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Deeza added a topic in Lore PrimersPrimer: The Abecean IslesThe Abecean Isles / Totambu do-Kai, do-Hirn and do-Cespar
Feudal Rank: Each Isle is a Tomba (self-governing traditional Yoku state)
Knightly Order: None, each Na-Totambi has a personal guard of retainers
Size: Determined by the size of the islands
Architecture: Traditional Yoku/Various
Theme: The hidden heartland of Raguda. The western island Totambu of Raguda, of which the most renowned is Stros M’Kai, are often mistakenly thought of as a mere appendage to the mainland, a belief which misses their immense symbolic and political importance to Raga history. It was here that the ruling classes of the migrant fleet held court, whilst the Ra Gada carried out the initial wave of conquest on the mainland. It was also where the infamous division of territories that led directly to the Crown/Forebear schism was drawn up, and where the fate of Volenfell’s Nedic population was sealed by a decree proclaiming them outside the law. And indeed, it is where the history not only of Raguda but all of Tamriel was decided by two momentous naval battles. The recent re-emergence of these Isles into international politics is no anomaly. It is a continuation of the role they have always played.
Herne is named after its guardians, the Tomba do-Hirn. “Hirn” is derived from “irinu” meaning “resolute, steadfast” (the same root that gives rise to Hira (“arch”) and Hiradirj (“unstoppable force/unshatterable shield”).
Cespar is named for the matronynmic of the founder of its inhabitants, the Tomba do-Cespar, who originated in the Ravanu region of southern Yokuda (as evidenced by their matrilineal naming conventions).
Stros M’Kai (literally “Isle of Sorcerers”) takes its name from the Tomba do-Kai who discovered and settled it. “Kai” itself was not the original name of the Tomba, but one they attracted due to their unsavoury reputation in old Yokuda. It is derived from “ka” meaning “bad magic, improper ritual, unclean spirit” which is also the modern Yoku term for the Oriental magic systems.
The Chain is named for the ancient defensive installation constructed by the Na-Totambu of Herne and Cespar to deny passage to ships through the channels between its islets, consisting of towers on opposite coasts between which a chain may be raised from the depths through great winches. Despite its antiquity, it is still efficacious, having last seen action during the Great War.
I. The First Era
Prior to the great eastward migration of the Ra Gada, nobody knew for certain if any lands existed to the east of Yokuda. The meagre surviving records indicate that the ancients had at least a vague knowledge of the existence of Akavir to the west, and had learnt of the myth of Aldmeris from the Left Handed Elves, but the mass journey to the east was a desperate gamble by a race faced with starvation. As such, as the first land they had found (apart from Thras, from which they escaped only at great cost) the Abecean Isles are a place of immense importance to Hammerfell, the salvific ending to the founding story of the rebirth of their civilisation. This goes a long way towards explaining why the tiny, depopulated islands are still considered Totambu on an equal footing with massive cities like Sentinel and Heigidh.
The uncomfortable fact that, save for the Chain, these islands were already inhabited when the Migrant Fleet arrived is, at best, a mere detail to this tale. Not even the names of the original inhabitants of the Isles are known, as they were utterly obliterated by the Ra Gada, though whether this was due to extermination as on the mainland, or to the destruction of the Isles’ fragile ecosystems by the sudden influx of such a huge population is less clear. The few material remains that have survived indicate a kinship to the coastal Khanovak tribes of the mainland, which is not surprising given their proximity. The only entry of these vanished peoples into the annals of Raga history is the record of their discovery by a foraging party sent ashore to Herne from the Migrant Fleet.
The ancients were by no means ignorant of the existence of other races. They had long and bitter experience, naturally, of mer (known in Yoku as dimhunika or “[those] not like us”), and there appear to have also been varieties of beast-folk on Yokuda (evidenced by the fact they already had a term, parhaio “man-beasts”, which later came to be applied to orcs and were-creatures, accounting for the widespread but mistaken belief (based on early Imperial translations) that Orcs also existed on Yokuda). The discovery of another race of men, however, was a new and highly disconcerting development, presenting a fundamental and disturbing challenge to the entire cosmological system by which the ancients of Yokuda ordered the world.
Exactly what transpired between that first foraging party and the inhabitants of Herne may never be known, but the encounter ended in violence and the capture of several Tamrielics, who were escorted back to the base camp established by the fleet on the southern tip of the island, on what is now the site of the abandoned city of Ino. There the captives were quarantined for some weeks, out of a belief that their pallor indicated sickness, until at length one of the captives had learned by observation sufficient Yoku words and customs to survive treatment with a memory stone, following which it was discovered that they were so coloured naturally, and from birth. By this stage the majority of the Migrant Fleet had disembarked and numerous other encounters had taken place, several of them ending bloodily, and the question of the status of these mysterious men had become a matter of urgent concern to the Litombana, before whom the newly educated captive was presented for due consideration.
The assembled Na-Totambu, meeting in temporary congress beneath a giant tent made from ship sails, immediately fell into several days of deep and divisive argument about whether these alien men should be considered dimhunika or parhaio (since it was clear at first sight that they were not raga). At length, it was concluded that they were neither of these: they were nudri - “without, outside” - with no legal standing and no title to lands, resulting in the entirety of the eastern landmass being designated as muktulu dimtombana, literally “belonging to no Tomba”, a status that would not be revisited until the Treaty of Wayrest with Greater Bretony in 1Exxxx and the Bright Memorandum with Cyrodiil in 1Exxxx. Until those points, nudri had no legal recourse under the jurisdiction of the tombanu ba and could be legally dispossessed or killed, a precedent which over the following century resulted in the mass killings or forcible assimilation of the vast majority of the native population of Volenfell.
One group to immediately recognise the significance of this ruling were the Tomba do-Cespar, who had been the first to alight on the eastern coast of the island and had spotted the distant outline of another island in the distance. Within hours of the Litombana’s decision their messengers had raced back to their encampment and their ships had set sail for the distant shore, landing and eradicating any native resistance within mere days, before securing themselves in the largest native settlement atop the island’s hill (the site of present day Chora) and sending back messengers to notify the Uei-utei Diagna of their acquisition of new territory. Both the other Utu and Diagna himself were infuriated by this unauthorised land seizure but there was nothing they could do; Tomba do-Cespar had followed long established precedent from the wars against the Lefthanders and had acted entirely within the law that the Litombana had pronounced mere days before. To avoid a humiliating reversal, Cespar’s acquisition was affirmed, but a new law was passed requiring all future land claims to be made in the name of the Uei-utei and only afterward distributed “after due consideration of the Litombana, according to the needs of their respective Totambu”. It was a timely proclamation, as by this time the Itu of Cespar Tomba had interrogated an elder of the new island's inhabitants and obtained the fateful information that a much larger landmass lay to the east, a discovery which they relayed to the Litombana as a peace offering.
Diagna was placed in a difficult situation. Cespar’s effrontery had already made the other Totambu fractious, and old hatreds that had been suppressed by the urgent need for cooperation during the long sea voyage were fast resurfacing as the greed of rival Totambu was aroused by the promise of virgin territories. Determined to avoid breaking the unprecedented unity he had so carefully maintained over the long months at sea, Diagna knew well that if only part of the fleet was dispatched, there was a real risk they would ignore the law and seize land for themselves, leading to civil war, but on the other hand, taking the entire Fleet would risk everything on the mere say-so of an old nudri who might well be leading them to their doom. Diagna proposed a typically cunning solution - an expedition would be dispatched, but it would be led by a group so mutually despised and feared that they could count on no allies to protect any land claim they might make, and should the worst come to pass, whose loss would not unduly trouble his subjects.
Diagna’s selection was the Tomba do-Kai, a small group even before the cataclysm, widely reviled for their alleged practice of ka, and even more so for the belief that doing so had made them accursed. Their insistence that they only practiced ka for honorable reasons, to punish evildoers and combat foul spirits, had done little to dispel this reputation, and when their survival was discovered after the disaster there was serious discussion that they should simply be abandoned to their fate. In the end they were spared, but had to travel in segregated ships marked with the evil eye and sealed with priestly blessings. Most of the Litombana refused to even be present when Diagna summoned the Na-Totambu do-Kai and commanded them to sail east and return with news of any land, in return for being awarded “a territory of a size commensurate with your diligence in following these commands.” This the Tomba do-Kai duly did, sighting distant mountains after two days and landing on the peninsula now known as Hew's Bane, before sailing further up the coast and sighting numerous settlements and encountering the canoes of the Khanovak peoples before their provisions ran out and they prepared to return. The voyage back, however, was disrupted by a storm that blew them off course to the south, and when it cleared the island they saw on the horizon and sailed towards was not Herne but another land entirely. After subduing the inhabitants and extracting from them the information that their true destination lay to the northwest, Tomba do-Kai returned in triumph to Diagna and demanded in return for their services only the island that they had discovered. This was a request to which the Litombana was happy to acquiesce, as it would keep the feared Tomba far from land. But having seen both the arid coasts of the continent and the verdant shores of what immediately became known as the Isle of Sorcerers (Stros M’Kai), the explorers were in no doubt that they had got the better of the deal.
As the main body of the migrant fleet set sail for the shores of Raguda-to-be, the Litombana famously remained behind to supervise the construction of their replacement capital on the site of their first landing on the southern tip of the island. So familiar has Herne’s present moniker become that many forget that this was not the first name given to it by the Ra Gada, and that it was for many years known as Stros m’Utu, reflecting its designation as directly ruled by the Uei-utei, a distinction heretofore reserved only for the former Imperial capital of Minn and certain anomalous territories of outer Yokuda. The Tomba do-Hirn for which it would eventually come to be named played an important role even then, being entrusted to guard numerous facilities and the crucial Imperial shipyard at the settlement of Eko, through which almost all supplies for the sparse island had to be brought. They were so trusted due to their widespread reputation for exceptional honour, and their impeccable loyalty to the current regime (having supported first Franjir and then Diagna for Uei-utei, and having resolutely fought alongside both in all the wars that followed). It was a role which grew in importance as the sheer size and difficulty in holding the new territories began to emerge, and more and more functions of state were, of necessity, transferred to the mainland, increasingly placing the Tomba do-Hirn in the positions of caretakers of a rapidly depopulating island.
This process reached its climax in 1Exxxx when Uei-utei Zutun regretfully took the decision to abandon the city in which he had been raised, and relocate the Litombana to his new capital at Heigidh. As by this stage, the vast majority of the island's population were employed in various duties attending to the Imperial court and its ritual functions, this decree resulted in the near abandonment of Herne, which by this stage was exhibiting advanced signs of ecosystem collapse and desertification. Embarking aboard the last ship bound for Heigidh, never to return, Zutun granted the whole of the island in perpetuity to the previously landless Tomba do-Hirn, including even the former capital of Ino “to keep it safe, until such time as Raguda shall have need of it again.” To seal their acceptance of this duty the entirety of the Tomba do-Hirn were required to swear a holy oath to never set foot on the shores of Tamriel, a promise which, incredibly, was kept until a mere eighteen years ago when Heigidh itself was on the brink of falling to Infidel forces.
