Sun’s Dawn, the 20th, 4E202
The Imperial City
Greetings, my lord. I hope this letter finds you swiftly. Within will be my first report on the ayleids, or ayleidoon, rather. By no means a proper and full report, an introduction of sorts, but it contains some personal knowledge through research on my own time, which I believe is not commonly shared. Rest assured, I have not forgotten your desire to find the cause of the ayleid civil war, catalyst of their fall, and will pursue it at the first opportunity. Firstly I would like to thank you for your confidence despite the often reviled “taint” in my ancestry that seems to throw all bigoted noblemen into fits of furious ignorance. I would also like to extend my gratitude to lords Menel, Ojo and Hawk for their investments in the expedition, I have waited all my life to bring to light all that the alessians recklessly ruined in their zeal. Some fortunate scraps still remain in our vaults, thanks to some brave members of the historical society, born under Alessia’s own gaze. Miserably ironic a punishment that the alessians opted to wholly strike from history those who chose to preserve it. An unforgivable disgrace.
Following will be a brief overview on their culture, habits, political state of affairs, etc.. It varies rather oddly from realm to realm, as I will detail when we set out. I’m sorry to say that the imperial city will have to wait as subject of study for several reasons, one of them being the very myriad of security verifications required before letting anyone even see the ayleid relics safeguarded in the tower. Another being that some relics are still being uncovered, being so difficult to carefully extract from potentially lethal protection wards. Not to mention that their unearthing is put on hold for months, sometimes years if someone dies in the attempt of unlocking the ward.
To begin with the topic of politics, there was a notion well obscured by the Alessians, and still mostly ignored today: the ayleidoon were an empire, much like our own. In fact, it was upon their structure that ours was built. Uncountable elements of imperial culture can (or could have been) traced back to the ayleid way of life. How their empire functioned, however, was verily unusual. The majority of their standing army was daedric, they might have had an allegiance to Oblivion greater than even the dunmer. Although this was not worship in the strictest sense, a few realms chose worship, yes, but the most common partnership was indeed a simple mutually beneficial agreement.
The one realm that shrugged off all labels was the one whose walls guard me now; the Imperial City, named so before our time. The alessians might have changed that too if Alessia herself hadn’t perpetuated the name after the ayleid fall. What was most peculiar about the city, compared to the other ayleid realms, was the abundance of knowledge that flowed through it. Ancient sorceries, enchantments, maps of constellations, Oblivion, the deeper Aurbis, some are even speculated to cross into the realm of time. The emperor, Umaril, even ,supposedly, withheld more than what was granted to the rest of his trusted advisors. I hope to develop more on him in following reports, when we are finally permitted into the restricted archives. He is said to be the first to have brought safe and successful pacts with the daedra, as well as vast collections of knowledge and powers which quickly garnered him his first followers, and eventually, from jealousy of their lavish lifestyles, the rest of the province. The enslavement of man was an early symptom of this and while it was necessary to maintain their pacts with the princes, it is speculated that there are other reasons at play. Of course, they never held a high opinion of man to begin with.
Back to the Imperial City, the citizens there followed no known classification, worshipping neither daedra or aedra, yet recognising both and receiving their aid. They have even obtained support from magnic entities, two being held in particular reverence, one being Meridia, and the other being somewhat more difficult to track down. These solar entities were held in particular reverence, being credited with the gifting of welkynd and varla stones.
It was interesting to note that power structures developed different trends from the nibenean east to the colovian west. While in the west, certain cities endured under the same sorcerer-king for many centuries, due to their experience and wizened might, in the east we could find that most often when rulers changed, it was because a stronger sorcerer had risen to usurp him (Usurpation, the realm crowns and the power associated with these will receive its own text in due time, there is much to be said). And this odd structure functioned for millenia, despite the blased attitudes, despite the debauchery, the (at least how we might define them) psychopathic tendencies, the dangerous pacts, the volatile mentalities and the slave foundation. For but one sole reason did it not consume itself: Umaril. They all lived in utter respect for Umaril and his city. There are dozens of passing mentions to this fact that survived the alessian torchings.
To briefly mention geography and the environment. We all know Cyrod was once a jungle, although every time I read of this in original ayleid texts, it is never properly used, as if the word might have meant something else to them than it does to us. I can’t much say how the heartland was divided, but fortunately, one of our next targets for research is the ruined realm of Telepe, home of the deceased Sorcerer-King Agdatheil, the cartographer. Several sources confirm his obsession with proper charting of the physical world, ley-lines, and a great many other things. If any of his maps survive to this day, they will be invaluable in locating ruins lost to the passage of time.
