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  Black Marsh
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Black Marsh


Within the Elder Scrolls legendarium, the earliest inhabitants of the Black Marsh and environs are believed to have been the Hist, great life-giving trees of unknown capacities. According to the Morrowind game book, The Annotated Anuad, a Bosmeri creation myth, the region presently known as the Black Marsh was once part of a much greater landmass within the domain of the Hist, but the greater part of the region was flooded during the wanderings of the humanoid Mer races. "The Hist were bystanders in the Ehlnofey war, but most of their realm was destroyed as the war passed over it. A small corner of it survived to become Black Marsh in Tamriel, but most of their realm was sunk beneath the sea." Accoring to The Imperial Library's History of Tamriel, Argonians came to inhabit Tamriel in small, preliterate communities by the Early Merethic Era.

Savant's Note On Vvardenfell states that Dunmer from neighbouring Morrowind have raided the Black Marsh for slaves "for ages." Morrowind's plantations are in many places entirely dependent on the enslavement of Khajiit or Argonians labour. The Dunmer Great House Dres is particularly noted for its militant support of the institution, and hostile to the emancipatory Cyrodiilic Empire. During the later years of the Third Era, Black Marsh came into conflict with its Dunmer neighbours to the north in the bloody Arnesian War. The Black Marsh's armies were destroyed, but an Argonian was able to capture and murder an influential Dunmer merchant called Roris who was later made a saint by the Dunmeri Temple. Interestingly enough, the documents prepared for Lord Vivec by the Temple imply that Black Marsh retains control of some historically Dunmer provinces, despite their loss in the Arnesian War. In their detailing of Dagoth Ur's plans, they state that he wishes to "Recover ancient territories stolen by Skyrim and Argonia." The Dunmer and the Argonian races, perhaps unsurprisingly, have a "long standing and bitter hatred for one another".

Within the Elder Scrolls universe, Black Marsh is located in the southeastern part of Tamriel. "Most of the Argonians reside in the inland waterways and swamps of the southern interior. There are few roads, and the principal method of travel is by boat," according to both Morrowind's in-game dialogue and the book Provinces of Tamriel. Fictional novelist Waughin Jarth's description of the region in The Argonian Account confirms this characterization. The Argonian Account concerns the trials and tribulations of a one Decumus Scotti, a moderately influential Imperial bureaucrat who finds himself in exotic locations at exciting times. Jarth, in an in-character interview by developer Ted Peterson, attested that Decumus Scotti is, within the context of the series, a real person, though "Decumus Scotti" is just a convenient pseudonym. Jarth's original Morrowind novella, Dance In Fire found Scotti caught in the recurring conflict between the Khajiit of Elsweyr and the Bosmer of Valenwood, to which he responded with the characteristic quick thought of a management type and brought himself some authority within his organization. The Imperial Library preserves an email in an appendix to their edition of Dance In Fire, where Ted Peterson implies that Scotti's next adventures would find him in Black Marsh. The reliability of the Account is uncertain, as the Imperial Library characterizes his Dance In Fire as a mixture of fact and fiction, but the book manages to fill many holes left by other lore, and complement the statements of others in a convincing way. Jarth, though he has himself never "been anywhere in Black Marsh but Gideon", claims to have interviewed Imperial travellers to the province, and attests to having the descriptions right.

In Jarth's novella, it is found that the poor condition of the roads prevents food from arriving fresh at any destination. The main character, Decumus Scotti describing the goods, "grain, meat, and vegetation," of his caravan as being "in various stages of corruption." Lord Vanech, principal administrator at the Imperial Building Commission, says in the novella that "despite staggering investments of time and money, the trade along those routes only gets slower and slower."

Impediments to road travel are seen to abound; fast growing grasses that cover important trade routes as quickly as they are cut down; insects, affectionately known as fleshflies, that feast on the soft skin of non-natives; rivers that seasonally flood several feet; and roving bands of beastly Nagas, raiders of caravans. One of Jarth's Argonians speaks of land transportation with subdued irony. "We don't have the broken wagons and dying horses of our brothers on the outside," rolling his tiny eyes. "We don't know better." Jarth's novel finds it a solely Imperial desire to make trade land-based, and encourage large scale plantation complexes, and a desire that has done little good for Black Marsh itself. The novella finishes by having Scotti clear up most issues relating to Imperial interests in Black Marsh, returning travel to its historical form, by boat and Underground Express, and by ceasing Imperial efforts to change Black Marsh's economy from one oriented on subsistence agriculture into one oriented on export crops. As Jarth writes, the situation is that "Black Marsh simply was, is, and always shall be unable to sustain a large-scale, cash-crop plantation economy." "Black Marsh," in Jarth's summation of Scotti's accomplishments, "[is] better off than it [has] been in forty years."

Native Life

Argonians are a cold-blooded beast race of reptilian humanoids, consistently portrayed throughout the Elder Scrolls series of games as intelligent, quick and agile, tending towards the in-game character classes of the mage and the thief. The appearance of the race has been progressively developed over the series as minor refinements in their design were made for each game, developing from a near-Dunmer variety of humanoid in Arena to a lizardlike variety of amphibian with double-jointed legs in Morrowind.

