Deeza added a topic in Literature - Draft[Book] [Hammerfell] Insults, Slurs and Colloquialisms of the Iliac BayInsults, Slurs and Colloquialisms of the Iliac Bay
44th Edition, University of Gwylim Press
Bastard - the worst of insults to a Breton, very rarely used, implying that they are born out of wedlock and hence are illegitimate. If applied to a noble, it is considered so heinous an insult that it can only be answered by a duel of honor. Conversely, it also exists as a legal term, and those who genuinely are Bastards in law would not take it as an insult. Due to the fact that Raga traditions have no parallel concept of legitimacy, the insult has no sting to a Redguard and hence they take great delight in using it freely against Bretons due to the (perceived) hilariously disproportionate reaction.
Breadguard - informal term for offspring of a Breton and a Redguard (in practice this is restricted to recent descent, and does not apply to populations with mixed ancestry, such as around Sentinel)
Cat - a Khajiit (the more familiar domesticated cat is referred to as grimalkin in Bretony and oselotu in Hammerfell)
Carrion - informal term for a harpy, hagraven or other mythic winged woman-bird hybrid creatures featuring in legends of the Iliac Bay; by extension, a derogatory term for the priestesses of the native religion of the Reachmen
Coldblood - ambiguously derogatory or descriptive term for Saxhleel, enthusiastically taken up by the Iliac Bay Argonian diaspora itself, perhaps due to its perceived similarity to many words and idioms with double (and contradictory) meanings in their own native language
Crone - see “Hag”
Cyrudan - pseudo-Yoku term for an Imperial, used to avoid confusion between the Yoku and “Eastern” Emperors. Also used to refer to the offspring of a Cyrodiilic and a Redguard.
Dhilli/Diili/Dilly - adjective for a person or thing originating from Cyrodiil, and by extension anything Imperial “that dillymade armor there”
Dimkhun - derogatory term for elves, contraction of “dimkhunika” (not like us), the ancient term for the Left-Handed Enemy from Old Yokuda
Direnni - a generic term for the Altmeri colonies established on both sides of the Iliac Bay during the Merethic Era, eventually achieving de facto independence despite being nominal vassals of Alinor. In time, these were all conquered and subdued by a single ruling elven dynasty, the Clan Direnni of Balfiera, and it came to be applied to all Altmer living within their empire (and also, anachronistically, to refer backward in time to those clans before the Direnni completed their conquests)
Dunedweller - colloquial exonym used throughout the Iliac Bay for the many tribal peoples of the Alik’r Desert and Dak’Fron. Often also used by these heterogeneous peoples to describe themselves as a group, as there is no corresponding word in their own languages, only the names of individual tribes and bands
Dune Yoku - the dialect of Yoku spoken by the Dunedwellers, considered to be heavily accented and hard to understand by speakers of other dialects, sometimes used as a derogatory term for a person speaking Yoku in general with poor pronunciation or a heavy accent
Earl of Farrun’s Word - Breton idiom referring to a worthless promise or blatant insincerity, as in “that debt’s as good as the Earl of Farrun’s Word” - a reference to the infamous betrayal of King Aelfisge of Farrun, who killed his own ward who he had sworn a sacred oath to protect
Erdeshi - an indigenous Breton living in northeast Hammerfell, derived from “Irridenti”, the Breton term for this group.
Greenskin - derogatory term for an Orc, in reference to the past practice of displaying tanned Orc hides from executed raiders as a warning to others. Unusually, it is not considered particularly offensive by the famously scatalogical Orcs themselves, as it is considered to be a “pathetic” insult that only the overly sensitive (a very negative trait in their society) would take heed of.
Hag - a witch, usually an elderly one, may be either an insult or an honorific depending on the esteem in which such people are held in the region.
Islander/Insular - an inhabitant of Herne or Cespar, sometimes used neutrally but often carrying insinuations of being rustic, isolated from or ignorant about the outside world
Kin - in Hammerfell, the sum total of all the individuals to which an individual is socially deemed to be related and thus is forbidden from having intercourse with, which does not always correlate with biological relatedness based on various social and religious factors. Note that there is no such thing as degress of kinship - although degrees of relatedness contribute to determining whether kinship exist, in any given individual kinship is either present or it is not
lakataS - the only way permitted by the old Yoku religion to write the name of the dread creator/destroyer deity, forming part of a much larger web of religious practices designed to prevent the drawing of Satakal’s attention and delaying the day that he shall reawaken and devour the world
Lizardman (or simply, Lizard) - common term for Saxhleel in the Iliac Bay region, with no particular offensive connotations
Man - a member of the Mannish race, regardless of sex (contrast wehrman and wohman)
Mara-touched - Breton term for an individual of either sex who exhibits sexual or social behaviour typically associated with the other sex; considered to be blessed by and sacred to Mara, such individuals play a distinct role in Bretic church ritual, traditional cultic beliefs and society
Melon - derogatory term for an orc believed to be excessively deferential to humans and their ways, an allusion to the claim that they are “green outside, pink inside.”
Nedic - a generic term for the indigenous Mannish nations that inhabited various lands surrounding the Iliac Bay prior to Altmeri colonisation
Nobanu - contraction of “not bad for a nudri”, a pseudo-Yoku term invented by Rihadis that is supposedly used by ignorant, inbred denizens of the Helkori Plains to refer to outsiders they do not immediately kill on site, used primarily as part of jokes that portray hel korei as inward-looking and bigoted.
Nudri - a highly controversial term, the connotations of which vary hugely based on by who it is said and to whom. Literally meaning “outside”, it originated from an ancient debate among the Na-Totambu on the laws of war, regarding whether the indigenous humans of Tamriel were to be treated as “like us”, “not like us” (elves) or “monsters” (orcs and other beast races). It was concluded that Tamriel’s Men were none of these, hence “outside”. This ambiguous placement was alternately used to justify their extermination or forcibly assimilating them into Yoku society, depending on the region. These days it is generally considered to be an ethnic slur (except among traditional Crowns, where it remains a legal term), but this is complicated because the erdeshi inhabitants of Sentinel typically use it to refer to themselves, either ironically or descriptively. To muddy the waters further, the only tomba founded on Tamriel also takes this name, both because its founders were “outside” the traditional tomba system and because it was “indigenous” to Tamriel. Raga who consider themselves “modern” will usually use the name of the specific country of origin (“Breton” or “Cyrodiilic”) in preference, usually as a way of expressing their supposedly superior morality and education to “backward” Crowns and “unenlightened” rural Forebears. Despite this vexed history, however, it remains the only term in Yoku for Tamrielic humans in general (a situation made more vexed by “Tamrudan” coming to mean all sentient races), and hence it remains in common usage even among those who would rather consign it to the past.
Nudriman - a softened form of “nudri”, often used affectionately or in an attempt to downplay the negative connotations of the original term
Orient - the lands east of Hammerfell in general, but mostly used to refer to Cyrodiil
Oriental - a person from beyond the East of Hammerfell, especially a Cyrodiilic; by extension, used to refer to Imperial institutions
Peninsular - dismissive Imperial term for “the West” in general (considered as “archaic” or “troublesome”), descriptive of the Bretic and Hammerfellian landmasses jutting out from the main body of the continent
Raggedman - humorous or derogatory Breton term for a Redguard, corruption of “Ra Gada”
Raggedy/Ragged - humorous or derogatory adjective for a thing or person of Redguard origin, based on “raggedman”, itself a corruption of “Ra Gada”
Restless - both a noun and an adverb, term for a stereotypical, conservative Crown with reactionary or warmongering politics, a Forebear insult derived from the original Restless League who fought against the Empire
Satak - derogatory term for the tribes of the Alik’r, based on the insinuation that they all worship Satakal, though in reality this is far from universal among them. Owing to the supposed dreadful consequences of uttering or writing Satakal's name, however, this insult would never be uttered by a traditionalist or pious Redguard
Slattern - Breton term for a woman who is drunk or untidy in appearance (by extension those whose sexual lives are reputed to be “messy”); carries strong class connotations (would never be used to describe a noble, no matter how promiscuous)
Son-of-a-bitch - derogatory term for Camlornites, supposedly due to their being descended from werewolves or carrying the “lycanthropic taint”
S’wit - a foolish or contemptible person, imported via the Dunmeri diaspora in Port Wayrest and now used generally as a slang term in the Iliac Bay towns
Tamruda - the continent of Tamriel, pseudo-Yoku back-formation from “Tamriel” + Yoku suffix “-uda” meaning “home”
Tamrudan - a member of any indigenous Tamrielic race (contrast “nudri”)
Tejeku - old Yoku descriptor for the style of spitting over the shoulder when mentioning the names of the Daedric Princes (supposedly to kill the allegorical horsefly they send hovering over one’s shoulder to report back to them); by extension, applied to the practice of writing their names in reverse to avoid drawing their attention; in modern times, it has become generalised in Hammerfell as a reference to any individual thought to be obsessively or superstitiously religious
Tomba - a traditional unit of Yokudan society, which is still used as an administrative unit in Crown regions of Hammerfell.
Turd - a generally contemptible person, derived from the old Bretic, literally “piece of excrement”
Ultramontane - elite Breton term for a Nordic or a Cyrodiilic person or thing, derived from “beyond the mountains” that separate the Greater Bretic peninsula from the Tamrielic interior
Wehrman - a male Man
Whoreson - aggravated form of Bastard, to be used only in the most dire of circumstances against a truly hated opponent.
Wohman - a female Man
Yoku - (as noun) collective term for the various languages and dialects originating on Yokuda; (as adjective) a person or thing originating from Yokuda; by extension anything Redguard that is considered to be traditional or conservative
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Deeza added a topic in Literature - Draft[Book] [Hammerfell] The Seventh Cylinder SealThe Seventh Cylinder Seal
[This text was found tightly rolled inside a sanctified cylinder seal within the necropolis of Tsakwe-Ksupef, in the southwestern Alik’r, which the archaeological investigations of the Orientals indicate was abandoned amidst an apparently violent struggle in the late First Era. Significantly, it was found within the holy precinct of the Eight Winged Embalmers of Tu’whacca, and appears to be part of a larger sequence.]
The Seventh Warning, then, concerns Queen Khula of Lost Nekré That Is Now Waste, and her love for the Sword-Lord Anthotis, so called for because he was made so not by Sinu blood but by blade-deed, and by the courtship of his queen by sword-riddles. Now in those days a great host of nudri composed of the enemies of the New Kingdom and their crow-witches and snake-maiden matrons came ravaging the fields of the Yoku, and the New Kingdom being beset and their [blood diluted] could not resist this scourge, calling out plaintively to the Yoluku holdings for aid. Thus with weariness did Queen Khula assemble her shieldmaidens and depart the city of Nekré, leaving Lord Anthotis charged with its maintenance. To the fore of the war-front they marched, and were garlanded many times with jasmine and lotus for their valour in driving back the foe. But in their absence a dread plague fell upon the city and people of Nekré, and on the eve of Khula’s greatest triumph her joy was bitter-edged by news that her love Anthotis had fallen sick. Yet to his side she could not return, for the enemy was on the retreat back to their sorcerous citadel in the rusty mountains, and to truly render the New Kingdom safe it was her duty to make pursuit. Through the sleet and darkness, the gorges of hidden ambush and witchcraft-trap they marched, and twice more, messengers came to Khula with dire news from Nekré, that corpses lay in the streets and Lord Anthotis’ condition had worsened.
Yet resolute, and pious was Khula, trusting to the gods who purified her sword so red with blood of the nudri, and remained on her holy war of vengeance. Thus, at length, was the citadel of the sorcerers surrounded and razed to the ground, and the devil-worshipping carrion-maids within beheaded to prevent their souls tormenting the living [as was proper]. With her duty discharged, then, Khula eschewed the usual rites of victory and hurried back to Nekré with all possible haste. With trepidation they approached the city of Nekré, for the sky was dark with the foreboding clouds of funeral pyres, which the Lord Tu’whacca sanctions only in the time of direst need, where no other means of [making the body safe] is to hand. Mercifully, the plague had at last subsided, but as they approached the palace, Khula and her guards beheld the servants openly weeping, and when questioned as to why they did so, tearfully they replied that Anthotis had died just hours before.
Khula was inconsolable in her grief and rage, refusing to leave the side of Anthotis for the seven requisite days of mourning, turning angrily away the priests of the God of Nobody Really Cares each time they attempted to enter the royal chambers and embalm his body for enterment in the catacombs of his ancestors, for being a humble man he had desired to be entombed in the mudbrick village of his birth far from the city. At last Khula relented, and the priests did their work, but refused to honour her love’s dying request, constructing a tomb of gold within her own palace gardens, as she thought it more fitting. There she remained, caring nothing for the devastation of her city, as the plague’s bitter effects still took their full measure, until some said she had gone mad, little spying the steely determination in her eye. And so it was that in the seventy-seventh day, as the scrolls rightly spoke, in her nightly vigil over the golden tomb she saw the hunched figure of Lord Tu’whacca stride out of the shadows to take her love’s soul. With a flying leap, she accosted the god, seemingly so fragile in his skeletally thin visage, but her sword-blows passed through him as if he were made of dust, and he retrieved the soul of Anthotis and strode off quietly into the desert, as if nothing had happened [for he is merciful]. And so Khula furiously pursued him, caring nothing for burning heat by day or freezing cold by desert night, tracking the indefatigable Lord Tu’whacca across dune and dry gulch, boulder and haunted ruin, never failing to match his pace with her own running, until they came beyond the moonless crater filled from one vista to the other with the skulls of the honoured dead, and her quarry reached down to the handle of a mighty trapdoor fashioned from the crowns of long-dead Kings. At last with irritation Lord Tu’whacca turned and addressed his pursuer:
TURN BACK, QUEEN KHULA OF NEKRÉ. YOUR APPOINTMENT WITH ME IS NOT THIS DAY.
VERY WELL. SINCE YOU HAVE DONE WHAT NO OTHER HAS BEFORE, AND FOLLOWED ME THIS FAR, I SHALL DO FOR YOU WHAT I HAVE DONE FOR NO OTHER. I SHALL DRAW BACK THE VEIL, FOR BUT A MOMENT, AND YOU SHALL SPEAK WITH ANTHOTIS ONE LAST TIME.
In that instant, the shade of Anthotis formed from the spark of light held in Lord Tu’whacca’s bony palm, and in a flood Queen Khula poured out the words, all that she had wished to say to him on return from her quest, all her hopes for their future now cut short, every fair thing she had longed to speak to her love. But the shade of Anthotis merely smiled sadly, and said in turn:
“Fair Khula, your words would do me great joy did I live still, but such warm feelings are for the living, not the dead. You have accomplished a mighty thing, to make Lord Tu’whacca relent, even but for a second, but you must content yourself with this. All your strength and arts cannot help me now, but your people are in dire need of your counsel still, and you must go to them. Return to Nekré, tell your people of what you have done here today, and know that our time on this fleeting world-skin is the will of the gods, and that in due course, you shall join me in death once more.”