II. The Second Era
Meanwhile, the settlements on Cespar and Stros M’Kai had prospered, growing rich from plunder of the Tamrielic shipping lanes that crisscrossed the Abecean, bringing them into immediate conflict with both the Summerset Isles and the Breton Kingdoms (the Alessian Empire, being otherwise occupied, still regarded Raguda as mere wasteland and paid little attention to their activities until later). It was during one of these incursions that the barren, near-waterless trio of islets now known as the Chain were discovered, though left unclaimed due to their perceived worthlessness. Their discovery, however, occurred during a period of shortages and heightened criminality in Raguda, and they were immediately annexed by decree of the Litombana for use as an unsanctified offshore burial ground for criminals. The use of the channels between the accursed isles in 1Exxxx to conceal a Breton invasion force, which bypassed the Straits of Heigidh and ambushed a Raga convoy (a rare defeat for Raguda’s formidable navy) resulted in an order by the Litombana for the insular Totambu, having brought this problem upon Raguda, to adequately secure the islands, resulting in the construction of the Chain Towers that give the islets their modern name. At the same time, Raguda was slowly beginning to change, with an end to the dominance of Tomba do-Heigidh and the beginnings of the ascent of the Forebears causing the gradual opening of the heretofore unremittingly hostile new nation to wider Tamrielic influences. Paradoxically, despite their aggressive stance the Islanders (with the notable exception of Herne) became early adopters of Tamrielic language and culture (at least in superficial respects) as they learned to “speak like nudri” from captives ransomed back from their raids, and dressed themselves in foreign finery looted from trade ships. Following the Bright Memorandum, Tomba do-Kai even dispatched students to the Imperial City to learn what they could of Oriental magic, a subject which intrigued them and disgusted the rest of Raguda. The ultimate result of this exchange was the entry into an agreement with the continental Mages’ Guild to allow the operation of a joint research outpost in their capital of Port Hunding, albeit under heavy restrictions and subject to the progressive replacement of its staff by native recruits. Even while the Guild remained under interdiction in the rest of Raguda until the Tiberian Empire, its presence on Stros M’Kai during this period was seen as providing further proof of the dark taint that hovered over Tomba do-Kai.
Their response to this further ostracism was bold, to say the least. The Isles in general, and Stros M’Kai in particular, began to present themselves not as an unruly fringe but as a bastion of resistance against foreign incursion, raiding ever further and more daringly along the coasts of the Iliac and Eltheric, and even daring to stand toe to toe with the Imperial and Aldmeri navies themselves, frequently coming off the better. In time, this repositioning paid handsome dividends. With Raguda under increasing pressure first from the Legions of Cuhlecain and latterly from his apprentice Tiber Septim, the Utei Artul do-Kai launched what was initially considered a long shot candidacy for Uei-utei. He argued that only an islander could negotiate equally with both Forebear and Crown, having no foot in either camp, and further that his raiding fleet’s relative successes against Raguda's enemies compared favourably with the land based efforts of other Totambu. To the surprise of all, Artul was successful, taking the regnal name of Thassad (after the renowned warrior Uei-utei of the early Second Era) in an immediate demonstration of intent. At a time when the rest of Tamriel was crumbling under the boot of the Legions, Hammerfell went on the offensive, beating back Septim’s proxy Colovian “citizens’ militias” and Bretic client states on both land and sea, and laying waste to Imperial trade with ceaseless (yet plausibly deniable) piracy on the Abecean Sea lanes, where only a brass plaque attached to a mast was enough to designate a freebooter vessel as a privateer in service of the Litombana. And yet even at home, cracks were showing. Although initially supported by Sentinel and the Forebear Republics as a preferable alternative to a Heigidhi or Djileini paleocrat, Thassad was ultimately a disappointment to both, as the original consensus in favour of retaliatory action to discourage invasion shifted (in their eyes) towards open provocation that was harming their own economies. The refusal of Thassad to budge an inch over the issue of wider Forebear representation in the Litombana was a particular cause of resentment, ultimately forcing the Sultanate and the Republics to put aside their differences and, upon Thassad’s sudden and unexpected death, to place their combined weight behind a unity candidate, Mkosi do-Djana of Nudri Tomba, conservative and pious enough to be palatable to fellow Crowns but open minded on the representational question. This plan was torpedoed at the last minute when the Heigidhi delegation switched their support to Thassad’s own son A'tor, installing him by pre-agreed block voting that the Rihadi delegation claimed was a violation of due process.
The reason for the Crown establishment’s sudden change of heart are not hard to divine. Although he was born and raised in the ancient do-Kai Palace on Stros M’Kai, Prince A'tor had spent several formative years in his father's mainland court and been thoroughly repulsed by what he saw. The “decadence” of Sentinel under the rule of the House of Ajad, and the alarming willingness of the Forebear Republics to make concessions to the Oriental Empire, had convinced A'tor that the mainland had become corrupted and had to be purged before the situation became irretrievable. His election doomed any chance of reconciliation, and the descent into civil war was merely accelerated by the folly of the Sultanate in joining the insurrection. A’tor boldly chose not to adopt a traditional regnal name, a statement of his desire to succeed on his own terms, and proved every bit as capable a general as his father, routing the Forebear-Sentinese alliance and finally breaking the power of the Ajadi Sultanate. The combined fleets of the Isles made a crucial contribution to this war, blockading the Iliac Bay and Straits of Djilein and preventing the two groups of rebels on either side of the country from reinforcing one another. Within months A'tor had knocked the heart out of resistance in North and Central Raguda, and was ready to begin the final assault on Rihad and Taneth that would certainly have destroyed the Forebear cause for generations, and perhaps forever.
All of that changed with the intervention of Cyrodiil. An Imperial fleet under the command of Amiel Richton smashed the islanders’ blockade of Taneth and Rihad, allowing the landing of the Legions who drove back A'tor’s armies from the walls of the cities. The hidden weaknesses of A'tor’s strategy were painfully revealed: he had been able to crush a coalition of groups with disparate interests composed mostly of civilian militias, but was unable to apply the same tactics against a highly disciplined force of veterans from wars all over Tamriel. Although A'tor learned fast, the cost of the early defeats was too high, and his few victories on land were pyrrhic. A'tor’s reply was to withdraw to Stros M’Kai and force the Empire to meet him on his own chosen terrain by drawing Richton out with relentless raiding on Imperial and Iliac shipping. It was a gamble, to be sure, but one which later events proved stood a good chance of success. Had A'tor not himself been slain at a crucial moment of the first Battle of Hunding Bay, victory would have been possible. But this was not to be, and the last hopes of an independent Hammerfell sank with the burning hulls of the assembled fleets of Heigidh, Djilein and Kai, ravaged by dragonfire. Tiber Septim had no intention in victory of respecting his promises to the Republics, as A'tor had correctly predicted in his frequent speeches denouncing the Forebears as “useful idiots”. But though the war was lost, the struggle to win the peace would continue, and here, the Isles would play a critical role.
III. The Third Era
The remnants of the insular Totambu had no intention of giving up the fight (Tomba do-Hirn, famously, remained unaware for decades that Raguda had surrendered), even though they lacked the numbers to continue all out war. What they did have at their disposal was a consummate knowledge of the inlets, coasts and uninhabited rocky islets of the Abecean that the Imperial Navy could not hope to match, and generations’ worth of accumulated expertise in piracy. Thus was born the organisation that would not only come to define the regional character of the Isles but become in many ways the model of conservative Crown intransigence: the Restless League. Crucially, its leaders displayed in abundance the same curious mixture of reactionary politics, opportunism and cosmopolitanism that the best leaders of the Isles had always displayed. Despite their strident nationalism the leadership of the League managed to assemble a remarkable network of contacts stretching all over Tamriel, sealing murky pacts with other groups opposed to the Oriental Empire, from dissident Wayrester nobility to Nordic recusants who refused to recognise Septim’s Shorhood, amphibian tribalists to the Thalmor and Tribunal Temple, the combined total of which allowed it to operate with impunity across a vast area, never short of a friendly port to slip into beyond the Reach of Naval patrols. Distracted by the immense military buildup for the planned conquest of Morrowind and the need for constant vigilance against “Old Mary”, the Orientals could ill afford to spare vessels to police such a huge theatre of operations, and was forced to enlist Rihadi and Sentinese privateers to chase down the League, several of whose crews’ patriotism overwhelmed their masters’ greed and mutinied in favour of joining the League. The Oriental response was brutality, unable to attack the League itself but determined to burn out its hiding places, with the newly minted Governor Richton depleting even the gratitude of the Forebears he had saved with collective punishment of those suspected of harbouring the League.
But in truth the League had not even yet deployed its most fearsome weapon: the knowledge that, through necromantic ritual, the magicians of Tomba do-Kai had severed the soul of A'tor from his body and transposed it into a phylactery, keeping this grotesque violation of Raga tradition hidden from the occupying forces. Whether such consignment to a moribund half life could be considered “survival”, as the Crowns to this day aver, is surely a metaphysical question on which there can be no true consensus, and which is certainly beyond the scope of this text. But such considerations are for the present context irrelevant: the mere possibility that A'tor still lived was a symbol so potent as to enliven even Forebear purists’ sense of rebellion, even if only to avoid the shame of the Crowns being the last to fall for a second time. As rumour spread through the ports of Raguda the situation became increasingly tense, but were it not for the intervention of fate (or, so say the Deingi devotees, the manifestation of Hoon’Ding itself), it might have merely remained so. The conflation of fact, myth, self-perpetuated hyperbole and casual lies that surrounds the person and intervention of Ra Sura cannot be adequately disentangled in the limited space this guide affords, so we shall confine ourselves to the incontrovertible: in one week, the man known to Orientals as Cyrus achieved three feats that removed the last significant obstacles to a major Insular insurgency: the assassination of the Red Dragon, who would surely have doomed any assault by sea to fiery destruction; the dissipation of the Web of sorcery woven about Stros M’Kai by the Orientals’ Sloadic agents; and the recovery of the necromantic artefact empowered by the severed soul of A'tor. Despite initial reluctance to trust the stranger who was, after all, a kinslayer, and even before that the son of a Sentinese playwright who once produced Ajadi propaganda, the leadership of the League realised that, though unplanned, the Orientals’ temporary disarray represented their best chance in years of truly damaging the occupation.
The Second Battle of Hunding Bay that ensued has passed into legend, and there is little purpose in recounting the storied and no doubt embellished details. The bulk of the Imperial Far West Fleet was ambushed in the harbor and set ablaze, and Sura slew Governor Richton before mysteriously disappearing (as, so say the Deingi, the Hoon’Ding is so often wont to do). The Old Crowns, it should be noted, still claim to this day that it was not Sura who dealt the fatal blow, but rather the vengeful spirit of A'tor, though modern scholars afford little credibility to such tales. What is more important in any event is the crushing effect of the uprising on Oriental operations in the West, and the emergence of a new and charismatic leader in the shape of Swordsaint Iszara, wielder of the possessed Sword of A'tor and, so it is said, one of the few who was able to cheat even xx in the traffic of souls. The League consolidated its victory with immediate raids to recover the Chain Towers and Cespar, and the twin docks of Djilein itself had soon effectively passed out of Imperial control even as the Na-Totambu of the city held resolutely to their oaths to Septim. It was the loss of Sentinel and the southern Iliac shore to Baron Volag’s coup d’etat, however, that convinced Septim, who in his delusions of invincibility had foolishly discarded the loyalty of Taneth and Rihad, that a major disaster had occurred and the first serious reversal of his conquests was underway. Abandoning his preparations for war with Morrowind, Septim was in a uniquely weak position of being unable to commit further resources to the West, where even the loyalty of his Breton vassals was too suspect to trust them with an independent operation. With bile rising in his mouth, Septim came to Stros M’Kai to talk terms.
