06-21 01:16 - 'This place is full of Iranian astroturf. Proof Edit: Last week, FireEye made an announcement regarding the discovery of a suspected influence operation originating in Iran and linked to a number of suspicious domains. When we...' by /u/Dry_Two removed from /r/worldnews within 14-24min
This place is full of Iranian astroturf. Proof Edit: Last week, FireEye made an announcement regarding the discovery of a suspected influence operation originating in Iran and linked to a number of suspicious domains. When we learned about this, we began investigating instances of these suspicious domains on Reddit. We also conferred with third parties to learn more about the operation, potential technical markers, and other relevant information. While this investigation is still ongoing, we would like to share our current findings.
To date, we have uncovered 143 accounts we believe to be connected to this influence group. The vast majority (126) were created between 2015 and 2018. A handful (17) dated back to 2011. This group focused on steering the narrative around subjects important to Iran, including criticism of US policies in the Middle East and negative sentiment toward Saudi Arabia and Israel. They were also involved in discussions regarding Syria and ISIS. None of these accounts placed any ads on Reddit. More than a third (51 accounts) were banned prior to the start of this investigation as a result of our routine trust and safety practices, supplemented by user reports (thank you for your help!). Most (around 60%) of the accounts had karma below 1,000, with 36% having zero or negative karma. However, a minority did garner some traction, with 40% having more than 1,000 karma. Specific karma breakdowns of the accounts are as follows:
3% (4) had negative karma 33% (47) had 0 karma 24% (35) had 1-999 karma 15% (21) had 1,000-9,999 karma 25% (36) had 10,000+ karma To give you more insight into our findings, we have preserved a sampling of accounts from a range of karma levels that demonstrated behavior typical of the others in this group of 143. We have decided to keep them visible for now, but after a period of time the accounts and their content will be removed from Reddit. We are doing this to allow moderators, investigators, and all of you to see their account histories for yourselves, and to educate the public about tactics that foreign influence attempts may use. The example accounts include: u/emilyward2017 u/Homaeefar u/alessia_80s u/Anzfp u/jeremybernard u/suarezanton
Unlike our last post on foreign interference, the behaviors of this group were different. While the overall influence of these accounts was still low, some of them were able to gain more traction. They typically did this by posting real, reputable news articles that happened to align with Iran’s preferred political narrative -- for example, reports publicizing civilian deaths in Yemen. These articles would often be posted to far-left or far-right political communities whose critical views of US involvement in the Middle East formed an environment that was receptive to the articles.
Through this investigation, the incredible vigilance of the Reddit community has been brought to light, helping us pinpoint some of the suspicious account behavior. However, the volume of user reports we’ve received has highlighted the opportunity to enhance our defenses by developing a trusted reporter system to better separate useful information from the noise, which is something we are working on.
We believe this type of interference will increase in frequency, scope, and complexity. We're investing in more advanced detection and mitigation capabilities, and have recently formed a threat detection team that has a very particular set of skills. Skills they have acquired...you know the drill. Our actions against these threats may not always be immediately visible to you, but this is a battle we have been fighting, and will continue to fight for the foreseeable future. And of course, we’ll continue to communicate openly with you about these subjects.
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THROUGH EASTERN EYES PART II.2: HOUSE HLAALU AND THE SCARLET DUSK OVER CHEYDINHAL.
(WARNING: HEAVY VIOLENCE MENTIONED IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT.)
Penned by Rivalen Mothril, Knight, East Empire Company.
In the last part of this chapter, 'Through Eastern Eyes II.1' we explored the death of potentate Ocato, re-evaluated how the Stormcrown Interregnum should be studied, and observed the sociopolitical phenomena occurring to the Eastern Races in Nibenay during the Stormcrown Interregnum. Now comes an important investigation in the Fourth Era history of the Eastern Provinces. Specifically, it is time to look into the fall of House Hlaalu, how it happened, some of its effects, and what the cause of this unprecedented upheaval were.