But at these words Khula’s face twisted with rage, and she grabbed at the spirit of Anthotis, only for it to dissipate between her fingers. Furious at this injustice, she spat on Lord Tu’whacca.
“For all my years I have served you and your kind, for these long past months I have poured out my people’s blood to slaughter the enemies of the gods, even as my city perished, and this is my reward! No more shall I light lamps in your name, no more will I burn sacrifices in your honour. Never again in Nekré shall your rites be performed, I shall deny the souls of my people respite until they clamour on your doors for salvation and their cries shall resound through the Far Shores so loudly even you cannot bear to hear them and give me back my love!”
SO BE IT.
And with that, faster than even the trained eye of the Queen could see, Lord Tu’whacca whipped open his trapdoor and descended to the underground river he sails to the sea, leaving Khula quite alone in the desert’s heart, and try with all her might as she did, she could not open it again.
In bitter grief and crushed hopes, Queen Khula trudged back to Nekré, and was good to her word, driving the priests of Lord Tu’whacca from the city and banning his rites. When the people protested and came to his temple in secret to bless the bodies of their kin, mumbling words hastily under the light of the moon, Queen Khula ordered the temple demolished. When the horrified royal architects refused to do this blasphemous thing, Khula turned to her guards, whose love for her was so great they would follow her through any folly, and ordered the siege engines of her army turned upon Lord Tu’whacca’s shrine. As the missiles pounded through the ancient stone, the lintel split and a terrible groan was heard throughout the city of Nekré, and whispers spread through the land that the city had become accursed. Folk began to flee, and soon all had left save those most loyal to the Queen and to the memory of Anthotis. Khula cared not, for her will was iron, and in all her days she had never been turned aside by obstacles no matter how severe. Through the half-empty streets of Nekré she had her guards carry the mummy of Anthotis on a golden palanquin to the ruins of the temple, and called out to the god of the dead:
“Just this one small thing, I ask you! And I shall relent - I swear it! I shall rebuild your temple, ten times as large and as grand as before, and I shall sacrifice to you every day for the rest of my life, and ordain in the laws of Nekré that this should be done ever after, all this I swear upon my honour and my soul - if you shall give me back my love!”
But it was not Lord Tu’whacca’s voice who answered her from the rubble. It was a voice she knew not, from any of the lore of the gods, a cold whisper, such that she shivered even in the blazing midday heat.
“Oh brave Queen Khula, who dares joust with my Enemy, that ragged wastrel is unworthy of the prayers of one such as you. For you have done a great thing for me, by breaking down this bastion of my Enemy, and I shall do a great thing for you in turn.”
“Who are you?” the Queen answered, commanding the spirit to speak its name.
“My name is not important, but know we are alike. What others beg leave for, I command. I am the breacher of the sealed passages. I am the one who knows intimately the ways that others will not. I am that which will not be denied.”
In spite of herself, even mighty Khula shivered as she guessed the truth.
“You are Malua Iba.”
“You name me truly, and I am yours,” whispered the demon, “Say what you will, and I shall grant it. Even that which you most deeply desire. Even that which all refuse.”
Even Khula’s guards looked at their Queen with horror, seeing the indecision on her face, knowing and fearing what she might ask.
“You know me well, demon,” answered Khula at length, “But do not tempt me with false promises. What you offer cannot be done. I have seen myself the strength of Lord Tu’whacca, and you have no power over the wards he has placed over the dead.”
“Oh pretty mortal, I am the master of pushing through barriers others erect. There is no resistance I cannot overcome. It is true, that I am barred from the land of the dead since I was never born, but a mortal, under my guidance… it has never been tried, but perhaps such a thing can be done... well, no ordinary mortal, surely, but you have already done what no other ever could before...”
That was enough for Queen Khula, whose longing for Anthotis and hatred of Lord Tu’whacca had overcome her fear of the gods.
“Then what price would you ask, demon?”
“None, for as I said, you have already done me a great service. I would ask only that you never reconstruct this bastion of my Enemy who has treated you so shamefully. This is not a thing I have offered any other mortal. Choose quickly, for I shall not ask again.”
“No words! It is blood that binds the pact you seek!”
Khula drew her knife, and even her guards fled crying out prayers to the gods, sending the mummy of Anthotis crashing to the ground, where its casket broke and bandages scattered across the rubble of the temple steps. Calmly the Queen approached it, with not a word to those who had deserted her, and drew the blade across her arm, letting her crimson lifeblood fall onto the mummy, and watching the stain spread across its bandages.
A freezing wind howled through the temple, forming frost in streaks across the stone, as the ground shuddered as if in terror, and the black iron plumbline with which the demon communes with its spawn in the ocean depths of the world smashed down through the sky and tore a gaping wound into the Far Shores. With steely eyed resolve, Queen Khula leapt upon the chain, and climbed its length into the sky, heedless of its freezing surface, even as the winged servants of Ruptga took to the skies to heal the breach. With sword drawn Khula beat them off, even as they tried to drag her off the chain and hurl her back to earth, but she would not be deterred, raining blows upon their golden-armoured forms and scattering feathers which fell like showers of fish-scales to the earth far below. Despite their efforts, Khula climbed as if in a frenzy, and at last threw her arms across the threshold of the land of the dead and drew herself up across the Far Shores, where no foot of the living had ever trodden before, beholding it as nothing but a mist of stars and sand. At her approach the land of the dead shuddered and trembled at the violation, the wound opened by the demon splitting and spreading and vomiting forth tainted starlight upon the city of Nekré far below. But the demon’s aim had been true, for Khula beheld again the shade of Anthotis, who looked up from his dreamlike state as one rudely awakened, staring at his love, covered in dust, ash and streaked with her own blood, in a state of undiminished horror.
“My Queen!” he shrieked, “What have you done? You must return to the living at once! This is now my abode, for I have died at the appointed time! You know not what you do!”
But Khula seized him roughly, and this time her hands, imbued with the foul strength of the demon, grasped deep into his shade, as Anthotis cried out in a pain that the land of the dead had never before known.
“Never! For your heart is mine, and you belong to me now and forever. I have been denied your embrace for far too long, and you shall never again escape me.”
Anthotis struggled, clinging to the stars of his ancestors which had guided him to his resting place, but he was but a shade, his strength a mere fraction of that of the living. Step by step, fending off the servants of Tu’whacca with one hand and dragging her love with the other, Khula drew the shade of Anthotis to the ragged edge of the wound, and even the stars hid their eyes, for they knew that what was about to happen could never be undone. With his final, anguished shriek, Khula pried the fingers of Anthotis away from the sand of the Far Shores and cast him out into the world, leaping afterward and clinging to the chain as a terrible sound and chorus of screams erupted behind her. The wound in the world bulged and sagged, tearing asunder as the veil collapsed and a howling storm of the spirits of the dead poured through. Instantly every living thing in the city of Nekré was slain, the very breath of life sucked from their bodies. The earth cracked, swallowing the city, and the streams and rivers that had fed its fields were turned to dry dust. Belatedly, the winged servants of Ruptga sewed tight the wound, and bound it with stars, casting the plumbline of the demon back into the void between the worldskins, but the damage had been done.
Buried beneath the still-trembling, earth, the mummy of Anthotis convulsed, and wheezed dust and salt. Its limbs contorted far beyond the bounds of its natural joints, lurching up to the surface through the cracks and slabs of broken stone, a parody of life animated by an unnatural thirst. When at length Queen Khula dug herself out from under rubble and beheld what she had wrought, it was only with difficulty that she could look upon the face of what had once been her beloved. Only at length, after it had coughed and wheezed its dried lungs empty of the embalming crystals, did it look at her with dead eyes and speak:
“An eternity of curses upon you, witch! For you have cursed me to this half-life, this living death, and brought ruin upon all your kingdom for naught!”
“For you, Anthotis!” cried out the Queen of the Kingdom that was reduced to dust, “I did all this for the love of you!”
“Then know that there is nothing in my shrivelled heart but hate for you, my Queen, for you have dragged me from heaven and cast me into hell.”
So filled with rage was Khula at his words that she drew her sword, still stained with the blood of Ruptga’s chosen, and struck the monster’s head from its shoulders, cleaving the still-writhing body into fragments, and burying each separately amid the ruins of Nekré. But the evil she had released upon the world could not be undone by any mortal arts, and as she buried the head it taunted her, speaking of the moments they had shared as lovers, and cruelly mocking her present state. When at last she had cast enough sand upon the severed head to silence its screams, Khula was wracked with grief and anguish, addressing the shattered temple of Lord Tu’whacca and berating the demon that now lurked within. The demon chided her, saying:
“It is no use, frail Queen, to regret what has been done, for I gave you all that you demanded. You have done a glorious thing this day, placed among the greatest legends of your people, to cast down my Enemy from his haughty perch, and shown the world that the arrogant proclamations of the immortal gods, who stare down serenely as those they proclaim to love suffer and die, count for not against the determination of Raga steel to cut into heaven.”
Khula was unconvinced by the demon’s reasoning.
“If my cause was truly righteous, then why does my victory cause me such pain?”
The demon’s voice was almost tender.
“The pain, my child, is not on account of your act, but of the chains that bind you mortals to each other, the fires of passion that stir in your breasts. For this is the most terrible gift of the unworthy ones you call gods, that you may desire one another without measure, but the time that they permit you shall always be finite, such that your desire may never be quenched. The spirit that is I, contests this cruelty of the gods, for my sphere is the cold sea in which all such fires may be drowned, a gift I offer freely to all I lay eyes upon, without demanding you wheedle and grovel for the meagerest favours as they presume to do. To so give is my essence, regardless of whether those upon whom I impress my light see wisdom in it.”
Khula looked up to the broken pillars of the temple with her dust-streaked face that had never known tears before the passage of Anthotis, and wished for nothing more than for it all to end, for the destruction of her city and the ruination of her beloved at her own hands would torment her to the end of her days, and even ever after, were she to somehow gain forgiveness from the gods and earn passage to the Far Shores, for Anthotis could now never again await for her there.
“Then I beg of you, demon, if you are generous as you say you are, take away my pain. I do not want this heart that grieves me so.”
And the demon smiled, for at once Khula’s heart was emptied, and every drop of kindness and compassion was replaced with icy lust for power and a hunger that could never be sated by the heart of any mortal thing upon the earth or in heaven above, first of the undying raka.
And it is said that she dwells still in the desert to this day, ceaselessly seeking the thrill of the night-hunt and the torment of the living to spare her mind for one more moment from the knowledge of what she has become. All who dwell on the desert’s edge make the sign of Lord Tu’whacca upon their tents and door before sleeping to ward off her attentions, and all lovers under whatever star must ward themselves most carefully, for she will come to them in dreams and twist their hearts so she may dwell within them and turn the fire within their breasts to cold chains of command. And for those so ensnared the garden of love shall become a cage of longing and fear, to which after long years of suffering Khula shall appear and offer damnation as escape. Cleave fast to the wisdom of Morwha, show humility before her commandments, know your own unworthiness, and that the soul of another is an undeserved gift, and you will surely be spared.
As for Lost Nekré, it remains to this day under the desert, save for those foolish Raga who sought its buried treasures in defiance of the warnings of the priests, who delved there and were consumed by the evil buried within. Those so enslaved dig ceaselessly amid the wastes, seeking among all the grains of sand in the Alik’r those flesh-gobbets of their lord Anthotis buried so long ago, that at last one day he shall be brought together again at his buried tomb in what was once the gardens of Nekré, to be restored to his full power and pursue his war of vengeance against Khula and her servants. And on that day a dread darkness shall blot out the sun over Raguda, and all the entombed dead of Nekré and fouled spirits sundered from the Far Shores shall rise and make war upon the living, [and this shall be the third of the signs that lakataS has awoken, and that the time of this world has come to an end.]
In conclusion, the Seventh Warning is this: there is not, not can there be, a love that conquers death, for a love that conquers is no such thing, and its truest joy lies in surrender to another. Mortals, fear the gods, and know that timely death is a blessing, for it marks the embarkation to the Far Shores for the virtuous, and torment on stormy seas for the impious and the wicked.
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Deeza added a topic in HammerfellPrimer: RihadThe Republic of Rihad
Feudal Rank: Forebear Republic
Colors: Ultramarine and turquoise
Knightly Order: 5th Battalion of the National Guard; the Republican Militia
Size: about the same size as a “standard” TES5 vanilla city.
Architecture: Tamriel Rebuilt Rihad set.
Theme: The spiritual home and undisputed capital of the Forebear movement. Such is the dominance of the popular image of Heigidh and the Isles as the ancient heartland of the Crowns and repository of Raguda’s traditions, that even many Raga forget that their perennial opponents may also claim a lineage and foundation of equal, if not greater antiquity (indeed, such is the source of their name, the Forebears). Disparate and conflicted though the hydra-headed modern Forebear movement may be, all acknowledge their common source in the “dear old streets of the Mother of Republics”, the dusky city of Rihad. This is where their founding heroes walked, where the very idea of a Forebear was first debated, fought for and defined, and the wellspring of the centuries-long cultural and political campaign to overthrow the dominance of the ancient Tomba system and ensure every free Raga lineage, not just the illustrious few, had the right to be heard in the courts of the realm, a goal that only achieved its fulfilment in living memory. Though many of the more radical moderns may find the city shabby, old-fashioned and lacking in vision, to deny the city’s continued relevance is to deny the Forebear movement itself; for every step the Grand Old Cause has taken originated in Rihad.
Rihad was named for the martyred hero of the Ra Gada, Rijad do-Undeing, an ansei of the now-extinct Undeing Tomba who once held the lands on which the city is built. Rijad was slain fighting the Nedes (or perhaps Orcs, the records are uncertain) at the Battle of Mount Corten, and in light of her great sacrifice Rijad’s name was chosen by her renowned cousin Franjir Undeing to grace the capital of his newly conquered territory.
I. Ancient Yokuda
Rihad’s history and development are intimately ties to the fortunes of a group of whom, ironically, there is little trace in the modern city. The majority of Rihad’s population are descended from the clans and affiliates of Tomba do-Undeing, an ancient polity from the North-western arid regions of Yokuda known today as Asos Kazaz, after the sole remnant of them that remains above water. Our records of Undeing Tomba are fragmentary and much of what little can be gleaned about its early history can only be guessed at from the marginalia of the biographies of its two most famous ansei, Franjir do-Undeing and Divad the Singer. What is known is that Undeing Tomba was a powerful and numerous force, never dominant but able at several points to tip the balance of power in favour of its chosen allies. It is tempting to look for antecedents of Rihad’s future culture even at this early stage, as there are certainly superficial similarities. The seed of scepticism towards hereditary rule, for example, seems to have been sown particularly early. We learn, for instance, that members of Tomba do-Undeing were supporters and high-ranking officers of the regime of Mansel Sesnit, a general of the Yokudan armies who, embarrassed at the lack of leadership in the then-constant wars with the Lefthanders, overthrew the feeble Uei-utei Tupaj and proclaimed himself Edun-Yokeda (“generalissimo”), suspending the Litombana and ruling as military dictator for eight years. Following Mansel’s assassination, Undeing Tomba were purged from government by the coup leader and successor Edun-Yokeda Randiq do-Torn, who infamously banned its members from carrying swords, a heinous affront to Yoku conceptions of honour. In retaliation the Undeing promptly defected to do-Torn’s enemies, ironically supporting the rebellion and eventual coronation of Loput do-N’iokkar, who revived the monarchy and took the regnal name of Uei-utei Allal in what became known as the Minn Restoration, after the ancient city to which the capital was relocated from Randiq’s destroyed fortress.
