460. Arlimahera’s Grip


I arrive at the crumbling ruins of Arlimahera’s Grip to find my theory, that it was from here that the Seventh Legion had been launching their raids upon the outpost at Martyr’s Crossing, quickly dispelled. The ruins of the fortress have been completely overrun by Xivilai and Banekin, so many in fact, that I think even Imperial necromancers would baulk at the prospect of crossing these grounds.


As I climb a tower to better survey the ruined fortress, I spy a group of hooded figures approaching a remote stone dolmen in the southern-most courtyard; the insidious Worm Cult are preparing another sacrifice. Perhaps Arlimahera’s Grip is just another example of what happens when the Dark Anchors of Coldharbour go unanswered for too long.

The fortress itself however was but a ruin long before these daedra arrived. Almost 200 years ago Arlimahera, the ‘Blood Queen’ of Hegathe, lead an army north across the vast wastelands to conquer the province of Bangkorai. That the border between High Rock and Hammerfell now stands just south at the Bangkorai Pass perhaps points to the fate of her venture.

As for the Xivilai now prowling the ruins, their intentions are far less perceptible then the Blood Queen’s. Tall and burly with two horns, piercing yellow eyes full of contempt, and blue skin that shimmers under the light of Masser and Secunda. Whilst far less coordinated then their more militaristic cousins, the Dremora, it is their self-serving, unpredictability that makes them just as fearsome an adversary. Traditionally wielding huge battleaxes, they are also believed to be very adept in all schools of magic, and many of the vile Banekin that now scamper wildly between the fallen stones were probably summoned by the Xivilai themselves.


It is unclear what the Xivilai’s intentions are here, but in a deep sanctum within the ruins I, and a small band of like-minded delvers, discover a particularly large and powerful Xivilai performing dark ritual. Maybe she is a champion of the Xivilai, perhaps a leader, or mayhap just a puppet for another with far darker schemes. The only thing clear at Arlimahera’s Grip, is that she must be stopped.


459. The summoner’s camp


Just south from the Breton outpost at Martyr’s Crossing I stumble across a small camp where an Imperial Mage has successfully summoned a large daedric watcher from the realms of Oblivion. The tentacled creature with many eyes appears to float docile before the summoner as she attempts by binding spell to impose her will upon it.  


Growing up in rural Cyrodiil my parents raised me to have an almost Nordic distrust of mages and their magicka. Yet as I grew older and began to travel throughout the province, I quickly learnt that my parents attitude was rather parochial and that, especially in larger towns where magicka was an everyday source used by healers, becoming a mage was considered about as honourable an occupation as a scholar or a banker. And of course later, whilst serving in the Legion, I began training to control magicka myself, in the ancient Akaviri martial arts tradition.

Battle Mages of the Imperial army were among the most feared people in all Cyrodiil, and yet also perhaps the most fascinating. When the Legions would pass through our town on their way to campaign in some far flung lands, every child would line the streets, not to cheer the legionnaire’s march, but in hope of catching a glimpse of those almost mythical, enigmatic figures. Only we would be left feeling disappointed when instead of seeing some effervescent figure, riding on a back of huge daedric clanfear or elemental beast, full of pomp and grandiosity, we would instead see but a rather unvarnished, solemn looking hooded figure riding upon a dull bay horse, looking utterly disinterested in the world about.


Despite my recent experiences working closely with the Mages Guild, I still retain a distrust for any who dabble in the school of conjuration, that arcane art of summoning creatures from Oblivion into Nirn. Why would one invite such horrors into your homelands? Is it solely to satisfy a lust of power, or a comfort to the wretched to have a companion in their misery? For me, the act of turning a barbaric daedra into an obedient dog, is but a small step away from vile necromancy.

Some say that once the doorway to Oblivion has been opened within you, it remains forever ajar. Summoners argue that men who fear Oblivion see Oblivion everywhere, and that conjuration is little more dangerous then attempting to control the elements of Nirn. To them I say this, be sure your daedric thrall dies before you do; because the moment you exhale your last breath, your thrall returns home to Oblivion, and who knows what part of you it will take with it.



458. The defence of Martyr’s Crossing

The Breton outpost at Martyr’s Crossing in Bangkorai has been raided 3 times in recent days by Imperial pillagers. The Knights that protect the camp are but the remnants of the Order of Saint Pelin, who were forced to retreat from the Bangkorai Garrison when it fell to the Septima Tharn’s infamous Seventh Legion. They have more wounded now then capable and are relying upon support from a band of Baandari merchants to defend their camp. But their supplies are almost gone and soon they will be forced into retreat once again.

