Books:The Improved Emperor's Guide to Tamriel Plot Summary
This page contains a summary of the plot of The Improved Emperor's Guide to Tamriel.
Flaccus Terentius dedicated the book to his beloved, Honoria Lucasta. The dedication is in the form of a poem, but he considers it sappy and isn't satisfied with it. The foreword of the book explains the book's mission: he was chosen by Chancellor Abnur Tharn to revise the outdated Emperor's Guide to Tamriel. He hopes that his name will appear alongside other well-known authors' books and that it will prove as a definitive guide to Tamriel.
Flaccus described his past: he grew up in Bravil, and there weren't many opportunities to use his skills as a painter there, so he went to the Imperial City and made a meager living there.
Flaccus met with Chancellor Abnur Tharn in the Imperial Palace. They spoke a bit, and Tharn explained that the Curator of Art in the Imperial Library would retire in a while, but that in the meantime, Flaccus was to create a revised, updated version of the book, traveling around Tamriel. Flaccus learned that the chancellor had already prepared everything he'd need for his journey, and so he prepared to embark, deciding to create a scrapbook as a rough draft for his new edition of the book.
Upon landing in High Rock, Flaccus paid a street urchin to give him directions to Wayrest. After being led astray, he found his way to Stormhaven and Wayrest, where he met with High King Emeric of the Daggerfall Covenant. It was brief, however: he quickly greeted Flaccus, spoke of his distaste for Abnur Tharn, and said that he could claim a stipend from the Wayrest bank, before moving onto other business.
After the audience with the king, Flaccus got a Lion Guard escort, and went to the Wayrest Cathedral. He traveled toward Shornhelm, in Rivenspire, and came across Pariah Abbey, which was dedicated to the worship of Azura. He took a wrong turn and came across a statue of Vaermina, but, after sketching it, managed to find his way back to the inn where he had been staying.
Flaccus arrived in Shornhelm and found it dull, so he decided to move onward to Daggerfall. He met a Lion Guard named Mannick Noellaume, who was assigned to protect him. The pair was attacked by wolves, and then by a Lurcher. They parted at Cath Bedraud, an ancient cemetery.
Flaccus stayed at Cath Bedraud for the night and sketched it, traveled through Hag Fen (complaining about the smell), and then into the Glenumbra forests. Flaccus encountered a woman that led him to the Wyrd Tree. The witches there were polite and gave him some soup, though they did not allow him to sleep in their tents (which he ignored after being awakened by nightmares). At the edge of the forests, near Deleyn's Mill, a peddler offered his wares, which Flaccus scorned as rubbish. The peddler then transformed into a werewolf. Flaccus fled. Fortunately, Flaccus managed to get close enough to Deleyn's Mill that he could be protected by the archers there.
Flaccus traveled to Shrieking Scar, a harpy nest, and then to Daggerfall. He visited the Fighters Guild, was refused entry to Castle Daggerfall, and spent some time in the Mages Guildhall. Flaccus decided to stay the night at the Rosy Lion, an inn in Daggerfall. He met a Redguard named Uwafa, who said that his master was looking for an Imperial decorator. Flaccus' next memories are a blur of stumbling through Daggerfall after Uwafa, who made comments about "the Mark of the Worm". A dog attacked the Redguard, which attracted the Daggerfall Watch. Uwafa fled, and Flaccus was grateful to the dog for saving his life.
Flaccus arrived in Hammerfell. He waited for an audience with King Fahara'jad and watched the way that he dealt with his people. He liked the way that Fahara'jad treated him: speaking to him as an equal, giving him a note that would allow him to ask merchants for anything, and inviting him to his daughter's handfasting ceremony. He admired the Redguard architecture and explored Sentinel. He spotted Uwafa down near the harbor, and chased after him, shouting. Something hit him in the head, and he lost consciousness.