4E 16-17 SCARLET DUSK OVER CHEYDIN; HOUSE HLAALU FALLS
In Black Marsh, the An-Xileel continued in their isolated bubble of existence, content to ignore Tamriel. In Skyrim, there was still a High King, and the province was able to continue as per normal; there was even a moment of rare goodwill shown during the Stormcrown Interregnum, as High King Vladimir bequeathed the Island of Solstheim (which he himself had conquered, during the Oblivion Crisis) to the Dunmer refugees. However, as many before me have noted, it may well have been simply a gesture; thousands of Dunmer were already there and had been for a decade. Moreover, it sparked deep and widespread resentment in Skyrim, who felt the island was Nord land and that Vladimir’s actions were heavy handed. Nonetheless, Emperor Attrebus Mede I found the High King’s gift and the Dunmer’s struggles so moving, he was to make a yearly pilgrimage to the Decree of Monument for most of his life.
In Morrowind, some found the newfound circumstances of the interregnum to be wonderful. House Indoril’s second councillor gave a public speech in the council chambers in Blacklight, praising Ocato’s death. Morgen Indoril, the darling of his house, proclaimed “…the birth of a new era, the end of the accursed Armistice, the end of suffering and the return of the glorious Morrowind of old…”. But Morgen’s proclaimation was pure folly, and many of the more tempered politicians of the day acknowledged that. It is true that the carnage in Cyrodiil meant that Vedam Dren’s army mostly collapsed, as without pay and directive, his legionnaires would likely disperse and he would have to begin again with mercenaries. It is also true that the return of Morgiah and her mother would not occur at the head of an Imperial Army, if occurred at all. However, the fracturing of the continent meant that the Eastern Provinces were now assuredly more isolated. Moreover, millions of Dunmer people, which the liberal faction of the council were convinced were their constituents, were now caught up in Skyrim and more seriously, in the escalating carnage in Nibenay. And just as seriously, also gone was the ease and fluidity of trade and migration, perhaps the two things Morrowind was in most dire need of.
Also worth noting are two other things. The Decree of Monument shows that the luminaries involved in the governance of Skyrim and, at the very least, certain influential parties able to sway the Grand Council of Morrowind, were not all as opposed to the continuation of the Armistice as were the Indoril. Nor would anyone upon the council have missed that “the return of the glorious Morrowind of old” meant the restoration of Indoril’s primacy. And Indoril, though august, prestigious and possessed of a gravitas that could all but make law with mere words, did and still does not have the strength of arms that Redoran and Sadras had shown; moreover, it was beginning to move in a direction which meant that many great councillors of Morrowind were beginning to feel that the ancient ruling house was unworthy of their allegiance. But even if Indoril was not about to reclaim its crown, that day showed the power of the House’s words. It was Indoril who carried the day in council and they who were chiefly responsible for the upheaval to come.
On the 31st of Evening Star 4E 16, at the New Year Festival Ball in Cheydinhal one of the most infamous events of the Stormcrown Interregnum took place. My close friend, Varon Vamori, one of the Empire’s most famed poets, dubbed the events of that evening as the ‘Scarlet Dusk of Cheydin's Honour’. The ball was not merely a celebration of the New Year, or of the Fair of Saint Jiub (which was and remains an important Cheydinhal celebration). It was both of these things, but very importantly, it was expected that Prince (formerly count) Andel Indarys, was to announce the betrothal of his son and Heir, Sir Farwil Indarys, to Ilmeni Dren. This would bind House Hlaalu’s cause to one of the most powerful rulers in Nibenay, who was at any rate, originally a Hlaalu himself. The marriage would grant Princess Morgiah and Duke Dren a defensible base of operations, and a fertile and populous recruiting ground for their cause. Many of Morrowind’s refugees had fled to Cheydinhal and Prince Andel, though he had a controversial history, was much loved for the hospitality he had extended to all. Moreover, it granted the Hlaalu leaders full use of the famed cavalry forces of Cheydinhal, who were, owing to their training and their superior mounts, the Cheydinhal Black Horse, heavy horsemen of peerless quality.