It was into this febrile atmosphere that the Tomba’s most famous son, Franjir do-Undeing, was born. Contrary to many hagiographies, though noble-born, Franjir was not the son of an Utei of his Tomba, or even the scion of a particularly important sinos. Rather, his distinction came from his idiosyncratic approach to the Way of the Spirit Sword - the Shehai - his skill at wielding which soon became almost as famous as the impetuous and argumentative nature which prevented him from rising further in the peerage of his Tomba. Far from the warrior legend he was ultimately to become, Franjir started out as an intellectual who began his career with a characteristically bold entry into a philosophical debate that was then bitterly dividing the ansei of Yokuda. This concerned the infamous Eighty-eighth Posit of Bwisse do-M’duw, which proposed a thought experiment in which, by progressively focusing the shehai, one could cut a portion of matter into successively smaller pieces until one reached a fragment which was too small to cut, the atomos which, Bwisse maintained, was identical with the fundamental binding links of the laws of nature. Bwisse further posited that if the shehai could be further refined, generating a blade of negative thickness, the atomos itself could be cut, creating a localised rupture of those same forces with obvious military applications. Bwisse’s conjecture, only discovered among his collected papers many years after the famous philosopher’s death, aroused fevered debate across the Yokudan world, sparking fierce debates and many duels of intellectual honour. After it eventually drew the attention of Uei-utei Allal himself, a secretive conclave at Adjata Mesa was convened to further study the possibility that such a force could be invoked as a final weapon against the Lefthanders, to which Franjir, as an already renowned if unorthodox ansei, was invited to contribute.
Unlike the other critics of the project, who doubted its feasibility or even whether such a thing was philosophically possible, Franjir was utterly convinced of the theorem’s veracity. His objection was at once simpler and far more disturbing: were the atomos to be cut, the forces that held it together so strongly that they made it almost impossible to sunder would be instantaneously and uncontrollably set free. The quantities of energy released would be literally incalculable: impossible to direct or control, it could just as easily inflict devastation on the wielder as upon the target, and perhaps even more so. The risks of using such an unpredictable and potent weapon were simply too high to justify. In its place, he proposed an alternative theorem of his own devising, one which could be directed with far more precision but which would, if performed correctly, result in the deaths of twelve ansei, then more valuable to the ruling Na-Totambu caste than their weight in gold or diamonds; a maneuver he named with typical flourish as the “Twenty-seven Snake Folk Slaughter”. Franjir was immediately denounced as a sadistic fantasist for his conjecture, although over the years none of his ansei critics were able to disprove the fundamental vector mathematics of his proposal. If anything, with hindsight it would appear that his projections were too mild. If only the assembled ansei of Adjata had listened, they might have been persuaded to abandon their folly and burn Bwisse’s treatise, and Yokuda would perhaps still stand to this day. But it is an Oriental indulgence to debate mere possibilities. As it was, Franjir noted with increasing frustration and alarm that his warnings were falling on deaf ears, and left the Adjata project in great haste and on very acrimonious terms, racing back to his homeland ahead of the anticipated test of the weapon. But he did not go back alone. He brought with him a small child, whose parentage nobody ever dared to ask but eventually all came to know as Franjir’s son, Divad.
We catch only tantalising glimpses of the longest period of his life that followed. We hear that upon his return Franjir introduced many reforms to Undeing Tomba, distributing its population more thinly even if it meant receding into the desert, and exhaustively mapping the Tomba’s considerable underground cave systems. Whilst these were enacted, Franjir himself stayed scribbling in his cave, ceaselessly working on formulae in an attempt to disprove the thesis that haunted him, or failing that, at least discover locations within Undeing where its effects could be sheltered from. Meanwhile, the “all-cutting-ruler-sword” he had warned against would be developed, its potentially catastrophic testing in the Wastes of Ratiche only averted at the last moment through years of tireless campaigning by the more conciliatory ansei (and rising royal counsellor) Diagna, who was able to convince Uei-utei Allal to commit instead to Franjir’s more costly but predictable alternative. It was, then, to Franjir’s cave that messengers came, riding from Na-Totambu sympathetic to Undeing, to inform him that he had been triumphantly vindicated and the Lefthander realm laid waste, the effect of the Snake-Folk Slaughter exceeding even his most drastic projections. And yet, even this was not the most urgent news they carried. Uei-utei Allal was on his deathbed, and they required a candidate to stand for election against his proposed successor, Soq do-Zemam. As the ultimate inspiration of the ritual that saved Yokuda, Franjir had the necessary renown to be considered, and they argued at length that his prophetic warnings on the risks of the Pankratosword had shown he could provide the kind of farsighted leadership that Yokuda required. Franjir reluctantly allowed himself to be pressured into agreeing, more out of a deep personal dislike of Soq and determination to block him than a serious desire for power. Though enjoying considerable support, Franjir’s candidacy was ultimately unsuccessful, leading him to denounce the proceedings as a sham and a waste of his time, leaving the capital and vowing never again to leave his cave.
The newly crowned Uei-utei Hira was understandably fearful of the power demonstrated by the ansei in the Snake Folk Slaughter, and his pride was bitterly wounded by Franjir’s refusal to endorse him, as was the custom for defeated candidates. This led him to pursue an unwise and vengeful campaign of legal and paramilitary persecution against the ansei class, which fell with particular harshness on Undeing Tomba. In retaliation, the Undeing clans launched raids on Hira’s proxies, sparking an escalating cycle of violence that Hira accused Franjir (and not, for once, without good reason) of orchestrating from his cave. But Franjir remained unmoved by Hira’s taunts and demands that he present himself to answer the accusations against him at Minn. It was clear that more drastic action would be required to force him to show his hand, and, convinced by this stage that Undeing Tomba was the locus of all resistance to his increasingly weak rule, Hira found one.
As countless tales retell (often with fanciful embellishments) Divad had grown into a rebellious young man who rejected the stern discipline of his father that would have set him on the path to becoming an ansei, despite his precocious talent in this area. Word reached Minn that the son of Franjir had left the Tomba do-Undeing to wander Yokuda, and Hira recklessly dispatched agents to track Divad down and apprehend him. Legend tells that they finally found Divad giving a recital in the territory of the Hira-sympathetic Tomba do-Juthu, colluding with his hosts to capture Divad and bind him in chains, parading him before the court of the local Utei. This was unprecedented. Regardless of title, by his reputation alone Franjir was widely considered a de facto Itei of Undeing Tomba. Never before had a reigning Uei-utei disregarded the protocols of hospitality to such an extent, nor publicly humiliated the heir to a rival tomba’s most revered champion in such a shameless fashion. Already frustrated and rebellious after years of misrule, Tomba do-Undeing and its considerable number of allies reached boiling point as news of the outrage spread. “The arch must fall!” went up the rallying cry across the deserts and canyons of the northwest (a pun on Soq’s regnal name Hira, intended to connote sturdy stability but quickly becoming a target of ridicule). Despite early victories such as the capture of Qudi, the initial weeks of the uprising were largely spontaneous and had no overall strategy, waiting for the one they considered to be the Uei-utei in waiting to come to lead them - a problem, as Franjir remained bound by his vow to never again leave his cave. Many legends are told of what finally persuaded Franjir to enter the fray. Some say that Ruptga himself challenged Malooc in order to release him from his vow. Others tell that Divad escaped from his bonds (or was freed by the gods, or other heroes) and duelled his father into submission with the shehai, forcing him to take command. The less romantic believe that it was only with his son no longer held hostage, that Franjir was at last free to take up arms against Hira without fear of reprisal. But whatever the case, Franjir proved to be a capable general who amply justified his followers’ faith in his abilities, though his prospects were boosted considerably by the defection of his old ally Diagna and his Tomba do-Heigidh, who provided much-needed political guile to supplement his tactical killer instinct. Together they conceived a grand strategy to lure Hira out of his impregnable fortress at Minn, slowly drawing out his forces through a series of seven battles, each of which they intentionally lost, tactically retreating further until, at last, their armies appeared to be cornered at Mount Hattu - knowing that the insecure Hira would be unable to resist the opportunity to crush the rebels personally and firmly stamp his authority upon Yokuda. The bait was taken, with Hira departing from Minn with the bulk of his personal guard, the Hiradirj, and launching a full assault on Mount Hattu. Little did the unwise emperor know that the rebels had cunningly dissembled their true numbers, and the army he thought he faced on the slopes of the Mount was in truth only half of their force - the “Anvil” of legend - the remaining “Hammer” had scattered into the surrounding countryside only to regroup once Hira’s armies had engaged. Like metal in a blacksmith’s forge, the imperial armies were flattened between the force of the twin armies, and Hira’s power was forever broken, beginning a long and bloody retreat back to Minn where his weakened allies were unable to resist the final rebel assault.
Sweet though Franjir’s belated vengeance undoubtedly was, he was far too astute to believe that his troubles would be ended once he personally dispatched Hira with a single decapitating blow. In his war to preserve the dignity of his people, he had wrought untold destruction upon the Yokudan Empire, bringing it to the brink of collapse and making countless enemies on top of the not small number he already possessed. Although his ecstatic followers demanded that the “injustice” of the election be set right, and Franjir be appointed Uei-utei, he graciously refused, knowing that a man who was “sweet balm to half of Yokuda, and poison to the other” could never hope to reunite its people. Franjir had been the ideal man to lead the armies of the righteous, but he humbly understood that he lacked the temperament to heal an empire racked by civil war. Thus he cast the immense weight of his endorsement behind his old friend Diagna, pledging to serve as his counsellor, general and enforcer, an arrangement that quickly led to the pair becoming known as “the Crown” and “the Sword” respectively. As all know, Diagna’s reign over Yokuda was brief but eventful. Large numbers of the Hiradirj remained in control of swathes of the country, and still other Totambu had risen in revolt against Diagna’s uncontested coronation. Though many factions were bought off by Diagna’s legendary skills of persuasion, others remained implacably hostile and would only respect force, though none suspected just how far the most loyal of Hira’s followers would go in their resistance. Franjir and the armies of do-Undeing spent much of those years in battle against insurgents far from their homeland, and it was whilst Franjir was away on one such expedition to quell rebellion in southern Moketa that the defeated and desperate Hiradirj took the ultimate act of vengeance and performed the forbidden Pankratosword. Perhaps they did so out of sheer blind hatred, perhaps in their folly they believed they could control and focus its destructive properties. But whatever their motives the consequences werethe same. They cut the atomos, sundered the uncuttable, and Yokuda sank beneath the waves.
The land of Undeing took the full force of the catastrophe, as the Lay of Asos Kazaz records:
“The mountains crumbled like sand,
A killing wind blew from the south,
Searing the flesh of man and beast,
And burning proud cities to ruin.”
Franjir himself was swallowed by a vast chasm that opened up to engulf his army, and the survivors of Tomba do-Undeing were separated by flash floods and huge sinkholes as “the spine of the land that was their home folded like paper, the ground fell away beneath their feet and water rushed in to fill the gap.” Nevertheless, the precautions put in place decades ago at the request of Franjir were at least partially successful. Many Undeingis survived the collapse and inundation by hiding in remote areas, or were sheltered from the initial blast in the walls of their canyon cities, and when Diagna began his mournful circuit of the ruins of Yokuda to assemble the Migrant Fleet, more of them had survived by numbers than for any other Tomba, a relief that was doubled when, against all the odds, Franjir managed to claw his way back up out of the maze of crevasses beneath the earth and return to his people, taking up with uncharacteristic solemnity the vacant position of Utei do-Undeing. A funeral at sea was held over seven days for all the drowned members of the Tomba, before at last they left their homeland forever, grateful that although tragic, their fate did not compare with the devastation wrought on Diagna’s neighbouring Tomba do-Heigidh. So anxious was Franjir that his oldest friend’s name should not perish into the dust that he insisted Divad, who held by god-magic and trickery the blood of both Totambu, formally renounce Undeing and cleave instead to the Tomba of his mother, so that he might one day serve as Diagna’s successor.
II. The Founding
Franjir would go on to save the Migrant Fleet numerous times on its crossing, as the legends tell, slaying the Necrarch of Thras, winning riddle-games with Sep and dragging the Ship of Souls up out of the cold maw of Malua Iba, but in truth such adventures were mere prologue; for on the shores of a new continent, his story was only beginning. As the first reports filtered back to Herne of a great parched land to the east, there could only be one choice for the general who would lead their armies. Though in the event, Franjir would not be permitted to lead alone, he nevertheless after countless battles recorded in song acquired for his pains impressive territorial rights over the newly conquered lands; in the words of the final Settlement of the Mktulu do-chaing du-alimati cha do-chaing du-gadi; literally “at the break of the dunes and the waves”, the region beyond the searing desert that was quickly named Alik'r after the dread god who surely guarded it. With the benefit of hindsight, this might seem a rather raw deal, for it left the Franjirmktulu ringed by desert to the west and hemmed in by mountains filled with indigenous enemies of implacable hostility to the east, from Free Colovia in the south to the Orcs and Reach-men in the north, whilst the fertile and secure crescent of the eastern shore was demised exclusively to the Divadmktulu (the lands taken by Divad’s rival army). Yet it must be remembered that at the time this bargain was struck, the true size and nature of Tamriel was unknown, and indeed in terms of sheer quantities of land promised, Franjir might well have gotten the better end of the pact.
Indeed for the first few years, it appeared as if the rise of Undeing Tomba from the ashes of Yokuda would be unstoppable. They swept across the east of Volenfell, spawning the epithet “Warrior Wave” - Ra Gada - in an epic poem composed by the court praise-singers on Hirne to celebrate Franjir’s string of hard-fought victories against the orcs and witch-elves of the Volenfell interior. Too many battles and explorations worthy of legend were fought to recount them all in the limited space of this guide (indeed, they have been amply documented elsewhere). The prospect of a vast empire within the interior of Tamriel became a serious possibility, prompting many of the Na-Totambu advising Uei-utei Diagna to revisit the wisdom of allocating the Mktulu in a way so advantageous to Undeing Tomba. However, following the destruction of the last major Nedic stronghold in central Craglorn, Franjir, perhaps sensitive to these concerns, decreed a period of consolidation before renewing the push eastwards through the mountains surrounding Volenfell. He selected a site for the new capital of Tomba do-Undeing, named in honor of his martyred cousin, at the mouth of the River Brena, and summoned the Na-Totambu of Undeing and generals of his armies to his newly constructed palace by the riverbank (centuries of silting having since left it far inland). Many of the decrees he issued at this conference were uncontroversial, and followed generations of established Undeing precedent when dealing with the spoils of conquest. But there was one decree in particular, announced during the final and most-anticipated session on land division, which stunned even some of his lifelong companions and, though even his great intelligence could not have foreseen its full consequences, would prove to be one of the most significant turning points, possibly even the defining event, of Ragudan history.
