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Lore:Systres History: Volume 3

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Systres History: Volume 3
by Trilam Heladren, Associate Dean of Eltheric History, University of Gwylim
A history of the Systres Archipelago

Roughly fifteen hundred years after the first eruption of Mount Firesong, the slugfolk of Thras unleashed their great plague upon world. 1E 2200 and the decades that followed were some of the most harrowing years in Tamrielic history. The blight raced across the continent at an almost supernatural speed, leaving hundreds of thousands of misshapen corpses in its wake. Healers' records speak of boils, brittle bones, seeping mucous from the eyes and ears, and an unquenchable thirst that drove folk to madness.

Unsung heroes like Flavia Lentinus, Irorliel of Russafeld, and Mazazim al-Hegathe laid down their lives in the vain search for a cure. None of them succeeded in halting the disease, but their work confirmed what everyone had long suspected—the plague was unnatural and it came from across the sea. From Thras.

In 1E 2241, the Colovian Sailor-King of Anvil, Bendu Olo, loudly proclaimed his intent to punish Thras for their offense. He petitioned the Alessians for commission and received it in short order. With the blessing of the emperor, Olo claimed the title of baron-admiral of the Imperial fleet and began assembling an armada of retaliation. Neither Olo nor any member of the Alessian Council had any illusions about the fleet discovering a cure for the plague. Few healers accompanied Olo on his journey. The clear intent of the All Flags Navy was the utter destruction of Thras and all its inhabitants.

Within two years, the baron-admiral and the founding members of the All Flags Navy dropped anchor in the Systres Archipelago. Colovian engineers, assisted by Breton and Orcish laborers, set to work assembling the Systres Shipyards in Gonfalon Bay and what is now called All Flags Islet. There were, of course, numerous shipyards working in concert in the 1E 2240s—most notably in Alinor and Rivenspire. But the Systres operation dwarfed the others in both size and output. By 1E 2249, the naval base and its first compliment of ships stood ready to make war upon the Sload. Skirmishes in the early 1E 2250s transitioned to all-out war by 1E 2258.

In his memoirs, Captain Forvse Nelvilo of the Dark Elf flagship, Hopesfire, describes encounters with the Sload thusly:

"Then we saw the beasts. Great masses of flesh boiled to the surface like blighted whales, spraying ichor from long rows of funnel-like pores. This green bile dissolved sailor and ship alike and only stopped when we set it aflame. The slugs, bound to the war-beasts' backs, hurled spells of such profane power that I hesitate to commit them to the page. Elves clutched their heads, screaming, and only recovered when we boarded the sea beasts and slew the Thrassians with blades and harpoons."

Unlocking the secret to breaching these sea beasts proved to be a decisive tactic, as Sload often attacked with impunity from beneath the waves. The great warlock, Syrabane, may have had a hand in this, given that his focus throughout the conflict appeared to be arcane naval warfare, but details remain hazy at best.

After claiming several major victories at sea, Olo and his great fleet launched their final assault on Thras in 1E 2260. Despite the fact that this was the decisive battle, firsthand accounts remain exceedingly rare. Even now, we still have no idea how the All Flags Navy managed to destroy the Sloadlands—or whether, indeed, the Sload used the Coral Tower to destroy themselves. Scholars like Silanus Rullo assert that this gap in the record was by design, as the secrets to sinking an entire landmass into the sea were too dangerous to commit to posterity. What we do know is that everyone who witnessed the event was greatly shaken by it. Subsequent accounts by both captains and sailors are characterized not by celebration, but by a deep sentiment of melancholic relief. The loss of half the fleet to a swirling gyre did little to improve the mood.

Despite the horrors and losses—or perhaps because of them—the baron-admiral and his remaining captains returned to the Systres Archipelago and signed a Concordat of Fraternity on All Flags Islet. This document bound each captain and each race to the cause of peace and cooperation. All present resolved to let the Systres Archipelago stand as a monument to Tamriel's victory and a symbol of continental unity for all time. Of course, time makes a fool of us all, and the people fell back into squabbles soon after—most notably the War of Righteousness. But for a brief, shining moment, the people of Tamriel stood united and victorious against a common foe.