But it was not to be. For House Hlaalu’s enemies finally struck. The cataclysm was aided and abetted by the members of House Dres resident in Nibenay, and the rising Nibenese mercenary warlord Eddar Olin, who had brought his sellswords to Cheydinhal at Dren’s request. Then, a small number of elite Grand Council retainers, who had been slowly trickling into the city under the guise of troubadours, merchants and servants, led the butchery of the vast majority of the gathered guests in the castle Cheydinhal Ballroom. The massacre was led in this venture by none other than the legendary blade, spy and infiltrator known to history as ‘Nightingale’. Previously, historians have believed this individual to be none other than Jagar Tharn, but the book ’Nightingales II’ by Gallus Desidenius suggests this is untrue. Desidenius suggests it was a Dunmer named Drayven Indoril. While works written by a thief may be suspect in the eyes of some, my investigation, through reliable sources, into the matter has confirmed the essential points of Desidenius’ claims. Almost all Grand Council documentation notes this individual to be called 'Nightingale' and none of them question whether or not it was Jagar Tharn. One even laughs at the notion that it could possibly be Jagar Tharn. The testimony of some survivors from that night recall that the massacre was led by a Dunmer man who wielded blade, warped shadow and wrought illusion magic with a skill unmatched.
The luminaries of House Hlaalu, including Grand Prince Andel Indarys, Former Proconsul Crassius Curio and Velenda Omani were all killed. Grandmaster Vedam Dren was crucified, taken down, then shot from a trebuchet into the walls of Cheydinhal. Queen Barenziah, who had survived the intrigues of Jagar Tharn himself, was passed for two days amongst the mercenaries of Eddar Olin, then was hung until dead from the walls of Castle Cheydinhal. Hlaalu Councillor Nevena Ules, who it seems had grown tired of exile, had been a mastermind of the entire affair, was adopted into House Indoril itself and ended up marrying Eddar Olin, who promptly took for himself the title of King of Cheydin.
However, four of the noble targets present that night, were uncounted amongst the dead. The first was Crown Princess Morgiah, who was making love to castle mage Ulene Hlervu in her quarters, who managed to get out when Hlervu teleported them to safety in Chorrol. She also escaped along with Tienius Delitian, the captain of the Royal Guard, who almost never left her side. Secondly, Dram Bero, who had very early appeared drunk, was throwing up in a lavatory, crawled through the sewers, into the Cheydin River that ran through the town. Then, for the second time in his life Sir Farwil Indarys, the Count’s son, with a small cadre of loyal knights, cut his way free from Indoril’s vengeance, to join up with the Knights of the Thorn (where his younger brother Ilver and sister Morihatha, both knights, awaited him). Finally, in a rather storybook fashion, Farwil Indarys had saved the life of Ilmeni Dren, his betrothed. Moreover, as they had been billeted outside the castle, the majority of the former Morrowind Royal Guard managed to escape the carnage; after the massacre they went underground and the majority of them quickly made contact with Morgiah.
Meanwhile in Morrowind, as the last meeting of the Grand Council of the year finished its deliberations, the cold hand of the law fell on Hlaalu. They were proclaimed traitors, stripped of all rank and title, officially dissolved and had the lion’s share of their properties seized, which were henceforth granted to House Sadras in perpetuity. House Hlaalu’s finances in Morrowind were seized and distributed amongst the Great Houses. Hlaalu retainers in Morrowind were ceremonially given over to the courts for punishment, though no Hlaalu of high rank was ever found to appear in the sham trials in Blacklight. However even to hardened eyes, what occurred to the Hlaalu was purely judicial murder. In all of the main cities of Morrowind, from Raven Rock to Narsis at the southernmost border, the Ordinators led contingents of Redoran Guard and Sadras Knights and struck. It was silent, brutal and universally without mercy, directed with terrifying quickness at those members and resources of House Hlaalu they could find. It mattered not whether the individual in question were a princely councillor or a humble foreign retainer, nor whether they were still actively serving the Hlaalu, the Ordinators gleefully butchered all those they found to be associated with the Great House. Moreover, the Ordinators proved perfectly happy to conduct sham quick, public sham trials on those they felt should be executed for the crime of being Hlaalu, heedless of proof of affiliation.
