Elder Scrolls history: This is a re-telling of the story of the Battle of Pale Pass, in which Reman Cyrodiil defeats the forces of Akavir using the power of his Voice, and the remaining Akaviri pledge loyalty to the newly founded 2nd Empire. Historically, the remnants of the Akaviri Dragonguard go on to become the Imperial Blades, the Emperor's personal guard and espionage organization.
Official Lore sources:
The Rise and Fall of the Blades
Akaviri Commander Mishaxhi
Akaviri Diary Translation
Blades: Lore Summary
Akavir: Lore Summary
We have very little actual lore about the Akaviri, and parts of what we do have conflict, so I've selected certain interpretations of the historical texts (such as whether there were such things as normal "Men" of Akavir). I've also started laying a framework for Akaviri customs and culture to be used in stories, based on what we do know and the general guideline that the cultures in Akavir were similar to Asian cultures in our world. So, those cultural details and background are obviously not official - though I would have no objections if someone at Bethesda/Zenimax wanted to use them.
History of The Guardians, Vol 1: The Turn of a Blade
Kah’rhoshi slipped past a spun ax, placed the tip of his blade into the opening under the Nord’s suddenly overextended arm, and pushed it up and out the man’s pauldron on the far side of his body. The falling Nord became a thrashing hazard that tangled the legs of a man all in plated armor… a Colovian from the look, Kah’rhoshi recalled, as he used the chiselled pommel of his Akaviri blade to impact where he best guessed the knight’s temple to be under the helmeted visor. The Colovian… he was almost positive that was Colovian armor… crumpled to the ground, blood seeping through the visor.
He glanced back up to see that his ceremonial guard was down to only two now. One of them cut down a crossbow wielder in a white cloak… the last of their snow-covered ambush, as he looked.
“Kor, Tetsca, to me...” he called, “We have a moment… no more than that.”
Kor spit blood from his mouth at the crossbowman’s still form; then followed his green-scaled companion through the churned snow to crouch beside their captain behind a broken tower wall. “The b*stards took Swepta and Tel Roksha before we saw them,” he grimaced. “We’re it.”
Kah’rhoshi nodded, his eyes scanning the scene below their escarpment. “We will mourn the dead after we have rendered judgement on those who sent them from us. “ He pointed to a cross-striped flag floating just below the Akaviri flag on a corner tower. “It looks like our commander is about to push out from Pale Pass. And it’s not a fake this time. When they do, we go in. Northeast side away from the push; they will use the haul buckets to get us over the walls.”
Tetsca nodded, and Kor spat again, “Mishaxhi should be able to turn that into a route, if he’s a commander worthy of the name. These Nords fight terribly… all fire and fury with no skill beyond a bear. They bludgeon a blade, when they should dance with her instead.”
Tetsca hissed, “Redguards…”
Kor touched his forearm to Tetsca’s in agreement, “Now they understood how to dance. I liked the West better… less cold…” He glanced down at the milling activity outside of Pale Pass keep, “Less stupid Nords…”
Tetsca made a slight choked sound, which Kah’rhoshi thought might have been a chuckle, though he had never actually heard the Tsaesci laugh before… at least not that he had identified clearly. Tetsca cut the forms of a Redguard basic sword form with one finger, “They say those ones can sing… “
Kah’rhoshi bumped Kor’s shoulder with his fist to indicate silence, “There they go… and that’s our signal. Go.”
Riding a grain bucket up the side of a fortress, Kah’rhoshi mused, gave one a new appreciation for mages. They could use more mages. Especially when the enemy had crossbows that could easily punch through the sheltering trough that he lay in as wheels creaked and ground alarmingly above him. They might as well have painted a target circle on the thing if there were any enemy scouts around with longbows.
Reaching the top, he was helped out of the trough by a young Akaviri manning the trough winch, with a two blade insignia on his only slightly bloody uniform. The young warrior clasped his forearm in greeting, “You three with the 33rd division?”
Kah’rhoshi nodded, then glanced back at the bucket swaying behind him, “You couldn’t have just thrown some knot ropes over the side and let us climb up? Would have been faster.”