Despite everything, Septim’s negotiating position was still strong, as his forces still held at least two thirds of the landmass of Raguda and did not hesitate to use its inhabitants as hostages. Despite the famous loquacity of Iszara and unabashed brinkmanship of Volag (not to mention the gratuitous attempts at sabotage by less wise Heigidhi and Djileini Crowns), the outcome of the Treaty of Stros M’Kai was still one which no Raga would have accepted before the Conquest. Although the remaining Legions would be withdrawn, Raguda would remain the Imperial Province of Hammerfell, subject to tax, Oriental law and levies, and forbidden from maintaining a standing army or navy. The centre of power shifted definitively towards the eager-to-compromise, open-for-business Sentinese, and the Isles would settle once again into their customary position at the fringe of Ragudan politics. Stros M’Kai’s moment as the hub about which the whole Arena was poised to spin had been brief, but eventful, reshaping the whole of Raguda in ways that would endure for centuries to come.
Third Era Stros M’Kai greatly benefited from its notoriety, becoming something of a place of pilgrimage for Raga loyalists and all those who proudly claimed the epithet “restless”, the term having by this time become a generic Forebear and Oriental descriptor for stubborn and recalcitrant Old Crowns. And yet for all this, the contributions of the Isles to the bitter culture wars that engulfed Raguda under the Orientals’ “civilising” influence was curiously muted. In part, this was no doubt due to the fact that Tomba do-Kai, perhaps the most prominent locus for reaction, had ironically joined Rihad as only the second official Tomba of the Mktulu to cease to be organised under that system, its social structure having been obliterated along with A'tor and the huge losses its people sustained in the War against the Orientals. Though the popular proclamation of Swordsaint Iszara as the island’s new chieftain solved the immediate problem of leadership, her frequent, necessary absences abroad fostered a decentralised system of government in which an informal and rather fluid council of local notables came to organise most of the Isles’ affairs, usually with a light touch and nod and a wink to the many former Restless comrades who still smuggled contraband through Saintsport and Port Hunding. In the absence of do-Kai leadership, do-Hirn returned to its seemingly unpeturbable guardianship, oblivious to the outside world, and do-Cespar became consumed by its local struggles with the Orientals over the expropriation of their port of Liminos as the base for the reconstituted Western Imperial Fleet. The dissolution of the Litombana and the numerous inadequacies of its Oriental-modelled de facto replacement (the Office of Petitions to the Imperial Governorate) had severed one of their last remaining regular links to the mainland, and they were to grow increasingly isolated and detached as the Third Era wore on, emerging again to notoriety only during the War of the Red Diamond, the Imperial Simulacrum, and the Second Interregnum, when they took advantage of the collapse of centralised continental governance to plunder shipping under every flag, only to be forgiven each time by making timely and generous tribute of a portion of their ill-gotten gains to the restored (and invariably capital-hungry) regime of the Oriental Emperors.
IV. The Fourth Era
It was in such a spirit that the Isles braced themselves for the Great War, with the Median regime having taken the unusual step of delivering to all three Isles great bundles of Letters of Marque, authorising the inhabitants’ captains to seize for sale and without limitation any and all Dominion shipping. But with the fall of the south, it soon became clear that once again, they would have a grander part to play in the affairs of the world. Taken aback by the rapid pace of the Dominion’s advance, the insular Totambu appear to have realised much faster than the reeling Orientals that only they could prevent the fall of Heigidh and an open road to Sentinel. This quick thinking arguably altered the entire course of the war, as a grand alliance of Kai, Cespari and privateer shipping fell upon a Dominion fleet attempting to bypass Heigidh and land further north up the coast, inflicting one of the Dominion's first real defeats in the Great War. From that moment on, the Isles would form a critical component of the defensive lines of Heigidh, sinking squadrons dispatched to bypass it and resupplying the besieged defenders by sea. For months the Islanders held the line offshore, just as the Heigidhis held the walls of their city. But the assault from the south was relentless, and even such brave acts could not hold off the inevitable forever. On xx xxx, a fleet of battered Cespari vessels came into the harbour of Eko on Herne, to inform the assembled Hirni tombana ba that Heigidh was under unprecedented bombardment and its defences would soon fail. Little did they know it, but in that ancient chamber, at that moment, the fate of Raguda hung in the balance. Unbeknownst to them, Prince Qasim of Sentinel was already riding south with an army to relieve Heigidh, but they were days away, and would not arrive before the walls were breached. The assembled Na-Totambu debated solemnly. For over two thousand years they had held fast to the oath they had sworn to Zutun. Not a single member of the Tomba do-Hirn had ever set foot on the shores of Tamriel, a land none of them knew and few of them had even seen. Heigidh and Sentinel were just distant names upon a map. Their entire reputation was built upon their adherence to the oath. But the situation on the mainland was truly dire. “If we do not break our vow,” insisted one Itei, “There shall never again be an Uei-utei to return to Ino.” With great regret, the choice was made. The warriors of Hirn, ferociously drilled in the ancient arts but untested for centuries, embarked upon the Cespari fleet and set sail for Heigidh.
A hellish sight greeted their arrival - the sky raining green fire and waves of pulsating varliance crackling up the ancient walls and temple heights, alien tongues they had never heard screaming in pain and confusion, while blazing hulls of vessels sank out of sight into the depths of the Straits. But fight they did, the arrival of fresh warriors driving back the attackers from the brink of victory. But still greater was the contribution of the youthful warrior Atusha-Kwesa, a scion of the Hirni sinos m’Kwei, who became only the third Raga after Sura and Iszara to wield the Sword of A'tor and live. Hirni losses were dreadful, and by themselves they could not have been enough to save it - but they did inadvertently succeed in buying valuable time. The imminent second wave of the Aldmeri assault was routed by Qasim’s charge, and Heigidh was saved.
Upon her installation in the aftermath of Raguda’s independence, Uei-utei Atusha formally pardoned her Tomba for the breach of their vows, and annulled their oath for good measure, though few indeed have since embraced the new opportunity to travel to and explore Tamriel. But there was little time for celebration, as half of Raguda remained under occupation and the Dominion, finally disengaged from the Oriental Empire, was readying everything for a renewed assault. In the event, storms and outbreaks of dissent in Valenwood delayed the attack, and for years bloody stalemate on the shattered southern coast was the result. But fate would once more place the Isles center stage. The Thalmor had concluded that their initial strategy had been flawed by underestimating the strategic importance of the Isles (the Sapiarchs who had planned it, so they say, were executed for their failure by Prismatic Bisection before the High King of Alinor). The new strategy was to secure the Isles first and then use them as a base for an assault on Heigidh from all directions. To this end, a vast armada was assembled from all over the Dominion, at its core the last asset they had not dared to unleash upon the Orientals: a recovered Merethic Era Aldmeri Dreadnought, a foul crystalline construct of noxious elven witchcraft that carried a storm cloud above its shardlike crown and boiled the water as it passed.
The combined fleets of all of Raguda, and numerous privateers and sympathetic free crews from other nations, met the Dominion Armada in the waters around the Chain, pitting the two greatest maritime civilisations in the world against one another in a contest that would determine the fate of Raguda. Chainfire from the Dreadnought scattered the lines of the Raga fleet, all strategy was lost and the battle descended into a bloody melee of tangled ships and hand-to-hand deck combat. The clash might have been just another inconclusive stalemate, were it not for the heroic actions of a small group of ansei led by Miha Trana of the Ragudan Front. Slipping between the fiery exchange of cannons and varliance in a small rowboat, they succeeded in penetrating deep into the heart of the Aldmeri fleet and boarding the Dreadnought, piercing its crystalline heart and releasing a conflagration from which only Miha’s former apprentice Ghosek Ryusai escaped. The wildfire from the loss of the Dreadnought spread through the ranks of the Dominion Armada, sparking panic as the battle devolved into chaos, crews fighting in darkness and thick smoke, only lit by the muzzles of cannon and flashes of green. Yet when the clashes finally began to dim, and the tarry clouds at last began to clear, it gradually emerged that a great victory had been won - the Dominion was in full retreat, the bulk of their vessels captured or sunk. Though the Ragudan fleets were themselves crippled by the engagement, the Dominion had played its last card. Three months later Rihad's garrison, under siege and out of supplies, surrendered. The beginning of the long, drawn-out expulsion of the Dominion from Raguda had commenced. Once again, the course of history had been turned amidst the Abecean Isles.
The “Old Isle,” as it is affectionately known, is a barren and rocky land, all but denuded of its indigenous vegetation and largely garlanded by imports from Yokuda, chiefly those grown for crops by its inhabitants the Tomba do-Hirn. The narrower southern half of the island is covered with the sprawling ruins of a once magnificent city, the first ever Yokudan settlement on Tamrielic shores, and former capital of Raguda until the construction of Hegathe. Most of the Tomba do-Hirn live in the town of Eko (originally Eko Hirna, or "outer Herne", relative to Ino Hirna, the old city). It began as a lesser settlement, housing only the workers and guards employed at the docks, but as the island steadily declined in importance and the city to the south depopulated after the Litombana was relocated to more spacious accommodation in the (then) new city of Hegathe, Eko has become the island's main settlement.
Austere, fragrant Cespar, best known for its wild herbs, intransigent inhabitants and rugged beauty, is the second Tamrielic island discovered by the Ra Gada, and remains a staunch beacon of their oldest traditions even in the modern age. Cespar has two settlements, but the main town is Chora, entirely housed inside a large castle built on top of the island's central hill. The other settlement is Liminos, a port on the north-eastern tip of the island. A natural harbour since ancient times, it was "bought" under duress during the Tiberian Empire to serve as a naval base.
The isle of Stros M’Kai (in fact a cluster of three) is without a doubt the Abecaean Island that enjoys the greatest fame outside Hammerfell, being known in every language from Argonia to Skyrim. This renown is due less to its intrinsic qualities than the fact that it played host to no less than three events in which the destiny of all Hammerfell was decided - quite an achievement for an island that first appears in the annals of House of Quills as “a piratical backwater”! The largest settlement on the island is the capital of Tomba do-Kai, Port Hunding, named in honour of Franjir who had defied his contemporaries’ fears and visited the settlement shortly after its foundation. On the other side of the rim of Hunding Bay lies the second settlement of Saintsport, infamous for centuries as a den of smugglers and privateers and yet revered as the hiding place of the Restless League. Also of note are the extensive Dwemeri ruins and observatory to be found in the interior, and (only for its avoidance) the haunted islet and accursed burial ground off the northwest coast known as the Isle of N’gasta.
A barren trio of hot, rocky islands with little water and less vegetation off the west coast of Hammerfell, the Chain has an infamous reputation as the place of execution and unquiet resting place of Hammerfell's criminal population. In ancient times, burial in unsanctified ground was the ultimate sanction in Yokudan society, a fate reserved for the worst offenders. Typically, this was done on offshore islands to prevent the vengeful spirits escaping and tormenting the living, and after the great migration this tradition was brought over from Yokuda to Hammerfell. The only permanently inhabited island in the Chain is its largest, nameless island, where a rickety shanty town built from bits of old ships has grown up.