4E 17, THE DEATH OF PRINCES; RE-EVALUATING THE FALL OF HLAALU
For House Hlaalu, a house that had produced three monarchs of Morrowind, many of the Imperial Governors and also ruled the county of Cheydinhal, it was an ignominious and gruesome fall. Many were the crimes that Hlaalu may have been guilty of. But Hlaalu, the champions of the abolitionist cause and creators of great economic prosperity (who had contrary to popular belief, been integral in Morrowind's defence) had deserved better than this.
But few have ever examined the fall in detail. All too many historians have simply accepted two erroneous, and only partial explanations for the treatment of House Hlaalu. They are typically adhered to by modern scholars of the Eastern Provinces. The first is that Hlaalu were used simply as a scapegoat for the Dunmer people’s suffering, the blame for which, was laid squarely at the Empire by many Dunmer. Secondly, some hold that Hlaalu could not remain in a council of strength, as they were powerless without the Empire’s backing. Both of these need to be re-evaluated.
It is possible that some degree of scapegoat was wanted. But to create a scapegoat of such magnitude that it entailed the collapse of one of the Great Houses makes little sense. House Redoran, House Sadras and House Indoril, the first, second and third houses, had the esteem of the people; this is widely attested by survivors of the Accession War. Both Redoran and Sadras were deeply respected for their heroism in the war against the An-Xileel. The Indoril, though weakened, were nonetheless held in great esteem by many for their piety, integrity and patronage of the Temple. Universally feared, Telvanni’s isolationist magocractic character would undeniably lead them to ignore the grumblings of the Dunmer- or simply kill the grumblers- rather than have anything to do with a half baked scheme to bother with a confrontation with Hlaalu.
None of these Houses were imperilled to the extent that they had to create a scapegoat for the suffering of Morrowind, and in a fashion that was savage even to Morrowind politics. And although it could certainly be argued that the Great Houses, Indoril especially, had shown Tamriel during the An-Xileel invasion that they could be petty and grasping, heedless of the cost of such behaviour, the Redoran and, at times, Sadras, began to show some magnanimity and breadth of vision as the Fourth Era proceeded. Moreover, though the common Dunmer people did grumble about the Empire, there is no evidence whatsoever that any of the commoners or Ashlanders wanted bloodshed to continue. Moreover, targeting the outlanders, the Empire, or what remained of it was nonsensical, as thousands of Dunmer were now resident in Cyrodiil and in Skyrim. This could have deeply imperilled these exiles, reliant as they were on the hospitality of Imperials and Nords. The Grand Council have already shown that they were aware they needed to get the Dunmer to return home. It is unlikely that the Hlaalu and the Empire were utilised as a scapegoat for all that Morrowind had suffered, as many claim.
But there is some merit to the scapegoat theory. The Great House Dres harboured a deep seated antipathy of Hlaalu. Correspondence recovered seems to indicate that Dres had resented being forced into alliance with the Imperialist Merchants in the late Third Era. Most of all however, while they burned with anger for Hlaalu’s insult to House Indoril (a traditional and staunch Dres ally) and House Hlaalu’s support of both the Empire and their foreign faith, they had never forgiven the Hlaalu for being the great leaders of the abolition of slavery. Though slavery was an ancient and protected practice in Morrowind, Hlaalu had long been decreasing its use on their properties. Ultimately, under the rule of Helseth they renounced it entirely. Vigorously led in this practice by Vedam and Ilmeni Dren and Crassius Curio, Helseth’s house, with eager Imperial Backing began stamping it out. In fact, it was pursued so vehemently by Hlaalu, that Vedam decided to abet the process of manumission by killing his brother, noted unrepentant slaver and crime lord Orvas Dren.