Despite, or perhaps because of, his blue-blooded aristocratic lineage and privileged upbringing as a member of the ansei caste, Franjir do-Undeing was at heart a populist. He had fought and practiced his arts for decades to earn the respect and leadership of his people, and had overthrown an emperor to place his nation as the pre-eminent Tomba on Yokuda, only for it all to be destroyed in an instant, forcing him to begin again from scratch to forge a new power base on the shores of Tamriel. He therefore had no patience for deference to ancient bloodlines or even a modicum of respect for any authority which had not been proven through steel and cunning. In his increasingly irascible old age, he often shocked the impeccably courteous ansei of his Tomba by adopting the coarse language of a low-caste warrior when dressing down Na-Totambu who had displeased him, seeming to take a perverse delight in the outrage he caused. It was perhaps in this same spirit that he made his famous pronouncement that although, as was his right, he would claim for Undeing Tomba those lands now referred to as Goldmoor, he would relinquish his right by conquest over a vast area of territory in the interior to his hel korei, officer veterans of his many campaigns, many of them landless and untitled, drawn from the lower castes, remnants of lost Totambu destroyed by the deluge, or dregs from outside the tomba system altogether. No small part of Franjir’s prodigious military success had been due to a scandalous disregard for the ancient tradition of appointing only members of the most prominent sinu to command, preferring the ruthlessness and desire to prove oneself that was instilled by a hard life into the hel korei. He had known many of these officers personally for many years and shed so much blood alongside them and their men, that he considered them family. Accordingly, he divided his conquests between his own tomba and the veterans of his army, granting them their own plots of private land in recognition of their long service. This is why the plains north of Mount Corten are called to this day the "Helkori Plains", after the smallholders who settled and came to dominate these new territories. Needless to say, the Na-Totambu of Undeing were apoplectic at such unheard-of generosity, but none dared to challenge the decree of Franjir, as he had offered to duel any who dissented. Despite his advanced age, his legendary prowess with the shehai would have rendered any such challenge simply suicidal, and besides, raising a hand against a man regarded by many as a manifestation of the divine HoonDing risked incurring the wrath of the gods.
As for the land kept for the Undeing Tomba itself by the coast, aside from the land reserved for the city of Rihad itself, Franjir made three further, less radical decrees, doing little more than consistently applying special dispensations given in the past, but which would also prove to be of historic significance. First, all those subjects of the tomba settled on the common farms of Goldmoor would have the right to keep a portion of their own produce to consume or sell as they pleased, rather than depositing it all in the communal granaries for distribution. Second, every veteran of the Ra Gada and their descendants, no matter their rank, would have the right in perpetuity to petition the Undeing Tombana Ba for the redress of grievances (over time, through intermarriage, this would in practice include the large majority of the population of the tomba). And third, Franjir enshrined in tomba law his own custom that any officers of the Army of Undeing could only gain their commission by promotion through the ranks, with no exceptions on account of bloodline. Thus, even from the start, the new territory was marked by a far more pronounced egalitarianism than the more traditional totambu to the west, with a significant prospect of advancement based on personal prowess (a military necessity in the constant wars against the indigenous peoples of Tamriel). Many of the families afforded the right to keep part of their produce sold it for cash in the markets of Rihad, using the proceeds to establish cottage industries of their own, freeing them from dependence on the Na-Totambu’s control over the common resources of the tomba. With their power thus weakened, the tombana ba were much less able to resist the petitions of their subjects, especially once these became increasingly organised into informal groups to add the weight of numbers to their demands. Where many in Heigidh and Djilein saw folly in these changes, fearing (correctly, as it turned out) they would lead to the destablisation of the tomba system (Diagna himself supposedly questioning whether his oldest friend had become senile in his dotage), Franjir saw these new tensions he had created as a source of resilience, at least if his brief and only surviving treatise on domestic politics, Commentary on the Laws of Rihad, is to be believed. In this, he states that only through adversity had Undeing become powerful, and its institutions would need to be constantly challenged and refined, if the tomba was to maintain and extend its power into the future and realise his dream of universal conquest of Tamriel and the eradication of all its native peoples.
III. The First Era
With his life’s work far from complete, Franjir died soon afterwards in mysterious circumstances. Some posit that he was assassinated by Na-Totambu angered by his decrees. Official hagiographies proclaim that he finally achieved his heart’s desire, after years of prayer, of being able to test his skill with the blade against his patron goddess Makela Leki herself, standing against her for longer than any mortal before or since, before she ended his appointed time on earth with a single, almost gentle swipe of her sword. Regardless of the truth, his death left a gaping hole at the heart of Undeing Tomba, with a magnificent tomb constructed for him (its location, sadly, now lost) and a full decade of national mourning decreed by Uei-utei Diagna. Since his only son, Divad, had renounced his father’s tomba to serve as heir to the greatly depleted Tomba do-Heigidh of his mother, another cousin, Prajal do-Undeing, was elected the new Utei. Feeling unworthy of Franjir’s legacy, he declined further conquests and chose to continue the phase of consolidation, building a prosperous base to help Undeing replenish its numbers and strength after decades of near-continuous campaigning. The result was that under Prajal and his successors, the social changes Franjir had unleashed would continue to take root and develop further. Naturally, the Na-Totambu immediately sought to try to reverse Franjir’s final decrees, but were continually frustrated by successive Utu, who saw in Franjir’s populist legacy a most powerful check upon the ambitions of over-mighty aristocracy. The common folk of the tomba were themselves by no means idle in this process, exploiting their right of petition to inflame the divisions and infighting of the Na-Totambu to frequently powerful effect, and enlisting the increasingly powerful and autonomous free settlers of the Helkori (with which they shared much in common) to support their cause.
Thus, contrary to its subsequent image as a place of measured deliberation and careful bargaining, the early history of Rihad was a rowdy and frequently violent epoch in which the wider struggle that would, centuries later, divide all of Raguda was fought out in miniature within the bounds of the city. The lower castes deployed all their ingenuity to lever open the crack in the ancient system of privileges and deference that had been opened by Franjir, whilst the Na-Totambu tried with all their might to seal it shut. It was during this period that the term “Forebear” came into existence, though it had connotations very different from those it would later acquire. It began as a kind of insult by omission (it being severely punished to directly impugn higher castes), the implication being that those whom it described (the lower-caste descendants of Ra Gada warriors) had done the hard work of conquering Volenfell while the Na-Totambu (who had only later arrived) had been fanned by servants at the royal courts on the island of Herne, whilst also being a play on the ancient lineages that supposedly proved the superiority of the higher castes. Sometimes, the struggles between the two could be worked out peaceably, with the Sinos do-Undeing (the line of Franjir) acting as mediator, by so doing preserving its own power. But the slow, steady erosion of the old Yoku caste barriers did not come about without significant bloodshed, with mob riots in the streets, uprisings on the farms of Goldmoor and bloody aristocratic retribution becoming endemic features of Rihad and earning it a reputation as one of the most unruly and violent totambu in all of Raguda.
The slow but decisive defeat of the Na-Totambu, however, came about through the event that, ironically, many of the lower castes had dreaded. In 1EXXX, after an outbreak of plague that had devastated the ruling family, the last surviving heir of the do-Undeing bloodline, Brosjir do-Undeing, was killed in battle by the Count of Sutch, bringing centuries of continuous dynastic rule to an end. This immediately placed the tomba into crisis, for its territories, granted through the Mktulu, were personal to the descendants of Franjir. Fearful of the reigning Uei-Utei Khubu attempting to use this to establish direct rule of Rihad, the Na-Totambu pre-emptively proposed, in a grand display of confected public piety, that since none of them was worthy to follow in the footsteps of Franjir, the position of Utei do-Undeing should be held in trust “until such time as a true heir of Franjir’s bloodline be found”. The devout Khubu (a deingi devotee who displayed Franjir’s sword above his throne) found this solution entirely proper, and decreed that Undeing’s seat on the Litombana should henceforth remain empty, with a smaller chair provided in which a representative of Undeing Tomba could address the council in the Utei’s stead. What followed was the largest series of riots in Rihad’s history, as the lower castes rose up in unprecedented numbers against the decision by the Undeing tombana ba to elect a new group of city officials from among their own number. In a bid to quell the violence, and mindful of the inquisitive eye of Khubu watching their progress, one faction of the Undeing Na-Totambu offered the lower castes that they would give “due consideration” to a petition by the descendants of the Ra Gada on who should be appointed to these new positions. The weeks of rioting were halted, and with the threat of further riots should the petition be disregarded, the bargaining nobles were able to place almost all of their slate of candidates into the positions (with just a few utterly unacceptable selections remaining, to remind the lower castes of their place).
Thus began a period of intense political horse-trading that was to prove the decisive phase of the struggle for control of Rihad, replacing the violence of its earlier history with a series of rancorous and contentious elections, in which various factions within the Na-Totambu sought supremacy over the others by attempting to exploit and channel the “will of the populace”. The resultant retreat of the Na-Totambu caste and their privileges was slow, but one-directional. The right to petition, previously a personal right conferred on a defined list of heirs of the Ra Gada, became generalised as a right for any family able to prove descent to appoint any one of their number to address the tombana ba. Rioting declined as the lower castes found new and more productive outlets to achieve their objectives, becoming far more organised in their operations and forming, for the first time so-called “caucuses”, in which ever-larger assemblies of family delegates gathered to vote on placing their weight behind candidates for election in the tombana ba, greatly amplifying their leverage over the results.
This period of flux was decisively ended by the vote of the tombana ba in 1EXXX to impeach the brobu jaiyaki “staff-bearer”, an official charged with maintaining the city’s walls, a mere week into her term of office after she was elected by her fellow Na-Totambu in defiance of the will of the most powerful and largest caucus, the Brethren of the First Wave (representing the vast majority of the agricultural population of Goldmoor and two thirds of the armed forces). From this moment onward, the pre-election petitions to the tombana ba would become not merely advisory but binding recommendations. The meetings of the tombana ba would become increasingly sidelined and eventually a formality to confirm the decision of the caucuses, and the real power in the city of Rihad shifted to the appointed officials. There followed a period of internal harmony and development unparalleled in the city’s tumultuous earlier history, though it is debatable how much of this was due to the new political settlement. The foundation of Tanyedt in the unclaimed marshy region to the east arguably acted as a pressure valve of sorts, releasing the unresolved tensions simmering within Rihad, allowing as it did an outlet for those who deemed the pace of social change too slow, leaving their ancestral home for a younger Republic that was “born free, not made so” and unconstrained by the lingering relics of the old Tomba system. Nevertheless, the new settlement greatly accelerated the gradual erosion of barriers between castes, as a career in industry or commerce became an equal (if not superior) route to prestige and wealth for children of the nobility than the ancient and rigid disciplines of the warrior code. A greater openness to the native cultures of Tamriel also resulted, as the breaking of the orthodoxies of the past led some to openly question whether there could be more diplomatic solutions to the constant border warfare against Colovia, Skyrim and the Breton Kingdoms. Nevertheless, the pace of change was slow. Until 1EXXX, it remained the case that although the lower caste families could choose who ruled them, their members were barred from holding public office itself, a privileged reserved for the Na-Totambu. This was finally ended by the unopposed election of Jamal Kiopaf, former supreme commander of the Rihadi army and the son of a salt-gatherer, as edun-Rijeda, the minister of war. Over the next century, the residual privileges of the Na-Totambu caste were gradually abolished, with the tombana ba slowly ground down to the purely ceremonial role at the climax of Caucus Day that it retains to the present.
IV. The Second Era
There did, however, remain one major difficulty. Though Rihad had greatly changed, wider Raguda had not. The rights that the former lower castes had fought so hard to acquire within the boundaries of Tomba do-Undeing were simply not recognised in the other regions of Raga settlement, and were anathema to the staunch traditionalists of Heigidh, Djilein and Skaven. The developing Sultanate of Sentinel was more ambivalent, welcoming the greatly increased possibilities for trade and industry, and sympathetic to Rihad’s desire to normalise relations with foreign nations, whilst being deeply suspicious of the idea of the lower orders getting ideas above their station. One thing these disparate factions were unanimous on, however, was that Rihadi officialdom had no place in the august deliberations of the Litombana, the heart of power and the only body with the authority to grant the citizens of Rihad what they most desired: an honourable peace with their native neighbours.
This, then, was the prosaic origin of the cultural divide which was to bring such devastation and catastrophe to Raguda over the following millennia. With its true rulers lacking any standing to sit in the Litombana, Rihad was forced to present its concerns solely through substitute for the empty seat of the Undeing bloodline, a hereditary delegate of Na-Totambu descent (who frequently sided with their fellow nobility over the interests of the city they were supposed to represent). For the unincorporated settlements of the Helkori, and the unofficial Totambu of Tanyedt, Balhar and Elinhir, the situation was even worse. They had no representation on the Litombana whatsoever, being unrecognised as legal settlements, and were forced to present their petitions by using the Rihadi delegate as a mouthpiece (to the extent this was possible). Thus, more than half of the population of Raguda had no meaningful way of influencing the laws by which they were governed. Although the Orientals like to flatter themselves that the schism between Crowns and Forebears originated as a result of their influence, the seeds of division were sown long before, and merely inflamed by the seductions of the East. Here is the plain truth: the proto-Forebears merely wished for representation on the Litombana, and the right of audience that would allow them to bring their concerns to the ear of the Uei-utei. This was the simple price, for which all the bloodshed and horrors of the centuries to come could have been avoided, if only the reactionaries of the West had seen reason. But this was never a possibility. Utei Hadduk of Heigidh perhaps inadvertently revealed what most of his fellow Na-Totambu were thinking when he answered a low-born Rihadi ambassador who asked him when the Litombana would be reformed - “Never, for that is where you got your start.” The fear was plain - it was by allowing the lower castes access to the Rihadi tombana ba which had begun the “fall” of its hereditary rulers, and the aristocracy of the West would not permit the Litombana to make a similar mistake.
