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Lost Treasures of Tamriel: Legends of the Ansei, Part 1
by Terminus Zaire, Contributor — Category: Lore Articles
Post #69440
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Hidden in the shadows and buried deep within the sands of time lie the remnants of great secrets, and even greater treasure. As the release of The Elder Scrolls Online draws ever closer, I attempt to unveil the fog of war to expand our understanding of the past, present and future fate of Nirn. This series will explore people and places of legend, artifacts and weapons of extraordinary power, and the impact they’ve had on shaping the land of Tamriel.


Before the Redguards arrived on the shores of Tamriel in modern day Hammerfell, they lived on the continent of Yokuda located far to the West in the Eltheric Ocean. Many believe their culture was extremely sophisticated in comparison to the rest of the world in the First Era, having mastered agriculture, politics, philosophy, and close-hand combat techniques. Combat has always been a major part of their culture and heritage, stretching back to the beginning of their recorded history. The most powerful warriors of Yokuda were members of an organisation called The Ansei, masters of the Way of the Spirit Sword.

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The Ansei, also known as Sword-Singers, worshiped the unknown gods of war in a training hall built on Yokuda known as "The Hall of the Virtues of War." There these warriors trained in mastering the use of the Shehai, or the ability to summon a sword through sheer willpower from their spirit. While many magicians have the ability to conjure a daedric sword from Oblivion, this requires magicka and is only a temporary binding that is eventually undone. Summoning a Shehai can be compared to how some Nords are able to use the Thu'um, which draws from the power of spirit rather than magicka reserves. To join the Order of the Ansei, one must demonstrate the ability to summon a basic form of the weapon, but only through many years of training can one use it in battle as a replacement for a real weapon. One of the most powerful Sword Singers to ever live was Frandar Hunding, the master Ansei who led the ancient Redguards to settle on Hammerfell and wrote one of the most influential books in Redguard Culture: The Book of Circles.

It is believed that Frandar Hunding was born around 1E 720 in the high desert of Yokuda, during a time of civil war and conflict. For nearly 300 years, the land had been slowly tearing itself apart since the loss of the last great emperor. Although various dictators attempted to unify the continent under their control, their deaths always resulted in the continuation of the seemingly endless civil war. As Frandar grew older, he demonstrated an advanced skill in swordsmanship and was accepted into The Ansei to learn the Way of the Spirit Sword. At the age of 14, his father was struck down in battle, leaving him to fend for his mother and 4 brothers. Frandar's skill with a blade earned him the money needed to care for his family, but also created many adversaries who wished to test his skills in battle.

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Frandar Hunding spent the early years of his life learning some of the most advanced combat techniques of the Sword Singers. He eventually became so skilled in his training that he was able to wield the Shehai in battle, a feat accomplished by only the most experienced Ansei. With the power of such an incredible weapon at his disposal, Frandar traveled the land ridding the countryside of evil and facing all who dared challenge his skill. At the age of 30 he had vanquished Lord Janic and his 7 liche followers, winning a total of 90 duels during his life. At this point, Frandar Hunding believed himself to be invincible, and wished to retire into the mountains to compose the story of his travels and his knowledge regarding his mastery of the Shehai.

Frandar spent 1E 750-780 in near isolation in the Hattu Mountains, writing the various techniques learned through his years of combat training. In the year 760, Frandar became the father of his only son, who was named Divad by his mother. Not much is known about the relationship between Divad and his father, but it's believed that Frandar had returned to isolation in the mountains. Divad was therefore left to care for his mother, and never had the opportunity to truly know his father while he was young.

Divad spent his childhood training to become a member of The Ansei, showing nearly as much promise as his father. However, at the age of 16, Divad rejected The Way of the Spirit Sword and chose to become a bard instead. Divad Hunding quickly became famous in his new line of work, and is rumored to have continued his training in mastering the Shehai alone during the night in secret. The skills and power of The Ansei and training with the Spirit Sword reached an all time high, helping to ensure the protection and prosperity of the citizens of Yokuda.

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In the year 1E 780, the newly appointed Emperor Hira became alarmed at the power The Ansei possessed, and launched a campaign to exterminate them and their teachings from the land. Divad Hunding was a primary target due to his fame, but managed to evade capture and warn other members of The Ansei. Utterly outnumbered, The Ansei fled into the mountains to request assistance from Frandar Hunding, who had recently completed writing his knowledge into The Book of Circles. Frandar was extremely reluctant to leave his retirement and assist his son, but was eventually convinced to join in the battle against Emperor Hira.

Frandar Hunding devised a famous strategy known as "The Hammer and Anvil" which would be used to train The Ansei in becoming masters of the Shehai just as Frandar was. The plan required that each of the Sword Singers read from The Book of Circles, and fight in 7 decisive battles to practice their newly learned techniques. Slowly The Ansei retreated further into the mountains, gaining experience from the battles and knowledge from The Book of Circles. During the final battle, The Ansei were able to destroy an army nearly 30 times their size utilizing the advanced techniques they had mastered, defeating the evil Emperor Hira and ending the war.

Regardless of the sacrifice they made, the civil war that took place utterly ravaged the countryside, and the people of Yokuda blamed and rejected The Ansei and their war. Frandar Hunding led the Sword Singers to the port city of Arch, and set sail for new lands to settle and train under his Book of Circles. A pact was made by the Sword Singers upon their arrival to the new land;

Quote:In honor to Hunding the great warrior prince,
each household in Hammerfell has a place by the hearth;
an alcove really, just a niche, big enough to hold the scroll:
The Book Circles.

While the Redguard settlers of Hammerfell had an extremely strong tie to this book, it appears that their heritage has slowly been lost to the ages. Only the first few sentences of the book exists, but wasn't even published into an existing game; it appears as an excerpt found within the game files of Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall, along with various other stories of the history of the Redguards. The book itself plays an even larger roll in the settling of Hammerfell and the creation of a great weapon of power, but that will be discussed in Part 2; until then, a friend of mine helped to create the first few pages of The Book of Circles for you to read!

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Comments on Lost Treasures of Tamriel: Legends of the Ansei, Part 1
Post #69498
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Great article Terminus :D
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Post #69541
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An fantastic read. Thanks for sharing the book and passing on your knowledge. I always liked the traditional drawings you find in books ect :]
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Post #71883
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Great read, lots of interesting info.
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Post #73111
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can't wait till the next one.
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Post #74186
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I've always played Redguard, but never knew much about them. This is quite interesting! I especially like the Redguard v Nord comparison regarding singing swords and thu'um. I'm guessing we learn about Yokuda's sinking next time? If my lore is correct it does sink right? *spoiler alert?*
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Post #77472
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Historical perspective is a awesome story....which leads me to the question: "Will singing swords and Thu'ums be in TESO" if so will they be racial's only or anybody can acquire one or both?
Looking forward to finding this book and others.
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Post #80766
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so Redguards, Nords, and Orcs are all known for their grreat smithung but what race is the best at it? ive heard it go all 3 different ways
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