Tes3Mod:Tamriel Data/The Eastern Quarantine
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In the year 3E 426, during the rule of His Imperial Majesty Uriel Septim VII, Emperor of Tamriel, Beloved of the Nine, Imperator of the Legion, etc. etc., the district of Vvardenfell in Morrowind was to be quarantined under the orders of the Legion Commander which would regrettably undermine the local power of the Imperial government and place them at odds with the local Dunmeri Temple and government.
The crisis started, as such things often do, with an economic dispute as whenever economics are involved political troubles inevitably soon follow. The Great House Hlaalu urged the Grand Council of Morrowind to reduce import tariffs on Imperial brandy (known locally as flin), putting them at odds with the Great House Redoran who argued that reducing the tariffs on imported brandy would be unfair considering that local alcoholic beverages, notably sujamma, greef, and shein, still suffered under high export tariffs. The Redoran, and indeed much of the rest of the Grand Council, argued that a reduction of import tariffs on flin would be an egregious example of local Dunmeri culture being sacrificed at the hands of the Empire. Still others said that the Hlaalu proposal was a thinly-veiled attempt to worsen the balance of trade between Morrowind and Cyrodiil, which would pump gold out of Morrowind thereby impoverishing its people. The Hlaalu, they argued, were willingly putting the Empire's interests over the interests of their fellow Dunmer simply so that they could derive a profit. King Hlaalu Athyn Llethan, High Councilor and Lord of Morrowind, wisely dismissed these arguments and granted the Hlaalu their request. Much of the Grand Council was outraged at this decision, with some even accusing the King and the Hlaalu as a whole of being slaves to the Empire. Although the incident did not lead to violence in the Council, tensions between the various Houses, and between the Empire and Morrowind, increased markedly.
Conditions were exacerbated when a tax revolt broke out in Balmora. Many in that city complained that high Imperial taxes and injurious tariffs on inter-provincial trade were suffocating commerce. Conditions only worsened as the local Hlaalu government was unable to calm the growing discontent culminating in a violent uprising. The local Hlaalu guardsmen proved insufficient to quell the riot so legionnaires from the nearby Moonmoth Fort were called in for assistance who quickly ended the riot. Mirroring earlier arguments in the Grand Council, the Redoran disagreed with the Hlaalu on how the riot was handled. While the Hlaalu assured the rest of Morrowind that the legion put it down without any excessive violence, the Redoran saw only a legion of foreign troops putting local mer to the sword for expressing reasonable anger at the conditions the Empire forced them to live in. The Redoran, well-versed in histrionics, once again accused the Hlaalu of selling the lives of their own people to the Empire. The Hlaalu quickly sent deputations to Duke Vedam Dren, Lord of Vvardenfell, to inquire about the lowering of Imperial taxes out of a genuine concern for their own people, although the Redoran insisted the Hlaalu simply wanted to save face. The Redoran also urged the Duke to petition for the lowering of taxes as they feared that a similar riot could break out in Ald-ruhn if the economic conditions were not alleviated. Local discontent against the Empire grew and relations between the Imperial Government and the Houses strained.
Concurrent to the political troubles were a flurry of brutal public murders of Imperial notables and Hlaalu officers by unknown assailants. Preliminary investigations ruled out the involvement of both the Morag Tong and the Dark Brotherhood; the Morag Tong are lawfully forbidden from targeting Imperial officers and the murdered Hlaalu officers were not marked by a writ while the murders were incompatible with the modus operandi of the Dark Brotherhood who value covert, skilled assassination. Many of the murderers were easily caught by authorities immediately following the murders as they made little to no effort to avoid capture. While this historian will make the safe assumption that the captured murderers were interrogated, the revelations gained from these interrogations are classified and neither the Temple nor the Empire was willing to share any details with me. Against the backdrop of rising tensions between the Empire alongside their Hlaalu allies and the local Dunmer, the systematic murder of Imperials and Hlaalu led Imperial officials to fear that a conspiracy was hatching which threatened the Empire's power on Vvardenfell. All measures have been as of yet unable to cease the senseless violence, and an atmosphere of palpable fear hangs over the district.
It was this fear which served as the catalyst for the Imperial government in New Ebonheart, the newly-constructed Imperial capital on Vvardenfell, to order the legion to step in and investigate. Legion District Commander Varus Vanitius took his orders to the extreme in order to both clean his new home and to impress his superiors. Almost immediately after he received his orders Vanitius publically announced his desire to quarantine the entire island of Vvardenfell and send his legions "from coast to coast" in punitive and investigative strikes against any who might raise their voice against the Empire. The plan was an unmitigated disaster which has only served to weaken the Empire's position in Morrowind. While it is true that there was some success in a few areas, notably Balmora which was almost completely restored to its pre-riot state after the legion firmly reestablished Hlaalu control, the endeavor as a whole failed miserably. Logistically the attempt was impossible as the Legion was understaffed on Vvardenfell and the infrastructure needed to move the legions into some of the more inhospitable parts of the island were and still are nonexistent. The Lord Marshall of Morrowind unofficially condemned Vanitius' efforts by refusing to divert men from other districts to Vvardenfell, effectively damning the operation to failure. Additionally, Vanitius experienced pushback from nearly every other faction on Vvardenfell.
The Hlaalu complained that isolating the island would simply exacerbate the problems which led to the riot and incite more anger against both the Hlaalu and the Empire. The Temple was furious at Vanitius for cutting off pilgrims' access to the Palace of Vivec, as well as other, lesser pilgrimage sites. Archanon Saryoni himself spoke against Vanitius' ‘blasphemous actions which greatly insult the Tribunal and the Dunmer people.' Saryoni also criticized Duke Vedam Dren for standing complicity by Vanitius' actions. In response, the Duke released a statement which assured the Temple faithful that measures would be taken which would allow pilgrims access to Vivec, although the quarantine ended before such measures were implemented. Even the East Empire Company spoke against the quarantine as the quarantine was inhibiting the Company's ability to export foodstuffs, glass, and ebony from the island. The Company argued that as an entity whose charter was officially sanctioned by the Emperor himself, Vanitius' quarantine did not apply to ships of the East Empire Company. While this legal argument was dubious at best, the Company's intention was made clear. Pressure from external forces, as well as the dawning realization that the legions' sweep through Vvardenfell would be impossible forced Vanitius to lift the quarantine soon after it began.
Ultimately the Duke and his council distanced themselves from Vanitius, hamstringing his political influence on Vvardenfell as he was left without any outlet through which to push his agenda. The Lord Marshall has taken to ignoring any requests forwarded to him by Vanitius, damaging the reputation of the Legion and costing Vanitius the respect of his subordinates, especially since many legionnaires felt even more hated by the locals than before. While the Legion will continue to respect the chain of command, Vanitius has lost much of his effective authority. Faced with increasingly visible internal divisions and worsening ash storms, many question the Legion's ability to combat the encroaching blight.