And Great House Dres were above all slavers; they had ruled some of the largest Great House holdings, a vast agrarian wetland bordering the Black Marsh, where colossal plantations produced and exported massive quantities of cash crops. Although, probably out of expediency, they reluctantly joined the movement when its momentum became insurmountable, and allied with House Hlaalu, the abolition of slavery was very, very costly to the Dres. It not only destroyed their economy, it crushed the prestige of their name and lost them their livelihood. Then, at the outset of the Accession War, the Dres lands were flooded and, then finally, legally given to Argonia. If any Great House wanted a scapegoat and would be happy to act on it, it was Dres, and in them is the strongest case for Hlaalu’s position as scapegoat. I feel that this theorem most satisfactorily explains the actions of House Dres.
The Second prevalent theory is that it is supposed that the Dunmer people quite simply wanted the avaricious Hlaalu gone out of animosity, a loathing due largely to their Imperial ties. While there is some merit in this argument, it is too simplistic and only carries so much weight.
It is true that for all their wealth and influence, no one among the Great Houses of Morrowind really liked Hlaalu. Their record alternated between soaring heights of cultural and political achievement and acts of what some called a betrayal of the Dunmer. But the Hlaalu were held by others as brave reformers and lauded for their efforts. Truly, were one to ask ten questions about House Hlaalu, one might get eleven answers.
In support of the most common theory of pure loathing as the cause of Hlaalu’s fall, the enmity between Hlaalu and Indoril should already be crystal clear. Neither house had set aside their long feud, which originated in the Second Era (before the Empire’s rise). Moreover, Great House Hlaalu, whose Imperial leanings won them the power previously vested in the staunchly anti-Imperial Indoril, frequently took pleasure in the exercise of power in acts of petty vindictiveness against Indoril. For their part, Indoril had, in the time before Tiber Septim, taken pleasure in deriding and suppressing the mercantile Hlaalu as mere upstart peddlers. As shown, once the Indoril could not act overtly on their hatred, they bottled it up, honed and refined this hatred, until they could return the insults done to them. Indoril were and always have been the most scathingly anti-Imperial of the Great Houses. Clearly, the theory of anti-Imperial sentiment fits best with Indoril.
There is however, a limit to what we can blame upon the Imperial leanings of Great House Hlaalu. As a historical point in favor of argument, even after the fragmentation of the Ebonheart Pact, which the Hlaalu had, of the Great Houses, done most to promote, and had led to large numbers of Nords entering Morrowind, and rule by a Nord monarch (the famed Jorunn), The Hlaalu were left unmolested. The Great Houses knew of and, only reluctantly (it must be admitted), accepted Hlaalu's extroverted tendencies.
Although we have seen that there was a degree of resentment between Sadras and Hlaalu due to wartime grievances, it was none other than House Sadras, the greatest beneficiaries of the purge, that demanded an end to the violence when it seemed that the Ordinators and Indoril were going to (or had already begun) to attempt to purge all outlanders, regardless of their race or affiliation. Sadras undoubtedly knew much about Hlaalu’s numbers and members and the persons involved with that house. They must have known that many Hlaalu in Morrowind still lived and it is in large part their forbearance that allowed for the survival and exile of these people.
A farmer in Eastmarch I spoke to about Hlaalu’s last days said he had only survived because:
“…Just as the Ordinators were about to come for me and my family, there was a knight in front o’ me. Garbed in the House Sadras colours he were. And he just stepped outta nowhere, in between three of those silent, terrifying Ordinators, in their fancy armour. He drew his sword and without looking back, he said ‘Run’.”.
This must be considered a part of the cause for House Sadras inheriting the anti-Indoril feud of their Hlaalu forebears. For in the coming years, as we shall see, the two houses of Sadras and Indoril were only kept from open violence (and then, with only partial success) by the intervention of the Redoran Guard. Furthermore, purely blaming the Imperialist leanings of Hlaalu is insufficient to explain a vendetta on the part of Sadras. Sadras had spent four centuries under Hlaalu rule and for better or worse, it had affected and shaped their house. In fact, House Sadras were the one Great House to have converted to the faith of the Divines. With House Hlaalu’s fall they inherited not merely a great deal of Hlaalu’s lands, they inherited Hlaalu’s position as protectors and patrons of the Eight Divines. In years to come, they were to establish extensive relations with the extended hierarchy of the Faith in Cyrodiil, High Rock and Skyrim, which must make the even handed historian call into question the strength of the ‘anti-Imperial purge’ theory.