The young Akaviri shook his head, “Not enough rope to go around. We’ve been here a while, and the commander’s got us all on supply rationing for mundane stuff. There’s also a rumor about the mages needing the rope for something nasty.” He grinned, “And I wouldn’t trust the rope on this winch if we disassembled it from the mechanisms… it might completely fray apart. Besides, the buckets serve an extra purpose - there’s a shock glyph inscribed on the bottom of them. We have to cut those due to enemy activity, everything they land on goes boom…”
Kah’rhoshi made a face, “Nice… where’s the commander?”
“That way… he’s moving around a lot today. Something about a new general in the field from these Colovians, and reinforcements from Nibenay and Skyrim incoming. Check the south wall would be my best guess… he’s almost definitely monitoring the sortie from there.
On their way past troops preparing weapons and medical tents treating the wounded, the three saw that the fortress was in relatively good shape, provisions seemed low but adequate, and there were many more Akaviri warriors in the keep than were indicated by the troops manning the walls.
Tetsca’s eyes narrowed as they passed idle Akaviri unit after unit, “Why this charade? We could crush them.”
Kah’rhoshi shook his head, “My guess… we’re trying to lure out that Colovian general’s reserves before we show our true strength.” He did some quick mental calculations and glanced back at his scaled subordinate, “We must have almost 30,000 troops in here.”
Kor pointed to a stair leading up to the South wall, “There’s the commander’s honor guard … you can ask him yourself.”
Kah’rhoshi altered his course for the stair, and paused as the guards at the base of the stair assumed a ready position, as required by both Akaviri tradition and basic safety regulations. Then one of the two guards blinked and his hand left his blade, his mouth opening in an astonished grin. “Kah’r? Is that you, you motherless son of a… I mean, good to see you, sir.” The grin stayed.
Kah’rhoshi grinned back, and clasped forearms with the guard, “Dedeic, good to see you again.” He gestured to his escort, “These are Kor and Tetsca, two of the finest blademasters in the 33nd. And also the last people you ever want to gamble with, unless it’s using someone else’s wages.”
Dedeic nodded a greeting and pursed his lips, “I presume you’re here to report? Commander Mishaxhi is up top.”
Kor touched fingers to forehead in acknowledgement to Dedeic, and then both of Kah’rhoshi’s troops took a simultaneous step back, “Umm… can we presume you’ll be fairly safe, sir, while you’re making your report?”
Kah’rhoshi glanced back at them, “Yes, you have leave to wander… just be ready to go within the half-hour.” He frowned back at Kor, “What exactly are you two after?”
Tetsca bared his teeth in response. Kor saluted him straight-faced.
“Been too long in the field, sir. Restocking holy water.”
“Ahh…” Kah’rhoshi tossed him a coin, “If you find some Colovian Ale, get me some.”
“Will do, sir.” His escort disappeared rapidly in the direction of the supply tents around the edges of the fort’s inner courtyard.
High Commander Mishaxhi glanced over at Kah’rhoshi, “You’re with Shikan’s division, aren’t you?”
The commander nodded with a considering expression. “She’s got a damn good reputation… she and her troops both. First of the Dragonguard to the new lands, hunting dragons that fled from Tang Mo in Akavir, if I recall. Your division pulled off some amazing battles in Wayrest.” His expression flattened as they watched the Akaviri divisions outside the keep being pushed back by a crazy knot of Nords charging through their center. “I hear she’s pretty old school in how she runs things… Kisane-teth by discipline, isn’t she?”
Kah’rhoshi almost chuckled, “Yes sir… that she is.”
“Kisane-teth, or old school?”
The commander nodded and appraised him again, “You’re her formal second-in-command?”
The commander raised an eyebrow at him. “Is she THAT old school?”
“That’s none of your business, sir.”
That got him a snort in response, “OK, then.”
A few seconds of silence later, the commander pointed, “There… you see that standard?”
