On the Ayleid Realms, Anutwyll

Sun’s height, the 1st, 4E202

Anutwyll

Greetings my lord,

this has proved to be an interesting study. To begin with the realm, their ties to Hircine were indeed real. Offerings, altars, partially fossilized and decrepit carcasses. We’ve even discovered part of the shriveled remains of the fabled “howling grounds” named thus for their macabre appearance and tendency to elicit frightful reactions from the slaves released within. The realm’s role in the development of what is now known as the school of alteration is also not exaggerated, although most of their developments on the subject were made to supplement their hunting capabilities.

Not all of the populace hunted of course, but those that did were brutally trained, hence why a handful of them were capable of holding the remains of the city for so long. A great deal of them openly worshipped Hircine and even managed, through some feat of their sorceries, to master multiple shapes in which they shift their skins.

The so-called Howling Grounds was a wide valley directly north of Anutwyll. Densely forested, it was known as a “living artwork”. Every fredas, a hunt was organised to continue attracting the favor of Hircine. Note, this was a cheerful event to the ayleidoon, sport, fun, they brought newly-trained children to these events. They would release several dozens of their most fit slaves into the grounds and the hunters followed after them with the task of immortalizing a skillful and magnificent kill. What made the grounds so laughably unfair was how well-contained it was; to escape one might go west, in the waiting talons of far crueller realms; or across the river, to the east, where black mackamentain made its domain, where death would never come; or north, to Sard, where the floral realm of Nilichi robbed men of their dignity and broke them of their wills.

The name was chosen by the slaves and adopted by the masters after the grounds became so full of living or rather dying art. They would use their sorcery to freeze the scene and alter it according to their tastes, much like various artists would have different styles. Sometimes art pieces created from outside sources were brought in as “festive” decoration. The whole area was a gut garden of sorts as flesh became cultured and meshed with some of the local flora. Torture was not so widespread in Anutwyll since it went against the general ideals of the hunt.

But the grounds weren’t only for human hunting. Nay, in those days, Cyrodiil was host to a great many fearsome creatures that were hunted to extinction as their habitats burned and eventually vanished under the voice of Septim. In fact, we’ve found proof that a select few realm-lords were directly responsible for the creation of some of these beasts. Some beautiful, some ferocious, I even have an (incomplete) list of the creatures of Syissavia’s own creation. The Sorceror-queen wasn’t referred to as Mother-huntress for tame reasons it would seem, and many were the rumors that roamed about her.

Seekers were magnificent, tall and very strong birds. Similar in appearance, tail and coloring, to the peacock, it stood about as tall as a man with two legs far stronger. They could run the jungles in amazing ease and speed, their jumping capability was also reportedly astonishing. They also had a strong head, well-colored with sharp feathers pointing backwards and a medium sized beak, reinforced at the front to permit ruinous harassment.

Next, a rather surprising twist but, the gryphon. Through the merging of the forms of a lion and an eagle. She writes rather fondly of this accomplishment, fancying its remarkable predatory intellect, its strength and beauty.

Then there is the Bragarn, a rather massive water-dwelling reptilian similar to alligators but with a far slender body by proportion, a longer tail and more pronounced spiny scales. Fortunately it did not venture far from the waters of Anutwyll, it is said to have claimed dozens of lives after the rebellion, as the slaves simply never knew of its existence. Eventually when proof of its danger survived, it was hunted down for profit, rituals, hatred, grievances, any number of reasons.

There is the unicorn. It’s somewhat surprising that this beast has wormed its way into legends of high rock and other far-away places when the native population never migrated and still actively avoids any remotely inhabited areas as well as the ayleid do now. Its horn and hooves are highly sought after in nibenese tribes for purported magical effects. Hircine is supposedly fond of this creature for its strength, speed, elusiveness, and utter lack of interest in civilization and its citizens. Despite the belief that it is as strong as a normal horse, there are several accounts on record that lead to believe this is a gross error. One of which coming from a farmer who reportedly saw the beast leaving his barn, whose doors were shattered off their hinges.

