Does the end always justify the means? Does the death of thousands somehow mean less in the hopes of achieving a lasting peace? Lasting peace is a noble goal, but when does the blood price become too much to bare? Surely a man able to carry such a burden has become more than human. He has transcended morality, and into godhood, at least- in his own mind and the minds of his men.
It is the Second Era, year 854, and a newly crowned Tiber Septim sits on the Ruby Throne, in the Province of Cyrodiil, which he claimed through right of conquest. General Talos is no more, Tiber Septim left that name behind him the day his King was assassinated, and he ascended to the Imperial throne.
The young Emperor has already achieved so much in the short time on Tamriel, and yet as we already know, his story is only just beginning. The Greybeards foretold that the Dragonborn would usher in a Golden Age for Tamriel, but ever since his throat had been cut the Dovahkiin has lost his power to command the Voice, and Tiber Septim’s dream for a united Tamriel seems more out of reach than ever.
Since the fall of the Second Empire of Man over four centuries ago, Tamriel has known nothing but endless war. They called this time period, the Interregnum- a “Dark Ages”. Petty Kingdoms and bloodthirsty tyrants terrorize the land and as they play their endless game of politics, entire generations live and die knowing nothing outside of this chaos.
About three centuries ago some order did begin to emerge out of the chaos as Alliances of Daggerfall, Dominion, and Pact began to form- but, that only turned out to be a highly organized slaughter, where countless would-be heroes died for a future that would not remember them.
Between the chaos and his inability to use the Thu’um, one would think Tiber Septim would happily live out his days ruling Cyrodiil, leaving the other Provinces of Tamriel to bicker and fight amongst themselves, but where most saw only chaos, Tiber Septim smelled opportunity.
Over the next ten years Tiber Septim’s Imperials waged war with their neighboring nations, to claim them for their new Empire, but never again would Tiber himself step foot on the battlefield, despite rumors to the contrary. No, Tiber Septim helped the war effort by using the most powerful weapon left to him. His mind. No longer did Talos need to shout to get the attention of his enemies, his Imperial Legions would do his talking for him.
For the first phase of his military campaign, Tiber Septim set his eyes on Skyrim, the land of his youth. Serving under various Jarls he knew Skyrim better than any other Province. As the Dragonborn the Nords owed him their loyalty, so it was at the Dawn of the Second Empire, so it would be at the Dawn of his Third Empire.
So little is known about Tiber Septim’s conquest of Skyrim, that most people believe the Nords pledged their allegiance to Talos before his armies even arrived in the Province. By spending his youth in Skyrim we assume the Nords saw Tiber Septim as one of their own- indeed even today most Nords refuse to use Tiber Septim’s Imperial name, and still refer to him as Talos. Son of Atmora.
Whether or not blood was actually spilled in Tiber Spetim’s conquest of Skyrim is irrelevant- the end result was the same. The Nords rallied behind old General Talos, and with the Children of Skyrim in toe, the Imperial Legions grew astronomically overnight. With Skyrim joining their cousins in Cyrodiil, the foundation for a Third Empire was beginning to take shape.
Next Tiber Septim set his sights on High Rock, home of the Bretons. Tiber knew High Rock well, in that it was too divided to stand against him for long. The noble families that make up High Rock have been bickering since the days of old, and even in the face of a common threat, old habits die hard. The petty Kingdoms of High Rock fell to the organization of the Imperial Legions so fast, their conquest is but a footnote in Tamrielic history. Even the capital port city of Wayrest was snuffed out in a single surprise attack by Richton and his Imperial Navy.
With Skyrim and High Rock falling so quickly under the Imperial banner, Tiber Septim’s new Empire seemed less like a dream, and more like an inevitable conclusion; however, the next Province in his rise to power would prove a whole different story.
Hammerfell, its people born and bred warriors, successfully resisted all forms of Imperial invasion. Even with the combined might of Cyrodiil, Skyrim, and High Rock- High King Thassad II refused Imperial expansion into his lands. It was only after his death in the year 862 that Hammerfell began to show signs of weakness.
As it turned out, much like High Rock, Hammerfell’s weakness was found in its politics. After the death of the High King, the age old rivalry between the Forebears and the Crowns began to resurface. The Redguards were at war with one another, and being the wise military tactician that he was- Tiber Septim seized the opportunity to pacify Hammerfell.
The Forebears, who have always been the more open minded faction of Hammerfell, signed a pact with Tiber Septim. In exchange for minor territory concessions, the Imperials would assist the Forebears in crushing the Crowns. The already weakened Crowns still provided heavy resistance to invading Imperial forces, until at last they were cornered at Stros M’Kai.
The Battle of Stros M’Kai was a battle to behold. The formidle Imperial Navy clashing with the legendary Yokudan Navy to determine the fate of Hammerfell. Admiral Richton, who only years earlier took Wayrest by storm, led the Imperial Navy brilliantly, but even he and his Legions couldn’t subde the Redguards alone. Something more was needed to being the Crowns to their knees, that something was the Red Dragon. Tiber Septim’s loyal vassal, the Red Dragon, was referred to as the “jewel of the Imperial crown”, but in all reality, he was the single greatest weapon the Imperials commanded at the time.
