The Hist are a species of giant spore trees growing in the innermost swamps of Black Marsh. Argonians are known to have deep connections with the Hist, calling themselves "people of the root", and licking the leaking sap of their trunks in religious rites. Others claim the trees are, in fact, a sentient race, more ancient than all the races of man and mer. Hist trees usually have red bioluminescent flowers growing out of them, but the Naga-Kur Tribe’s one does have blue flowers. One tribe dedicated to ice spells have a Hist that drips with icicles and is said to be located deep within Black Marsh.
In the Argonian language Jel, Hist saplings are referred to as Hist-Deek, mature Hists are called Hist-Dooka, and elder Hists are called Hist-Tsoko. The names of the stages of a Hist's development are also used as months within the Argonian calendar. Argonians who are hatched outside Black Marsh cannot hear the Hist. Marsh-born Argonians are capable of wielding Hist-magic, which doesn't operate on the same rules as conventional spellcraft. Hist roots stretch very far, deep into the heart of Nirn and out into distant lands. Hist sap that bleeds from Hist roots buried deep underground is known as deep sap.
Argonians claim that the Hist trees of Black Marsh were the original life forms on Tamriel. The Hist were considered bystanders of the war between the Ehlnofey, but most of their realm was destroyed as the war passed over it. The Hist acknowledge Sithis' role as the "Original Creator". All Hist are connected at the root:34—they are of one mind, and speak to each other.:31 However, some trees, like the city tree of Lilmoth in the early Fourth Era, may become isolated.:34 In the Third Era, the Hist used their influence to call Argonians from across the Empire back to Black Marsh. Having foreseen the Oblivion Crisis, the Hist (through the An-Xileel) ordered the Argonians to assault the invading Daedra. The Argonians poured into the Oblivion Gates with such ferocity that Dagon's lieutenants had to close them.:19 This resulted in an astounding victory for the Argonians and led to the collapse of the Empire in Black Marsh as the Argonians turned to the An-Xileel, who proceeded to drive out the Imperials.:17
The Rogue Hist of Lilmoth
Lilmoth's Hist has a storied history. In the Third Era, it formed its own identity separate from the rest of the Hist, and isolated itself from its brethren.:34 The rogue Hist was killed.
By 4E 8, a new Hist had grown from a single fragment of the root that survived the elder's killing more than 300 years ago.:53 The new tree's roots pushed and wound through most of lower Lilmoth.:35 The Hist cut itself off from the others once again.: Usually, when speaking directly to the Hist, what one says is what they all say. Not so for the rogue Hist of Lilmoth.:32 The rogue Hist stopped talking to the people of Lilmoth by 4E 8; it only spoke to the An-Xileel and the Wild Ones.:45:53 Additionally, the An-Xileel in Lilmoth didn't take council from any other Hist, just the city tree.:31
The rogue Hist was responsible for summoning Umbriel to Nirn, and maintained contact with the island.:53
The Dreaming Tree
The Dreaming Tree, also known as the whispering root, was a Hist Tree belonging to the Root-Whisper Tribe. The Barsaebic Ayleids invaded the tribe's territory and harvested their souls at an alarming rate, and as a response, the Root-Whisper Hist sacrificed itself to create the Remnant of Argon, an amber artifact that could contain the souls of the entire tribe until the Ayleid incursion had passed. The Barsaebic Ayleids attempted to stop its creation, but were held back long enough for the Remnant to be completed. The creation of the Remnant resulted in the hist tree being put into a slumber, thus becoming known as the Dreaming Tree.
Although the Remnant of Argon was meant only as a temporary measure, the Ayleid occupation lasted far longer than was anticipated thanks to Myndhal's obsession. With the Root-Whisper Hist cut off from the rest of the Hist and the Root-Whisper tribe all but dead, there was no clear way for them to pass along the information regarding the Remnant's location. Eventually, all knowledge the Remnant of Argon faded into obscurity, thus keeping the Dreaming Tree in its slumber. It was remembered by the Hist and Argonians of Murkmire, a memory that invoked immense sadness.
