Tamriel is a land divided. Divided by race, divided by culture, and divided greed. Yet, there was once time in its history when this land fell under a single banner, was driven by a single purpose, and was ruled by a single leader. This is the story of one man and his legacy. A story that some say truly begins to reveal itself in the Province of Skyrim, with a young warrior who went by many names, but the Nords called Talos.
At a young age, Talos was already a warrior of remarkable skill. Spending your youth with the rugged Children of Skyrim often has that effect. In his earliest years he was bred for battle by the Nords. Under their influence he quickly learned the ancient art of speaking the Dragon’s Tongue, but he was no mere pupil. Talos wielded the power of the Voice with a skill and ease thought only to belong to Dragons.
Yes, the unbridled power of Dragon Shouts would assist Talos in the decades to come, but the most important thing this warrior learned in his youth was the art of war. Shouts are useful weapons on the battlefield, and the Nords depended on them greatly, but strategy win wars. Strategy- builds empires.
During the early days of his military career, fate led Talos to a man name Cuhlecain, the King of Falkreath. The two became quick friends, and after proving himself worthy, he was made Cuhlecain’s military General. Talos was a mere 20 years of age at the time.
In his earliest recorded victory, General Talos led the now famous invasion of Old Hrol’dan, which at the time was in the hands of the Reachmen of High Rock. Known today as the Forsworn.
With only a small band of Colovian troops and Nord berserkers at his command, the newly appointed General proved a shrewd tactician, and in no time at all his forces broke the Reachmen’s line, driving them back into the gates of Old Hrol’dan.
A siege of Old Hrol’dan seemed out of the question, seeing as Talos could expect no reinforcements from his King in Falkreath. Even so, the imposing stronghold was only a small obstacle in the eyes of a man destined for greatness. As the Reachmen mocked the young general from the safety of their walls Talos called upon the power of the Voice (his Thu’um), and soon the walls of Old Hrol’dan came crashing down. As Talos shouted down wall after wall, the Reachman looked in terror as the Nords poured into the stronghold to claim it in the name of their King. It was a remarkable victory no doubt, but it’s what happened next that would echo through the coming ages.
As the dust was settling in Old Hrol’dan, a great storm grew over Skyrim. A storm of its magnitude only meant one thing to the Nords, the Greybeards were about to speak. As nearby villages were being evacuated, Talos instead walked into the eye of the storm. It is important to note that Talos was a man of faith and prophecy. His determination and belief in himself drove him to do great things in his lifetime. His meeting with the Greybeards was destiny, and when destiny beckons to a man, who is he to deny it? Driven by forces unseen, Talos took the pilgrimage up the Seven Thousand Steps to the Throat of the World. There, the Greybeards acknowledged him, removed their gags, and spoke his name. His true name. Dragonborn.
As the Greybeards spoke his name the very roots of Tamriel shook, and the world trembled. The Greybeards told the Dovahkiin that he would usher in the coming of a new age. An age in where Man would usurp Elves, and take their seats as the undisputed rulers of a united Tamriel; but, it would come at a cost, the Dragonborn must travel to the south, to Cyrodiil. There he will recover that which has been lost.
Talos traveled with his King back down to the southern border of Skyrim. It was already Cuhlecain’s ambition to secure the Colovian Estates of Cyrodiil, and he saw his opportunity in his mighty General.
As General Talos moved his forces south through the towering Jerall Mountains, his army was forced to a standstill at Sancre Tor. Sancre Tor was impregnable. A citadel on high cliffs nestled in a mountain basin with steep, unscalable cliffs in the rear. An alliance of Breton and Nordic forces comfortably occupy the citadel during these cold winter months, and from uptop the fortress they dare King Cuhlecain’s General to shout down their walls.
Faced with an impossible task, Talos is said to have received a divine vision of the Amulet of Kings. That which has been lost for centuries. The Amulet of Kings was once worn by the rulers of the First and Second Empires. It has served not only as a symbol of nobility, but its divine blessing ensures only those of Dragon’s blood may wield it. In his later years Talos said this vision inspired what happened next.
Talos’ army at the time was small, poorly trained and outfitted, short on rations, and unprepared for winter campaigning. As his ragged units assembled in the lowlands beneath the citadel, his enemies confidently assumed that Talos had unknowingly delivered his army into a trap. You see, Sancre Tor was not only protected by an unscalable cliff in front and unscalable heights in their rear, but it also held a secret entrance to the citadel, that is magically concealed under the appearance of a large mountain lake. Ready to crush Talos and his small army, the Nord-Breton allies left a small force to defend the citadel, descending through the secret lower passages to attack and overwhelm the cold, hungry forces before them. They expected to defeat, overrun, and utterly obliterate General Talos’ army, instead they were lured to their doom.
While the enemy left Sancre Tor virtually undefended, Talos and the main bulk of his army entered the citadel via the entrance his enemies thought was a secret. Once inside Sancre Tor, Talos and his men swept aside the remaining defenders and captured their generals. Thus he forced them to surrender the citadel and their armies.
Interestingly enough, the Nords who fought tooth and nail to defend Sancre Tor from Talos quickly deserted the Bretons and swore loyalty to the Dragonborn once they saw him use his thu’um. With his army swelling in numbers, the leaders of the Bretons were summarily executed and the captive soldiers imprisoned or sold into slavery.
After the Sack of Sancre Tor, general Talos descended into the old fort, where he found the catacombs of an Empire long forgotten. He returned from the crypt of Reman III with the Amulet of Kings grasped firmly in his hand, thus, fulfilling prophecy, and bringing Man one step closer to the rebirth of an Empire.
With tales of this impossible victory spreading through the Nine Provinces, General Talos went on to unify East & West Cyrodiil in the year that followed. It seemed no one could stand before his mighty thu’um, and in the 2nd Era, year 854, the White Gold Tower yielded itself to the Dragon of the North.
With the White Gold Tower falling under their control, the keys to Cyrodiil were up for grabs, and King Cuhlecain was ready to take his place on the Ruby Throne, with a now famous General at his side, but someone had a different plan in mind. In a conspiracy that is still debated about today, the Imperial Palace was set ablaze, and in the confusion a Nightblade from the province of High Rock assassinated King Cuhlecain, and nearly killed Talos in the processes, or so the story goes. Although General Talos escaped the Palace with his life, a fresh wound across his throat ensured he’d never shout again. The Dragonborn was forced to spend the rest of his days ruling an Empire with only his whisper, but rule he did.
In the aftermath of King Cuhlecain’s assassination Talos ascended to the Ruby Throne- the Amulet of Kings hanging from his freshly scarred neck. Recognizing him has one of their own, Cyrodiil stripped Talos of his birth name, and gave him the Cyrodiilic name of Tiber Septim.
A new Empire was on the horizon, and with it, the promise of change. Change that would stretch to every corner of the continent. The kind of change that carries itself on a river of blood. Nine Provinces hung in the balance, and a man driven by conviction & ambition sits on a throne in the center of it all. Unity isn’t something Tamriel was known for, but then again, Tamriel never knew a man like Tiber Septim. A man who knew how to wage war, but more importantly, knew when to make peace. But that- is a story for another day…