I almost forgot to describe their appearance. They were often described in frightful detail by the former slaves. Tall with very sharp features, slender hands, with feathers for hair and beards. Their eyes are written as having abnormally large irises of various colors which could focus so much as to make their pupils minuscule, giving a horrifyingly powerful stare. No white either, what little space there was behind the iris was wholly black. Their skin was usually fair, sometimes slightly tinted with color, and their feathers varied in such an array of colors as to make rainbows envious. Of course, however, this information is not strictly from ancient times as it can be observed from the descendants of ayleidoon, the wild elves, if one can find them.
As for culture, there are practically no records of ayleidoon living before their alliances with daedra. However, there are traditions in the west which they kept for an unspecified amount of time, which may lead to some better understanding. What happens after that, is a culture of over-indulgence and hedonism to a level that can never hope to be replicated. Torture was a form of entertainment, self-induced insanity was used for relaxation, slave abuse in almost every way was a manner of killing time and liquors of all kinds were gorged upon moreso than water. Sorcery was freely practiced and served as the main qualifier of power in their society rather than coin, like in ours. Much of their nefarious arts were learned through their alliances with the magne-ge, ancient and complex magics that permitted many baffling feats. What these solar entities stood to gain from this allegiance, I cannot yet say. Their magic also shaped and built most of the important bodies of the ayleid realms, as the majority of sorcerer-lords simply did not trust slaves, no matter how threatened, to chisel out of the land the mad and meticulous designs they had made in their minds. In truth, most of the ruins we see today are nothing more than private undergrounds belonging to the realm lords. The realms were largely above ground and varied ,quite appropriately, variedly, from realm to realm. There are brief mentions of great, shaped trees that bled beryl sap, sprouted glass leaves and housed many of the more common folk. Even great stone structures, bent and molded into splendid and lively shapes curiously dissimilar to what we see now. I have theories on this but I cannot confirm anything.
I’ve seen some of the more well-preserved realms, they are rather rapturous in their ruin and evocative if one tries to imagine what they looked like before. Beautiful alabaster roads, impressive open buildings (almost always with an oculus to permit the sun’s entry I might add), the pillars, the vibrant arches, the bath halls, the gardens, all these open and finely sculpted spaces. What a wonder it would be to see them in their living days, cloaked in multicolor flora and shining in starlight.
Moving on, their culture was notorious for its various forms of “art” and “entertainment”. Their art was also entirely different from area to area but what stood out is they most often created it through live subjects, known as flesh sculptures. Much of their art depended on living elements. They would twist a body’s bones and muscles, alter its shape, suffuse it with magicka, add additional decoration to create a living (though kept immobile and incapacitated, most of the time) art piece. As for their entertainment, it came in all shapes and sizes, almost always involving death in some shape or form. One of the more popular ones involved a hedge maze in a sort of arena which human mothers had to navigate, as well as survive a number of tigers to reach their newborns, slowly being lowered to a fiery death.
Religion, as far as one can call it that, did not have as much of an impact on culture as one might believe, so long as we speak within the realm of worship. They did have a sort of central pantheon, eight gods, the very (although not quite) same ones Alessia built upon to create the Eight Divines. They were given a certain special recognition for bringing about the world and permitting all their joys and endeavors. Of course, while they were respectfully recognised, they weren’t necessarily followed, as we do. On occasion, a realm would be dedicated to a daedric prince, for example, and its practices would reflect their choice, and would be actively supported by daedric envoys. If I said one such realm pledged its offerings to Molag Bal, I wouldn’t need to explain some their practices. If one did the same for Sanguine, then the city would send all of its offerings to said prince all the while the increasing magnitude of the debauchery and its depravity would alter their production priorities and spill into all aspects of their life. This variety is but one more reason for my interest in the ruins.
To “blaspheme” was a rare thing to ayleidoon, in fact their judiciary system was fairly lenient to their own kin. I’ve recovered a few half destroyed texts on their laws and certain types of murders and form of usurpation are legal if only because the winner is proved the stronger one for it. Overall it was rather fluid, having few laws as few things were viewed as outright offenses, preferring to take a case to case approach. There’s even mention of a law-tome that hosts previously concluded trials which can be used as a reference point
There are many more points I could include with this letter but I trust my upcoming research on the ruins will make them more substantial and worthwhile. I wish to once more extend my gratitude for the confidence you’ve place in me.
Varlais suna ni, stars bless you, my lord. Expect from me in a few months.
Regards, Solortus Nexusus