“That’s their new general. Remen Cyrdil-something or Cyrodiil, from what we’ve heard. He’s the one responsible for organizing this rabble, and pushing us back to this position. He’s been gathering influence in High Rock, Colovia, and Nibenay, and has focused their troops on fighting us, rather than each other. We’ve lost more ground in Skyrim in the last 2 months than we gained in the previous 6 months. Don’t know much about him other than that.”
Kah’rhoshi squinted in the direction of the standard and the ornately armored rider a bit in front of it. “Sounds potentially dangerous then… is that jewelry he’s wearing on that breastplate? That bright red glint?”
Commander Mishaxhi shrugged, “Probably some sort of magical protection to bolster their normal wards. We haven’t been able to target him so far.”
After several minutes silence, other than the commander’s quickly barked orders to signalling teams communicating with the field captains, Kah’rhoshi scratched his jaw, “Huh… looks like they’ve pulled their troops into a retreat, sir.”
The commander frowned, “Yes, that’s strange. They don’t have reason with their current positio…”
A low rolling boom slammed against the steep walls of the pass outside the keep. An entire section of the Akaviri front line spun into the air, and then into pieces. Residual winds blasted the front of the keep and pushed those on the outer wall back several paces.
Mishaxhi swore as he regained his balance, scanning the skies. “That was a Sheogorath-cursed dragon. We have a dragon on the field.” Shouts of alarm rose up from the troops below, and from the warriors in the fortress. The commander shook his head in frustration as he searched the horizon and cloud formations, “Do you see it?”
Kah’rhoshi shook his head, both to clear his eyes from the clouds of snow and dust, and in puzzlement, “No, sir. That didn’t quite sound like…”
It hit again… this time Kah’rhoshi could almost make out the sounds in the wave that hit them, as another section of the Akaviri Dragonguard on the field disintegrated. A “Ven! Gaar!...” was buried in the sheer force that projected out.
Kah’rhoshi grabbed the commander’s arm to steady them both, and then pointed down at the small figure in the ornate armor, details such as the red glinting gem now lost in the debris kicked up from the killing winds. “Watch, sir.”
The figure turned, to a different section of the Akaviri front line this time. The honor guard around the Colovian general drew back, and then another blast fell among the soldiers of Akavir. Kah’rhoshi could see the shockwave emanating from the front of the armored figure.
He turned to Commander Mishaxhi, “Those are dragon’s words, but they are coming from that man.”
Mishaxhi signaled a retreat of all forces back to the keep. The Akaviri retreat quickly became a route, as the booming blasts continued. The commander turned to Kah’rhoshi without preamble, “I have new orders for you, and Commander Shikan. We have protections mounted in this keep to prevent the worst of the effects of a dragon’s Voice from hitting inside the walls. We’re going to pull all troops back and inside.”
He shook his head, then continued, “What I order you now is necessary for Akavir. You will rejoin Commander Shikan with new orders. She has full discretion in how this task is accomplished, but you must find and eliminate this dragon that these Colovian forces have somehow contained. It may be a bound young one, held by Daedric controls or other means and somehow channeled into a weapon wielded by this general. Your division will remain outside of the fortress protections and make a flanking attack on the Colovian and Nord forces. You will push with blades deep into their ranks, and you will kill this general and seize his weapon. Am I understood?”
Kah’rhoshi touched the tips of two fingers to his sword hilt and then forehead. “You are, Commander.”
Commander Mishaxhi’s face softened slightly then, “I recognize what you sacrifice for Akavir. It will be honored.”
Kah’rhoshi nodded solemnly, “With all speed, Commander.”
The commander touched fingers to forehead in response, and then reached inside his armor to remove a small gem on a chain, handing it to Kah’rhoshi. “This is a rare gift, and if I had more, I would send them with you. It will protect the wearer from the direct effects of the Voice, enabling them to strike a blow when needed. Wear it now, and bring my orders to Commander Shikan. Dismissed.”
Kah’rhoshi took the amulet with a final salute, slinging it around his neck as he ran down the keep stairs. Kor and Tetsca met him at the bottom. Tetsca’s eyes narrowed, seeing his expression. “We leave now?”