Over the following centuries, Rihad would continue to act as the unwilling buffer state of Raguda against the predations of Cyrodiil, continually bleeding lives and treasure in wars commanded by a Litombana and successive Uei-utu who continued to believe in Franjir’s dream of total conquest of Tamriel, long after his heirs in Rihad had become convinced that such a thing was a practical impossibility. Several times, the diplomats of Rihad came close to brokering peace with various Colovian and Nibenese factions, only for their efforts to be repeatedly dashed by the intervention of Western Totambu. The result was the gradual emergence of an identity recognisable as “Forebear” in its modern, political sense. Rihad, as the eldest eastern city and enjoying the considerable gravitas of its legendary foundation by Franjir Undeing, became the leader of a loose association of factions including the developing cities of Tanyedt, Elinhir, several of the Baronies and lesser realms of Sentinel, and the freeholds of the Helkori and Craglorn. Their demands were simple: equitable representation on the Litombana, and a negotiated end to hostilities against the Oriental Empire, resulting in a permanent and mutually agreed border between Goldmoor and Counties Sutch and Anvil. Resistance to this project was stout, resulting in what was to become an archetypal Rihadi decision to forego the former objective in order to better focus on the second and more immediate, obtainable goal. It was only with the defection of the Sultanate of Sentinel to the cause of peace, however, that serious progress became a possibility. Rihad had long built up a reputation within Cyrodiil of being the most “reasonable” of the factions within Raguda, and were seen by the Oriental Emperors as the best prospect for gaining an Imperial foothold, with secret Oriental ambassadors several times offering the rulers of Rihad seats on the Elder Council, and more, if they would renounce the Uei-utei and become a province of Cyrodiil.
It was during these hidden entreaties that the secret negotiations began which would ultimately lay the foundations for the Bright Memorandum, the pivotal accord signed between the Oriental and Occidental Emperors which (depending on whether one adhered to the infamously inconsistent Cyrodiilic or Yoku versions of the treaty) either recognised the Counties of Cyrodiil and Holds of Skyrim as Totambu (an honour afforded several centuries earlier to the Breton Kingdoms by the Treaty of Wayrest), thus ending their Yoku legal status as terra nullius open to free acquisition under the Mktulu; or incorporated Raguda into the Oriental legal system as the Imperial Province of Hammerfell. It was not, perhaps, the final victory Rihad would have desired, but in an early display of a regional trait that would come to define their image as conciliators in the years to come, they were willing to accept slow and steady gains rather than gamble with the risks of direct confrontation. This relaxation of the borders, however, was not without costs, as it vastly accelerated and deepened the divide emerging between the outward and inward-facing factions of Raga. The influx of foreign trade and population movement in the East resulted in the absorption of Tamrielic religious cults and social concepts into the Forebear culture, as they leapt on the synergy of the Alessian doctrines with their own egalitarian philosophy to seek the support of Cyrodiil in their struggles against the Crowns. The Orientals’ advocacy of free trade and religious libertinism further drove a wedge between the increasingly implacably opposed factions (which was, of course, by design). Importantly, though it could be relied on as an ally on the “Oriental Question”, the Sultanate of Sentinel was not willing to extend its hand to assist the cause of Forebear representation in the Litombana, resulting in an uneasy relationship through the following centuries. In part this was no doubt due to the mutual suspicion of, on the one hand, Sentinel’s authoritarian hierarchy, and Rihad’s social mobility on the other. But it also assumed more concrete political dimensions. Most notably, Rihad argued for moderation when Sentinel was busy trying to forge alliances with High Rock and even Orcs in a bid to conquer Cyrodiil during the Interregnum.
To hear modern historiographers speak of it, the role of Rihad during this era was to be, in the memorable phrase of the Marukhati historian Cleatus Jokaja “the great prophylactic upon the struggle for LIBERTY in Hammerfell, permitting, like the tree-sap-derived preventatives of the Nibenese, the enjoyment of the experience but utterly blocking its potency.” That is to say, they aspired to the overthrow of the old tomba system and its increasingly anachronistic system of government, but were at every stage willing to sell out this noble cause by accepting feeble sops from the Western reactionaries. But this would be an unfair caricature. As the prominent involvement of Rihad in the cataclysm that was to follow illustrates, the use of peaceful gradualism was not a point of nonviolent principle but the only rational choice against an opponent with greatly superior military might. An overt attempt to enforce adequate representation at the point of a sword would have been met with severe and bloody reprisal. The reorganisation of the Rihadi army as a modern military force modelled after the Oriental Legions during the late Second Era certainly enabled the Republics to adopt a decidedly less conciliatory stance towards the Litombana, shouldering as they did an ever greater burden of defending Raguda’s land borders against the warlords of Colovia and, eventually, the restored Oriental Empire under Cuhlecain. But were it not for the opportunism of the Ajadi Sultanate of Sentinel, whose imperial ambitions were still undimmed despite their failures during the War of the Three Banners, open hostilities might still have been avoided.
The final flash point, absurd as it may seem, did not concern lofty constitutional principle, at least initially, but accounting practices. Under the reign of Uei-utei Thassad II, the Republics demanded exemption from the Ship Money tax for the maintenance of Thassad’s Insular navy, on the grounds that they already bore a disproportionate burden of defending Raguda by land, and should not be charged twice for this service. This request was furiously denied, a characteristically impetuous statement from Thassad which emboldened some of his critics among the mainland Na-Totambu who were tired of rule by an upstart islander and were already planning for his succession. A significant faction led by Utei XX of Tomba do-Nudri hinted that they were willing to compromise on the representation issue, such as by reserving special sessions of the Litombana specifically set aside to discuss issues raised by the emissaries of the Republics. This was before the political debut of Thassad’s then-obscure son A’tor, who was not even considered a serious candidate by the Republics and their allies of convenience, who, with the assurance of the support of the Sultanate and a plurality of the noble houses of Djilein and Heigidh, considered the candidacy of XXX practically a certainty. This proved a fatal miscalculation, as not for the last time they disastrously underestimated A’tor’s political acumen. The shocking result of the conclave in Sentinel was not the uniter of Crown and Forebear the Republics had been promised, but the most partisan Uei-utei in centuries, a veritable revolutionary who pronounced, in his inaugural oration to the Litombana, that previous monarchs’ “toleration of the degeneracy of the East” was “an error that shall henceforth be corrected”.
The faultlines that had long simmered beneath the surface of Raguda violently exploded into the open in a session of the Litombana so filled with recriminations that any hope of another temporary solution rapidly vanished. Appropriately enough, it was the Rihadi ambassador who, in the final chaotic scenes leading up to the dissolution of the Litombana, led the walkout of Forebear-sympathising delegates with a ferocious denunciation of “that modern Hira, Prince A’tor”, pointing to the empty seat of the Tomba do-Undeing and proclaiming “we cast down one tyrant before, and by the will of the gods, we shall cast down another if you test us.” And it is no coincidence that the symbol of the emerging revolt, exhumed from the depths of history, was the outline of a falling archway in homage to the ancient slogan of Franjir and Diagna’s war against Hira. Yet even while Rihad's militias took to the battlefield alongside the armies of Sentinel, the government of Rihad was still desperately working behind the scenes to broker a compromise whereby A'tor could peacefully abdicate in favour of a less divisive Crown figure such as Utei Gwate of Djilein. These efforts were doomed to failure, and Rihad was forced to watch with mounting horror as first Sentinel, then Balhar and the Tanethi borderlands were put to the sword by the ruthless armies of A’tor. As their last attempt to break the blockade of Taneth failed and Goldmoor itself came under attack, Rihad faced annihilation. With each fresh victory, A’tor’s rhetoric grew increasingly apocalyptic, referring repeatedly to the need to “cleanse the streets of the citadel of our founder’s champion, Franjir”. His retaking of Sentinel had already been one of the bloodiest massacres in Tamrielic history, and Rihad’s populace and leadership were of one mind that loss of the Civil War would mean not merely a loss of their hard-fought rights and a return to aristocratic rule, but the systematic and calculated eradication of their entire way of life. Nonetheless, the choice to look elsewhere for allies was a not one that was taken lightly. The government of Rihad was well aware that that Oriental ambitions would not be sated merely with alliance. But the city was still in the most receptive possible mood when a small black cutter from Port Anvil slipped through the blockade of the Brena River and arrived in the docks of Rihad.
Tiber Septim’s agents made clear that the old Reman offer of County status, now extended to Tanyedt and Elinhir as well, remained open. The terms were generous by Tiber’s standards - the Forebear Republics would retain their own systems of governance, electing officials directly answerable to the Oriental Emperor, in exchange merely for taxation and the loss of rights to muster an army that had already been almost entirely destroyed in the field (in substance, it was an offer remarkably similar to the Armistice eventually executed with Morrowind later in Tiber’s reign). Cut off from both their sister Republics, Rihad had little option but to agree. Where it led, Tanyedt and Elinhir would follow, and the first Legionnaires crossed the Brena in a fleet of Rihadi barges within days. At first, they were welcomed. As the Oriental Navy destroyed A’tor’s blockades of Taneth and Rihad, allowing the full force of the Legions to land and break the sieges of the Republics, the first Legionnaires to enter the streets of Rihad were greeted with rose petals and singing. But as the months wore on and the Legions advanced ever further West, the mood began to steadily darken. The “provisional” billeting of Cyrodiilic troops within the city and the teams of Legion engineers working on repairing Rihad’s defences became subject to continuous extensions and delays, each time with a plausible excuse in the vicissitudes of the ongoing war, but the ultimate trajectory became clear long before the progress of the Conquest reached its fiery denouement in the harbour of Stros M’Kai. It was little surprise to the defeated, demoralised Rihadis when the victorious Tiber Septim proclaimed his direct personal rule over the Imperial Province of Hammerfell.
A series of ordinances banned public assemblies “for the duration of the present state of emergency”, effectively outlawing the Rihadi caucuses, and one night soon after the public officials of the city were detained for unexplained reasons and transported to the prisons of the Imperial City. The freshly-installed Imperial Governor of Rihad, Ritonicus Barbides, took up residence in Undeing Palace for the duration of the Occupation, proclaiming by decree the imposition of Oriental law and the establishment of the Imperial Cult as the public religion of the city. The subsequent Enclosure of Goldmoor, which converted all of the commons of the agricultural belt that fed Rihad into private land allotments to be auctioned, broke one of the last links to the ancient tomba system and generated immense resentment between the farmers forced off their ancestral lands in huge numbers and the Rihadi merchant class who hurried to buy up vast tracts for conversion to plantations. The former had no choice but to join their cousins in the Helkori, or else flood into Rihad and Tanyedt, becoming their new underclass. The latter swiftly degenerated into a rentier caste of Oriental enforcers, eager to please their new rulers by ostentatious public adoption of the Oriental religion and zealous rooting out of “traitors”, frequently adopting Oriental names and dress. The apogee of this tendency came in the decision to remove the idol of Tava placed in her temple at the direction of Franjir himself, and replacing it with a sculpture of the Oriental Kynareth. This was one level of sycophancy too far for many, resulting in rioting that invited a brutal Oriental reprisal, pubic curfews, and the lining of the old Goldmoor road to Elinhir with crucifixions. Following this incident, Rihad remained silent throughout the remainder of the Occupation, and even though many of its citizens surely sided in secret with the Restless League, its close proximity to the border with Cyrodiil resulted in its remaining the longest under occupation of any Raga city, prevented by the imminent threat of Legion retaliation from exercising any meaningful influence over the Treaty of Stros M’Kai. Indeed it was for a time seriously discussed that Rihad would be partitioned from the rest of Raguda and remain under direct Oriental rule, a fitting punishment for its recklessness in allowing the Civil War to spread beyond Raguda’s borders - a proposal that was only defeated by the insistence of Swordsaint Iszara that the territorial unity of Raguda must remain inviolate in any settlement, and that indeed Raguda itself was meaningless without “the citadel of Franjir”.
V. The Third Era
Thus did Rihad emerge into the Third Era, at its lowest ever ebb. Though the land clearances of the Helkori had been swiftly reversed in the aftermath of Oriental withdrawal, the influence of the new Rihadi landowner class was too strong to allow the restoration of the antebellum status quo entirely, and Goldmoor would henceforth remain in private hands. Many of the worst of the Occupation’s profiteers swiftly relocated with their ill-gotten gains to Cyrodiil to avoid reprisals (notably including the Klavulru family who, Orientalised to Clavilla, would later go on to found the dynasty of County Taneth). But the new divide that had been opened between the landed and dispossessed classes would remain, becoming the key political division within Rihad throughout the Third and Fourth Eras. Nevertheless, Rihad would go on to flower under the Third Oriental Empire as a meeting point between Raguda and Cyrodiil, the “Sentinel of the South”, fusing Raga and Oriental culture in a unique regional synthesis that would bring a fresh dynamism to a city exhausted by the struggles of the past. As a result of its experiences under Occupation, the city maintained a healthy scepticism towards Cyrodification, and whilst Oriental names, language and religion would continue their spread, there was never any organised attempt to suppress Yoku culture as in Taneth, allowing syncretistic belief systems like the cult of Santesha to flourish. The Oriental expatriots who never returned from the end of the Occupation became well integrated into the religious and public life of the city, extensively intermarrying with the native population and gradually becoming indistinguishable save by their surnames and manner of dress. The new generations of leadership to emerge in the aftermath of Civil War, facilitated by the culling of their predecessors, also undertook a drastic repositioning of the Rihad’s foreign policy. Whereas before the city had traditionally sought to act as a mediator between the Orient and Raguda, this stance was widely seen as having contributed to the disasters that had befallen Rihad, and in any case, a role that had eagerly been seized during the Treaty negotiations by the wily Sultanate of Sentinel. Instead, Rihad positioned itself as the Oriental Empire’s candid ally within Raguda, inconveniently independent-minded but as a result, able to tell hard truths about the internal workings of the Province that the oily, eager-to-please Sentinese diplomats would not. Rihadi diplomats pointedly refused to kneel in the Imperial Presence, bowing only the head in acknowledgment, the traditional protocol for foreign rulers rather than subjects. Their meaning was clearly understood - Rihad would be a loyal friend to the Orient, but never servile, and would cooperate only to the extent that it was treated with commensurate respect.
For a time, this new approach bore fruit. Rihad would become the Oriental Empire’s chief “interpreter” of the inscrutable customs of the swarthy natives of Hammerfell. While Sentinel gorged itself on the profits from the international free trade that the new Empire made possible, falling into a state of distended decay, Rihad quietly gained the ear of many an Oriental Emperor. Where the Sultans had East Empire Company holdings, Rihad had seats on the Elder Council, and a disproportionate contribution to such Oriental institutions as the Church, the Guilds and even (so it is persistently rumored) the Blades. That the Orientals would even consider allowing Rihadis to guard the life of their Emperors speaks volumes about the trust that had been established, which continues to pay dividends in the deep cultural and institutional links Rihad continues to maintain with Cyrodiil even after Raguda’s long-awaited restoration of independence. But while this strategy was effective, it was also vulnerable to the internal machinations of the Oriental court, and the favouritism and schemes of individual Emperors. Most notoriously, following the sacking of both Taneth and Rihad in 3EXXX during the Camoran Heresy, Rihad refused to prostrate itself before the Orientals begging for reconstruction aid in the manner of Taneth. As a result, in the aftermath Rihad's star began to wane as the more compliant Taneth was showered with favours and recovered quickly, whilst Rihad languished.