Finally, the last one we have confirmation on is the… wolpertinger. Bought from Syissavia by some eccentrics, they were all used for the same purpose: cute torture implements. Wolpertingers are relatively small bunnies with wings, antlers, a long bird tail and two large fangs at the fore of their mouthes. They were used in groups to devour disobedient slaves. This was yet another odd source of entertainment for them.

Some of these and many other beasts were used in hunts to honor the spirit of Hircine. The gryphon, the unicorn, whatever creature was capable enough of turning the hunt inside out. The beasts that escaped or managed to kill a hunter were honored and permitted to proliferate within the grounds, which added to the danger of the area. The hunt was an activity, an entertainment and a way of life, nearly all of their magical developments were made to add to it (even if more direct sorceries were restricted in the hunt, for it would be too easy).

They even used a variety of drugs in their hunting. I won’t bother making a list just yet as there was already a team of an ayleid and a man from sometime after the rebellion who took it upon themselves to try and list the effects of all ayleid drugs at hand. Sadly the human partner of the endeavor died after a certain usage. Once I find myself a copy of the list I’ll know what to add it from our findings and properly present it. From memory, some of the drugs they used helped increase visual acuity, slow down the heartbeat and relax the muscles, increase endurance or pain tolerance. Whatever might give them an edge. Although it’s not so much the drugs themselves that are noteworthy, even if some (not used for hunting) had truly remarkable effects, as much as the means they used to obtain them. A lot of these drugs are completely absurd in nature and ranged from liquified man brain with chimera venom to star-suffused plants grown solely for smoking.

On occasion, slaves were made to attempt a hunt, more commonly accepted as feeding, which regularly ended in laughable catastrophe. From the time of Alessia however, there is known to be one who succeeded: Aldur the Spear-spoken, known for exploits as great as his ego. He grew unruly after his victory and was sent with all other tributes to Sardavar Leed, under the rule of Nilichi, to be broken and served as sacrifice either at their altars or at the City’s. There he met Alessia, where she would begin her rebellion, and succeed.

The sole reason the rebellion wasn’t immediately quashed was because of the ayleid civil war, they were far greater threats to themselves than man with all of its tools of menial labor could hope to be. What intrigues me is how and why her? Someone must have deliberately informed her of the impending civil war, someone knew she could succeed. It may well be that some misguided lord attempted to use her as a catalyst for the erosion of his rivals but it doesn’t make sense. Were that the case, why not inform the slaves of the other rival realms? Enmity was not singular in the hegemony.

The rebellion bloomed and flourished at Sard and we have proof of this, the letters, the coordination, all rallied to Alessia’s banner as she had planned out months in advance and all of this is on record, we have the evidence, all in the archives. Nilichi was a loyal servant of Umaril, breaking all slaves rallied to his realm before sending the masses as catatonic sacrifices for the Imperial City. Someone deliberately handpicked Alessia because they somehow knew she would bring it to term. Someone told her what would happen. Of course there is the supposed story of her visions but personally I have a hard time accepting this as fact. I hope to find information at Sardavar that would direct me to the first rebel lord to align himself with Alessia and perhaps the instigator of the war.

On the subject of religion, we’ve discovered some scraps of information on at least 2 of their “creator-ancestors” as well as their general view of Lorkhan, which is rather unusual.

They viewed Lorkhan and his orchestration of the world as masterful, they see him like an artist obsessed with his canvas but who, as I understand it, went… a few strokes too far? They thank him for his work, but scorn him for his errant zeal. Whether he is forgiven or not depends on the realm. It’s somewhat hilarious that he became the symbol of never overworking oneself for fear of ruining the product, ayleidoon were renowned for their lust of leisure and delegation of duties.