He awakened in an ancient Redguard necropolis, bound to a stone with Uwafa standing over him. He branded Flaccus in the chest with the "Mark of the Worm", and then was about to sacrifice him when suddenly a group of Redguard warriors burst into the clearing, attacking the undead and freeing Flaccus. It was the Ash'abah, a tribe of undead-fighters, who had come to his rescue.
Not wanting to return to Sentinel, he traveled with them through the desert. After encountering creatures on the way, they made it to a mausoleum near Bergama, and Flaccus realized that their purpose was to destroy the undead because it is blasphemous to Redguards to slay their own kin (dead though they may be). A warrior destroyed the wraith, and they continued into the deep parts of the desert before eventually making it to Bergama.
The Ash'abah were not allowed in the city, so Flaccus went inside to buy supplies. Due to a combination of wearing the wrong amulet (not the one to improve bartering) and being tipsy, he spent all of his and the Ash'abahs' money. He returned to them (with the excuse that prices were high) and they went to Tu'whacca's Throne, a gigantic monument to the dead. Flaccus made some poor decisions that resulted in him awakening the mummy of Ra Boshek, "the evil usurper-king", which went after the nearby town of Leki's Blade. Marimah, the chief of the Ash'abah, defeated it, and afterward told Flaccus that he was no longer fit to travel with them.
Flaccus hired a ferry to take him to Evermore, and had nightmares of worms along the way, his brand burning. As he left, he vowed to never return.
Northern Bangkorai and the Mountains
Flaccus visited the Evermore Palace and met King Eamond, Queen Arzhela, Prince Edrien, and the Orc king Kurog. Kurog granted Flaccus a writ of passage with an Orc caravan through Wrothgar. They came upon a destroyed hunter's camp, realizing that Reachman invaders were active in the area. They unfortunately experienced this for themselves: they were attacked by a band of Reachman. In the ensuing fight, Flaccus and a few others were separated from the rest of the caravan, captured, put in a cage, and carried for several days.
The others were released and killed as sport for Hircine. Flaccus was spared because the Reachmen's leader wanted to have his portrait painted. He was forced a potion and spent the rest of the journey delirious.
He awoke in a stone cell in Markarth before Mannimarco, the King of Worms. Mannimarco noticed the mark on Flaccus, taunted him that he had a fate worse than death in store, and told him that he'd soon meet a mutual friend. The friend ended up being Javad Tharn. Javad gave Flaccus a drink that made him fall asleep, and as he drifted off, he heard Javad giving someone an order to take Flaccus to Nchuand-Zel and leave him for the Daedra and Molag Bal.
Flaccus found himself in a Dwemer ruin the next time he awakened. A Dremora Caitiff tortured him. Eventually he was rescued by Vanus Galerion, the Altmer founder of the Mages Guild. Flaccus was relieved to be rescued at first - until Vanus, displeased with Flaccus' sketches of him, decided to alter his images. Vanus informed him that they were going to Windhelm next.
Vanus Galerion teleported Flaccus and himself to just outside Windhelm. While Galerion tended to business at the Mages Guild, Flaccus explored the city and decided to look for the local ruler. He was directed to King Jorunn's home, Stone-Fist Hall. He mildly insulted the bard, only to learn that this was actually the king himself. As "punishment", Jorunn asked Flaccus to improvise a limerick about one of the men in the hall. The king introduced Flaccus to Mera Stormcloak, the Lawthane of Windhelm. Mera invited Flaccus to join her on a walk around the city for a head count on the city's troops. They checked the Fighters Guild and the Windhelm Barracks, though Flaccus doesn't remember much of it all - or what happened afterward - as the mead he'd been offered was quite strong.
He had a nightmare of Daedra and Mannimarco, and upon waking, uneasily blamed it on the mead. He found his way back to Mera at the Cold-Moon Inn, and then she brought him to another inn, the Sober Nord Inn, to meet her battle brother Holgunn One-Eye. They proceeded to have a night of drinking and festivities.