The inhabitants of Herne speak their own dialect of Yoku, conserved from ancient times, and as a result have the distinction of technically having never surrendered to any of the three Empires of Men (due to a linguistic misunderstanding they spent six hundred years believing that the Tiberian Governors of the island were actually honoured guests). This in turn has led to the Oriental misconception that they are a pacifistic and indolent society, selflessly friendly to all outsiders, and it is still a common destination for wealthy travellers in search of an unspoilt earthly paradise. The reality, needless to say, rarely meets with their expectations.
The life of every Hirni is ruled by the strict conventions of the Tomba systems, which determines the role they must play, the register in which they must speak, whom they may fight and whom they may have intercourse with (usually, in practice, the two are synonymous). The majority of the island's population are thus assigned at birth to the caste of their parents: Those-Who-Fish; Those-who-Build; Those-Who-Farm; Those-Who-Fight and Those-Who-Pray, each led by a hereditary sinos, and with its own distinct responsibilities for discharging the ancient oath sworn to protect the island. Within each caste are numerous ranks, determined chiefly by ability or, where this is equal, by trial by combat. Transfer between the castes is possible if one can convince Those-who-Pray that the gods erroneously assigned them to the wrong birthplace (given the number of people in the world, such occasional mishaps are only to be expected). Although all castes are nominally equal, it is in practice Those-who-Fight who enjoy preeminence, and all Utei do-Hirn have invariably been drawn from this caste.
This isle is the sole holding and ancestral seat of the Tomba do-Cespar for which the island is named - one of the original seven administrative units of Hammerfell. Even today, the inhabitants live much like their ancestors on Yokuda, considering even the Crowns to have deviated from tradition. In practice, this means a strictly hierarchical society, often compared (inaccurately) to the feudal societies of the Bretons, though it is devoid of the rigid sexual conventions that pollute such lands, and permits a significant degree of social transfer between ranks based on personal prowess.
In the center of Cespar sits the citadel of Chora. This is the seat of the hall of the leaders of the Tomba, and the manor houses of the Na-Totambu themselves, their warrior entourages, and servants of lower rank. Farmers, the lowest rank of all, can be found mostly outside the city tending communal farms, as can fishers, who just about outrank them. The Priests of Cespar form a separate caste altogether, and may be selected at birth from any rank based on complicated astrological determinations. Cesparis do not have money in the conventional sense; the chief commodity being rei (literally “pride”, but connoting “esteem, worth, dignity”), a broader equivalent to the more familiar royal uei (“mandate of the gods”), which is unusual in not only being capable of accumulation and depletion by acts (much like the uei) but also of being transferred, in the manner of the charism of the Orientals or light falling on a surface. In short, it is the magnitude of an individual's rei which determines the allocation of resources produced by the Tomba to which that individual may justly lay claim; a principle which, in the days of piracy, also applied to loot. As such, Cesparis will go to immense lengths to obtain rei, and will frequently hoard it in the person of one revered member of the family who acts as a repository of sorts. The Cesparis are generally agnostic on the question of whether other Raga, let alone other races, can possess rei, such queries generally being answered “maybe so, we would know such a thing when we see it.”
The Isle of Sorcerers is the only of the three Raga islands which is no longer organised under a conventional Tomba system, though its inhabitants still think of themselves proudly as do-Kai. The usual roles of Itei and Utei are absent here, and have been since the dawn of the Third Era: “if you want to find our leaders, search on the bottom of the sea” as the local saying goes. This does not mean, of course, that the island is anarchic. Rather, it is jointly ruled by several powerful local institutions, being the temple cult of Tu’whacca, the House of Eyes (successor to the local branch of the continental Mages’ Guild) and the Harbourmasters. Together, representatives of these organisations meet with other influential locals to informally direct the affairs of the island in the name of the absent Utei do-Kai, and on the whole, it must be noted that despite the laxity of this arrangement, they do so rather well. Stros M’Kai knows little in the way of rebellion or religious strife, which have so blighted other regions of Raguda, though much of this may no doubt be explained by the relative homogeneity of the native population, their tendency towards discretion and secrecy, and the tight control they retain to this day over the institutions of an isle that, unusually for a Crown district, carries a large and mostly transient foreign-born population.
The majority of these are sailors or mariners of some description, frequently using the island’s generously sized (and relatively welcoming) ports lining the naturally sheltered Hunding Bay as bases for trade runs, pearl diving or shadier practices throughout the Abecean Sea and beyond. Of particular interest to many outsiders, yet maddeningly difficult to engage with in practice are the island’s transient population of so-called “Modern” Yokudans (so as to distinguish them from the more familiar Ancients), who have always been partial to the island on the rare occasions that they have crossed the Sea of Pearls as passengers or stowaways aboard Raga ships. At first glance it might seem curious that they prefer a relatively eclectic isle to stern Herne or austere Cespar, but it is not so surprising. From what little has been gleaned of the civilisation of these reticent Men, their own race has diverged from the half-remembered Ancients at least as far as ours, and the relatively freewheeling ports of Stros M’Kai are a more pleasant prospect than the dueling of equally ancient and rigid orthodoxies that would surely await them among more ideological Old Crowns.
The settlement of Chain Town is a lawless backwater, a rancid pool in which the scum of the known world collects and festers until such time as it poses a threat to the surrounding civilised lands and must periodically be purged. Individuals from all over Tamriel, and even Sload, can be found here, most of them involved in criminal activity (with the odd desperate refugee or religious exile thrown in). The inhabitants are aware of the legends that a Soul Snare surrounds the islands, and refer to themselves as "the damned", with the black gallows humor typical of the area. Nobody but the mad or foolish ventures to the interior of the island, or to the other two islets, where long-dead hands can be seen sticking up like a bizarre form of plant from the dust, ready to drag anyone who gets too close down into the dirt.
Understandably, these islands' terrifying reputation has always made them a magnet for people with nowhere else to go, taking advantage of the fear surrounding the place to hide from enemies who dare not approach. Over the centuries the Chain has been a base for numerous master pirates, smuggling syndicates, necromancers and revolutionary organisations. Under the reign of the third Oriental Empire, the Imperial Navy and Redguard merchant flotillas used to regularly collaborate to clean the Chain out every few years in frequently bloody battles. However, since the Great War, the old infestations have crept back in again, and the fragmented Orientals and Republic of Raguda have far too many other problems on their respective plates to concern themselves unduly about a repellant hideout of pirates and necromancers.
The religious practices of Herne are renowned for their severity, possessing a rigour that even those mainland adherents of the traditional Walkabout Rite would balk at. The central feature in any Hirni’s life was, until mere years ago, the assumption of the ancient Oath of Zutun and accession to the honored cadre of guardians of Ino, the bulk of one's devotions prior to this consisting of proving oneself worthy to assume such a revered mantle. Rituals of extreme self deprecation, branding, and being cast adrift at sea in a coracle far from land with only the stars memorised since childhood to guide them are just some of the harrowing rites that Hirni must undergo before they may be considered. Many went their whole lives without completing the oath, and ensuring their place on the Tomba’s boat to the Far Shores only by taking the rites at an advanced age and perishing honorably in the attempt. Of particular note in this regard is that not a single Hirni (save those lost at sea) is buried on the Isle itself - the mummies of its deceased are always stored, preserved, upon the Boat of Souls at Eko, until such time as the boat becomes full and they can be transported by a crew of seasoned pearl-divers to the ruins of Yokuda, where they can be laid to rest among their ancestors upon the seabed that was once their ancestral home in the Highlands of Lumut. Quite how their ancient rites have been affected by the recent fulfilment and cancellation of their oath is a question that the Hirnis are loathe to discuss with outsiders.
Cesparis hold fast to the religious traditions of their Ravanu ancestors, practicing a modified form of the Mokelic rain-cult once practiced throughout the Migrant Fleet and even for a time in Heigidh before it was declared erroneous by the House of Quills. The rain-cult revolves around the veneration of a succession of seasonal and hierarchical sky-spirits and wind-gods, to be petitioned in a strict order of precedence through seasonal burnt offerings and the recitations of mantras which, the inhabitants affirm, are responsible for the relatively fertile nature of their homeland relative to the other Abecean Isles. Despite the condemnation of the practice on the mainland, Cesparis have remained steadfast in their beliefs. Attempts to promulgate the teachings of the Divines here were met with bemused contempt, as were the cults of all deities existing outside their numerological schema. Such beliefs are viewed as not merely wrong, but a category error in the understanding of creation.
The patron of Stros M’Kai is Tu’whacca, whose cult is observed with particular zeal by the islanders. In part, this may be due to a sober appreciation of how close death may always be in a port town famed for being the refuge of pirates, easy coin and easier slips of the knife. One of the most frequently retold legends of Sura speak of how he used cunning and trickery to slay a vile sload necromancer who threatened to steal the souls of all those on the islands who died without the guidance of Tu’whacca (whom, ironically, Sura himself would have known as Arkay). The site of this legendary battle, a grim Yoku mortuary ruin upon an islet off the north-west coast of Stros M’Kai, is still avoided by all but the bravest adventurers, and the rituals of Arkay are, uniquely among all Crown lands, performed even on the exiled and the foreign out of residual superstitious fear of traces of the soulsnare that is still believed by some to imperil the island’s dead.
In the shanty towns that dot the Chain, dark sects of every stripe predominate, due to the ever-present threat of death and complete lack of governance that would otherwise extirpate such foul superstitions. The islets’ dubious status as a place of refuge of last resort have left their dangerous settlements crawling with individuals who would be considered in more civilised lands to be heretics at best, sorcerers fit only for execution at worst. Aside from the more familiar fate-tempters and skin-shedders of the dread cults of lakataS, exotic cults of rohS and the theosophical ravings of hkuraM can be found stewing in a noxious broth with the blasphemies of ocraminnaM.
The role of the Isles in Ragudan mainland politics has noticeably increased post-independence. The sudden lifting of the prohibition barring Tomba do-Hirn from setting foot on the mainland has understandably sparked a renewed interest on the Old Isle in the still-new and mysterious land to their east. This alone would have marked a seismic change in the usually slow pace of the Isles’ affairs, but at the same time they have also become embroiled in the unfinished business of the Republic’s remaining disputed boundaries. In the aftermath of the complicated negotiations of the Concordat, the Cespari port of Liminos was annexed to High Rock in a desperate attempt to retain an Oriental presence in the Abecean. This seizure, though legal under the laws to which Raguda was technically still subject at the time, has been a source of considerable tension. The Litombana has campaigned vociferously for its return for use as a base by the Ragudan navy. The Tomba do-Cespar naturally also desire its restitution, though they wish it to be returned to their own territory.
Relations with other Realms
The Isles, being a collection rather than a collective, have no cohesive policy towards the outside world beyond a generalised disdain for mainlanders and a well-earned hostility to elves and Orientals. The islanders are, as ever, guarded peoples, and diplomacy, such as it is, is rarely conducted through official channels, being more likely to be ironed out over bottles of tsipouro liquor in the shady back rooms of a dockside tavern or captain’s cabin far from shore. As such, it is difficult to gain an accurate impression of their dealings across Tamriel, not least due to their reluctance to disclose the inner workings of the insular trading network (it is a curious and underreported fact that net taxation of the Isles for the first fifteen years of the Republic’s existence has been exactly zero, a fact that has aroused the suspicions of no small number of federal officials).