The insular, xenophobic Telvanni, both in Skyrim and Solstheim and also those that had very slowly started to return to Morrowind, did not appreciate Hlaalu. However, the ingrained Telvanni isolationist mindset meant that they were more content to ignore the merchants. Telvanni typically displayed this approach throughout the third era; while possessed of the arcane strength to destroy outlander holdings in their territory, the Telvanni ignored the existence of Wolverine Hall and other outlander communities in their districts. This approach was typically mutual between Telvanni and their ‘enemies’.
Additionally, Redoran itself, the undisputed first House, though frequently conservative and disapproving of Hlaalu’s greed and disregard of tradition, bore no Hlaalu no overwhelming grudge, least of all due to any affiliation with the Imperial Legion. Redoran were not so proud as to forget that the Hlaalu had aided them in escaping annihilation at the hands of Tiber Septim’s Legions. Many claim House Redoran was angry at the lack of legion support during the Oblivion Crisis and destroyed Hlaalu because of this. Even today, it remains a popularly repeated theorem. But historical eyewitness accounts from Cyrodiil from 433 are unanimous in decrying the Chancellor’s mass despatch of Legions to the provinces, especially the East. Every known account of the Battle of Bruma (of which none give a matching description of the Champion of Cyrodiil) affirms that there was no active legion support at that most crucial battle for Cyrodiil (beyond town guard garrisons). I myself was able to recover veritable masses of communication between the offices of the Chancellor and the councillors of House Redoran from the last year of the Third Era. Indeed, one scrap of a late Third Era journal recovered from a scribe in Thorn describes a pertinent scenario:
“Journal of Marius Vantus, Thorn, 1st Hearthfire, 3E 433. …So’s I took Elia out in the rowboat last night and gave her a right good tumble. She screamed so loud she must have woken half the swamp. But that’s not hard to do; one can scarce life a finger without these muckdwellers looking at you like you have a second head. And the An-Xileel are the worst. Harald says ya can actually feel the malice coming from them. Still, Harald says Dragons once ruled the world and I think he’s a skooma fiend. By Alessia’s tits, I’m so sick and tired of this thrice-cursed swamp. But things are looking up. Legate Dargalmo says Bog Company Foresters have new orders, straight from the Chancellor. He says we’re heading north, to Morrowind; some problem with Daedra. We need to make Tear in three days. The northern legions are leaving the Marsh. Southern legions are evacuating the countryside and fortifying the coastal cities. But he said when we reach Mournhold we’ll be up to our necks in grey girls and Skooma. Which is just as well. Because I think Jo’Gasha is hitting the company supply. Goddamn cat…”
If true, Vantus’ journal would indicate that legions were leaving Black Marsh to fortify Morrowind, and that at least the elite Forester units were aware of the An-Xileel.
Moreover, though the Redorans have their faults, they are above all, realistic. Thus, surely the Redoran, pre-eminent soldiers of Morrowind, could see that many (though not all) of Hlaalu’s actions had benefited the cause of Morrowind in the Accession War. They are soldiers to the core. They are not prone to fanciful acts of whim nor do they readily turn for or against groups or individuals based on ideology or religion. The notion that the dour, serious Redoran would destroy a proud and ancient house on the basis of political leanings is laughable. To the grave Redoran, there is but one ideology: defend Morrowind. All other considerations are secondary. So long as Hlaalu aided and protected Morrowind and its people, the matter of how Hlaalu made their money and obtained their military clout would have been an irrelevant question amidst the lords of Blacklight.
In the Fourth Era Redoran have proven themselves the true centrists of the Grand Council, and unlike Telvanni, their centrism stems not from apathy. Whilst it seems that in our time, Hlaalu themselves have developed quite the grudge against the Redoran, there is little in the way of Redoran animosity toward Hlaalu’s Imperial leanings, (and nothing to suggest a needed scapegoat) that satisfactorily explains the Redoran involvement in the fall of Hlaalu.
