616. The Valley of Scars

616 (a). The Valley of Scars

To the wayfarer passing by on the road from High Rock to the heartlands, the Orc settlement at the Valley of Scars in Upper Craglorn might look much like any other Orsimer stronghold from Wrothgar to Skyrim. Set against the foothills of the Dragontail Mountains, which together with the valley walls provides the camp with its natural fortifications, a river runs like a vein through its heart offering the settlement plenty of agrarian potential.

616 (b). The Valley of Scars

If the wayfarer were to linger a little however, they might notice the considerable amounts of nirncrux being mined and excavated. It is unusual because the crimson stone in its natural state is known to be too brittle to create weapons, armour, or to build anything durable. When pounded down into dust however it possesses many properties which the Iron Orc’s use for nefarious purpose. From creating potions to enchanting runes and the imbuing armour. It was even used by the the Scaled Court in the spawning pools of the Serpent’s Nest to create the fearsome Mantikora.

The next thing the wayfarer might note, even above the constant clang of pickaxe upon stone echoing across the valley, is the bellowing and growling of trolls. Whether their grisly clamour is beget from temper or torment is difficult to tell. The Orsimer have always sought to make use of powerful and hardy creatures as war beasts, but the particularly feral nature of the troll makes them almost impossible to fully tame as they have the Welma or the Echatere.

616 (f). The Valley of Scars

Finally the wayfarer might observe that every member of this tribe is armed and set ready for conflict. Indeed, this seems more a garrison then a settlement. Separated from their cousins to the North, the Iron Orcs have always been an isolated society, even developing their own language. Their often brutal culture has been chiselled by this isolation and the rugged land about. Their ancestors were believed to be originally a primitive society of stone worshippers, but after savage war broke out with their more progressive Nedic neighbours, and faced with annihilation, the Orcs were forced to mine their cherished stone for iron. This only led them to become ever more isolated, withdrawn, and resentful of the outside world.

Their onerous history however is not enough to explain just how far this tribe has now descended into depravity. For before I entered this Valley of Scars I encountered a group of travelling merchants waylaid upon the roadside. They claimed that the Iron Orcs had attacked them and dragged off a number of their comrades. It is not long before I discover their fate as I find a huge pit littered with the bones of human, feline, lizard and mer. It is in this shameful crater where Gulzog the Butcher feeds his trolls.

616 (i). The Valley of Scars

This wayfarer has seen enough, and shall endeavour to put an end to this most wicked practice once and for all.

616 (j). The Valley of Scars


615. A smooth tongue and sharp teeth

615 (a). A smooth tongue and sharp teeth

To the north of the still shimmering shards of the Mage’s Staff, Regent Cassipia’s steward, a flighty wood elf named Little Leaf, has failed to diplomatically persuade a tribe of Iron Orcs to disband the army of trolls they are building for the Scaled Court. Realising that even a smooth tongue needs sharp teeth, she has come up with a new plan to forcefully convince the Iron Orcs, but the diplomat needs the sword arm of a soldier.

615 (b). A smooth tongue and sharp teeth615 (c). A smooth tongue and sharp teeth

Our first target is beneath Ilthag’s Undertower, an underground fort which the Iron Orc warrior Ilthag Ironblood uses as a training arena for his ferocious beasts. It takes some effort for us to fight our way through the bustling facility, albeit we have the advantage of surprise; for who in their right mind would believe anyone stupid enough to attack a fort full of armed orcs and armoured trolls.

615 (g). A smooth tongue and sharp teeth

It is clear that Little Leaf respects, maybe even likes the Orc warrior, describing him as ‘a remarkable teacher.’ So I shouldn’t have been surprised when she attempted one last time to convince Ilthag to stop training the trolls. Being a good diplomat I suppose means checking which way the wind blows before raising your sails. But it was to no avail, for not even the blessed breath of Kynareth cannot change the course of a stubborn Orsimer.

There was saying I heard more then once from veterans whilst serving in the Legions, “It takes bad diplomats to start a war, but it takes good soldiers to finish it.”


614. We are but beasts

614 (a). We are but beasts

Our bid to halt the Scaled Court’s foul alchemical breeding of the Mantikora ends in the aptly named northern delve of Serpent’s Nest. Through its cheerless caves and murky passages, beyond the lurking serpents, lamia, trolls and cultists, lies the Spawning Pools of Hruzizolk. A progenitor Mantikora created by the alchemists to breed without need of further alchemical infusion.