Eventually, a group of historians known as the Cyrodilic Collections came to Murkmire on behalf of their Argonian benefactor to collect and preserve ancient Argonian relics. Though their benefactor, Kassandra, seemed to be altruistic motivations at first glance, she secretly hoped that one of the artifacts discovered could finally allow her to become connected to the Hist, something that had been an impossibility for her ever since her birth into Dunmeri servitude. After Cyrodilic Collections discovered both the origin of the Remnant of Argon and the Rootmender's Staff, which could lead them directly to the Remnant, Kassandra betrayed them, stealing the Staff and leaving the rest for dead. Kassandra used the Rootmender's staff and a Vakka Stone to open a portal from the Nexus Realm directly to the hiding place of the Remnant of Argon, with the Vestige and Famia Mercius giving chase.
Kassandra successfully uncovered the Remnant and, claiming to finally hear the Hist, was promptly devoured by a Miregaunt. Thanks to her control over the Remnant, however, Kassandra managed to wrest control of the Miregaunt and had to be defeated by the Vestige. Famia picked up the Remnant and carried it to the safety of the now long-abandoned Root-Whisper Village. There, the Vestige, the Bright-Throat Xukas, and the Naga Jaxsik-Orrn traveled into the Remnant of Argon itself in order to finally lead the lost Argonian souls out and reawaken the Dreaming Tree. In order to do this, one of them needed to stay behind and guide them back at the cost of their life, though it is unclear whether it was the Naga or Bright-Throat that did this. Regardless, because of their sacrifice, the Dreaming Tree was awakened, the Root-Whisper tribe was reborn, and the Remnant of Argon was finally no more.
The Hist of Haj Uxith
At some point in the ancient past, the Hist tree of Haj Uxith made a deal with Molag Bal in order to ensure the survival of its tribe of Argonians. The village and its Hist tree were taken to Coldharbour and preserved by Molag Bal, allowing both the Hist and its tribe to survive. The tree withered away, but was kept alive by a crystal provided by Bal, thought to be one of his vampiric shards. However, his reason for providing this aid was simply to harvest Hist Sap from the tree. A mechanical sap collection facility was set up at Haj Uxith, manned by Bal's Dremora servants.
In time, the crystal poisoned the Hist, prolonging its suffering but not allowing it to die. With only what little sustenance the crystal provided, the tree became weak, and was no longer able to commune directly with its Argonians. Many years later, circa 2E 582, an argument broke out among the scholars and warriors of the tribe. The scholars wished to end the eternal suffering of their Hist and allow it to die, while the warriors refused to allow the Hist and the tribe to be destroyed. Both parties turned to the Vestige to settle the matter, and pledged to aid the Tamrielic invasion force which had come to the realm to end the Planemeld. The ultimate fate of the tree is unknown.
Tsono-Xuhil was obsessed with returning Black Marsh to the pre-Duskfall way of life, and advised its tree-minder, Na-Kesh, in her attempt to manipulate its strange sap to empower the Xit-Xaht. Ingesting or immersing oneself in amber plasm has devastating side effects, most notably madness. The Tree-Minder made use of the amber plasm in accordance with the will of her Hist. She was able to strengthen herself, and transform many of the Xit-Xaht into powerful soldiers. The Hist and its tree-minder were not keen on Sithis, for he represented Change. Tsono-Xuhil despised Change, and sought order in the city of Mazzatun. The Hist and its Tree-Minder viewed the new Argonian way of life as savage and low. Those who follow Sithis and acknowledge that he is Change now "live in mud huts and eat old fish from wooden bowls"; Na-Kesh and her Hist believed that their people were above such things.
Tsono-Xuhil sought to have a shining city of stone built to house its children—one that would rival even the glory of the Imperial City. To this end, the Hist called to its people, instructing them to build a winding stone xanmeer upon the ruins of old Mazzatun. The Hist allowed them to bring in slaves to assist them in the endeavor. The Hist even created a mighty Argonian Behemoth for the purpose of subjugating Saxhleel from other tribes to build the majestic city nestled in its roots. The Hist's madness seeped into the Xit-Xaht tribe, and even the very soil its roots dug into. For ages, Argonians from other tribes knew to stay away from Mazzatun and its mad Hist, for they could feel that something was wrong with the city on a primal, organic level.