So if historians are to rectify the dearth of history on this topic, we are begged a vital question: why did this catastrophe happen?
Firstly, the common misconception that Hlaalu was, without the Empire, weak must be discarded. If anything, they were still frighteningly strong. Whilst it is true that they were not warriors, they were, beyond all imagining, wealthy. Inventory listings in the household of Vedam Dren alone, in the years between 4E 10 and 16, shows a net expenditure of Septims that exceeds the incomes of Redoran in Solstheim for the entire second century of the Fourth Era. The incomes seized from Hlaalu in Morrowind itself, despite their withdrawal to Cyrodiil, were staggering. Though it shall doubtless never be acknowledged by the Grand Council, especially Indoril, Hlaalu loans and credit had all but guaranteed the ability of the Great Houses to continue their fight against the Argonians. The vast numbers of mercenaries that the Grand Army of Blacklight had bolstered itself with during the Oblivion Crisis and during the Accession War with were not hired with Redoran coin. Had Hlaalu returned to Morrowind and then regained its power in a reconstituted Empire, then these astronomical debts would have to be honoured eventually. Private musings of many who were connected to the purse strings of the Grand Council reveal considerable fear that Morrowind would simply fall into the deep pockets of House Hlaalu. This revelation nonetheless shows that the perpetrators of the Fall of Hlaalu did not consider that patriotic magnanimity might be something Hlaalu could grasp. Gold is a vital element in war; perhaps the most vital element. Soldiers alone cannot win a war. From House Hlaalu’s wealth derived widespread admiration, fear, jealousy, greed and a covetous eye that would all have contributed to their fall. However, whilst Hlaalu were not weak, whilst stuck in Cyrodiil and separated from many of their resources by the Valus, and whilst their legions had melted away, it is clear that an opening to deal with what might become a problem anon had arisen. It is clear that the Grand council saw their opportunity and took it.
Secondly, and very importantly, the fracturing of the Elder Council was a considerable danger for those who held the reigns of power in Blacklight. For Vedam Dren, Barenziah and Morgiah had come to Cyrodiil as wealthy regional princelings intent on regaining important provincial rights. Their presence in Nibenay during the Stormcrown Interregnum transformed them into High Lords viewed by many as contenders to the Imperial Throne. In the Imperial City, Morgiah and Barenziah were well known, all but romantic figures, whose adventures were known and retold in many bar room discussions. It would not have escaped Redoran’s ears that many in the Imperial City had openly said that the legendary Barenziah could arise to become a mighty empress, especially when compared with the mediocre rabble that most princelings of the Stormcrown Interregnum scarcely amounted to. Nor does recovered correspondence indicate that it escaped the ears of the Hlaalu themselves. Their house had already produced the most famed and beloved empress of the Third Era; nothing suggested they might not do so again, and have the Empire rise phoenix like from the ashes of the Fourth. All my enquiries suggest that Grand Council had deeply feared the reinstatement of the Hlaalu monarchs of Morrowind. In Blacklight, they would have been nothing less than petrified at the thought of the Hlaalu sitting atop the Ruby Throne. This alone would have been enough motivation to drive the conservative factions of the Grand Council, always the first to protect their own power at the expense of the whole, into desperate action. To my mind, the recovery of a letter to the evidently well connected owner of a pawnshop in Windhelm from a powerful Redoran Councillor, goes a long way to supporting the inference that the Grand Council feared Hlaalu ambition.
The letter, acquired by means of painstaking detective work reads, “Though in more genteel lands we have a reputation as dour, ruthless warriors who have autocratically seized ancient and august Resdayn, Redoran are ultimately at the service of Tamriel. It is Redoran who have answered the call to arms from Hortators, Almsivi, Kings and Emperors alike. We bled our sons and daughters against the Daedra. We led the charge against the An-Xileel. And were we, the Masters of Blacklight, to claim that we were instrumental in aiding the destruction of the greatest obstacle impeding the rise of the noble dynasty of Mede, we would be speaking no more than the truth…”
Though letter smacks of exaggeration, there is some truth in it. Though Vedam Dren had openly declared his intention to return to Morrowind at the head of an army, his military record shows he was well able to misdirect and make calculated gambles and diversions along with the finest of generals. It is clear he could just as easily have marched westward as east into Morrowind, to claim the supreme power for House Hlaalu.