The other two we found information of was what I assume to be Auri-el, his depiction was somewhat unusual; a towering and powerful figure yet coiled, trapped in its own mind with the world in its shadow. I cannot quite yet speculate, all of this information was either obscured, faded, or nearly destroyed.

The last being, what I assume to be Mara, a figure of parental love, “watching” over children. Their version of it was curiously morbid. She steals children from their families, while posing as a caring figure in the nightmare she induces. All singular illustrations showed her as human, although one presented her with a shadow far from any man or mer. They await her overthrowing, as it says, her position was stolen. Neither is she considered an ancestor. One can hope we will stumble on more information of the gods and how the ayleid saw their spheres of influence. Although, I suspect this is a unique case, we do have several ancient statues and figures back at the city supposedly depicting gods and none of them are men.

Most of the architecture is gone, as the majority of the realm resided where Bravil now stands. We did, again, find some strange carvings on whatever stone walls were visible however. Only this time, some stones were less eroded and it turns out these carvings were more of shapely grooves, slots?. I have some thoughts on the matter but it will wait until a conclusive answer has been determined, I’m confident it can be.

Back to the records, some chose to enjoy simple homes of animal, and sometimes human, skin. While they were not lacking in cruelty, pride was not as important here as the other realms. Likely a by-product of constant physical exercise in unsanitary environments for days at a time (it wasn’t unusual for one of the hunts to last until the next). Here I also found again mention of those captivating beryl-blooded trees that served as massive homes to some. Stone homes were still used of course, but to a lesser degree. There were plazas and stone-paved open areas like the other realms, but the difference was seen much faster as one walked further away. As an aside, I suppose it’s also possible that the more natural homes were chosen to maintain a more rural scent to help in their hunts.

There is also some information on their interior decor: silk-laden interiors, shaped furniture lined with feather-stuffed pillows, fur-lined floors, stone depressions for warmly-kept baths (bathhouses were mainly used for social activities, yes, all kinds). All of it brilliantly illuminated by hanging starlight and welkynd “braziers”.

On routine, there’s common reference to a frequently frequented locale which I have difficulty naming by any other name than orgy hall, used for eating, intercourse, torture, drinking, anything that might hold its place in the definition of decadence. It seemed to be a completely integrated part of their society, they would enter and revel with as much ease as we might have deciding to make a sandwich. While I will describe some the ayleid sexuality, I will, for my current case of caravan-stomach, refrain from detailing the depraved debauchery that occurs within the hall. I can say that, judging from some of the embroidery and imagery, the actions made within were intended to curry Sanguine’s favor. Perhaps he was a common part of their lives in this regard or perhaps they purposefully made it so their daily actions would attract as much attention from the gods as possible.

Ayleid sexuality was definitely a lot more liberal than ours, there was no particular stigma that I could find on any subject. It wasn’t unusual to entertain multiple partners, to use magic, or whatever variety of ideas might come to mind to make things interesting. They assumed various practices unusual to us rather commonly, sado-masochism being one of them. The “family” we have with children was a thing only vaguely maintained, were it to happen, the child was only kept until and so long as he performed well to the end of his training. After that the child is usually sent out to learn from various teachers across the empire. Family, romantic relationships, also did not possess the same common structure we entertain. To find kindred spirits worthy of unconditional love was difficult in the ayleid empire, family was defined solely by love, which allowed it to include any number of people. The sentiment is one of the few things that is silently respected for its rarity and its value to a people that numbed itself on drugs, drink, paranoia and torture. Unfortunately, the feeling was often fleeting.