The only Cyrodiilic humans said to have ever lived in Black Marsh for any length of time were the Kothringi tribesmen, who were wiped out by Knahaten Flu. The flu persisted for 41 years, from 2E560 to 2E601. The native Argonians proved immune to the effects of this plague, leading others to suggest that they and the Hist had created it.The last recorded case of the flu was in 2E603, after the aforementioned Kothringi tribesmen had fled the Black Marsh by boat and disappeared.

Black Marsh was once inhabited by another species known as the Orma, a race predisposed to blindness, during the First Era, but they, too, succumbed to the Knahaten Flu and died out. Wamasus or Wamasii, dragonlike creatures, were also once to be found in Black Marsh, though there are no recent reports of their existence. Werelions, which Black Marsh shares with Cyrodiil and Elsweyr, werecrocodiles, which Black Marsh shares with southern Morrowind, tree-dwelling lizards, and dangerous feather serpents are other curious purported forms of indigenous life.

Jarth records Scotti seeing what are called Hackwings in Black Marsh, "giant birds with long, saw-like beaks nearly the size of the rest of their bodies." A fellow traveler is written speaking of them. "like everything else in this damnable place, they'll eat you if you don't keep moving. Beggars pounce down and give you a nasty chop, and then fly off and come back when you're mostly dead from blood loss." Jarth's recounting of Scotti's voyages also finds in Black Marsh several other varieties of exotic life. Fleshflies, "blood-colored, sand-grain-sized insects," which feast on human flesh, are found by Scotti to inhabit Black Marsh and southeastern Cyrodiil, where they deform the faces of those unlucky enough to be caught by their swarms. Further into Black Marsh, Scotti encounters Nagas, much to his displeasure. Argonian caravan trains are frequently ravaged by the beasts, big, black, covered with scales, and possessing small black eyes and huge mouths dripping with needle-like fangs. Black Marsh is also home to rootworms, which a smuggler casually introduces to Scotti as a type of 'Underground Express.' The rootworms are useful to travelers, swallowing them whole and taking them on with the current. Their digestive systems are apparently quite slow, and travelers "could live in a rootworm's belly for months."

The alchemical ingredients Dragon's Tongue and the Somnalius Fern are native to the Black Marsh. Dragon's Tongue is a fernlike herb lethal to the touch. It gains its name from the fire-red fronds that surround its golden efflorescence. The Somnalius Fern is light green and delicate, crumbling to the touch. It has the effect of fatiguing the creature that inhales it. Both plants are also found in Cyrodiil. The Dragon's Tongue is also found in Oblivion, along the Golden Road separating Skingrad from the Imperial City, and the Somnalius Fern along the Eastern vale of the Nibenay basin, and as far north as the Great Forest.

Black Marsh's role is inextricably tied to that of the Argonian population of every game, who are generally characterized as "mysterious," people about whom "little is known," and who are not known to have written any in-game books, making the region perhaps even more alien than those other regions who are as well beyond the scope of the series.

Average User Rating: 7.7
Number of Votes: 76

User Comments  
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Total comments: 22 | Last comment: 12-19-2007 at 13:52

Click the Expand symbol to expand all comments (view full comments)

 Expand#1 - Black Marsh - Posted by: Green_Sabre (Member) - 08-23-2006 at 18:05

 Expand#2 - Other way round ^^ - Posted by: Mage_and_Assassin (Member) - 09-23-2006 at 04:09

 Expand#3 - Oh Oh, I know whats going on ! - Posted by: Mage_and_Assassin (Member) - 09-23-2006 at 04:15

 Expand#4 - Posted by: Fire_Legion (Member) - 09-23-2006 at 06:56

 Expand#5 - Posted by: Shadowmare55 (Member) - 11-05-2006 at 08:34

 Expand#6 - Posted by: Aggron (Member) - 11-05-2006 at 08:50

 Expand#7 - Posted by: Dark_Messenger (Member) - 11-18-2006 at 05:43

 Expand#8 - Posted by: mstm (Member) - 11-18-2006 at 13:14

 Expand#9 - Argonians - Posted by: Zerrok (Member) - 12-22-2006 at 22:11

 Expand#10 - Posted by: IsolinaBlack (Member) - 02-02-2007 at 22:41

 Expand#11 - argonians - Posted by: argonian_soldier (Member) - 02-06-2007 at 06:38

 Expand#12 - Posted by: TheWicthKing (Member) - 02-18-2007 at 00:14

 Expand#13 - Posted by: Fire_Legion (Member) - 02-21-2007 at 11:24

 Expand#14 - Posted by: Aggron (Member) - 05-10-2007 at 12:48

 Expand#15 - Posted by: Aggron (Member) - 05-10-2007 at 12:48

 Expand#16 - Posted by: hybrid_hunter (Member) - 07-02-2007 at 17:39

 Expand#17 - new game - Posted by: mousemanhugger (Member) - 07-25-2007 at 09:43

 Expand#18 - Posted by: FLOW_1 (Member) - 08-17-2007 at 09:44

 Expand#19 - Posted by: hybrid_hunter (Member) - 09-30-2007 at 14:45

 Expand#20 - Posted by: gottlos84 (Member) - 10-02-2007 at 07:00

 Expand#21 - Posted by: Azuras_Right_Hand (Member) - 12-10-2007 at 22:24

 Expand#22 - Posted by: Azuras_Right_Hand (Member) - 12-19-2007 at 13:52

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