In 2E 582, the Xit-Xaht tribe's raiding was put to an end by the Undaunted at the behest of a Su-Zahleel tribesman. The Xit-Xaht had raided the Su-Zahleel's village and enslaved its inhabitants, and the Argonian asked the Undaunted to free his tribe from the Xit-Xaht's clutches. The efforts of the adventurers managed to save at least one of the tribe's elders from an agonizing death involving being drenched in amber plasm. After Tree-Minder Na-Kesh's demise, the mad Hist was delivered into deep slumber by the surviving Su-Zahleel elders, who hoped to alleviate the tree of its psychosis.
The Trees of Umbriel
A distinct group of sentient trees were found on Umbriel, supposed to be 'cousins' of the Hist of Tamriel.:86 Like that floating island, they originated from a mysterious realm of Oblivion and came to inhabit the realm of Clavicus Vile. In the early Fourth Era, these trees were split from the realm by Umbra, becoming an integral part of the life cycle on the floating island of Umbriel. Compared to the Hist of Tamriel, these trees slightly differed in appearance; the leaves were too oblate, the bark less fretted, and the smell a bit off.:191
The trees of Umbriel were responsible for producing many substances used in the island's kitchens. The trees were interconnected and played an important role in the recycling of souls on Umbriel; in one sense, they were Umbriel. They lived in the Fringe Gyre, an external area of Umbriel located around the edge of the island's surface, although their root system extended down into the lower subterranean levels of the island. They were thought to be drawn to Tamriel from the Void in 4E 48 by the Hist in Lilmoth. Annaïg Hoïnart, a Breton who had infiltrated Umbriel and assimilated into the kitchen staff, planned to feed the roots of the trees poison and cripple Umbriel.:86:282 Mere-Glim, Annaïg's Argonian companion, felt a connection with the trees similar to that of the Hist, albeit quieter and vague. After he was reborn as an Umbrielian, Glim felt an even deeper connection, and convinced Annaïg to help him save the trees.:290 Following the destruction of the second ingenium, these trees were responsible for teleporting the island of Umbriel to their mysterious realm.
The Sleeping Tree
The Sleeping Tree is a strange leafless tree found in Whiterun Hold in Skyrim. It grows in a misty pool beside a small cave now named after the tree. A giant encampment also named for the tree surrounds it. Several legends exist on the origins of the Tree. Some say that a piece of rock was blasted from Red Mountain during the Red Year and landed in Skyrim, and the Tree grew from the resulting crater. Others say that it grew from a spore which fell from a "floating island", referring to Umbriel, in which case the Tree is one of the Hist of Umbriel.
The Hist is capable of communicating in a variety of methods. The Bright-Throat Tribe's Hist speaks through the wind, and the Bright-Throat Argonians create chimes in order to receive its message. Some Argonians receive dreams from the Hist.
Hist Sap is a substance made out of the Hist's very spirit. When Hist Sap is licked by an Argonian, the Hist is capable of communicating with the Argonian through visions. The sap of the Hist seems to increase the combat prowess of those who drink it. Hist sap has the ability to 'alter' living organisms, which may explain the origin of the Argonians. Ingesting large quantities of Hist-Sap is often dangerous, even for Argonians. The Sap-Speakers of the Miredancer Tribe, known for communing with their Hist and ingesting large amounts of sap in the process, often suffer the effects of sap-poisoning, including "gold tongue" (permanent change of mouth pigmentation to a golden hue), "bark scale" (thickening and darkening of surface scales), and unwanted hallucinations among other symptoms. The Blackwood Company smuggled a Hist tree from Black Marsh to their headquarters in Leyawiin, and extracted the sap to exploit this. However, when consumed by non-Argonian species, the Hist sap had strong hallucinogenic properties that sent them into dangerous bloodlust, though the poor treatment of this particular tree affected the sap causing similar effects on Argonians, as well. At the end of the Third Era, a recruit of the Fighters Guild sabotaged the Hist extraction mechanism, destroying the tree in the process.