As for ayleid fashion within Anutwyll, jewelry or other gaudy garments were disdained in favor of less metallic solutions. Feathers, carved fangs and bone, some rare and bright gems, usually strung together with fine silks. It’s been several thousand years, and it astonishes me how well the color in their clothing has preserved. Myriad and lively colors was a staple of their fashion , but I didn’t think so much care was taken of it. I can understand why some former slave accounts point to ayleid as appearing hazy in most clothing, so many colors might confuse the eye, or the human eye, at least. Ayleid fashion is at its most primal here, less silks and clean-cut star-steel, more pelts, furs, enchanted beads and so on. While here it was made with a little more practicality in mind, normal ayleid clothing is solely for comfort. Even their armor follows the same trend, protective, enchanted and highly durable, yes, but cloaked and filled with feathers, silk, and so on. It’s worth mentionning that almost all of their clothes were enchanted, sometimes little but enchanted nonetheless.

Anutwyll was also relatively close to a realm dedicated to Molag Bal, Mackamentain. Aggressively expansive, it often sought to spread through weakening and eventually forcing other realms under its dominion. There were border skirmishes, and often kidnappings enacted upon it’s adjacent realms. The Mackamentain we know “now” had likely already absorbed two or three other realms, my stomach churns just thinking about what happened to their victims. The tale of Mackamentain’s fall is neither short nor pleasant to the mind. In fact, no tale about that place is, it’s become an “old wife” story to scare children in some places. Their fighters were bloodthirsty and they had daedra far worse at their command. A curious thing, though, that Mackamentain’s actions went unopposed.

To move on to Syissavia, the “Mother-huntress”. She wasn’t the first to establish the hunts but she gladly perpetuated them. She was a skilled sorceress, so much as to manipulate living elements into a new coherent state, like the gryphon. She was a firm leader, ran things well if in unusual ways. She had no mate or family and for this and other reasons, rumors sprang up about her. The most prevalent one was bestiality, and reading of how she thought of some of her creations, how she speaks highly of the gryphon’s body for instance, I find myself wondering if it was true. In any case, she had wholly given herself over to hircine and often performed personal rituals. She preferred the hunt and time spent with beasts for their simple cunning. She enjoyed straight-forward matters and dealt with ambitious liars rather harshly.

A few days after her coronation, there was also rumor of a secret “wedding” to Hircine, and that she had until that time discreetly entertained a lover. A lover which she hunted down and killed for the purpose of said wedding. It would seem ayleid enjoyed story-telling regardless of the integrity of truth, this tale grew solely in the soil of her disappearance the night of coronation.

As it turns out, she did indeed take part in the civil war, and took up arms against Umaril. From her own words, she was approached several times by a figure whose description is now lost to fire. This person seemed to know details of what Umaril was plotting at the tower, and convinced her to rebel. It narrows it down, Umaril had many attendees at the City but he only had 7 Sorcerer-kings as advisors, seven privy to the minutiae of the goal and would possess the titular authority necessary to convince others, even if they knew the general direction (which again is frustratingly right outside our reach). It was also a male voice which helps or would help, if Umaril’s courtiers weren’t anonymous. I fear the possibility that the evidence needed to elucidate this mystery may very well be lost to time. Whatever reason the other lords participated, the crux lies in that one unknown, he who instigated the civil war, for he could have told them anything, leaving his true motives obscured.

Syissavia was supposedly last seen at a three-sided conflict between the men of Sard and the loyalists of Culotte, but was never found dead… There are passing mentions from those present at the conflict of black garbed mer stealing people away from the battle. The description of the attire is consistent with that of the nightblades of Mackamentain, and hundreds of bodies were unaccounted for in those days. After verifying old statistics, the “missing in action” ratio is about three times higher in conflicts located within a day’s reach of Mackamentain. I am both excited and apprehensive at the prospect of searching that realm.

There isn’t much more of note I’m afraid, at least not information that is complete. Next on the journey will be bordering Elsweyr, the ruin’s name is lost but the area is known as the wailing vale. It is a minor detour and there probably won’t be too much to tell, as the Alessians sought to destroy what sympathy for the ayleid was roused there by the enchanting trees. It was almost entirely razed.

Thats all for now, varlais suna ni, perhaps one month this time.

-Solortus Nexusus