But let us be clear. In the end, one single theory does not explain the fall of Hlaalu, one of the great phenomena of Morrowind politics. Was hatred of Imperial leanings and of Hlaalu itself the cause? In Indoril and Dres, the answer was undoubtedly yes. Was there truth in the idea of the scapegoat? Somewhat, for Dres undoubtedly wanted satisfaction for their degradations. And while there may have been some people in Morrowind who did genuinely blame Hlaalu and the Empire, little suggests the idea of scapegoat spread much further than Dres and little suggests that resentment was so rife as to engage in the wanton slaughter of a Great House. There was also much to suggest a great deal of opportunism and fear among all. The circumstances do much to suggest that the Grand Council simply took their chance to eliminate a potential foe before their power grew- the Hlaalu were perceived as a very real threat. Sadras saw its chance to seize total control of the Church of the Divines in Morrowind and took it. The savage and grasping Eddar Ollin and the tragic gathering of all almost all Hlaalu personages in Cyrodiil were merely fortuitously placed means to the end. For the Great House Telvanni, thoroughly ravaged by the Saxhleel, there is very little to suggest that their involvement was anything more than typical Telvanni apathy causing to passive acquiescence to the will of the Grand Council.
And what of Redoran? The entire affair could not have proceeded without their permission and protection. The First House gained a tremendous amount of money (something they have found themselves increasingly desperate for in the Fourth Era) and it gained the elimination of one of their greatest rivals for power. Now freed from the spectre of a Hlaalu Empress or King of Morrowind, Redoran cemented its place as the leader of the nation in truth. Surely considering their centrist mindset we must conclude that much of the more conservative elements of Redoran had ample motivation in the defense of their own position of First House (which Hlaalu acquisition of the Ruby Throne would have undoubtedly destroyed) and their desire to defend the Grand Council's authority. Those more broad-minded members of Redoran, which assuredly includes those luminaries who were responsible for inclusion of the Armistice in Redoran policy considerations (such as the 'Decree of monument'), sought to prevent another pointless, bloody civil war.
What did the commoners of Morrowind, and Ashlanders gain from the debacle? In legal and material terms, they gained absolutely nothing. They won no honour. Much seized property changed hands through negotiation and unpleasant dealings, but always amongst the powerful. The poor remained poor. The Ashlanders wandered as they always had. The powerful strengthened ever further their stranglehold on power. Why wouldn’t they? There were few now who felt the need for change; the one truly reformist power in Morrowind was now all but annihilated. In spiritual terms, the fall of Hlaalu had revealed an increasingly rapid spread in the enmity between Sadras and Indoril, and between the deepening rift between the Faith of the Divines and the New Temple. It also showed, rather tragically, that fanaticism was spreading like wildfire amid a people and a nation born out of the courage of a philosopher-prophet.
4E 17 AND AFTER; CHAPTER EPILOGUE
4E 17 marks the beginning of the last stage of the Stormcrown Interregnum. For those who could see, the end was in sight. Eddar Olin had installed himself as the King of Cheydin and his power was on the rise in the East of Cyrodiil. In Morrowind, Indoril and Sadras had set the stage for the long and brutal, but uninspiringly named, Wars of Religion, of which we will soon be hearing much. During the long and relentless march of the Wars of Religion, Morrowind would suffer for years. But the Redoran were not yet prepared to allow Morrowind to be gripped by these impending phenomena. The eyes of the First House were firmly affixed to the west, not only where the Dunmer people had spread themselves far and wide, but where the career of one man was proceeding inexorably on its rise to the highest circles of power.
submitted by Blackfyre87