Worse, however, Rihad’s tactical closeness to the Orient also maintained the widespread distrust toward Rihad that had proliferated throughout even sympathetic regions of wider Raguda since their invitation of Tiber Septim during the Civil War. While such misgivings were perhaps understandable, there can be no excuse for the inaction of the Crown cities as Rihad fell under siege from the Heresiarch’s army of abominations, a vile act of vengeful pettiness which forever ended any prospects for national reconciliation for more than three centuries. In the aftermath, the ancient struggle between Crown and Forebear would re-emerge into national life with a vengeance. No longer was there any meaningful semblance of the old political disputes which had birthed and fueled this conflict - all points of principle were long forgotten, leaving only an old and bitter hatred that was to infect every institution of colonial Hammerfell and even spread out through the diaspora into the Empire beyond. Even the domestic politics of Rihad were not spared from rancour. The right to Caucus had by this time been restored by the Oriental Act for the Suppression of Vexatious Legislation which replenished the right “of any Province to do anything which it would formerly have done, save where explicitly prohibited by an Act of Imperial Law” (an Act, ironically, that was primarily intended to protect the rights of Dunmeri slavers). The consequence was the emergence and eventual dominance of two political parties, the Marimates and the so-called Saltpanners, representing the interests of the Goldmoor landed classes and those they had dispossessed, respectively. The two held little in common besides a loathing for the Crowns, and thus the politics of Rihad for much of the late Third and early Fourth Eras would unstably oscillate between these two factions. The Marimates developed a reputation for economic competence, the Saltpanners for generous dispensations to the poor. Over time, the two developed a complicated interdependence whereby the Marimates would hold power for a time, accumulating Rihad’s wealth but diverting it disproportionately to themselves, resulting in their fall and a period of dominance of the Saltpanners, who would rectify the imbalance but in the process run the city’s finances into the ground, beginning the cycle anew. It is a sign of each’s ultimate complicity in the other’s actions that at no point during this period did either manage to make any meaningful progress towards the land reform which would have permanently solved the fundamental basis of their dispute.
V. The Fourth Era
Thus on the eve of the Great War, Rihad was not merely divided against half of Raguda but against itself, its formidable Third Era fortifications grown slack from decades of inadequate oversight, and the Republican Militia, the only defensive force it was permitted under the terms of the Treaty of Stros M’Kai, equipped with inadequate arms and armour. Even with the aid of the local branch of the Oriental Fighters’ Guild and numerous armed citizens, the defense of the city would have been a challenge under even ideal circumstances, and the betrayal and overnight fall of Taneth made it a foregone conclusion. Congress was deeply divided on whether to fight to the bitter end or surrender, resulting in contradictory orders being sent out from the two Proconsuls that sent the city into chaos as it was captured. As the Republican Militia refused the order to stand down, making a final stand on the bridges over the River Brena, the Dominion commanders were confused and disoriented by the mixture of submission and renewed attacks, allowing a significant number of defenders to break out of the city to the north. The survivors regrouped on the slopes of Mount Corten, a location chosen for its symbolic importance as the place of the battle at which the martyred namesake of Rihad had died so long ago. At the camp on mountain, a fiery oration was delivered by one of Rihad’s last surviving ansei Miha Araliya, who would come to be better known by the name she was to acquire in the final battle of the war that was just beginning: Miha Trana (“the Martyr”). In it, she furiously denounced the complacency and cowardice of the traditional Forebear leadership, declaring that she had no intention of surrender and would fight alongside anyone who shared that sentiment, even the Crowns if need be, and pointed to her two students who fought beside her, the fellow Rihadi Ghosek Ryusai and the Djileini Jatu Gopé, as proof that this was still possible.
Miha would prove to be a leader of considerable political acumen, skilfully exploiting the vacuum of Forebear leadership left by the occupation of Rihad and implosion of County Taneth to become the undisputed leader of the armed resistance against the Thalmor in eastern Hammerfell. She was able to enlist the aid of the rebellious hel korei, secure the support of the theocrats of Elinhir, numerous bands and tribes of the Dak’Fron, even the Dragonstar Nords, and integrate the confused young Tanethis fleeing their occupied cities into a coherent broad alliance she named the Ragudan Front, earning her comparisons to the legendarily loquacious Swordsaint Iszara of the Restless League. Her efforts were responsible for blocking the initial Aldmeri advance north across the Helkori and preventing the loss of Elinhir, convincing the Thalmor hierarchy that they could not continue that way without prohibitive costs. Were it not for this (in addition, it must be conceded, to the intransigence of Heigidh), the Dominion would not have been forced into one of its most costly errors, the doomed attempt to take Sentinel directly by crossing the Alik’r. The Front played a key role in securing victory in the north not only by taking part in all the key battles but keeping up the pressure on Rihad, denying the Dominion reinforcements. Yet even with the main army invading Raguda defeated and forced back across the Alik’r, Rihad itself remained under occupation, albeit a relatively light one compared to the devastation wrought on Taneth and Djilein. Miha was in only the early stages of her master plan to recapture the city when circumstances overtook her with the signing of the White-Gold Concordat. Having become convinced by this stage that the Oriental Empire could no longer be relied upon as an ally, Miha cast her lot in with Prince Qasim of Sentinel, and in another shrewd choice of location, proclaimed the accretion of the Republic of Rihad to the restored independent Hammerfell from the Great Hall of Richton College in Stonemoor.
Tragically, Miha would not live to see the liberation of her beloved city, nor the establishment of her Ragudan Front as the most powerful political force in the South-East, as she was killed in battle whilst sinking the Aldmeri Dreadnought in the pivotal naval engagement that prevented a second wave of Dominion invaders from reaching the shores of Raguda (for a full account of which, refer to the section of this Guide pertaining to the Abecean Isles). Her sacrifice proved the salvation of the nation, and though her body was incinerated instantaneously in the conflagration that followed the Dreadnought’s destruction, she is commemorated in an empty tomb beneath a public cenotaph in the gardens of Undeing Palace in Rihad, which cites her as the “foremost and most stalwart modern defender of the Republic and its customs.” Within days of the defeat of the Dominion Navy, Miha Trana’s plan to recapture Rihad swung into motion, with a coordinated uprising in occupied southern Goldmoor, privateer attacks on Dominion shipping and finally an assault on the outer settlements of Rihad itself. The Dominion garrison was effectively surrounded, but it would be some time before they saw the hopeless of their situation and surrendered, despite the heroic efforts of Miha Trana’s former student Jatu Gopé (who had been left behind from the final boarding of the Dreadnought on account of his youth) successfully infiltrating the city and attempting to shorten the siege by opening the gates, an incursion that was eventually and bloodily repulsed by the entrenched Altmer. Nevertheless, the eventual hard-fought recapture of Rihad marked the "beginning of the end" of the Great War, allowing the "Hammer and the Anvil" of the Forebear and Crown armies to complete the encirclement of the Dominion forces in Taneth and Gilane. Whilst the war raged on in bloody stalemate elsewhere, Rihad was thus able to begin the work of rebuilding under the auspices of the Ragudan Front, from which Miha Trana’s other former apprentice Ghosek Ryusai rapidly emerged as her natural successor as leader, being both now a fully-fledged ansei and an unquestioned hero (“Raha”) of the Great War due to his participation in the sinking of the Dreadnought, an operation of which he was the sole survivor. Jatu Gopé would also in time go on to even greater prominence as the founding Commander of the National Guard, Raguda’s first ever truly unified national army, but understandably left the reclaimed Rihad immediately to assist with the besiegement of his own home city of Djilein.
Whilst the infrastructure and institutions of Rihad were in dire need of repair following years of negligent occupation, the minds of the Front’s leadership were already turning to loftier goals. Foremost among these was the as-yet unwritten Constitution of Raguda, and the ancient questions of political representation which were still unresolved from the Civil War, and had assumed a new urgency in the aftermath of Raguda successfully extricating itself from the Oriental Empire. The letter of the law was clear - the effect of the original Treaty of Stros M’Kai was that in the event of the Orientals voluntarily renouncing Raguda, power would automatically vest back in the Litombana who would then select a new Uei-utei. Such a provision had been readily agreed to by all sides because it was mutually understood by all save the most hardline Crowns that there were no conceivable circumstances in which such a scenario would unfold. Indeed, in the words of the Oriental legalist Mostulus Ubrimides, it was “a clause designed never to be used.” The protocols of the Litombana were mere historical memory six centuries old, and worse, two further Totambu of Kai and Nahoukh had effectively ceased to exist in the intervening time, resulting in a body composed almost exclusively of representatives from Heigidh, Djilein and Skaven, a result that even the presumptive Uei-utei, Atusha-Kwesa of Tomba do-Hirn, intuitively recognised was untenable and would swiftly lead to the partition of Raguda. To avert this dire outcome, therefore, Rihadi delegates took a central role in drafting the delicate compromise that formed the basis of the Constitution that has, more or less, held Raguda together in the succeeding fifteen years of independence. With the Crowns remaining adamant that no lowborns would be permitted to sit in the Litombana, and the Republics and their Sentinese allies refusing to recognise the authority of such an unrepresentative body, an elegant solution was devised in the creation of a second parliamentary chamber, the Limansuna (“council of households”), to which the various Forebear Republics, unincorporated territories and newly-incorporated Districts would send representatives selected in accordance with their own local customs.
Whilst the Litombana would retain its ancient role in electing the Uei-utei, the Limansuna’s approval would have to be sought for the final list of candidates to be selected from. In addition, the Uei-utei’s powers of royal decree were significantly circumscribed, being reduced to the freedom to operate solely within the confines permitted by written law, such laws becoming binding only after their approval by both Litombana and Limansuna. The original Mktulu were declared in the Constitution to be “finally and conclusively resolved”, recognising in law what had long been the factual situation on the ground, that areas outside the official bounds of Tomba and Republic alike including Dak’Fron, Craglorn and Helkori would be ruled autonomously from their largest local settlements of Balhar, Belkarth and Verkarth respectively. Thus did the so-called “Grand Old Cause”, which had animated Rihad since the death of its founding dynasty, and the obstruction of which had caused so much grief and destruction to Raguda, finally attain its object, bringing the storied history of the Mother of Republics to a conclusive and triumphant end.
The primary institution of the Republic remains the sinos, and its archetype of the ideal citizen is still the soldier-farmer mansei, willing to fight, harvest or perform any other civic task required of him (or her) by the authorities of the Republic. These two terms, though used in common with even the most devout adherents of the ancient Tomba system to the West, have acquired quite radically different connotations in Rihad. Though the literal meaning of sinos is simply “household”, it has since unrecorded history been used to denote a certain class of household, specifically a “family of note/worth”; the ruling caste of Old Yokuda and their attendants and oathbound. In Rihad the term is far more expansive, meaning every family in the city which can trace descent from a warrior who fought in the Ra Gada (approximately nine tenths of the city’s population). Every sinos in Rihad, no matter how powerful or how impoverished, has the right to appoint one of their number to attend the Caucus and select the new Proconsul and other public officials of the city, as well as holding the familial rights of audience, petition and address at the Rihadi Congress. Quite where one family ends and others begin is the only practical limitation on this system, though it appears to function well in practice, in spite of the majority of the writs in the city’s courts concerning disputes over who has the right to speak for which family. Complicating the matter somewhat is the tradition that methods of selecting a representative are the prerogative of each individual family, with some operating by strict seniority, others by acclamation or ballot of all their members, and others by primogeniture or other hereditary schema. But regardless of such quibbles, it may be said on the whole to work rather effectively, at least when the city is not seized by intractable partisan quarrels and some degree of consensus may be formed on the suitability of candidates for leadership. None of this is to say, of course, that sinu in the sense that Raga from more conventional totambu would recognise do not exist. Many Rihadis jealously guard the intricate charts proving their descent from the ancient Na-Totambu of Tomba do-Undeing, though they rarely speak of such things in public, with open boasting of noble lineage considered to be boorish and vulgar. In practical terms the only benefit such descent confers is the right to sit on the quasi-redundant tombana ba to affirm the result of the Caucus, a purely ceremonial duty that is conducted with great solemnity and ritual, being the only opportunity remaining to such families to remind the rest of the city that their ancestors once ruled them.
The remaining tenth of the populace of Rihad, bearing no Ra Gada blood, are not mansei of the Republic and possess none of the rights flowing from such. The oldest of these, the old remaindermen of Tomba do-Undeing who were not encompassed by Franjir’s original decree, are known as the gundrudu (literally “barge people”), and have traditionally eked out a living by manning the many ferries crossing the River Brena and transporting cargo at Rihad's estuary docks. Of much more recent vintage, however, are the Orientals and other alien races legally resident in Rihad, who when added together now form the largest component of the tenth of Rihad's populace barred from participating in its governance.
Overall, however, the Rihadi society may be characterised as the quietly but deeply conservative face of the Forebears. It is a curious blend of Oriental and Raga tradition that binds them, however. Though they revere the institution of marriage and use it to trace their ancestry and right to Caucus, this is not a tradition of the Ra Gada but an Oriental import. Similarly, the moralistic overtones in popular religion are significant departure from the ancient Yoku philosophy, in which there is a strong element that could be characterised as "might makes right" in even the most pacifistic of the old pantheon of deities. The city's widespread mercantilism and light government are also arguably Cyrodiilic imports which are inconsistent with the traditions of the Ra Gada. In consequence, the political radicalism and ethno-nationalism of the Young Crown movement that the Ragudan Front inadvertently helped to spawn is anathema to the majority of the inhabitants of Rihad, and especially its landowning classes. Such conservatism might seem strange in a city that for many centuries was the engine of change for all of Raguda, but it must be remembered that the citizens of Rihad consider their rights and liberties to be hard-won, cherished traditions that they inherited from their ancestors, a legacy that remains fragile and must be carefully preserved. They remember all too well that they tried the route of radical uprising once before in the Civil War, resulting in a defeat that set the Grand Old Cause back centuries.
That is not, of course, to say that there are no Rihadis who sympathise with the Young Crown philosophy - indeed, there is a significant minority who believe a more radical politics to be the way forward. To some extent, this is a generational divide, between those who came of age in the peace before the Great War and those who became adults during the fighting and in its aftermath. There is a notably more pro-Yoku bent among even the scions of the establishment in the younger generation, which is a cause of concern for the majority who still believe that the destinies of Raguda and the Oriental Empire are inextricably linked. The significant damage incurred by Raguda’s economy after seceding from the Oriental Empire has also been a source of lingering resentment, and is the primary reason why the present regimes of Rihad and Taneth cannot see eye to eye: the Young Crowns welcome greater trade barriers as a motive for national self-sufficiency, whereas the Ragudan Front is more inclined to worry about the impact on their banking industry and merchant navy.
The majority of modern Rihadis consider the Yoku gods and the Divines to be the same beings, at least in essence, and that the names and exact form of worship one offers to them is of little practical importance. What counts for a lot, however, is sincerity, as Rihad is in many respects a socially conservative city, where religious attendance is both encouraged and expected. The majority of the inhabitants tend to use a blend of Alessian and Yoku prayers and rituals, depending on what kind of favour they desire from a particular god on a particular occasion, as well as family ties and personal relationships with individual priests.