In an inferno of skin melting fire, the Red Dragon burned the Yokudan fleet, and the battle for Stros M’Kai was over.
With the Crowns defeated, Richton swiftly turned on the Forebears and took control over all of Hammerfell. Imposing several Provisional Governors to rule its parts, Hammerfell reluctantly bore the Empire’s crimson banners, but only for a short time. Only months later the Redguards of Hammerfell rebelled, and Tiber Septim was forced to sign the Treaty of Stros M’Kai which gave the Redguards special treatment under the new Empire.
No longer would the Redguards be subjects under the Empire, but rather in partnership with it. In the end it was not the might of the Imperial Legions that pacified Hammerfell, but the words and promises of Tiber Septim himself.
Truly unconquerable, the swamps of Black Marsh possessed a vile reputation long before Tiber Septim even contemplated adding them to his young empire. Indeed, the swamps of Black Marsh had such a dark reputation that even Tiber Septim thought twice before sending his Legions into the Province. But in the end Tiber made his play and conquered the land of the Argonians. Well, “conquered” is a bit of a strong word.
The Imperial Legions easily took the outer swamps without a hitch, but Tiber wisely decide to avoid the strategically unimportant inner swamps. His new Empire would have no use for them. The Argonians were left alone in the heart of their land, and they in turn left the Imperials alone to rule the coasts.
It was around this time that Tiber turned his gaze on the Cat Men of Elsweyr. The Khajiit were an old race on Tamriel and aside from the Aldmeri Dominion, they held no loyalty to anyone but themselves. Fighting broke out within Elsweyr’s borders, but the conflict would be soon resolved.
The Khajiit would make a fine addition to the Imperial Empire, but they would resist assimilation to their last breath. A mutual agreement would have to be reached if Tiber hoped to bring Elsweyr under the Imperial regime. Above all, the Khajiit revere their spiritual leader, “The Mane”. With this understanding Tiber Septim wisely elected to annex Elsweyr while keeping all of its religious practices in tact. With their interests protected, the Khajiit of Elsweyr severed all remaining ties with the Dominion, in favor of an Imperial yoke.
With the realms of Man and Beast thoroughly conquered, the Dragon of the North was ready to look to the Elven realms for further expansion. Most considered such a task impossible; however, Tiber Septim was a man who didn’t know the meaning of such a word.
Tiber began to make the preparations necessary for an invasion of Morrowind, home of the Dark Elves.
Tiber’s generals were quite grime when weighing the Legions chances of successfully invading and subduing Morrowind. Tiber, however, opened secret negotiations with one of the god-kings of Morrowind, Vivec the Poet. The treaty that resulted from these meetings became known as the Armistice. In addition to making many guarantees and promises of self-governance to the Dunmer, the Armistice also gave Tiber the Numidium, a powerful Dwarven golem that was capable of destroying entire enemy battalions, only it lacked a power source and means of control, rendering it useless.
Now comes one of the most questioned periods in the history of Tiber Septim’s conquests and assimilations. According to the most popular legend, it was Zurin Arctus, Tiber Septim’s Imperial Battlemage- who attempted to find a way to make the Dwarven golem operate. These attempts resulted in the creation of the Totem, a device that could be used to control the Numidium. The only problem that remained was to find a power source strong enough to bring the Numidium to life.
The resulting creation was the Mantella, a soul gem of immense power that could be used to power the Numidium. It was a near perfect device, only it needed to claim the life of a powerful individual. Exactly how Tiber found a soul powerful enough to feed the Mantella is lost to history- there are many conflicting reports on the matter- but the result was the resurrection of the single greatest weapon Tamriel had ever known. The Brass God.
Tiber Septim knew that it was his destiny to bind together a united Tamriel. An Empire in where Man, Elf, and Beast stood together as one. Up until this time, the dream seemed just that, a dream. Unattainable. Yet, Tiber pressed forwarded, biding his time.
The Provinces of the ancient and advanced Elves- in Valenwood and Summerset- were what made his dream seem so impossible. Their advanced weaponry and superior navy would be the nail in Tiber’s coffin, should he ever decide to attack.
Now, with the Brass God at his command, anything seemed possible. Perhaps the Divines did indeed wish to see Tamriel fall to the order of a Third Empire, because every time Tiber was faced with impossible odds, he was given a means to surmount them.
How exactly Tiber used the Numidium is unknown, but what is known is that he used it well. In the coming years the Elves were drowned a sea of their own blood. Finally broken, they were made to lay down their arms, and pledge their allegiance to Talos Stormcrown, Heir to the Seat of Sundered Kings, and Dragonborn.
In this moment, a Man’s destiny is made manifest, and Emperor Tiber Septim declares the end of the 2nd Era and the Dawn of a 3rd Era. An Era in where Man, Elf, and Beast stand side-by-side to usher in the single greatest period in Tamriel’s otherwise chaotic history. A Golden Age.
Because of Tiber Septim’s actions, Tamriel lies stained with the blood of countless lives. Did the ends justify the means? Some would say so, and declare him a god. Others would say no, and curse Tiber Septim’s name to their dying breath. But that- is a story for another day…