The next morning, Holgunn and Mera introduced Flaccus to Thorbjolf the Red and Ingjard Stone-Hand, two Nords who were to join them on a hunting party that Flaccus had apparently drunkenly arranged the night before. Though Flaccus was dreading it, he found that he enjoyed the boisterous Nords' company and was impressed by the wilderness. Their trip took them through the Velothi mountains to Skuldafn, and to the hot springs of Eastmarch, where Flaccus got separated from the rest of the group in the fog. He was rescued from a troll by a trio of Companions: their Harbinger, Vigrod Wraithbane, and his Shield-Brothers Uli and Rargal. They brought him to Fallowstone Hall, where he enjoyed listening to their stories, but he was plagued by more nightmares of Mannimarco. He woke up outside Riften with no memory of how he got there, and joined a caravan on the way to Morrowind.
Stonefalls and Deshaan
Flaccus rode along with the caravan of two Nords, Fenrig and Roggvir, which traveled through part of Stonefalls. Their first stop was Kragenmoor, and Flaccus was surprised by how different it was from the descriptions he'd read in Imperial texts. Afterward they traveled to Mournhold, where Flaccus left the two Nords (whom he considered to be idiots). While in a cornerclub he was mistaken for another Imperial and brought into some sort of hideout in the basement. A few Dunmer rushed in and one of them used some sort of spell to put Flaccus to sleep. When he awoke, he was brought before Almalexia herself, who instructed a Dunmer woman named Urili Vox to guide Flaccus through Morrowind and teach him about Dunmer culture.
Vox brought Flaccus to an Ashlander camp, where he was welcomed as a Clanfriend, and then to various farms, including a netch farm, a shalk farm, and a guar farm. Flaccus grew quickly bored with these, but hid his feelings. They traveled to a kwama mine next, and then Vox took him to a Shrine to Boethiah, which he found impressive. His visions and pain from his brand came back again.
After the shrine, one of Vox's group, a woman named Bathrone Rendo, told Flaccus that she'd been instructed to take him to Black Marsh, and their journey was relatively uneventful. Flaccus was met there by an Argonian named Meeleeh-Een.
Meeleh-Een brought Flaccus to Stormhold. There he met Vicecanon Heita-Meen, who assigned him a guide, an Argonian named Lonely-Spines. Lonely-Spines showed him around Stormhold - Flaccus watched Argonian soldiers training, was disdainful of the architecture, and spent a night as a guest in Lonely-Spines' hut.
Flaccus convinced Lonely-Spines to lead him into the deep marsh, and they set off the following morning. They traveled through the marshes - Flaccus was nearly eaten by a crocodile on the way - and arrived at Bogmother, where Flaccus admired the ancient Xanmeer and other ruins. Lonely-Scales had misgivings about bringing Flaccus to the hatching pools and Hist tree, but extra coin convinced him. One of the Keepers of the pools confronted them and sent strange spores after Lonely-Scales, and as his guide fell, Flaccus fled. He encountered a wamasu, giant wasps, and a wispmother on the way, but was able to run from them all.
Flaccus found his way to a shrine in the marsh, which, he soon realized, belonged to the Shadowscales. They took him prisoner, brought him back to Stormhold where Vicecanon Heita-Meen vouched for him, and let him go. He eagerly decided to leave Black Marsh and head back to Cyrodiil.
Flaccus remained troubled with dreams and fears of Mannimarco. In Riverhold he joined up with a Khajiit caravan, whose members included Ma'rashirr (the one that Flaccus had asked about joining) and Ra'tassa (the one in charge). The caravan was attacked by goblins, but the Khajiit defeated them easily. They were able to track down the goblins' camp, but discovered that the rest of the tribe was sick, most likely with the Knahaten Flu.
They made their way to Dune, where Flaccus parted ways with the caravan. He visited a teashop, and, fearing that one of the other patrons was a Worm Cultist, he fled. He inadvertently found his way to the Thizzrini Arena and was tossed into the arena. A Khajiit pit fighter named Zara was there, and she slew the senche-tiger and then the ogre that were released.