Certain commonalities of policy may nonetheless be observed. The representatives of the Isles in the Litombana have typically supported the Old Crowns of Heigidh and Djilein, though Cespar and the delegate filling the empty chair of Kai have been known to occasionally side with Sentinel on economic and commercial issues. The general impression one gains, however, is one of pragmatic opportunism. The Isles follow their own agendas, now as ever, and though they will bow their head to the Uei-utei, it is clear to all that they do so out of respect, not out of submission.
Tava’s Roost: a large pinnacle of rock on Herne, said to be the very spot where Tava herself alighted after many months of leading the Migrant Fleet across the ocean to the new world. Her footprints can still be seen at its summit.
Hunding Bay: the tropical jewel of Stros M’Kai, this tree-lined Bay offers some of the finest views of the island and its ports. Of particular note is the monumental statue of Franjir Undeing, carved one thousand years ago by the Tomba do-Heigidh on the commission of the city of Rihad to commemorate the 800th anniversary of Franjir’s visit to the island.
Do-Kai Palace: for centuries the home of the rulers of Tomba do-Kai, following the extinction of the Tomba itself has become a museum devoted to island life and the history of Raguda. Of particular interest is the magnificent skeleton of the Red Dragon hanging from the ceiling of its main exhibition hall, recovered from the (still dangerous) palace catacombs many years ago.
Miha’s Reef (Picuti do-Miha): a new islet, recently created by the beached shell of the Aldmeri Dreadnought its namesake destroyed. Sorcerous energies of unknown power still suffuse the fell structure, whose perilous depths have never adequately been explored. These seem to have been responsible for the abnormally rapid profusion of coral growths that have encrusted it in the years since, and indeed for the luminescent corals which so many divers risk their lives to retrieve from the depths.
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Deeza added a topic in Lore PrimersPrimer: Hegathe / Tomba do-HeigidhHegathe / Tomba do-Heigidh
Feudal Rank: Tomba (self-governing traditional Yoku state) - Federal Capital of the Republic of Hammerfell
Colors: Gold, brass, ochre, kohl
Knightly Order: 1st Battalion of the National Guard, the To-no Shira (personal bodyguard of the reigning Uei-utei); household guards of the Sinu do-Heigidh.
Size: Disproportionate to its actual population due to the epic scale of its extensive temples and public monuments
Architecture: Custom tileset
Theme: An ancient capital choked by its own history and legends. Eternal monument to the glory of the Na-Totambu and the memories of long lost but dearly beloved Yokuda, Hegathe lies on the western coast of Raguda facing mournfully out across the sea toward the drowned homeland of all Raga. Restored at last to the status of capital of which it was long ago robbed, today Hegathe is undergoing a Renaissance as the home of Raguda’s parliament. But the scars of the past run deep and it is far from clear if Hegathe can ever escape the long shadow cast by the actions of its past rulers.
“Hegathe” is a word of Aldmeri origin derived from the phrase “eme naga thana,” literally “Sands of death”, a term historically applied by Altmeri colonists to the whole western region of what is now Hammerfell including the entirety of the Alik'r Desert. How it came to shift in meaning to one particular city is most likely due to widespread foreign confusion between the term and that of Tomba do-Heigidh, the traditional Yoku governing unit that has ruled the western tip of the Hammerfell peninsula since the Ra Gada. Do-Heigidh itself is a patronymic, derived from the personal name of the Tomba’s founder before the dawn of recorded history.
I. Ancient Yokuda
Of all the ancient Totambu of Yokuda, it is of Heigidh that the most is known, due to the copious royal records and hagiographies of their most famous son, Uei-utei Oshiru, otherwise known to posterity by his birth name Diagna. As the Heigidhi mystic Ouejbek meditated, “all things began with Diagna. We would be nothing without Diagna.” At the time the future Uei-utei was born in a hut beside a cattle kraal in the great plains of Kembana, Tomba do-Heigidh was a small and barely-regarded holding in the complex hierarchy of Old Yokuda, dependent on their migratory livestock and locked in a grossly one-sided feud with the mighty Tomba do-Undeing of neighbouring Asos Kazaz. Diagna was not even born to a prominent sinos within the tomba, but distinguished himself early as one of the most precocious and rigorously technical swordsingers of his generation, drawing the attention of higher authorities when he vanquished three ansei from the reigning Uei-utei Allal’s personal guard in a dispute over melons they ate without permission. A position in said bodyguard would have been the usual, and welcome, recognition of such an impressive feat, but Diagna’s true genius was soon spotted and he was diverted instead to the secret weapons research project at Adjata Mesa, where ansei from Totambu all over the continent sought to bend the laws of nature to use against the dreaded Left-Handers and their Orichalc Tower. It was there that he met the man whose remarkable friendship would come to define both of their lives: ironically, an Itei of his arch enemies, Franjir do-Undeing. Regarded as something of a maverick by the rest of the ansei establishment for his prophecies of doom regarding the Pankratosword project, it was years of patient argument by Diagna after Franjir stormed out of the project in frustration that persuaded Allal to order its abandonment in favour of Frandir’s own more costly but precise proposal, the Twenty Seven Snake Folk Slaughter, which given the loss of invaluable ansei it would inevitably involve, many Na-Totambu threatened to veto the project unless those who proposed it were prepared to perform the ritual themselves. This they did, with Diagna initially being slated to form part of the fateful Tower but only spared through the chance illness of a member of the Serpent, who would have played a part for which only Diagna could substitute.
The apocalyptic scale of the devastation unleashed upon the Left-Handers by the successful ritual both thrilled and horrified the Yoku world. Finally proving Frandir's thesis that ansei could unleash such unfathomably deadly power resulted in new heights of respect and fear being afforded to ansei everywhere. The sacrificed ansei were commemorated with a monument in Minn itself as the Ra Trana (Great Martyr) and the survivors were showered with wary accolades. Diagna returned to his people after many years away as a hero, worthy of induction among the greatest sword-saints of the Tomba do-Heigidh in its ancestral Temple. But it was only a few months before he was recalled again to the capital at Minn. Uei-utei Allal had died, his succession was in dispute, and his old friend Franjir, returned from the wilderness, was in need of him once again.
Not understanding the events that they had been through together, the elders of the tombana ba forbade Diagna from bringing the Tomba’s ansei to the aid of a sworn enemy. And so Diagna departed for the capital alone, finding it in a ferment, the Litombana sharply polarised between parties seeking the election of either Franjir or his rival Utei Soq of the Tomba do-Zemam (whose name shall live in infamy as Hira the Destroyer). Despite Diagna achieving the remarkable feat of persuading his own Na-totambu, and many of their allies besides, to support their enemy Franjir, they were ultimately unsuccessful. Hira was elected, and Franjir and his allies left the assembly in disgust, but not before urging Diagna to stay where he could not. This Diagna did, leveraging his reputation as a cool head and war hero to inveigle an administrative position, becoming the ringleader of the so-called “Minn Fourteen” council who, it was said, posed the nearest thing to a government during Hira’s chaotic reign, an insufficiently reinforced bulwark against the crumbling of the Yokudan Empire. Diagna’s loyalties were torn between the realm he sought to preserve and his old friend, whose increasingly reckless provocations were doing more than anyone to destabilise the situation, even as Hira persecuted the ansei of dissident Totambu, some of whom had been his colleagues of old. But it was the Binding of Divad which proved too much to bear. Outraged at Hira’s actions, Diagna fled the capital back to his heartlands, knowing what would surely happen when news of the Binding reached Divad’s father Franjir. Even as the sinosu of Undeing Tomba raised their pillars of war, Diagna faced the elders of Heigidh, who demanded to know why they should fight alongside those who had killed so many of their ancestors. In an emotional plea, Diagna finally revealed the truth: that Divad was his own son, conceived through the power of the Ansu-Gurleht. Shocked disbelief turned to prayers of wonder, and finally shouts of support. The honorable old Utei relieved himself of his duties with the sword, after the ancient fashion, and Diagna was proclaimed by acclamation as the new Utei do-Heigidh, leading his Tomba to war alongside their former enemies.
In the War that followed, Diagna proved the cool mind to guide the impetuous hearts of Undeing Tomba, travelling the Empire to negotiate and forge alliances whilst Franjir and Divad defeated Hira’s armies on the field of battle, before finally standing at the heart of the Anvil of Mount Hattu where Hira’s power was finally broken. Even as they pursued the fleeing despot to his last stand at the Siege of Minn, it was clear to all that there could only be one choice for his successor, Franjir being too divisive for the many former supporters of Hira whose assistance they needed. At the final confrontation in the throne room, Diagna had only to command, and Franjir leapt forward to finally take his revenge, beheading the tyrant, the indomitable Utei of Undeing finally brought to heel by a power greater than words. The unthinkable had happened. A lowborn from a tomba so minor that its holdings were barely of note to many others had become Uei-utei.
There were many who could not and refused to accept it. Even as Diagna, taking the regnal name Oshiru (the Tiger) sought to rehabilitate old opponents and unify the Litombana, the remaining armies of Hira, headquartered in the jagged fortress formed from the shattered base of Orichalc Tower, refused to surrender, and fresh Uprisings against the “cattleherd king” broke out across the Empire. The civil war raged on, but after a particularly crushing defeat, the Hiradirj, the loyal hard core to Hira’s elite guard, realised that defeat was inevitable. Driven mad by grief for their dead master and spite at the men who, more than any other, had undone him, they did the unthinkable, cutting the atomos and directing the full force of its fury directly at the homelands of Diagna and Franjir.
Diagna himself, the legend recalls, was attending a fishing festival of the year’s first catch on the eastern coast when the impact was felt. The land convulsed, great fissures opened, and yet even as he made his escape by boat through whirlpools and tidal waves, Diagna noted with a feeling of sickness that the fiery ashen shadow on the horizon loomed over the lands in which he had been raised. Tomba do-Heigidh had borne the brunt of the Hiradirj’s wrath, the plains they farmed for cattle utterly annihilated, and even the many officials and guards who had accompanied their Utei to Minn had perished instantly as the capital's walls crumbled and the tide poured in, drowning the entire population. By the time Diagna was able to return to his homeland, after weeks of gathering survivors and organising them into the core of the future Migrant Fleet, all that was left for him to find was a shallow sea of floating fragments of wood and decomposing bodies, as far as the eye could see, a sight so terrible that even the stoical Franjir wept to see it. Assembling the surviving leaders of the Yoku peoples for the Ana Djesal (emergency congress) on the shattered, barren island of Kruzka, Diagna offered to relinquish his throne for the catastrophe his reign had brought to Yokuda. But before the assembled Na-Totambu could speak a word their voices were drowned out by the calls and beating wings of countless birds, of every shape, size and hue, swarming around the Isle in great circling flocks, amidst which one vast bird, its plumage luminous, fiery and shimmering with every colour, descended to the Ana Djesal and touched its forehead to Diagna’s, before taking off again, circling and flying off to the East with a thunderous cry. The assembled Na-Totambu were in no doubt as to what they had witnessed: The Uei-utei had been affirmed by none other than Tava herself. Diagna would go on to lead the Migrant Fleet assembled from the wreckage of Yokuda across the uncharted seas into waters even the most daring of ancient explorers had not dared to venture, leading them through hunger, thirst, exposure, storms, battles against fleshy horrors and spirits from the deep, the sorcery of Thras and the sucking vortex of Malua Iba before finally alighting on the Isle of Hirn, the date of the foundation of Raguda.
