Tes3Mod:Tamriel Data/Arkhon Lim
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The name 'Arkhon Lim' would draw many a blank stare in modern times, though in the early Second Era it was greatly feared throughout the province of Morrowind. This work is a compilation of all that is currently known of this enigmatic figure, from his humble beginnings as a student of magic, to his end over two millennia later as an immortal lich.
All accounts agree that Arkhon Lim was born in Summerset Isle sometime during the First Era (approximately 1E 1500). Like many an Altmer youth, his early years were spent deep in the study of all things magical. A promising member of a guild of mages (not THE Guild of Mages, of course), he was cast out for practicing necromancy, the abhorrent art of raising the dead. Following this he disappeared from Summerset, and to the Altmer he exists only in a few dusty ledgers from ages passed as nothing more than a failed student.
From the few existing texts detailing his early years, we can gather that he left Summerset Isle shortly after his expulsion to continue his studies on the mainland. From there he devoted the rest of his life not to the art of raising the dead, but to the banishing of death itself. To the prolonging of life, with the ultimate goal of securing immortality for himself. It became an obsession, and the search for knowledge of life and death took him all across Tamriel.
Much he had already learned in the libraries of Summerset, and numerous arcane secrets were uncovered whilst he pored over ancient and crumbling texts. But even the wisest of High Elves knew not how to stop the turning of fate's wheel; to halt age and death, and live as a God. Thus he sought his answers in the writings of Men, frequenting the libraries of the kingdoms of High Rock, Hammerfell, Skyrim and Cyrodiil. Many years he spent digging for knowledge, disguised as a simple loremaster seeking to broaden his learning. With honeyed words he gained entry to many an archive, slaking his thirst on what lore he could before moving on to the next.
The most recent document he appears in from this period places him in Daggerfall in 1E 2093. The diary of a Breton lorekeeper (uncovered by myself several years ago - for a detailed description of its contents consult my other work; 'Memoirs of Arnaud Merlaux') mentions an Altmer scholar named Aron Lim being allowed access to his college's collection of books -- books that even then were considered ancient. Though the name differs slightly, the similarity and the nature of what these books apparently contained leave me with no doubt that it was our necromancer.
It was well-nigh two thousand years before Arkhon Lim re-entered history. His reappearance was in Morrowind, home of the Dark Elves, and he was greatly changed. His quest for eternal life was fulfilled: Arkhon Lim was now an immortal lich of incredible power. This undead existence was likely not what the Altmer had had in mind when seeking extended life for all those years, but there is no question that he was far mightier in undeath than he could ever have been in life. Perhaps when he learned of the lich's godly powers he rethought what it was he desired. To live forever as he was, or to live forever as an undead master of magick? Tempted by power, he chose the latter.
There is speculation as to why he chose Morrowind to reappear. Some scholars of antiquity believe it may have been where his quest ended -- where he found what he sought, perhaps in supplication to a Daedra Prince in one of Morrowind's many ruins, or deep in the bowels of a Dwemer city, where the Tonal Architects had written of their findings centuries before. Had he still wanted to simply prolong his life he might have asked the mages of House Telvanni (it is rumored that they have such magicks to stave off death), but this obviously never came to pass (or they were unwilling to share their secrets).
Whichever the case, what we do know is that in year 134 of the Second Era a lich named Arkhon Lim led a small army of undead (primarily skeletal, according to witnesses) from a series of caves in the hills of eastern Morrowind, and completely razed a Dunmer fishing village. A demand was then issued: village after village would be destroyed until a tribute of one hundred corpses was delivered to the valley where his caverns lay. As the Dunmer cremate their dead, this would have meant killing to provide the corpses, and this coupled with their inherent hate of necromancy brought a flat refusal. Not a day later a second village was sacked, and this time the fallen from the first were seen to number among the necromancer's legion. He had raised them as zombies, and proceeded to do the same with the new batch of corpses.
The Dunmer were quick to act. A combined force of Ordinators (holy warriors of Morrowind's Tribunal Temple) and soldiers of the Great House Indoril marched into the hills to crush the rotting army. Only a third of these brave Elves returned, tired and wounded, and while all were too proud to speak of defeat, it was obvious to those who watched their solemn flight that they had fared badly. The threat remained, and widespread panic ensued.
For a time, whether spat in a curse or whispered in fear, the name 'Arkhon Lim' was on the lips of every Dunmer in eastern Morrowind. Some armed themselves, anticipating an attack, while others could only quiver in their homes. And all the while the lich gathered his strength and prepared for war. Bolstered now by the animated corpses of the fallen Ordinators and Indorils, his army would be unstoppable. Additionally, outcast students of necromancy from all over Morrowind had left their hiding places and flocked to swell his ranks. Gladly he welcomed them into his fold, sharing his secrets and training the most promising as powerful lieutenants.
A great war seemed imminent, but when things came to a head they did so with a whimper, not a roar. Before another town could fall, a plucky adventurer whose name history has not remembered (it is likely it was never known, else it would surely have been recorded), crept into the caverns and drove a sword through the would-be-conqueror's rotten heart. Though untouchable by age or sickness, evidently Arkhon Lim was not impervious to cold steel (or cold ebony, as according to one account the weapon used was an ebony longsword, blessed by the Lady Almalexia).
Arkhon Lim died, and the magic that sustained his army dissipated. They crumbled into dust, and war was averted. Morrowind's saviour strode from the lair, and after informing an Ordinator Captain that the necromancer was dead, disappeared into the night, never to be seen or heard of again. The tale of Arkhon Lim ends there, albeit with a few loose ends.
What became of his lieutenants is unknown. Some historians believe they were slain by the mysterious hero, but some may have survived. For when the Ordinators entered Arkhon Lim's lair they did not find his body -- only the remains of his army. It is possible that he left no corpse, and crumbled into nothingness when his spirit departed. However, some believe (and I fall into this category) that his surviving followers took his body away to be entombed. There is even evidence to support this theory: in a private collection kept in the city of Narsis there exists the fragments of a text claiming to be the memoirs of one Helaran Dumeth, supposedly one of Arkhon Lim's followers. I am fortunate enough to have been allowed to study the text, and am in little doubt of its authenticity. Even so, debates still rage in scholarly circles (mostly carried by those who have not studied it, I might add).
The following is my translation of a section of the memoirs detailing Arkhon Lim's burial: "...and those of us who remained bore the body of our master from the caves, the bones of our fallen minions cracking beneath our feet. Even as we carried him, we could feel the magick in his very frame tingling at our fingertips. Even in death he bristled with power. Having no time to build a great labyrinthine mausoleum as befitting one of his might, we stole into the tomb of a Telvanni Lord of old, casting out his inferior remains and laying our master in his sarcophagus. We laid his great mace upon his chest, then closed the lid and set such wards upon the door that none might disturb his eternal sleep..."
There have been several attempts to locate this tomb and recover the mace (surely a weapon of great power, if it ever existed), but none have succeeded. This is unsurprising, as the yearly eruptions of Dagoth Ur, the Red Mountain, have almost certainly buried the tomb's entrance (again, if it even existed). And so the final resting place of Arkhon Lim shall remain hidden, until perhaps it is exposed by a future landslide or cave-in.
But I say let him stay buried and forgotten, as nothing more than a hideous memory. For is it not best to let sleeping liches lie?