After the fight, Flaccus told Zara about his troubles with the Worm Cult and she offered to travel with him to help protect him. She brought him to Two-Moons Temple, where she always prayed after a fight, and Flaccus ended up talking to Moon-Bishop Hunal, who invited the pair to dine with himself and an Altmer named Telenger the Artificer. Flaccus asked Telenger if he could travel with him to the Summerset Isles, and Telenger agreed.
The Summerset Isles: Auridon
On the ship on the way to the Isles, Telenger demonstrated his abilities by summoning several atronachs (to the crew's increasing displeasure.)
When they arrived at Firsthold, Flaccus discovered that Princess Ayrenn was about to arrive, returning from her extended disappearance. He and Telenger watched her arrival and the ensuing parade, and attended a celebratory feast. Flaccus grew uncomfortable around the Altmer, noticing similarities to Mannimarco, and left the banquet to drink with Telenger.
An Altmer named Falarel met with them and asked Telenger to follow. He led Flaccus and Telenger into the tombs below the castle, and explained that he had been visited by his deceased mentor recently. It was not, however, the mentor that met them: it was the ghost of Rilis XII. Flaccus accidentally killed Falarel by bumping a statue and causing part of it to fall on him, and Flaccus and Telenger escaped the vaults. They were arrested due to the vaults being considered out of bounds, and Flaccus was deported to Valenwood.
Shortly after Flaccus arrived in Velyn Harbor, it was attacked by Maormer. He hid in a boat and watched the fighting, and when he noticed a Bosmer treethane fall into the bay after killing a Maormer, he helped pull her out. She offered to bring him to Elden Root.
They traveled through the deep forests of Valenwood (Flaccus complaining about the native creatures the whole way) until they finally reached the city. He enjoyed it during the daytime, but found that the memory of Falarel haunted him at night, and turned to drinking.
He awaited a courier from Cyrodiil, who was overdue to arrive, but lost hope as the days grew. His visions grew worse and he reached the point of despair, throwing the rest of his guide into a fire, and his writings became laced with nonsense ramblings. He went to see a Spinner, one of the local priests, and smoked bugs with him; although he felt better at first, when he awakened later, his brand began to burn, and he passed out. When he next awoke he found himself wandering the forest at night. He began painting, but his paintings gradually became images from his nightmares, he began hallucinating, and he eventually fell asleep. He had nightmares of Cyrodiil and all of Tamriel at war, realized he was sleepwalking again, and woke up in Gil-Var-Delle as a prisoner of Mannimarco.
Dreams of Cyrodiil
Flaccus remained trapped in his nightmares. He met a mage named Malkur Valos, who informed him that he was in Coldharbour. He simply wandered, watched the soul-shriven toil, and came across Lyris Titanborn at one point, though Flaccus seemed to not be fully formed within Coldharbour, so he could not speak to her. He stayed in a hut on an island, and a Xivilai visited him and forced him to tell him everything about Honoria. Flaccus tried to focus on documenting the Daedra to take his mind off it, and his writings became increasingly incoherent.
He woke up in Gil-Var-Delle, writing about the nightmares he had about a Tamriel destroyed by war, unsure whether it was reality or just a dream. He remembers Cyrodiil and sketches some of it, and then writes of his nightmares of the Alliance destroying it. He blames Molag Bal for it all, and continues to describe his visions: the Daedric Anchors, the Titans, all of the death. He grows in pessimism and despair, certain that Molag Bal will destroy all.
He dreams of Honoria and a future together before realizing his fate.
Mactator Caprenius - the courier meant to bring Flaccus from Valenwood back to Cyrodiil - sent a letter to Cyrodiil explaining that the troubles with the Maormer and poor roads in Valenwood had delayed him, but Flaccus was missing upon his arrival. He interrogated the Spinner that Flaccus had stayed with, and went with two Bosmeri scouts to track down Flaccus from there. At Gil-Var-Delle he found Flaccus' journal, and so he sent it along with the letter, with the instructions to forward it to Abnur Tharn. He came to the conclusion that Flaccus was dead or lost.