The raiders are coming across the lake in boats at night, which means the Imperials have outflanked the Breton knights, either coming from the Viridian Woods to the North, or they have found a clandestine path through the ruins of Arlimahera’s Grip to the east. Either way the Bretons have once again been out-manoeuvred by the superior strategists of the Legion.

There are few that can match the tactical acumen of the Imperial strategist, even a maverick legion like the Seventh takes most pride in a battle won in the measure. Whilst in training for the Legion in Cyrodiil, I remember a plaque on the wall of the barracks which read; ‘To win a war one needs a strong arm to fight it, a strong mind to plan it, and a strong heart that will neither seek death nor flee from it.’

The Baandari people meanwhile are not famed for their benevolence, so it is a wonder that they have stayed so long within a camp that is almost certainly lost. Especially given that this is not their fight, and they’re own losses to the raids are going uncompensated.

But the Baandari are nothing if not pragmatic, for the outpost at Martyr’s Crossing protects the main trade route between High Rock and all of Hammerfell. Not only that, there are rumours that the Orcs of Wrothgar are rebuilding grand Orsinium once again. That would mean an influx of craftsman, labourers, artisans, and merchants from all over Tamriel heading north towards the Merchants Gate; and all will need to pass through the outpost at Martyr’s crossing.


If together they can last the night then there is hope yet, for word has reached the camp that the Lions of Stormhaven have crossed the Bjoulsae.


457. The Crypt of the Exiles


At the southern edge of the Pelin Graveyard in Bangkorai where the dead have risen to walk again, I find a large unmarked crypt. Unremarkable on the face of it as many of the crypts and mausoleums around here are left unmarked; only the gravedigger Lort could tell you exactly who was buried where. But as I enter the dank tunnels to investigate I find one big difference from the rest of this cemetery, rising from this crypt are not Breton dead, but Redguard.

I find a letter in the chambers next to the body of a dead Breton knight that calls this place the Crypt of the Exiles. The knight it seems was on a mission to retrieve a priceless artefact for the Redguard royal house that had been stolen by a warrior named Ulbazar. I find the bodies of many such knights littered throughout the crypt, their search it appears proved unsuccessful.

As I explore deeper It is interesting to see that many of the corpses rising have been mummified. Wrapped in fetid bandages, they appear far better preserved then the undead of the Breton’s wandering the graveyard outside.

The preservation of the dead is not a practice seen so much outside Hammerfell. It is speculated that in ancient Yokuda mummies were created naturally due to the hot, dry sands of the desert dehydrating their corpses. This led to the desert tribes routinely trying to preserve the bodies of those considered noble or heroic. Now it seems it is common practise.


Strange for a people who treat their dead with such reverence, that they would not be more attentive to the very real dangers of necromancy. There are no Ansei Wards to protect the remains of those passing to the Far Shores this far from the sands of the Alik’r.


456. My reflection in a wisp



I had not expected to encounter a wispmother in the hills above Pelin graveyard, the last one I saw was up at the Silaseli ruins on the Halcyon Lake. Had I known that she was here I would probably have tried to avoid her, not because I am afraid mind you, but because I am still unsure as to their true nature. And by nature, I do not mean disposition, because I already know this creature would rip me to shreds if I give it half a chance. No, I mean its origins.

As a child I read as many books as I could find on all the creatures of Tamriel; bestiaries and compendiums, hunting diaries and travellers tales. I’d listen keenly when the visiting bards sung of outlandish beasts in faraway lands, and daydreamed long after they’d left about seeing them all for myself one day.

I guess that was a real reason why I joined the Legions, ‘see Tamriel and beyond’ the recruiter had said, ‘broaden your horizons!’ She knew her audience. Because for us rural boys, signing up to the Legions had little to do with sentiments of duty and allegiance, that was for the city born and officer cadets. No, for us it was about escaping the agrarian shackles of provincial ambition.

As it happens I ended up never even serving beyond the boundaries of Cyrodiil. Most of my  service was spent supporting the province guards in trying to maintain civil order after the Emperor disappeared. And then later we spent more time within the Imperial City itself when the Empress Regent all but legitimised the Mad Elf’s debauched cult by banishing the Mages Guild.

Soon after the Banners invaded and we were pushed back into the City for good. Then… then came that longest night when that Dark Anchor fell upon the city. All lightness fled, and only chaos and pandemonium was left to fill its void.

So I never did get to ‘see Tamriel and beyond’, in fact the first time I ever left Cyrodiil was when I awoke in a prison cell in Oblivion, and by then I guess I was, for all intent and purpose, dead; so I’m not sure that even counts.

As for the natures of these forlorn wispmothers, although I suspect they are but elemental manifestations of some kind, I always rather liked the more romantic theories I’d read, that they were the ghosts of some lost race of Snow Elves, eternally searching for something that is forever beyond their reach. I think the rural boy in me could empathise with that.