II. The First Era
Thus the legend. And it must be told first to understand the modern city, because Heigidh remains overshadowed by the heavy burden of its history more than any other settlement in Raguda, constantly struggling over the centuries to uphold and protect the legacy of their greatest Uei-utei. The city that bears their name was not the first capital of Raguda. Indeed, the mere handful of Heigidhi survivors of the deluge were scarcely enough to form a village, let alone a city. In dividing the spoils of conquest, Diagna was appropriately modest, taking for his own tomba only half of the land forming the Divadmktulu conquered by his son. Even then, his successors’ assertion of these claims was slow and deliberate, leasing portions of the territory to landless and subordinate totambu to administer and develop on their behalf. The imperial capital remained offshore at the city of Ino on the Isle of Hirn, where bitter Forebears often claimed the Na-Totambu drank wine and outdid each other sharing mournful tales of lost Yokuda while their lower-caste armies did the hard work of subduing and cultivating the harsh lands of the New World. At length, as more accurate maps of Tamriel began to be assembled and true estimates of the scale and layout of Raguda became available, it became clear that the offshore capital was unsuitable as a centre of command for the still-planned conquest of the rest of Tamriel. Lines of inland communication were becoming too long, with segments of the Ra Gada defying orders and staking their own claims beyond the recognised Mktulu or (still more unacceptably) brokering pacts with the natives. It was the exodus from Hirn of the remnant Totambu who would ultimately go on to form Tomba do-Nudri that convinced Raguda’s third Uei-utei Zutun do-Heigidh that radical action was needed to regain control of the situation, commanding the construction of a new capital befitting an Emperor on Tomba do-Heigidh’s territory on mainland Tamriel, entrusting the former site at Ino to the trusted caretakers of Tomba do-Hirn before setting sail to the construction site.
The city that was to be known across the world as Hegathe was conceived and designed on a grand scale, out of all proportion to the population that would initially inhabit it. Intended to be the capital of the whole of Tamriel once it had been conquered, Hegathe’s architects levelled a vast area of rock, diverted rivers for irrigation and began constructing a tiered city built around the core of an immense palace complex, erecting colossal temples and imposing public monuments to Zutun, his father Divad and his grandfathers Diagna and Franjir, already fading into legend. Summing up the general attitude is the inscription, eroded by sand and scarred by time but still legible above the entrance to Raguda's parliament:
I was made by the order of Zutun, Utei of Uteis. The Hoonding Guides us, all others must Make Way.
A construction on such a scale could not possibly have been financed by any modern economic system, but fortunately the Uei-utei of old were unbound by such trifling concerns. The builders of Hegathe worked for hereditary duty, not lucre, their tasks determined by their positions in the ancient tomba system. Even so, construction took two hundred years.
But even as the last tower of Hegathe was crowned, Raguda had changed. Further conquest had run into the iron wall of Bangkorai Pass in the northwest and the sheer numbers and unmatched logistics of the Legions in the east. The skills that Tomba do-Heigidh had devoted themselves to cultivating were no longer quite so in demand, as the pressing realities of commerce and diplomacy began to bite with increasing urgency. Nonetheless the sheer respect afforded to Heigidh ensured its hold on power despite some questionable decisions, but ultimately it was inevitable that they would eventually fail to continue to produce candidates of the same stature as Diagna and Divad. This day finally came in 1E 1006, when the election was won by Uei-utei Khutu of Tomba do-Djilein. For the first time, the ruler of the city and the occupant of the Palace would not be the same person, a fact that so shocked the Utei do-Heigidh that they did not actually have any alternative accommodation, and had to begin constructing a new palace from scratch, slotted awkwardly into the careful layout of a city which had never been designed to consider this possibility. It would not be the last time they would have need of it, as the inexorable pressures of realpolitik led to the normalisation of relations first with the Breton Kingdoms in the Treaty of Wayrest and then with the Oriental Empire in the Bright Memorandum. For the Tomba do-Heigidh, however, all of this was backsliding, betrayal of the proud legacy of its conqueror founders. “They would all have drowned were it not for us, and now they have bartered away the land we took for them.” Irony of ironies, the Tomba most revered by other Totambu found itself locked out of the elective monarchy, preferring the purity of opposition to the dirty compromises required to secure a future for Raguda on a still overwhelmingly hostile continent.
The cumulative result was that Hegathe became stagnant as other regions prospered from the opening of Raguda’s borders, threatening the ancient privileges of the Na-Totambu and challenging the very existence of the Tomba system itself. In particular, the mushrooming port city of Sentinel came to be seen as a de facto rival capital, and fatally, the response by successive Utei do-Heigidh to this challenge was not a selective embrace of modernity like Tomba do-Nudri or Elinhir attempted, but further retrenchment, which ultimately began to erode even their legendary martial reputation. Under the dominance of Heigidhi schools of the Virtues of War, the art of the shehai became moribund, ceasing to be a living martial art and becoming a matter of display, a way of proving oneself a true noble by memorising stacks of ancient manuals and passing successive levels of increasingly technical and impractical examinations by masters. When Malooc evacuated the bowels of hell upon Raguda, despite valiant fighting against the demon horde the ansei of Heigidh and Djilein were unable to stem its source, leading Diriq Hallein of Tomba do-Nudri to declare himself “the last true ansei” and to found his own new school at Skaven. In the aftermath of Diriq’s closing of the hellhole, even the ultimate authority for the crown jewel of the arts of lost Yokuda shifted away from Heigidh. The final blow came in 1Exxxx, when Uei-utei Frusul do-Ghanei completed the long drift of power by formally relocating the Litombana to Sentinel. Heigidh never agreed to relinquish the title and even after the Uei-utei’s court had long since departed the Tomba would still continue to conduct the rituals of state in the Palace and temples as though they had never left. Vowing that some day Sentinel would bitterly regret its effrontery, Tomba do-Heigidh settled down to watch and wait.
III. The Second and Third Eras
Their day came upon the death of Uei-utei Thassad II in 2Exxx. Though he hailed from Tomba do-Kai and not their own lands, Thassad had been well liked and respected by Heigidh as a successful war leader and a staunch traditionalist. But where Thassad was conservative, his son A’tor was radical, promising a return to Raguda’s past glory and an uncompromising stance against cultural decay and the Forebears’ proposals to open the Litombana, going so far as to call the Bright Memorandum “an error” and even questioning the legacy of the ancient Treaty of Wayrest, long considered sacrosanct. The assembled Na-totambu of Heigidh, gathered in Stros M’Kai to pay their respects to Thassad, were taken aback by the fiery rhetoric of A’tor’s eulogy. Here was a True Crown (and from an Isle of sorcerers no less!) who dressed like a Raga but spoke with all the authority of a scrivener of the House of Quills about the toxic effect of “the Empire of thought” on the Yoku spirit. Astounded by the speech, the assembled tombana ba of Heigidh then and there pledged loyalty to A'tor en masse even in advance of his candidacy being proposed to the Litombana, a breach of protocol which immediately made the Forebears wary of what was to come. The Heigidhi delegation travelled back to Sentinel on A’tor’s behalf for a series of Litombana sessions that would prove so poisonous that the Rihadis representing the Forebear cause walked out with an unheard-of denunciation of a duly elected Uei-utei, refusing to recognise his legitimacy. In response, the Heigidhis led a (procedurally invalid) vote to abolish the “anachronism” of the audience rights of “the defunct Tomba do-Undeing”, locking the doors of the Litombana when, having gathered an army of petitioners, the Forebear delegation attempted to return for the subsequent session. It was little short of a declaration of war, and Rihad and Taneth certainly viewed it as such, raising their banners within days. Even at this stage bloodshed could have been avoided if the opportunistic Sultan had not seized the chance to reassert control of his city and expelled the “illegitimate” Litombana, the outraged Na-Totambu of Heigidh and Djilein finding themselves dragged from their beds and imprisoned like common criminals, a miscalculation by the Sultanate that plunged Raguda into outright civil war.
It was a war that Tomba do-Heigidh welcomed and fully intended to win. Fuelled by centuries of pent up resentment at loss of their primacy, they participated with zeal in the bloody recapture of Sentinel and the subsequent purges of its royal family and nobility, earning them a reputation for racially inflected brutality that they have never been able to shake (not that they would care to). Finally, they had the Uei-utei they had wanted for generations, a man who found nothing to approve of in modern Raguda, who was prepared to raze it all to the ground and start again. True, he was not of the blood of Diagna, but what of it? Even as the first columns of the Legions began to cross into Hammerfell and A'tor prepared himself for battle, his Na-Totambu called their own Litombana in the old palace of Heigidh and passed a preposterous collection of laws designed to secure the new reign of Uei-utei A'tor but in practice proving to be the high water mark of Heigidhi self-delusion. The wildest fantasists within Heigidh let rip, indulging in the hallucination that they could roll back all the changes that had swept Raguda across the centuries. Measures were passed to abolish the Forebear Republics and annex their land to new Totambu, banning the speaking or writing of Tamrielic, naturalisation laws that would effectively have resulted in the expulsion of all other races and the reduction of “half-Raga” to a second class of subject. Even as the first of her ansei began to fall in battle against the overwhelming might of the Oriental Empire, Hegathe remained trapped in her fever dream, convinced that after long dark years of eclipse, her new dawn had finally come.
The crushing defeat of A'tor and subsequent occupation of Hammerfell was a devastating psychological blow from which Heigidh has never truly recovered. Millennia of unjustified belief in Raga superiority and invincibility could just about have been maintained through past defeats and setbacks by various excuses about the perfidious treachery and weakness of corrupted Forebears and Sentinese, consoling themselves that a “true Crown” had not yet been tested and would have succeeded where they failed. But the incineration of the man they had hailed as the restoration of Yokudan culture incarnate had shattered a casual complacency that could never be recovered. And yet it was the completeness of this shock which saved Hegathe’s many cultural treasures for future generations. When the Legions came to occupy Hegathe they came fully armed and provisioned, prepared for prolonged siege and resistance to the last drop of blood. What they found instead was a population so subdued by shock and disbelief that they were unable to muster any resistance. As the memoirs of Tribune Acentius Lavrolides recorded:
“The great gates of Shen lay ajar, their fearsome guardians confused and despondent; when I challenged one with the Voice of the Emperor he merely gazed past me as though I were invisible, staring outward at the salt sea as if, with enough concentration, our assembled Fleet would prove to be a mere mirage.”