614 (b). We are but beasts

Here in the liquid pools of crimson nirncrux we also find the third of the deadly predators bred into the creation of these abominations, man and mer. Some might argue, including the Regent Cassipia, that we are in fact the most dangerous predators of them all. Perhaps because like all predators we hunt for meat, be we alone also hunt for fur and bones, pests that damage our crops/livestock, to eliminate potential or perceived threats, and also simply for profit and sport. More likely what the alchemists of the Scaled Court sought to add to the Mantikora however, was our intellect. Our capacity to reason, to problem solve, and to utilize tools in overcoming anatomical disadvantages to dominate over beasts.

614 (f). We are but beasts

But the Mantikora we face is a huge, powerful, four-legged beast with two brawny arms, the segmented tail of a scorpion, and intelligent enough to wield a monumental spear as a weapon. To fight this behemoth as one would fight against normal beasts would most certainly end in disaster. Whilst to duel with it as one would against a man or mer would end equally calamitously. To win this battle perhaps we need remember that ultimately we are but beasts, just another expression of nature, and we must fight with all the feral instincts and savage impulse that we can rouse in our blood.

614 (j). We are but beasts


613. The Vulture’s Roost

613 (a). The Vulture’s Roost

The eagle is a noble bird that hunts for its food, whilst the vulture cravenly scavenges the already dead for its meat. So what could turn a soldier from eagle to vulture?

613 (b). The Vulture’s Roost

To the east of Dragonstar in Upper Craglorn there is an encampment on the crossroads run by a most motley group of Banner War deserters who have turned to scavenging weapons and armour from the battlefield of the heartlands. Their leader is a Nord who seems to have very little regard for her present comrades. One should not be surprised however, for Isrudde Crows-Watch obviously had little care or regard for her Pact comrades either before she deserted them, returning only to pillage their corpses.

613 (c). The Vulture’s Roost

Also part of the Crossroads Encampment can be found an Imperial selling scavenged armour from a stall she calls The Crow’s Pickings. She propounds that all the armour and weapons they stock have stories, yet she cares not enough to know them; Imagination being the torturer of conscience.

613 (d). The Vulture’s Roost

There is also an Argonian who discovered too late that he was just not cut out for army life, and a High Elf who was dissatisfied with the serviceman’s stipend. An overly aggressive Redguard who has dreams of retiring to Sentinal, if only he manages to survive Isrudde’s command. Whilst a Breton speaks a dubious tale of having to flee the Covenant ranks after facing execution for killing an officer, is joined by a Dark Elf and a Khajiit who both decline to share their tales at all.

613 (e). The Vulture’s Roost

One member of the group who stands apart from the rest is the polite Wood Elf Adandora. An aspiring writer with worthy ambition, if only she could find a publisher for her work. She earns her keep by writing and singing about the Crossroads Profiteers exploits. It is somewhat strange to find Adandora’s hopes tied to the fortunes of this group of renegades.

613 (f). The Vulture’s Roost

But oft it is that the road built in hope, and the road built in despair, meet at the same crossroads. It is curious that you may not find a more diverse group working together, for different reasons, for shared purpose, in all of Tamriel? So mayst desertion sometimes be a fine thing, a brave thing indeed? Perhaps… but not here, not at this crossroads encampment.

613 (g). The Vulture’s Roost

For this is a vulture’s roost, and the crimson fields of Cyrodiil is their banquet table. The manner of their victims death does not concern them, nor whether the corpse be man or mer; fought under red, blue or yellow banner. The hard work of others is their fodder; another’s most noble sacrifice, their most ignoble nourishment.


612. The Sunken Lair of the Wamasu

With the nesting grounds of the Giant Scorpion matron destroyed, I am directed south to the Sunken Lair where lies the Wamasu; the other giant predator used by the Scaled Court in their alchemical breeding of the Mantikora.

It is quite astonishing that these giant reptiles, natives of the great marshlands of the south, have come to be in the arid wastes of Craglorn. The simplest explanation however may be found to the west in the delve of Haddock’s Market, where the smugglers of the Greycloack Mercenaries hold a large adult Wamasu captive. I recall whilst there seeing the unique shimmering eggs of the wamasu, their glistening husks illuminating the gloom as if the brood were charging up inside their shells.

It is perhaps unlikely that these Wamasu will ever become more then an oddity of this discordant age in Craglorn however. For even if they survive the arid environment, the passion for hunting, whether it be in the name of culling, sport, or food, is deeply implanted in the nature of both man and mer. Is it not an adage of Hircine’s followers that says, ‘those that join the hunt for the largest prey, care for nothing more from that day.’

612 (h). The Sunken Lair of the Wamasu