A similar substance known as Amber Plasm is also produced by certain Hist trees. Despite its appearance, it is not Hist Sap and is instead a form of chaotic creatia from Oblivion which leaks into Mundus through the Hist like blood from a wound.
A Hist tree, as seen in Oblivion
The Sleeping Tree, as seen in Skyrim
A Hist tree, as seen in ESO
A Hist sapling, as seen in ESO
A Hist grove, as seen in Legends
A Hist Speaker, as seen in Legends
An Avatar of the Hist seen in an Amber Plasm vision
- The first edition of the Pocket Guide to the Empire mentions the Hist, though its description of them differs dramatically from that given by other sources. They are described as a relatively intelligent strain of Argonian; repulsive, but peaceful enough to be tolerated outside of Black Marsh. The Pocket Guide also makes reference to their "cherished spore-trees".
- The Argonian Account, Book 4 by Waughin Jarth — Decumus Scotti's continued adventures in Black Marsh, Volume 4
- The Argonian Mating Ritual by Valrendil of the Crystal Tower, Research-Appointee to the Thalmor — Research notes on Argonian mating habits
- From the records of Ah-Tee, Tree Minder by Ah-Tee — An Argonian's concerns for a Hist tree
- The Fruit and the Stone — A tale surrounding the fruit of the Hist
- The Hist's Fire by Pegareem — How two Argonians met
- Letter to Septimius by Junia Severa — An apprentice's research on Black Marsh and the Hist
- List of Instructions by Alchemist Ruuvitar — Instructions and guidance on Hist sap extraction
- The Lost Communion — An Argonian rediscovers a connection with the Hist
- Miregaunts of the Marsh by Kratius Gray of the Black Marsh Exploration Society — An essay regarding the tree-like creatures of Murkmire
- Myths and Legends of the Hist by Cirantille — Details on the Hist of Black Marsh
- On Argonians by Cirantille — A description of Argonians and the Hist
- Pillagers of the Hist — Letter regarding the Dominion's collection of Hist sap
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: The Wild Regions by the Imperial Geographical Society
- Remember Me — The tale of an Argonian seeking to understand his nightmares
- The Seed by Marobar Sul — Book 2 of an incomplete series of fictional stories about the Dwemer
- A Shallow Pool — A poem regarding the Hist
- The Strange Case of Ja-Reet — The story of an Argonian born away from his people
- The Trials of Hissmir by Sali-Ze, Hissmir Oblate — Advice on offering oneself to the Hist
- The True Balance — How to understand a foe
- Varieties of Faith: The Argonians by Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College — A supplement to Varieties of Faith in the Empire regarding the Argonian belief system
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The War with the Trees: Argonia and the Black Marsh — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Chilling Senche-Lizard mount description in ESO
- The Seasons of Argonia — Jekka-Wass Paxalt, Keeper of the Xinchei-Konu
- Eoki's dialogue during The Heart of a Telvanni in ESO: Morrowind
- Kassandra's dialogue during Whispers in the Wood in ESO: Murkmire
- Sun-in-Shadow's dialogue during Rising to Retainer in ESO: Morrowind
- Xukas's dialogue during Death and Dreaming in ESO: Murkmire
- The Annotated Anuad
- The Monomyth
- Keyes, Greg. The Infernal City. Del Rey Books, 2009.
- Jaxsik-Orrn's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- Death and Dreaming quest in ESO
- Whispers in the Woods quest in ESO
- By River and Root quest in ESO
- Treeminder Xohaneel's dialogue in ESO
- Wisdom of the Ages quest in ESO
- Na-Kesh's Journal — Tree-Minder Na-Kesh
- Tree-Minder Na-Kesh's dialogue in ESO
- Keyes, Greg. Lord of Souls. Del Rey Books, 2011.
- Xukas's dialogue in ESO: Murkmire
- Remember Me
- Xukas's dialogue in Root-Whisper Village during The Swamp and the Serpent in ESO: Murkmire