Violence in the taking of the city was minimal, resulting chiefly from Lavrolides’ decision to sit upon the throne of the Uei-utei “as is my right as personal emissary of the rightful ruler of Hegathe”. Although many precious artefacts (most notably the swords of Diagna and Divad) were catalogued and sent to Cyrodiil to be presented to Tiber as spoils of war, widespread looting was avoided, and the House of Quills, Raguda's greatest repository of recorded history and lore, remained virtually intact. So traumatised by the defeat was Hegathe that it played no significant role in the uprisings against the Empire, only returning to prominence in the debate over the capital of the Imperial Province of Hammerfell during the negotiation of the treaty of Stros M’Kai, during which its Utei memorably stated that he would rather tear up the treaty and return to direct Imperial rule than allow Taneth or Rihad to become home to the so-called “High King”. In their eyes the precious incumbent of Diagna’s throne lived still; it was impossible to appoint a new Uei-utei when his soul was still infused into the holy sword which had “ended the Imperial tyranny” (overnight ascended to the status of a sacred relic). Thus was the compromise reached whereby the position of Uei-utei would remain frozen at the moment of A'tor’s apparent death; and the role of representing Hammerfell to the Empire “until full independence be achieved” was given to the new and nominally inferior position of Uei-imbatair, a role that Heigidh considered unimportant enough that they allowed it to be eagerly seized by Baron Volag of Sentinel, who knew where the true source of power lay. For nearly six hundred years, the office presented to the outside world as “High King” in the Nordic mould would rule Raguda in the Oriental Emperor’s name, effectively sidelining the Litombana and Heigidh, for whom the lovingly preserved sword of A'tor, enthroned in do-Utu Palace and attended by all the ancient ceremonies of court, would forever remain, perfect and unchanging in martyrdom, the only true ruler of all children of Yokuda.
During the following centuries Hegathe retreated into isolationist torpor, becoming a virtual museum of ancient traditions utterly untroubled by the need for engagement or compromise with the outside world. In the words of Rudud Pasha:
“Being forbidden by Imperial laws from barring other races from their city, they resolved instead to destroy every last reason why they would ever want to come in the first place.”
In comparison to the rest of Hammerfell, Tomba do-Heigidh became impoverished, its grand monuments, reminders of past glories and a better age, falling into disrepair. Tales abounded of elderly Na-Totambu, too proud to abandon the homes their ancestors had inhabited since landfall on Tamriel, dwelling in destitution amidst the collapsed ceilings, decomposing carpets and crumbling furnishings of what had once been glorious mansions. The streets became unkempt and, in broken-down and abandoned areas unsafe, a rumoured near-impunity operating zone for the Dura Ungai and worse. To its inhabitants’ fury, Heigidh’s “picturesque” decay only made the city more of an attractive destination for curious outsiders, eager to discover the “true” ancient culture of Hammerfell and entranced by the romanticism of the chance to see the last fragment of a dying civilisation before it disappeared forever from the modern world. The very purity they had so prized had turned their beloved city into a puppet show for the nudri they so despised. Blaming others for their difficulties, in a fit of pique, the Heighidi tombana ba refused to lift a finger to aid the Forebear cities of Rihad and Taneth, abandoning them to the Usurper in a shocking dereliction of duty that shattered any hope of Raga solidarity and paved the way for long years of vicious Crown-Forebear infighting over the Third and Fourth eras that would ultimately exhaust, deplete and discredit both parties in the eyes of the great majority of Hammerfell's populace.
IV. The Fourth Era
This was the city that the Thalmor had come to know and expect on the eve of the Great War, a sleepy relic of primeval anachronisms that could not possibly pose a threat to their plans. Captured records after the war show that they had initially provisioned for the Siege to last mere days, planning for a quick occupation followed by a rapid coastal March to the true target of Sentinel. And as any Forebear could tell to their sorrow, never is a Crown more dangerous than when she is underestimated.
As the Dominion’s initial spearhead encircled the city, preparing for either abject surrender or hopeless siege, the last thing they were expecting was for the Tomba do-Heigidh to go on the offensive, sallying forth in a surprise rush attack that forced them to retreat, abandoning much valuable siege equipment. By the time the heavily reinforced Thalmor regrouped and resumed the siege with numbers adequate for the task, valuable momentum had been lost, and many troops diverted from other fronts. Even at this stage both Empire and the rest of Hammerfell had given up Heigidh for lost, hoping that at best it would delay the Dominion long enough to organise the true defence lines at Sentinel. To the amazement of all, they were proven spectacularly incorrect, with the city holding out for almost two years. What both Imperial and Thalmor tacticians had missed was that the immense stone walls of Heigidh’s temple precincts effectively rendered it a cluster of fortresses within a fortress, able to withstand near continuous bombardment whilst defenders moved through the city via underground canals and service tunnels with impunity. As it slowly dawned on the Empire and its allies that Hegathe was not going to fall without a costly full-scale assault, the question of supplying it by sea became an urgent one, as did denying the Dominion an opportunity to bypass it through the Abecean Sea. The Dominion was trapped - denied the western sea lanes, it could either bypass Heigidh on land and open its armies to attack from the rear, or risk a potentially disastrous all-out assault to take the city. They chose the latter, calling up huge reserves of conscripts from Valenwood and Elsweyr and submitting the city to an enormous week-long bombardment by both mundane and magical means that drove the defenders underground and finally shattered the ancient walls. As troops poured into the breach and siege towers approached the other walls, the demoralised defenders began to be pushed back to the inner precincts, and even with the arrival of reinforcements from Hirn and Cespar Totambu, breaking their millennia-old vow to never set foot on Tamriel, it appeared for a moment as though the city would fall. This was when chance (or some would say, divine providence) intervened.
The legend is already famous: one of the youthful warriors among the Hirni contingent, Atusha-Kwesa of Darhei Sinos, was disarmed, her sword reduced to molten iron by Aldmeri varliance. Seeing the overwhelming forces arrayed against the demoralised Heigidhis, she raced to the ancient throne chamber at the heart of do-Utu Palace, possessed of either foolhardy bravado or a sense of destiny. In the six hundred years since it was last used by Ra Sura, the Sword of A'tor had not consented to be wielded, mortally wounding any who tried. Perhaps it had merely been waiting, as many Oriental arcana are said to do, for the right champion. But whatever the case, the site of a young warrior leaving the Palace gates with a cry of triumph and the blazing sword held high above her head was an unmatched rallying cry for the defenders. The hero who had failed them so long ago had returned to redeem himself at the last possible moment; as “Atu” (as even then the defenders began to call her) cut a searing swathe through the Dominion ranks, seemingly unstoppable in each devastating swipe or counter-parry, the attackers, shocked by the sudden renewed ferocity of their foes, began to panic and became pressed up against the outer walls, unable to retreat through the narrow gap, and were massacred. Falling back to lick its wounds, the Dominion readied a second bombardment and fresh wave of assault. The defenders were now in a state of utter exhaustion and it would certainly have been successful, but even as Atusha-Kwesa stood in the breach, swatting back the oncoming hordes like a goddess of war, the Dominion commanders saw with a sinking feeling the Banner of the Watching Moon cresting the dunes, watching helplessly as a devastating charge of heavily armoured Mamluku cavalry commanded by Emir Qasim of Sentinel slammed into their exposed flanks, finally ending the two year siege.
While much has rightly been written of the extraordinary tenacity of Hegathe’s defenders, it must never be forgotten that their efforts would have been in vain had it not been for the Raga merchant navies, privateers and even pirates whose patriotism overrode their profit motive, who effectively denied the Thalmor the ability to transport troops past Hegathe and land them further up the coast. It was this, and the resistance of the Ragudan Front and its Helkori and Elinhese allies in eastern Hammerfell, which forced the Dominion to cross the Alik'r Desert in an attempt to assault Sentinel directly, a forced error which led to their first real defeat in the Great War.
In the aftermath of the Concordat and the Orientals’ shameful betrayal of Raguda, Heigidh was naturally at the forefront of those who favoured continuing the fight come what may, fully expecting that the cowardly Forebears and treacherous Sentinese would wish to sue for peace at any price. “Prepare for martyrdom! The Far Shores await!” as Atusha-Kwesa declared to her assembled followers on the road to Djilein. Already there was excited talk of defying the Empire and proclaiming her as A'tor’s successor: “if we are to obliterate the shame of the Treaty, is it not better to do so in glory with a true Uei-utei to lead us?” opined one Na-Totambu Gopi, expressing the sentiment of many. The decision of Emir Qasim of Sentinel to support this proposal and the secession it would inevitably entail seems to have genuinely surprised Tomba do-Heigidh, though they were less surprised to see a price attached: recognition in the government of the future state of the Forebear Republics that had so long been denied. Torn between their contempt for Forebears and hatred of elves, the Heigidhis agreed, marching for the first time in hundreds of years alongside the forces of Rihad and Sentinel: the two spears of the Ra Gada reunited once more. Always first into combat and last out, in the long, bitter five years that followed Tomba do-Heigidh both took some of the heaviest casualties and inflicted the most grievous losses on the enemy. The worst of these came at the Battle of Seranga near the very end of the conflict, when the Heigidhis angrily rejected the Thalmor’s offer of a negotiated withdrawal from Djilein and Taneth, breaking away from the main body of the Raga army and launching a solo assault on their neighbouring Tomba’s territory. Against all odds the Heigidhis were able to penetrate deep into Thalmor controlled territory, belatedly joined by their fellow Raga after their initial success, and even managing to briefly break through the pickets around Djilein itself before being forced to retreat. The failure of this final assault, which left Tomba do-Heigidh in no fit state to continue fighting, was the catalyst for the realisation in both Alinor and Sentinel that both sides were facing near exhaustion, leading eventually to the outcome Heigidh had sought to prevent - the Second Treaty of Stros M’Kai (which both Heigidh and Djilein boycotted). And yet it was surely no small compensation that, on the date of the Dominion's final withdrawal, Heigidh was finally reinstated as the capital of Raguda, regaining the status it had lost almost a thousand years before.
Heigidh is ruled, above all else, by the deep and heartfelt conviction that its governance, politics, religion, culture, and arts, transplanted intact and with great care from lost Yokuda, are objectively and unarguably superior to any culture that originated on Tamriel. Or, to use Utei Mbass’ words:
“The Marukhati speak falsely; truth is a matter of steel, not thought: some are greater, others less, and there is no shame in saying this, not with the tasteless boastfulness of the Orientals nor the constipated formalism of the [elves], but with a fierce, quiet and absolute determination that is the hallmark of true Raga.”
Central to this conception of themselves is slavish adherence to the strictures of the traditional Yoku kinship system, a hierarchy of relatedness extending far beyond blood relations, binding together and regulating with complex taboos otherwise disparate parts of society. One particularly salient consequence is that it is considered incestuous for two members of a sinos to have intercourse with one another even if they are not blood relations (this applies without exception even to the children of the merely oathbound, who are considered kin if they are born under the protection of the sinos’ house - though in practice this is averted whenever possible by delivering within the temple shrine, so that the child is kin to the God whose house it is and not to the sinos that operates it). This taboo mandates the selection of partners from outside the sinos, which was a workable solution in ancient Yokuda when there were a vast number of sinosu and a much larger general population. However, it became more problematic in the aftermath of the Great Cataclysm, when the number of Heigidhi sinosu were reduced to a handful in the aftermath of the destruction of Yokuda, necessitating the emergence of the chief factor which divides the traditions of Heigidh from those of the Isles and Djilein: the creation of a lower caste unbound “pool” of individuals outside the sinosu altogether, and under the direct authority of the Tomba itself. This was done in order to provide the requisite “room of reproductive manoeuvre” establishing a sufficient number of unbound individuals (their sexual histories carefully monitored over the generations) to act as a buffer which can prevent the dreaded inbreeding of the sinosu of old. The whole system is overseen by a special caste of eunuchs, so altered upon their appointment to ensure their impartiality by eliminating any personal stake in the outcome of the process.