This is not to say that such syncretism is universal. Rihad has a thriving community of orthodox Alessians, who tend to worship in their own chapel to avoid association with hybrid rituals. Such puritanism, however, is generally frowned upon by the populace at large. A similar attitude prevails against the minority within the city (and majority in the hinterland) who still nod exclusively to the Yoku Pantheon, a stance which, traditionally, held associations of being rustic or simple-minded, and more lately, of association with the Young Crowns and political extremism.
In recent years this has become a point of particular political tension which has significantly soured relations with Rihad’s neighbouring Republic of Elinhir. For the deeply religious Elinhites, the easygoing syncretism of Rihad is repugnant. With the authority of the Oriental priesthood discredited by their recent unceremonious decision to eject one of their primary deities for the sake of political expediency, Elinhir has been sending out missionaries with evangelical zeal to try to persuade Redguards across Hammerfell to return to the "old ways" (an irony, considering most folk in Heigidh and the Isles believe that Elinhir itself represents a corrupt and degenerate form of Yokudan high culture). But due to its close proximity, Rihad has been a particular target, and the missionaries have been stirring up trouble that the inexperienced new generation of leadership in the city are finding difficult to contain. Elinhir's ruling trade cartels insist that the preachers are private citizens and that they are powerless to rein them in, but the parliament of Rihad does not believe a word of this. They desire the missionaries removed, or at least moderated, even if it means they have to find some other bargaining chip to obtain it.
Prominent in the history of Raguda has been a certain kind of Forebear. Upper middle class, somewhat conservative, tempered with tolerance, but at the same time pragmatic and eager to reach a bargain. The kind of person that the Orientals loved to do business with, and who often became immensely rich as a result. This, in a nutshell, is the core constituency of the Ragudan Front, the centrist wing of the old Forebear party, the secular, ecumenical glue that held the religious (Elinhite) and radical (Tanethi) wings of the party together. It is not a position that has aged particularly well since the Great War, and even in its heartland of Rihad its support base has been steadily eroded. This problem has been compounded by the recent decision of the Front’s revered leader Raha Ghosek Ryusai to retire from politics, supposedly on a spiritual mission of retreat to the desert in an attempt to succeed in forming the shehai before he dies.
The city is now ruled by the government of Proconsul A.Q. Nahasmiah, for many years Ghosek’s protégée and chosen successor, who is somewhat unusual among Rihadi leaders in having a civilian rather than a military background (famed mainly for being the primary drafter of the Ragudan Constitution), which has disgruntled many of the traditionalists of Rihad. For her part, Lady Nahasmiah saw little need to listen to the "grunting of old farts who think every problem can be solved by jamming a sword up someone's backside," pursuing redistributive tax policies which made her popular with the city's poor, but earned her many enemies among the merchant class. It was inevitable, therefore, that the Eighty-seventh Rihadi Caucus of 4E 199 would primarily become a referendum on her perceived ability to measure up to the stature of her predecessors Miha and Ghosek. This contest was a disaster for the Front, grown accustomed to dominating Rihadi governance since independence, which was reduced to its slimmest majority in the city’s Congress since its initial entry into politics. The chief beneficiary of this was the rival Moeity of the Iron Wheel, a conservative nationalist party led by Nahasmiah’s long-time nemesis, the aristocratic Joqasi do-Hiunah (a relationship memorably described by the satirist Pombe “Laughing” Hadud as “that peculiarly passionate species of hatred which will most assuredly one day end in a guilty roll in the hay.”) Nahasmiah herself is said to “relish the challenge” of governing with a reduced majority, though only time will tell if her reputation will recover from this recent setback.
Relations with other Kingdoms
Rihad is SUSPICIOUS of the Republic of Taneth’s present regime, being well aware that the Young Crowns’ revolutionary ambitions also extend to their city, with the youth wing of the Ragudan Front considered a particularly high priority target for infiltration. In response, the Front has initiated a series of recent ideological purges of its membership, though whilst this has staved off the immediate threat, many fear that it has only further radicalised those expelled.
Rihad presently has FROSTY relations with the Republic of Elinhir, long the peculiar outlier in the trio of Forebear Republics. Rihadis generally consider Elinhites to be humourless zealots,and have long considered there to be something deeply suspect about their unorthodox marital traditions, but relations have noticeably worsened since the election of the openly irreligious Proconsul Nahasmiah, and recent tensions over Elinhites proselytising in Rihad have exacerbated the situation.
Rihad is OPPOSED to the Tomba do-Djilein, which has still not conceded defeat over the Mktulu, launching proceedings to have the constitutional articles that created the Districts of Balhar, Craglorn and Helkori. Seeing this as a major threat to the current settlement, Rihad has been providing these three districts with legal assistance. Though Rihadis are well aware of the hatred that many Djileinis bear towards them, the feeling is not widely reciprocated.
Rihad has recently enjoyed something of a RAPPROCHEMENT with the legendarily hostile Tomba do-Heigidh. Whilst the two cities still hold many irreconcilable differences there has been a marked improvement in relations since the representational question was belatedly resolved, though fresh quarrels surely loom over Heigidh’s recent drive to create a new national currency.
Rihad is generally INDIFFERENT toward the Insular Totambu, as these remote and small realms have rarely given cause to trouble the deliberations of the Rihadi Congress. The sole exception to this has been the recent improvement in relations with the Tomba do-Hirn, but as this was largely due to the unusually high mutual esteem of Ghosek Ryusai and the Hirni Uei-utei Atusha-Kwesa, its fate after his political retirement remains uncertain.
Rihad remains a CAUTIOUS ALLY of the Sultanate of Sentinel, owing to the belief that although they might have many immediate objectives in common, their ultimate goals rarely coincide. In recent years this has become especially clear as Rihad has repeatedly worked to hold Raguda together despite its problems, whilst the Sentinese have made plain that the present settlement is not working for them and have become ever more tolerant of talk of independence.
Rihad remains OPPOSED to the policies of the Tomba do-Nudri, in particular their ongoing feud with the Dragonstar Nords, whom the Ragudan Front has long maintained should be naturalised as citizens, with the city being reunited as a single community. The do-Nudri have naturally taken umbrage at Rihad’s daring to have an opinion on their affairs, but the Front has held firm on this issue of national embarrassment.
Like all patriotic Raga, Rihad remains HOSTILE to the establishment of Fourth Orsinium and the Hews Bane S.A.R. within territory rightfully belonging to Raguda, but the Front’s preferred solution is their populations should be peacefully deported rather than violently destroyed, a principled stance that has seen them accused of weakness and sympathy for the enemy among the more reactionary elements of Raguda.
Despite everything, it is hard to argue that behind all the rhetoric, Rihad is anything other than an ALLY to the Oriental Empire and its client Breton states, believing it to be the only realistic option for avoiding the nightmarish prospect of a new Merethic Era. Though they might furiously deny it in public, the leadership of the Ragudan Front remain convinced that some kind of alliance of the Realms of Men is essential to their mutual survival.
Undeing Palace: The ancestral residence of the lineage of Franjir, and the seat of power in the city since its founding. It was home to the empty throne of the Undeing Dynasty until as recently as the Camoran Heresy, when the palace was burned by the occupying Heresiarch’s forces. Unfortunately, the Third Era restoration was at best loosely faithful to the original, but save for brief periods as an Oriental Governor’s mansion and a Dominion command center during the Great War, has remained to this day the home of the Rihadi Congress and the offices of its duly elected government.
Jhuka Tapara: The ancient dock district of Rihad, home to such architectural oddities as the Oriental-styled Old Customs House, the burned former headquarters of the disgraced Dragontail Mining Company, and the venerable Bank of Rihad, whose statues of the Eight Hundred Coin-Gods (in dongo-form) can be found in tiny niches throughout the building. Still a bustling commercial district, Jhuka Tapara remains an essential stopping place for most merchant navy expeditions leaving or travelling to the Oriental Port Anvil, gateway to Cyrodiil.
Ra Ky Tava: Rihad's main temple, a hotbed of the religious syncretism for which the city is famous, and renowned in particular for its unusual temple art which depict the God of Bird Winds Blow in a variety of forms, ranging from the fully human in Oriental fashion to the various anthropomorphic and hybrid figures favoured by the traditional Yoku. It is richly symbolic of everything that's fused about Rihad's culture, and is a large and prominent landmark of the city. Appropriately, its name invokes both Tava herself, and Ky (Kynareth).
Rihad Lighthouse: Constructed on the site of several previous lesser beacons by the Forty-fourth Rihadi Congress as a celebration of the port’s Millennium, this elegant exemplar of traditional Rihadi architecture is a major landmark in the region, and a beacon of hope for any struggling to find the entrance to the Brena River in the darkness of night.
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Deeza added a topic in HammerfellPrimer: Fourth OrsiniumFourth Orsinium
Feudal Rank: City-state, Imperial Protectorate
Colors: Orichalcum and rust-red
Knightly Order: None, for the hordes within stand ready to defend their city at a moment’s notice.
Architecture: An expanded, diversified version of the vanilla Orc set.
Theme: The last hiding place of a dying race threatened on all sides by extinction. The Fourth Era has not been kind to the Orcs, whose marauding hordes once struck terror into the hearts of villagers and citizens alike from Bretony to Goldmoor. Their Oriental-backed despotate in the Wrothgarians is long gone, brought low by Raga steel, and the power of the Legions that once protected their kind is fading fast. They now find themselves confined to a single citadel in the Dragontail Mountains, surrounded by hostile powers and maintained only by the thin reed of Imperial support.
The name “Orsinium” derives from a type of barbarous conclave at which the chieftains of the ancient orcish strongholds would meet to challenge each other to feats of strength and barter for brides. Over time, some locations became regular meeting places for these crude gatherings, which on occasion throughout history have consolidated into permanent settlement, of which the current citadel that menaces Raguda is merely the latest. Its prefix derives from the fact that it is the fourth city so named, inheriting its mantle from the Third Era kingdom established by Gortwog gro-Nagorm, from which it originated as a southern outpost and represents the last surviving remnant.
Hidden within a bleak, snowbound pass high in the Dragontail Mountains, the grim citadel of Fourth Orsinium is a source of near constant mystery and anxiety to the plain-dwelling folk of Raguda far below. It is a place of both imminent threat, and a lasting reminder of Oriental perfidiousness, shrouded in deception and propaganda. Indeed for many decades its mere existence was concealed from the outside world, a secret known only to the whispered discussions of the Elder Council and their shadowy network of confidantes which still lurks like a dark web across Tamriel.
The origins of Fourth Orsinium are intimately tied to the divided loyalties of the House of Mede, the sinister machinations of the Penitus Oculatus and Blades, and conspiracy woven through the Oriental mineral markets, with all of these connections finding their nexus in the sinister and secretive Dragontail Mining Company. This insidious institution was incorporated in the early days of the Fourth Era, shortly after the news of Gortwog's righteous annihilation at the hands of Raga good and true, with the (graciously accepted) assistance of Bretons of pure heart and a few honest partisans of other nations. Sentinese-forged cannon had cut through the iron walls designed to resist any lesser weapons, and in just punishment for Gortwog's rapacious perfidy, the citadel was fired and its populace put to the sword. Regrettably, due to the shameful interference of the Oriental legions, it proved impossible to encircle the citadel in its entirety, as had been done to its antecedents in Eras past, and many greenskins were able to flee to Cyrodiil or to the mountains, swiftly reverting to the clannish barbarism which is the natural state of their race. Faced with this catastrophe, many of the "civilised" orcs employed in service to the institutions of the Orient began to seriously question their attachment to their adopted culture. In their partially successful aping of mannish cultures, they had looked down on their less well-gilded brethren, but orcs, being orcs, are loyal to their own kind first and foremost. If even the might of the Orientals could not protect a ravager and despoiler as notorious as Gortwog, could they be so sure it would protect them?
A great many orcish intellectuals (for want of a better word), mages, Legionnaires and businessfolk came to the admirably clear-sighted conclusion that they would never truly be accepted by human society, and that they had no choice but to join their refugee compatriots out of solidarity. A wave of disappearances of prominent Orc citizens across the Empire took place, fueling the fantasies among Oriental rumour-peddlers of another pogrom. In reality, with the aid of Oriental sympathisers, they were gathering together the scattered orcs of Tamriel with the phantasm of a new, secure, secular homeland where orcs of any political or religious persuasion could take refuge from the persecutions of men and elves. The flaws in this proposal should be self-evident to any reader, but it must be remembered in charity that the mightiest intellects of the orcs still operate at several levels below that of the human halfwit. In establishing their new polity, the planners of Fourth Orsinium had failed to anticipate the massive influx of conservative, Malacath-worshipping tribal barbarians into the attempt at civilisation they had sought to built, who swiftly destabilised and ultimately overthrew the Imperial-style Council they had established to administer it, leaving a city polarised into rival factions in often bloody rivalry. Those inhabitants of Orsinium who still hold to the original vision now form just one group among many struggling for dominance of the city. The inevitable failure of this vision, however, should not diminish our sympathies for its foolish architects. One of the many aspects in which Men are superior to orcs is in our capacity for pity.
Nevertheless, to the outside world, for many years Fourth Orsinium officially did not exist, its true nature shrouded in utmost secrecy. The land on which it was constructed was legally assigned to a front corporation called the Dragontail Mining Company, an Oriental scheme originally incorporated as a pension fund for orcish veterans from the Imperial Legion. Its true function was of course to hide the imports and exports of material and immigration to Orsinium as the investments, products and migrant employees of their company. Ore and minerals from the huge mines under Fourth Orsinium were surreptitiously exported all over Tamriel through the Dragontail Company and its subsidiaries, which appeared to all the outside world as merely an exceptionally secretive family of companies that employ an unusual number of Orcs. The true source of its income was further concealed by a screen of shell companies such as Bloodkin Investments in Port Wayrest and Orichalc Holdings in the Imperial City, which served as unofficial embassies between Orsinium and the Imperial Government, which knowingly tolerated its existence as a so-called "shadow province".
Were it not for the heroic endeavours of the Raga journalist, pamphleteer and patriot Gachimde do-Phinyem, who was successfully able to infiltrate the Sentinese subsidiary of the Dragontail Company and smuggle out the so-called “Orsinium Papers”, published in instalments in his swiftly-banned newspaper “Tava’s Clarion”, exposing the collusion of the Oriental authorities, Rihadi politicians, the agents of the Sultanate itself and numerous other co-conspirators, this charade might have remained concealed for many years longer. Upon exposure, Fourth Orsinium was immediately attacked by the forces of the Tomba do-Nudri, revealing for the first time the full horror of what the Dragontail Company had wrought behind the innocuous facade of their mining operations.