He nodded, “We leave now… same way we came. We are rejoining Shikan.”
Kor settled a neutral expression on his face, and said casually, “Well, it’s a good thing I found your ale then. We have orders?”
“We have orders.”
They waited until the southern gates opened to admit the remnants of the routed Akaviri, and then dropped down the outside north wall. Tetsca produced a set of 3 ropes from his pack, showing his teeth again to say “Won bet”, and they lashed them to the rigging for the buckets that brought them up. Thundering words still fell in the distance, but they were sheltered somewhat by the keep walls on the north side.
They were well away from the fortress, at the top of their winding route up the pass walls, navigating to the narrow ravine that hid their path back to the 33rd Akaviri division, when a silence fell below. The booming, crashing flow of words stopped tearing at the outer walls of Pale Pass keep.
They paused to look below at the keep, and an almost serene scene. The Akaviri troops now peered down from the walls of Pale Pass keep at a small procession that came before the main gates. The ornately armored Colovian general sat in the center of a ring of riders, who looked to be statesmen or military leaders of some sort. The procession stayed safely out of bowshot from the walls.
And then he spoke. In somewhat crude Akaviri, but he spoke. And everyone, including the three small figures halfway up the steep cliffside, could hear him clearly. The three Akaviri stared at one another. Kah’rhoshi finally spoke first.
“That was no dragon’s voice channeled through magic… it is his.”
Tetsca nodded, his eyes unblinking on the scene below. “This one… he could be the one. The one with a dragon soul.”
Kor cocked his head, “It sounds like he’s offering them terms of surrender.”
Kah’rhoshi nodded, a concerned expression passing across his face. “Shikan says the writings about one with a dragon soul aren’t taught any more, not to the standard troops, and the old teachings are out of favor in the military academies at home. Only, how did Mishaxhi say it, the ‘old school’ disciplines teach those memories of the blade these days.” He peered down at the Akaviri forces arrayed in miniature below them, “I’m not sure they know who, or what… they face.”
There was a sudden silence down below as the ornately armored Colovian general finished dictating his terms of surrender. Then a shouted response from the walls. Then more silence.
The voice came again, offering the same terms. Again a response from the walls and then silence.
Then the circle surrounding this General Cyrodiil drew back, stepped back behind him.
“Tiid! Klo! Ul!” The sheer force of the sounds hit Kah’rhoshi and pinned him in place. The waves of power seemed to pull at him, and briefly it seemed that his awareness left, and then came flooding back as the amulet on his chest burned. He turned to Tetsca and Kor, to find them standing frozen, motionless… not even seeming to breathe or blink. In the valley and fortress below, every living thing in front of the Colovian general with the Voice seemed to be frozen, as if in amber, other than Kah’rhoshi.
“Fus!” The word rolled like a thundercrack across the valley. As the sound swept over them, it was not just the snow and ice piled high above them that shivered and quaked. The very rocks cracked. The walls of the pass groaned, shifted, and started to collapse on the fortress below.
Kah’rhoshi leapt forward, grabbing at Kor and Tetsca to bear them to the ground as the earth under them started to shift. As he touched each one, they stirred slightly, as if a skooma addict trying to awaken after a binge. The earth began to split beneath the path they stood upon, and he shook them both fiercely, driving his fingers into pressure points in their joints, anything to shock them out of their stupor.
“Move, damn you!” he roared at them. “I am not dragging your carcasses back for an honorable burial.” The amulet at his chest was a burning coal now… he could smell the hairs on his chest smoking, and feel the skin melt beneath the gem as he pushed them, drove them from the pass walls to the ravine that held their hidden path. As they staggered away from the edges of the pass to the relative shelter of the ravine, the dragging spell seemed to fall away from his men, and he felt the amulet grow suddenly cold, and then shatter against his skin. Snow from the ravine started to rush down into the ever widening pass, and they ran, not looking back for fear of being pulled down below.
After an eternity, there was silence again in Pale Pass.