Many have called this system perverse and grotesque; the Heigidhis counter that in fact their system affords far more mobility of Rank than any other that is to be found on Tamruda. In what other city could an unbound manual worker who spent his life clearing temple drains be elevated to the rank of mansei by siring a future Itei?
As this implies, above the unbound castes may be found the ragu, bound in service for a number of years or lifetime to a particular temple precinct and the sinos hereditarily charged with operating and maintaining it. These caretakers are the mansu, members of the sinosu proper, and responsible for the great majority of its functions save for the most exalted: priesthood and swordplay, the former only open to those who have successfully performed the arduous masquerade of their respective god. The latter is the privilege only of those few with the talent to enter Heigidh’s ancient Schools of Move Like This, to emerge after decades of practice and examination as one of the legendary ansei sword-saints, said to be so skilled that they can cut a leaf into perfectly symmetrical shreds before it can even reach the ground, and best an entire squad of Oriental or Dominion soldiers single-handedly. Of these, the greatest will become Itu, the chieftains of their sinosu, and worthy to sit upon the council of the Tombana Ba, which selects from among its number the next Utei do-Heigidh and advises and counsels them throughout their career.
As the self-appointed guardians of law, order, and correct practice in the New World, it is only natural that Heigidh should hold a special reverence for the demiurge Ruptga, God of Right Father Teaching. But in truth the city resembles nothing so much as a vast temple complex, with the majority of citizens affiliated hereditarily with one of the temple precincts into which the city is divided. For some this is a mere perfunctory obligation to contribute part of their income or leave the city on quest when the shrine’s caretakers require their services. Others are born to a life of much longer service to their shrine; by serving a number of years as hereditary priests, or assisting these with ablutions, sacrifices, management of the temple finances or the cleaning of the precinct. The lowliest form of service is paid by the unaffiliated caste, who spend a portion of their time on the fields and mines that supply the produce and raw materials required to maintain their temple.
Given the ubiquity of such arrangements in Heigidh, it is perhaps unsurprising that the Heigidhis are not given to ostentatious public displays of religiosity or theological debate; faith is something that one does, a service rendered, far more than a matter of doctrinal belief (no doubt an important reason why the dogmas of Alessia and her cohorts have always been so resoundingly and contemptuously rejected).
It is the astrological calendar of the temples, as calculated from the minarets of the House of Quills, that regulate the passage of life in the city, with commerce and work often halting into sudden silence as the ancient streets are lit by the lurid glare of a Prayer Tone erupting from the towers of the House of Quills to announce the rotation of one god’s holy time, to be answered from the summit of a grand temple by a blast of its complementary hue, or by the deafening sonorous tone of a temple bell where the proper answering shade was lost with drowned Yokuda. Crowded streets will hastily clear for the emergence of the vast idols of the gods from the shelter of the inner shrines of their temples to proceed around their time-honoured routes around their precincts, their paths laid with scattered desert flowers and aeons-old statues dripping with ritual ablutions of honey and wine.
The grandest of these are naturally reserved for Ruptga himself, without whose guiding paths in the dust the orderly procession of the Lesser deities could not even be conceived, let alone take place. In the heart of Ruptga’s temple lies a river of molten gold, kept constantly in motion by the ceaselessly burning pyres of offerings before his altars. At the start of each procession Ruptga’s obsidian statue at the core of the shrine is coated in molten gold, as forge-priests stand by to cast and quench the massive pieces of gold jewellery, masks and headdresses worn by the priests in the procession, still warm from the fire. As the procession perambulates the Temple precinct, the constant ablutions dry the gold and it cracks and blisters from the sudden contraction, only for at the conclusion of the procession when the idol passes through the sacrificial flame, it's bearers miraculously unharmed as the gold melts and pours in rivulets down their bodies, and the black glistening idol of Ruptga emerges anew, completely undamaged by the heat, while the molten gold skin drains away into the river of metal to begin the cycle anew. It is this daily ritual, the Heigidhis aver, which has silenced the mutterings of those who dare to invoke Satakal, and is solely responsible for staving off, day by day, the moment when the God of Everything shall sleep no more and silence will fall like a thunderclap across Nirn.
Following the conclusion of the Great War, the dilapidated and battle-scarred city of Heigidh has undergone a massive programme of restoration and repair, rebuilding collapsed and abandoned precincts, clearing out silted waterways and sewers and replacing crumbled paint and decoration, all in order to make it a city fit to be capital of “the greatest race in the whole world.” Ravaged by war, Heigidh was barely able to spare the manpower, let alone the raw materials for such an ambitious project, and has had to content itself with merely managing a project funded by the seemingly bottomless coffers of the Sultanate of Sentinel. In a particularly vicious twist of the Sentinese knife, this funding was officially termed “long overdue repayment, with interest, for the sums so kindly lent to our forefathers in the Second Era.”
Restitution as the capital city of all Raga has therefore not been without its costs, albeit ones that Heigidh has been more than willing to pay to be at last given its dues. The necessities of government and administration, so long absent that their practicalities had been almost forgotten, have resulted in an unprecedented influx of new inhabitants to the city from all over Raguda and even beyond, as embassies that had formerly been established in Sentinel were relocated to a row of richly restored fine old First Era mansions. The sight of even “half-Raga,” let alone Bretons or Orientals wandering the streets in significant numbers is still a shock to many of the inhabitants of Heigidh, and a reason for deep suspicion that the re-entry of their almost obsessively preserved city into world Affairs will result in the dilution and corruption of their culture. But Heigidhis have learnt all too well the bitter lessons of sacrificing dominion and status for principled powerlessness. As goes the haunting Lament of Bhakub:
“The seductresses of the East reached out with perfumed hands, offering coin and honey, balm and oil, were we to topple the altars of our gods and kneel before their idols of Progress and the Future; and we cut off those hands and cleaved only to a rusting sword. Now we drink dust and eat memories of times and places better; where is the sword of Divad now? Where is the sword of Diagna? We spurned the world to purchase purity, and now what is left of either?”
Relations with other Kingdoms
Heigidh is AMBIVALENT towards Rihad, detesting its Forebear ways and deviations from tradition, but retaining a somewhat wistful respect for the place due to the immense reverence in which they hold its founder Franjir who was, after all, the father of their second greatest Utei, Divad the Singer. Or to put it less kindly, as Ghosek Ryusai once summed it up, “they love the city well enough, they just hate the folk who live in it.” Rihad’s caucus is the main rival for Heigidh’s influence in Raguda’s parliament, setting the agenda for the Limansuna (lower chamber) in much the same way that Heigidh dominates the Litombana (upper chamber).
Heigidh has a TENSE relationship with the Sultanate of Sentinel. Despite their many differences and ancient enmity there is a common understanding that in these dangerous times the one requires the other, and without either the Republic of Raguda could not stand. Less charitable observers might compare this relationship to two drunks attempting to prop each other up, an uneasy, staggering balancing act prone at any moment to collapse. In particular, the campaign by Heigidh and the Young Crowns to outlaw the golden Septim as legal tender and impose a monopoly on minting by the Bank of Raguda is a source of near continuous tension every time the campaign is revived, only for Sentinel to use its considerable influence in Parliament to delay or deflect the proposal once again.
Heigidh is highly SUSPICIOUS of the motives of the Young Crown regime controlling Taneth. While welcoming their efforts to revive spoken Yoku and reinstate the worship of the old Raga pantheon, and even seeing some promise in their rejection of individual liberties (an “Oriental superstition”) in favour of communalism, Heigidh is unable to see past the fact that the Young Crowns gained power by overthrowing their betters, nor their heated rhetoric of spreading the Revolution to other areas of Raguda. Needless to say, any of the Heigidhi youth who have proclaimed sympathy for the Young Crown movement have been most severely punished.
Heigidh is openly DISMISSIVE towards the Republic of Elinhir, Helkori district, and Craglorn district, viewing them as illegal settlements constructed through the unlawful partitioning of parts of the land owned by rights by the Tomba do-Undeing, whose mere presence within the walls of do-Utu Palace is a terrible affront to propriety. Nonetheless, Heigidh has often found itself on the same side as these more conservative Forebears during the many struggles that consume Parliament, necessitating a more diplomatic approach.
Heigidh has an AWKWARD relationship with Tomba do-Nudri, though it is allied with it out of necessity given a lack of better options in modern Raguda. Heigidh suspects that do-Nudri still indirectly blames them for the loss of Dragonstar East, by precipitating the total breakdown of Crown-Forebear relations that characterised the Third Era and left Raguda dangerously exposed and vulnerable, accounting for much of the coldness Heigidhis observe in their dealings with this most rugged of Totambu.
Heigidh is strongly ALLIED with its neighbour Tomba do-Djilein, together forming the common axis of the Old Crown front that has dominated Raguda for long stretches of its history. Latterly the sheen has been taken off this alliance, however, by Heigidh’s acquiescence to the Second Treaty of Stros M’Kai which resulted in the cession of Hew's Bane to the Hyus insurgency. Although Heigidh has robustly defended its actions, comparing them to severing the crushed leg of a friend trapped under a boulder, Djileinis expect Heigidh to make good on its implicit promise to recover the land at a later date, and the longer this is delayed, the more tense relations will become.
Heigidh is openly and proudly HOSTILE to the Empire, the Dominion, Fourth Orsinium, the Hew’s Bane SAR, and the Breton Kingdoms. “In fact,” the old Forebear joke goes, “You'd do better to list the folk they ain't hostile to.”
Utei do-Utu: Named after the inscription carved above its entrance, this immense structure occupies the largest single part of Hegathe. Originally constructed as the Palace of the Uei-utei and their court, and the meeting place of the Litombana, it is a reconstruction (as near as was possible from memory) of the central structure of the royal-funerary complex at the heart of the Yokudan imperial capital of Minn, though the only original component is the jewelled golden spike that graces its summit, which is said to have been found sticking up from the sea by the Migrant Fleet as they searched for survivors. Empty for centuries following the Tiberian Conquest and used as a museum of sorts, it is now home to both chambers of the Ragudan parliament and (in much reduced quarters) the first Uei-utei to be crowned in five hundred years. Humbly, she has so far refused to sit on the Throne of Allal, which is still occupied by the sword of A'tor, regarded by many Heigidhis as the true, ever living Uei-utei.
The House of Quills: the only institution of higher learning to have endured from ancient Yokuda, the House was in fact a rather insignificant body charged with archiving and retrieving the minutes of the Litombana and training new generations of scribes to record it. After the destruction of Yokuda it acquired an altogether more urgent new function of preserving the history and culture of Yokuda, much of it only carried in memory and at imminent risk of extinction. Given the immensity of this task they were inevitably only partially successful, but they still remain the primary source for all pre cataclysm records and the ultimate authority on Yoku lore. Their primary role today lies in the transcription of memory stones that are occasionally dredged up by divers in the Sea of Pearls. They are known as a conservative institution that will only admit “pure” Raga, though they have been known to let scholars of other races access their archives. Post independence, they have demanded that the University of Stonemoor be placed under their direct control.
The Choral College: though the world will never again know the glory of the Rainbow Choir that once sang wondrous displays of colour and light in praise of the gods from the towers of drowned Kongatjana, a few survivors were able to establish this lesser institution on Tamrielic soil. Though knowledge of many Prayer Tones was kept by individual families and forever lost, this college still provides the training for temple singers all over Raguda.
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