An orcish citadel, fully armed and fortified, stood within the compounds and “refineries” of the corporation, and the so-called “private security” employed by the Dragontail Company was in reality an orcish horde, composed of veterans of the siege that destroyed Third Orsinium and drafted irregulars from barbarian tribes from all over Tamriel. In the ensuing battle, the unprepared Tomba do-Nudri were repulsed with heavy casualties, the injury of which was only compounded by Oriental retribution, which levied heavy fines on the cities of Skaven and Dragonstar for “unlawful disturbance of the right to quiet enjoyment of private property of a legitimate business, and interference with the chattels of the aforesaid establishment.” It was no doubt the righteous outpouring of outrage over this injustice which convinced the scheming agents of the Thalmor of the validity of their successful gambit to cleave Raguda from the Orient during the Great War. But in truth this division was of the Orientals’ own making. Had they not so foolishly cleaved to their dogmatic, unfounded belief in the equivalence of the mortal races, the crisis which was to set the Mannish races of Tamriel at odds could have been averted. It shall live in infamy forever, that the despots of the Orient placed more importance on the lives of the subhuman creatures in their employ, than in the trust and loyalty of fellow Men whom they had so callously deceived.
Thus it was some surprise, at the outbreak of the Great War, that the orcs of the citadel did their Oriental masters’ bidding and marched against the minions of the Thalmor (though to describe such as providing aid to Raguda would be grossly misleading, for they fought as much with our own armies as with those of the enemy). Nonetheless it must be conceded that the orcs proved a capable source of distraction to the Dominion, preventing them from focusing their forces on a single area and, in an Oriental view firmly contested by all reputable Raga tacticians, arguably prevented the fall of Dragonstar by assaulting the besieging forces from the rear (though even if this were true, such accidental good fortune can hardly be called evidence of strategy, since the orcs were motivated in their attack by the prospects of looting the Dominion baggage train).
In the aftermath of the conflict and the restoration of Ragudan independence, the assets of the Dragontail Company were the primary target, together with the Oriental Guilds, of the Nationalisation of Infidel Companies Act, the second piece of legislation passed by the reconstituted Litombana (after the Indigenisation Act, which (among other provisions) revoked the citizenship, residency and legal standing of all orcs within the territory of the Republic). Regrettably, the servants of the Company were successful in burning the main archives within their Rihad office before these could be seized by agents of the Uei-utei, denying the world the opportunity to know the full list of traitors who had contributed to the Company’s perfidy in the preceding years. But again, the response of the Orientals was telling, proclaiming the annexation of the portion of Ragudan territory rightfully belonging to the Republic of Elinir and Tomba do-Nudri on which Fourth Orsinium was illegally constructed. The return of this stolen land is among the highest priorities of the Republic of Raguda, and is a ceaseless subject of petitions and protests at the Oriental Elder Council (it would be remiss to note, in passing, the assistance offered in these motions by the emissaries of several Breton realms who still retain audience rights before the Council, most notably the Kingdom of Evermore).
Readers of this guide should be in no doubt - Fourth Orsinium shall most assuredly fall, as did all three of its predecessors. The Uei-utei herself has sworn a solemn oath before Ruptga to this effect, which a law of Raguda has confirmed shall be reaffirmed by her successor in the unlikely event she should not succeed in this in her own lifetime. In the meantime, all travellers to the region are urged in the strongest possible terms to avoid all contact with the citadel and its savage inhabitants, lest they be taken hostage and used as bargaining chips in service to their undying hostility to all true Raga.
Since very few patriots of Raguda have successfully infiltrated the orcish citadel, the majority of what is known about its inner workings has been carefully pieced together from the fragmentary reports of travellers. Its accuracy or completeness therefore cannot be guaranteed. However, it is consistently clear that this is a divided city, which is only to be expected, since it was formed by orcs from all over Tamriel. The majority of the population live in family units in a house or series of rooms, which follow the traditional Stronghold structure - one chieftain, his several wives, an "aunt" who serves as invoker to the demons they worship, and the chieftain’s children and siblings. A minority within the city, being more adept at crudely imitating human norms, live in simulacra of monogamous extended families. The most important single institution of the city are the central arenas where young orcs fight to prove themselves, either to earn enough distinction to be adopted into a Stronghold or to attract suitable mates to found their own. The large surplus of frustrated young males that the Stronghold system generates means that the city suffers constant instability from its bored, loitering male youth, who incessantly start fights or draw together into gangs to wander off and despoil the surrounding lands as bandits. A few are taken in, or marry into, less traditional families, but the price is almost always conversion to the worship of Trinimac or the Nine Divines.
The majority, however, will end up forced into working in the giant mines underneath the city, which have developed their own culture and system of camaraderie. Viewing themselves as "outcasts even from the outcasts", they believe themselves to be particularly favored by Malacath, worshipping him with ecstatic intensity before their fiercely competitive forays into the dangerous depths of the mountain. This has gained them a fearful reputation in the rest of the city, as even the mightiest orc would fear to attack such a wretched creature, lest he attract Malacath's displeasure by molesting his chosen servants.
The city itself is governed by a parliamentary system of all the orcish clans and factions, which is also named The Orsinium (in homage to the barbaric wife-bartering conclaves of the tribes which was the original inspiration for orcish settlement). Any person, even those of other races or orcs not native to the city, can participate in this parliament, provided they can gain the right to speak. This right is earned and must be maintained continually by administering a savage beating to anyone who dares to question the petitioner’s right to speak (or alternatively, by the petitioner being so intimidating that no orc dares to challenge them). Extraordinarily, given the savagery of the city, some degree of separation of powers is practiced, with the rival power bases of the Priesthoods of Malacath and the Imperial-educated administrators of the Dragontail Company (mostly being composed of Trinimac-worshippers) counterbalancing the influence of the Orsinium to some extent.
The final oddity of Orsinium worthy of note is that its society contains an underclass of Ogres, Goblins, and other such foul creatures. Although it appears even the orcs have some standards, and do not consider such abominations full citizens worthy of addressing the parliament or other institutions, the Ogres are revered for their physical strength and proximity to Malacath as his "little brothers made in the image of His [sic] angels", and Goblins are admired for their ability to survive human persecution. Nevertheless, there is of course no civilisation to speak of among such creatures, with the usual tangle of deluded shamans, infighting tribes and lone scavengers fighting for scraps in the city gutters. Why they consider such a base existence preferable to that of their cave-dwelling cousins in the wilds is not known, save that they apparently answer to the Priests of Malacath when called to the defence of the city by the blowing of an ancient warhorn stored within a pool of fouled water in the temple at the heart of the citadel.
The modern city of Orsinium is beset by a religious schism that predates its founding and, indeed, proved the doom of two previous attempts to found an independent orcish Kingdom. One the one side, may be found the traditionalists, demon-worshipping orcs who venerate the corrupting agent who, it is said, created their race by defiling the bowels of the Elves and sculpting beasts from their stool: the demon prince Malooc, God of Infidel Hordes, who is known to the orcs as Malak or Malacath. A lesser pantheon of unclean spirits is also venerated by this faction, grotesquely bloated beasts who have no name in Yoku save parhaio but are called Ogrim by the sages of the Orientals. These demons are said to bear messages from Malooc (as taught by the clenched fist), and as such are afforded the status of angels (or at least a blasphemous parody of such).
On the other side of this great divide are those who follow what is often translated as “Gortwog’s Heresy” (though “Fuckery” would be a more accurate rendering). These orcs aver that the demon called by the wise Malooc is, in fact, one of the Original Spirits who merely resides in Hell due to his unjust exile from Heaven, whose true name is said to be the elven deity Trinimac. The fatuous nature of this claim notwithstanding, some (primarily those from Imperial-educated families) even go so far as to venerate a parody of the Nine Divines (with Trinimac replacing the notoriously orc-hating Talos, one of the vanishingly few points on which orcs and Raga are in agreement).
Both factions consider the doctrines of the other to be blasphemy, resulting in many bitter disputes, often with families being torn apart. The most ardent Malakhites go so far as to say that their god will destroy the city, just like the previous Orsiniums in High Rock, unless they purge the false Trinimites from their midst. To date, cooler heads have prevailed, but the city simmers on the edge of open religious warfare, constrained only by fears of external attack should their divisions overwhelm them. The Republic of Raguda considers the inevitable outbreak of hostilities within Orsinium to pose the greatest opportunity for finally restoring the integrity and purity of Raga lands.
The orcs of the city are at present divided into three main political parties, who are represented by their various champions in the Orsinium itself. The three groups are at loggerheads almost constantly, meaning that governance is dysfunctional and the parliament's sessions resemble the bloody arenas of Cyrodiil more than the learned discourse of comparable institutions in the Forebear republics. Orcs in parliament and around the city signify their allegiance by the choice of weapon they carry in public. The "Flats" (or "Blunts" to their opponents), are devout, traditionalist Malakhites who believe that the time has come to sever the cord of Imperial dependence and for Orsinium to stand alone but proud against the outside world, even if it means war against its neighbours, a conflict they are foolishly confident they can win. They mark their allegiance by carrying either warhammers or maces, the most traditional orcish weapons of choice and a symbol of their direct approach to problem solving. The "Sharps" (or "Pricks" to their enemies) are their political opponents and opposites, mostly (but not exclusively) composed of Triminites who favour maintaining the current agreement with the Orientals, at least out of necessity until Tamriel has stabilised enough to renew their campaign for toleration across the nations. They carry either axes or swords, a sign both of their openness to foreign influences and the supposed cutting clarity of their insights into the outside world.
Quarrels between the Sharps and Flats, always bitter and frequently violent, are an everyday occurrence in the city, which is highly polarised along their lines and frequently paralysed by their disputes. But there is however a third faction, who are simply known as the "Awkward Bastards." Brought together by a shared rejection of the alternatives, rather than any cohesive ideology of their own, their ranks are composed mostly of orcs who believe either that Malacath and Trinimac are aspects the same being (and thus find the religious disputes that engulf the orcish people pointless), or are simply uninterested in religion, believing that there are far more important matters than abstruse theology which should occupy the minds of the city’s leaders. To mark their refusal to take sides, and their rejection of the dichotomy that cleaves the city, they often choose to carry unusual weapons, or none.
Relations with other Kingdoms
Fourth Orsinium is a PROTECTORATE of the Median Empire, which guarded the secrecy of its establishment for many years, and extends its military shield over the city-state to this day. It has historically been a simple exchange: Fourth Orsinium would supply its ores and its discarded young males to serve in the Legions; and in return the Eastern Emperors would guarantee its continued existence with the threat of retaliation by those same Legions. So valuable have the Orientals found this this arrangement that they have maintained it even in the face of angry objections and threatened action from both Raguda and High Rock (it has, we note in passing, served as a useful reminder to both nations that the Eastern Emperors’ wills are not held hostage by their subjects’ desires). Yet this pact has in recent years become strained from several directions. The Eastern Empire’s pressing needs elsewhere have given its Elder Council pause to consider many times whether the protection of a small and much-hated realm is a worthy expenditure of the public purse and the Legions’ time. For their part, the Malakhites of Fourth Orsinium view their city’s state of implied dependence on the charity of others as a stain on the orcish character, which stresses independence of will and the cultivation of one’s own resources, and it has become a major faultline in the politics of the citadel.
Fourth Orsinium is deeply HOSTILE towards the Republic of Hammerfell, and all of its federated republics and totambu, a hostility that is richly reciprocated.
Fourth Orsinium is NEUTRAL towards the Sultanate of Sentinel, viewing it as a trading partner which may be trusted to pay on time, if not to keep its sword sheathed.
Fourth Orsinium is HOSTILE towards the Eight Kingdoms of Bretony, but while for most this takes merely the form of a generalised ancestral grudge, it assumes a particularly virulent character in the case of Farrun, Daggerfall-Camlorn and most of all Wayrest.
Fourth Orsinium is ALLIED with certain of the Reachmen tribes with which they share the Dragontails, but HOSTILE towards others.
Fourth Orsinium is INDIFFERENT towards the Aldmeri Dominion, viewing it as no friend but at the same time, no threat for the present. The Dominion did launch an assault on Fourth Orsinium during the Great War, in an attempt to cross into Cyrodiil and encircle Chorrol, but were repulsed with minimal losses by the defenders. The orcish ruling caste would appear to consider the Altmer a problem for another day, an ancient enemy to whom their hostility is unending, with plenty of time to sate the grudge in the indefinite future.
The Orsinium: A bloodstained amphitheatre at the heart of the fortress-compound which forms the core of the city, where the violent politics of the orcs are played out. It should be instructive to compare the decorum of Raguda’s own twin chambers of Parliament with the shouting, profanity and near-constant bloodshed that defines the savage political deliberations of the orcs.
The Temple of Malacath: A foul shrine to the demonic powers that sustain the orcs’ unnatural strength and savagery, which also serves as the city’s main public toilet and rubbish dump (the loathesome orcs honour their copro-deity with their faeces and trash, for he is the patron of all unwanted things). Its main feature to the observer is a towering Eternal Flame fed by all the city’s burning rubbish and dung.
St. gra-Ghakul’s Chapel: A rare figment of civilisation in a citadel of barbarity, this chapel named for the Alessian Apostle to the Orcs was constructed in the Oriental style was made by the original founders of the city in the hope its refined architecture and (relative) rectitude of its teachings would calm the orcish spirit. The failure of this well-intentioned but futile endeavour is testament to the debased character of the orcish race. In these days, it is the spiritual home and meeting place of the city’s dwindling minority of Trimimac-worshippers.
Dragontail Company Headquarters: The nearest thing Orsinium possesses to a foreign ministry, for centuries this ominous office block was the nexus of the cobweb of schemes and lies which kept Orsinium hidden from the outside world until it could recrudesce into its full, repellent form. In the modern era, it retains its role in countless plots, but now chooses to primarily conceal these under the cover of mineral transactions with various other powers of Tamriel.
The Forge Quarter: It has often been observed that no race endowed with the spark of life by the gods, no matter how corrupted and vile its nature has become, is altogether without virtue. While it might seem hard to imagine such a lofty ideal could apply to subhuman creatures such as the orc, it is certainly true that they appear to possess innate insight into the construction of the tools of the violence that is the bedrock of their semi-society. Nowhere is this more amply evidence than in the Forge Quarter of their city, which, if the crudeness and unpolished nature of their style is discounted, is undeniably home to some of the most prolific and effective armourers and weapon crafters in the whole of Tamriel.
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Deeza added a topic in HammerfellPrimer: 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, Dragonstar is home to one of the very few temples in Raguda which is devoted exclusively to Hoonding, the Yoku god of Perseverance Over Infidels. The cult of Hoonding is generally considered to be somewhat esoteric, requiring the stern discipline of initiates and unsuitable for general worship, though Hoonding is omnipresently invoked in the liturgy of other deities or the recounting of deeds of folk-heroes such as Franjir, Diagna, Divad and Sura. However, Hoonding's more literal aspects make the cult a natural choice for the local establishment, which of late is almost exclusively composed of initiated deingi devotees, 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 HammerfellPrimer: 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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